Here comes Bill Potts! Another BBC Leftist, Box-ticking, Politically Correct character…

In a recent interview with Pearl Mackie (The actress who plays The Doctors new companion in Series 10) it was revealed that her character is gay.  In the interview Pearl said:

“Yeah Bills gay… and it shouldn’t be a big deal in the 21st century really.  I am just playing one character… I’m not here to represent everyone of colour, and I’m not here to represent everyone who is gay.  I’m just here to play the part as truthfully as possible.  People are gay, People are black.  There are also aliens in the world so you know watch out for them.”  – Pearl Mackie

Following the interview most of the Doctor Who fandom decided to give their opinion, along with most mainstream media outlets in the UK.  Taking a quick glance at the post on the BBC Doctor Who Facebook Page confirmed that quite a few fans were not happy.

BBC Fb.png
BBC Doctor Who Facebook Page

To begin with most people decided to point out the 3 other main LGBT characters in the show – Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh) and her wife Jenny (Catrin Stewart).  But what most of them forgot is that the post stated that Bill would be the “First openly gay companion” not the first gay character on Doctor Who. Yes Madame Vastra and Jenny were in a gay relationship, but neither were companions. And yes, Captain Jack Harkness was omnisexual but he wasn’t a companion either.  He was only ever an ‘Occasional Companion‘.  So yes, Bill Potts is the first ‘Openly gay companion‘.

Their next point was usually something like this:

  • “Why is this a big deal?????”
  • “Nobody cares what you do in the bedroom…. Just write good stories”
  • “Why is everything about sexuality now??”

There are various answers to these questions… The first thing that needs to be pointed out is that if they aren’t bothered about her sexuality and don’t care, then why are they commenting on it?  If it didn’t bother them wouldn’t their reaction be “Oh OK” and then move along?  So clearly they are bothered by it in some way.

The next point is ‘Why is it a big deal that Bill is gay?’, and my answer is that it is a big deal, AND it isn’t.  Her sexuality and the fact that she is gay is not a problem, and doesn’t matter at all.  It’s just a part of her and isn’t something that affects anyone else except her.  So her being gay doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that The Doctors companion is gay, and the representation that comes with it.  But most comments couldn’t understand why representation was important.  Quite a few comments stated that the representation wasn’t necessary because of the lack of LGBT people in the UK.  One commenter said:

“It’s about time”. Statistically no, it isn’t. Only 1.5% of the British population identifies as either gay or lesbian. So we’d need a lot more companions before it’s “About time”. In actual fact, homosexual characters have been massively over represented in Dr who over the last 3 years or so. Stop.” – Comment on the Doctor Who Facebook Page

Many comments were using similar facts to suggest that the show has featured too many LGBT characters.  But when seeing these facts its important to take a closer look. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in 2015, 1.7% of the UK population identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB), and 3.3% of the population aged between 16 to 24 identified themselves as LGB.  But a YouGov UK report showed that when asked to plot themselves on a ‘sexuality scale’ (Invented by Alfred Kinsey in the 1940s) 23% of British people marked something other than 100% heterosexual, with that figure rising to 49% among 18-24 year olds.  These figures definitely don’t show active bisexuality, considering over 89% describe themselves as heterosexual, but they do show that more and more people, especially young people, are more open minded and fluid with their sexuality, and that is why representation is important.

Considering the shows main target audience is young adults and families, seeing someone that you can relate to, or someone with various aspects of their personality or life that is similar to yours is important, especially in young people at a time where their life can be confusing and they are figuring out who they really are.  Having an LGBT character ups the chances of a positive image of an LGBT person being shown to someone who is questioning their sexuality, or feels like they are not accepted. It also normalises LGBT people and their relationships and thus helps people accept who they really are but also helps people to not make being LGBT a big issue.  So Bill being Gay shouldn’t be a big deal, but until people feel like they are represented in the media it will be.

Pearl Mackie is also a person of colour, and as she revealed in a recent interview with The Guardian she understands what it feels like to grow up as a young girl and to not see someone like you on the TV.  After seeing pictures of two young girls who had dressed up as her character Bill she said:

“When I was little there weren’t that many people who looked like me on TV, so it’s great to have two little kids thinking: ‘OK, she looks like me so I’m going to dress up as her, and I don’t need a different kind of face make-up, I don’t need to straighten my hair.’”

