Hypable got a chance to chat with actress Pearl Mackie about Bill Potts’ journey, and what makes her character so interesting.
Season 10 of Doctor Who brought back the fun adventures across space and time, and introduced to us the Doctor’s new companion: Bill Potts. Pearl Mackie brings all her fun, witty charm to the role, and immediately captured our hearts from the first episode of the season, which may be shaping up to be one of the best ones yet.
This new season of Doctor Who feels like exactly what we needed, and so does Bill. Like all companions before her, she’s wide-eyed and in awe of the possibilities the TARDIS offers, but she’s also uniquely inquisitive and clever. Mackie brings something refreshing to the show that’s instantly captivating, even beyond the wonderful representation of LGBTQ+ people of color on something as big as Doctor Who.
In conversation with Pearl Mackie herself, we had a chance to ask some questions about Bill’s journey as the Doctor’s companion, how Bill comes to terms with her new role, what season 10 means to Mackie herself, and most importantly… will we be seeing her again in season 11?
We’ve really been enjoying this season. It really feels like a turning point — the new characters, a Doctor that’s in a different mindset, and then Bill comes in and immediately makes us feel a part of the journey.
Oh great! I’m glad it feels like something new and freshening things up!
It’s very interesting to see what each companion contributes to Doctor Who, and what kind of role they fall into. How do you feel that Bill grows through her adventures with the Doctor?
I think she grows a lot, really. She finds out a lot about herself and about her values, which I think she hasn’t really questioned before. She’s put in quite extreme situations with the Doctor; you know, a lot of things that are a matter of life and death, and faith in humanity, and that kind of thing.
So it really makes her think about what she values and what she thinks is important. And what she thinks is important in friends, as well. And she learns a lot about the Doctor, and sort of grows in that way.
But you know, we’re only halfway through the series so I can’t give too much away!
We’re very excited to see what’s going to happen! Something that’s very interesting, in the early episodes, is that it seems to take Bill a bit longer to fall into the let’s-save-the-world kind of role. Does she struggle with that concept?
Yeah, I guess she does, in terms of, you know, she’s a normal human being and if someone presented you with a TARDIS and said, “Hey, let’s go and save the world… by the way, I can travel through all of space and all of time!” Well, it definitely would take me a long time to wrap my head around it.
Those first three episodes are essentially to kind of introduce them, and to kind of establish their relationship. And she’s been with the Doctor for about a year before they even travel together, so it’s important to get that across within the first couple of episodes. And then she learns a bit more about what the Doctor actually does, and how he likes to respond to distress calls, and wants to save the world when he can.
So yeah, I do think it takes her a bit longer and that sort of adds to her humanity, and adds to the journey, really.
Will we get to see Bill get into a relationship with anyone while travelling with the Doctor?
Well, that would be telling, isn’t it? You have to watch the next episodes to wait and see… but I’m not making any promises.
It’s really nice to see how you’ve been using the platform you have to speak up about what you believe in, and of course bringing much-needed diversity to screen. With Doctor Who reaching out to a broader audience, what, in your opinion, is the main message of season 10?
I think I’m too close to it to look at it as objectively as that, to see it from an external perspective. I’m too involved in the character of Bill… I think [it’s about] the relationship between the Doctor and the companion and Nardole… how they learn to be friends and then how they learn a lot about each other, and where their adventures take them… and what conclusions that leads them to.
What has been the most surprising part of joining Doctor Who, good or bad?
The most surprising part? I think the most surprising part is yet to come. And I think that’s probably all I can say on that.
Is that a hint? Will we be seeing you beyond this season?
Oh! Well, no! I’m just saying that there are some surprising twists and turns! As one would hope for any exciting series of Doctor Who.
Was that a hint? We hope so!
Either way, so far, season 10 have given us an excellent companion who’s already loved by the fandom, and we won’t be forgetting Bill anytime soon. It would certainly be great to see her return next season, especially since this is Peter Capaldi’s last one, and the Doctor will be regenerating at some point in upcoming episodes.
Mackie’s portrayal of the new companion feels like a breath of fresh air, and we can’t wait to see where the story takes her. We can’t have enough of Bill Potts!
What has been your favorite ‘Bill moment’ this season?
Doctor Who airs on Saturdays at 9/8c on BBC America.