New Doctor Who companion Pearl Mackie: ‘Bill is like me… she talks a lot!’

The Doctor is about to get a feisty new companion in Bill Potts. She's played by Pearl Mackie who has plenty to say about her new high profile role...

Peter Capaldi’s Time Lord is working as a university lecturer in the first Doctor Who episode of the series, but he soon whisks Bill away from her life serving chips at a university canteen and into the vortex of intergalactic, timey wimey travel in the TARDIS.

We recently caught up with Pearl Mackie on set so we could get more of a handle on Bill, the Doctor’s first openly gay companion…

So how would you describe Bill. Is she like you?
“She’s quite like me in that she’s inquisitive and cheeky, and like me she talks a lot! She’s very interested in The Doctor and the way his mind works. She’s pretty normal and so she’ll allow people who haven’t ever watched the show to come into it with her. They’ll see all these wondrous sci-fi things through her eyes, so it’s completely new and fresh.”

Bill dresses quite colourfully… Did you have any input into her clothes and style?
“I actually did choose a lot of stuff for Bill. I went shopping and I was quite involved in creating the character’s style, which was amazing. She does dress like me in certain ways but I think she’s got a more youthful vibrant style. Maybe I’ve got more of an adult way of dressing.”

Were you a fan of Doctor Who before joining the show?
“It wasn’t really on when I was a kid and I was 16 when it came back in 2005. I do remember seeing those countdowns of the 100 Scariest Monsters and seeing Doctor Who on quite a lot. I did watch some of the new series, but I was 16 so I was trying to spend as little time at home watching TV as possible!”

We’ll see Bill’s first time aboard the TARDIS, but what was it like for you stepping into the set of the TARDIS?
It was amazing! The first time I went on the TARDIS we were shooting the scene where Bill first goes on it. So no acting required! I’m like, ‘Oh this is so cool! It’s really exciting!’ But it is phenomenal, as is seeing all the sets and monsters in all the episodes. Being a new companion, she has quite a unique take on everything.”

How would you describe the dynamic between Bill and The Doctor?
“Obviously, The Doctor is very, very clever, worldly and headstrong, whereas she’s inquisitive and quick-witted, so there’s a lot of mutual respect. He likes her for being direct, she just says things as she sees them which he’s not necessarily used to.”

What’s it like working with Peter Capaldi and Matt Lucas as Nardole?
“They’ve been wonderful, especially Peter, he’s been so generous with his time and the way he approaches scenes. We rehearse them in quite a lot of detail and he’s always asking, ‘How was that for you?’ It’s still overwhelming but everyone’s been really positive about what I’m doing, which is encouraging!”

*Doctor Who begins with The Pilot on Saturday April 15 at 7.20pm


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