This highlights the importance of representation, especially to young people who crave to be accepted and to be able to relate to someone like them, even more so a celebrity or someone in the public eye.

pearl peter.jpg
Pearl and Peter in 2016

And to all the people saying that Bill being black and gay is just another way for the BBC to tick its ‘politically correct boxes’, take a step back and realise something. Having a character that represents real people is not being politically correct or ticking boxes.  It’s showing the real world, and even if the group that the character represents is only a minority, they are still real people that need to be shown and represented.

So to conclude I think its best to take a look at something Pearl Mackie said in her interview.

“People are gay, People are black.”

Get over it.

Who is Pearl Mackie?

An in depth look into who the actress behind the Doctor’s new Companion – Bill Potts really is.

As The Doctor’s return is soon approaching we thought it would be a good idea to take a look at who will be joining him on his adventures in Series 10.  After the departure of Clara Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman) in the Series 9 episode ‘Hell Bent‘, The Doctor will be joined by a new companion in Series 10 – Bill Potts.

Bill Potts was first revealed to us as the new companion on Saturday the 23rd of April 2016 in a short clip featuring Bill and The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) running away from a Dalek on a Space Ship.

asBill
Pearl Mackie’s introduction to Doctor Who in a short clip on the 23/04/2016

The Doctor: “We need to get Back”

Bill: “Back Where?”

The Doctor: “Back to the future.  2017 needs us!”

So now the time has come, almost 1 year after it was revealed that Bill would be joining The Doctor, in what will be Peter Capaldi’s final series, to take a look at the actress behind the character of the new companion.

So who is Pearl Mackie?

Pearl Mackie was born on the 29th of May 1987 in Brixton, London, England to a West Indian paternal side and an English mother.  Her first acting role was as Nancy in her schools production of Oliver Twist.

therealpearlmackietbt
                                                       A young Pearl Mackie (Instagram: @therealpearlmackie)

She then went on to attend the University of Bristol and graduated with a degree in drama.  She also learnt how to speak French and Spanish alongside her mother tongue of English.  Following university she attended the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School  and graduated in 2010.  Fellow alumni from the school include Olivia Colman and Annette Crosbie, both of whom appeared in the Series 5 Episode ‘The Eleventh Hour‘ (Olivia Colman as a Mother and Annette Crosbie as Mrs Angelo)

Annette and Colman
                                   Annette Crosbie (Left) and Olivia Colman (Right) in the Series 5 Episode ‘The Eleventh Hour’

 

 

Before her film debut she was part of 4 theatre productions (The Comedy of Errors, The Crucible, Only Human and Home).  In 2013 she made her debut in the music comedy ‘Svengali‘ alongside Martin Freeman (Sherlock, The Hobbit), Maxine Peake (Dinnerladies, The Theory of Everything) and Matt Berry (The IT Crowd, The Mighty Boosh).  She played a front of house girl .

A year later she made her television debut in the BBC Medical Soap Opera ‘Doctors‘ as the character Anne-Marie Fraiser.  After her TV appearance she returned to the theatre and featured in 7 productions including – Obama-ology, A Mad World, My Masters and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Pearl obama
                                        Pearl Mackie in ‘Obama-ology

In 2016 it was announced that she would be joining The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) in Series 10 of ‘Doctor Who’.  

Her character is a young 21st century woman.  Pearl Mackie described her character as “Wicked and Cool

It was also revealed that Bill Potts will be the first openly gay Companion in an interview with Pearl Mackie.

“Yeah Bills gay… and it shouldn’t be a big deal in the 21st century really.  I am just playing one character… I’m not here to represent everyone of colour, and I’m not here to represent everyone who is gay.  I’m just here to play the part as truthfully as possible.  People are gay, People are black.  There are also aliens in the world so you know watch out for them.”  – Pearl Mackie

Although there has been speculation and rumours that Mackie would be leaving the show after just 1 series along with Peter Capaldi before new showrunner Chris Chibnall takes over from current showrunner Steven Moffat the BBC have been playing down some of the rumours.

We are still filming series 10 and no casting decisions have yet been made on series 11.  We never reveal the fate of individual characters on the show. Viewers will have to tune in to find out. – BBC Spokesperson

With only a week to go before Series 10 we are excited to see Pearl Mackie become the newest companion, and hope that Series 10 is the best series for The Twelfth Doctor, and is a good send off for Peter Capaldi.  Although it will be sad to see him go, we welcome the new changes and can’t wait to see whats in stall for us in the Chibnall era.