Doctor Who Season 10: Pearl Mackie on The Wonder and Terror of the Universe

We had a chance to sit down with Doctor Who's Pearl Mackie at NYCC last year. Here's what she told us about Bill's journey on the TARDIS...

The early reviews of the Doctor Who Season 10 premiere have bestowed a lot of love on new companion character Bill and the talented actress behind the role, Pearl Mackie.

We’re excited to see the new narrative thrust Bill, who will be the show’s first explicitly openly gay companion, will bring to this show in Peter Capaldi’s final season as a Doctor and Steven Moffat’s final season as a showrunner. (No pressure.) We had a chance to sit down with Mackie and Doctor Who executive producer Brian Minchin at last year’s New York Comic Con to learn more about what to expect from Bill Potts.

Here what we found out…

On the “not-so-nice” things Bill will encounter…

It’s not all alien sunsets and cocktail parties out there, you know, and it sounds like Bill is going to learn that lesson the hard way. “It’s both incredible and beyond her wildest dreams, but also there are parts of it that are worse than she could ever imagine,” Mackie teased of Bill’s Season 10 journey. “There’s a lot going on out there. Some of it’s not-so-nice.”

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Bill seems like she can take care of herself and it’s only the beginning of the season, so we’re not going to worry too much… yet. But how soon will it be before Bill sees something that makes her question the safety of traveling with the Doctor, as all (smart) Companions inevitably do?

On how much we will learn about Bill’s life on Earth…

The Doctor Who season premiere is very much Bill’s story. So much so that much of the first act will be mostly from Bill’s perspective. (Think NuWho opener “Rose.”) “We find out a lot about Bill and who she is,” Mackie said of the show’s interest in Bill’s identity and world. How will that initial grounding in Bill’s world translate to the rest of the season? 

“I know what you mean,” Minchin said when we asked him how much of a role Bill’s world would play moving forward. “Some Companions just leave. It’s more complicated than that for Bill … I think Bill’s life on Earth plays a big part of who she is, plays a big part of the series.”

According to Minchin, at its heart, Doctor Who is about not one, but two characters: an alien and a human. Bill’s humanity will not be forgotten in this story — presumably, that might mean learning more about her world than some of the previous NuWho Companions. Personally, I have my fingers crossed.

On Bill’s reaction to the wonders and terrors of the universe…

From what we’ve seen in the promos for Doctor Who Season 10 so far, Bill seems relatively nonplussed by some of the extraordinary things the Doctor shows her… or atleast the TARDIS. According to Mackie, Bill is not so much “nonplussed” as reacting differently than how you might expect her.

The character is a big science fiction fan; she just never expected to be met with “the reality” of the media she enjoys, says Mackie.

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Yeah, it’s that kind of mixture of things for her and how she reacts in those situations with the Doctor who knows this world that’s really interesting to watch and really interesting to play, as well …

She’s got a massive heart and she’s very instinctive. She finds herself in more extreme situations than any average human being finds themself in. She sees things that people don’t see in their lifetime ever a couple of times. And having to process that is something… it can be really challenging for her. But, also, this world has opened up. It’s like this realm of possibilities of all of space and time.

Um… we’re in.