Crackpot ‘Doctor Who’ theory: Pearl Mackie will be the next Doctor

What if the Doctor regenerates into Bill Potts?

12:00 pm EST, June 27, 2017

With Peter Capaldi leaving Doctor Who soon, we’re all wondering who will replace him. What if Pearl Mackie is the next Doctor?

Mackie has proven herself more than capable of playing a smart, quirky character throughout the season she’s starred in. Bill Potts always known what questions to ask, and after many episodes of adventures, she understands a lot about the universe the Doctor inhabits, and can really hold her own in it. She’s proven to be so great, in fact, that I suspect there’s more in store for her than just being a companion.

So here’s my crazy theory: Pearl Mackie is being set up to be the Thirteenth (or Fourteenth, I guess, if you count John Hurt) Doctor.

the next doctor bill

As of now, Pearl Mackie has not been confirmed to star in the upcoming season; presumably, with Steven Moffat stepping down, the decision is ultimately showrunner Chris Chibnall’s to make. But with only the season finale and the Christmas Special to go, it’s likely that the decision has already been made. We’ll soon find out whether Bill will be staying, or if she’ll be leaving with Twelve.

Such a great character deserves better than to be put aside when the Doctor regenerates. And with the talented actor that Mackie is, it would be amazing to see her in a truly unique role: while she plays a fun, loveable human companion now, she could really bring a unique touch to the show as the Doctor.

Bill is, of course, just human, and what will happen to her by the end of Season 10 is still a mystery. But this wouldn’t be the first time the Doctor chose to take on the face of a human he’s met before: in Capaldi’s case, his return to the show after already playing Caecilius in Season 4 was explained as the Doctor’s way of reminding himself that he has a duty to save people, like he saved Caecilius in “The Fires of Pompeii.”

Now, in “World Enough and Time,” Bill seems to have been turned into a Cyberman (Cyberwoman?) which may very well be an irreversible process. It would be a truly terrible ending to her story, but she wouldn’t be the first companion to only have one season to her name (although it would definitely make many of us very, very angry to see her go that way.) What if there’s more to it all than just the end of a great character?

the next doctor bill missy

If these are her final episodes, though, it would make sense for the Doctor to later subconsciously adopt her appearance. He’s already expressed his affection for her this season, saying “In amongst seven billion, there’s someone like you. That’s why I put up with the rest of them.” Taking on her appearance would be the ultimate tribute to a companion he’s held so dear.

Bringing Mackie into the show for a full season made us fall in love with her, and may also have served the showrunners as an example of what her interactions with characters like Missy and Nardole would look like. Chemistry with these characters is essential to Doctor Who’s success, especially now that Missy has such a big role.

We’ve seen Bill’s character take on increasingly difficult challenges and show leadership on her own. We’ve also been steadily exposed to the idea of having a woman in Doctor Who’s lead role, especially in these last few seasons, with the revelation that River Song has Time Lord DNA, the Master’s reappearance in the form of Missy, and the reiterated admissions that Time Lords can regenerate into any gender. Moffat also seems to have been making a point in the latest episode, with Bill and the Doctor having a conversation on the subject: “Time Lords, a bit flexible on the man/woman thing then?”

the next doctor bill tardis

In the face of criticism for not having a diverse enough cast of Doctors, a female, Black, lesbian character would be an excellent response to the fans that are clamoring to see more representation on screen. But beyond what the fandom or the BBC wants to see, Pearl Mackie is awesome, and could definitely make her time as the Doctor an incredibly fun ride.

Is it crazy? Yes. Is it unlikely? At first glance, yes. But would it make for an absolutely mindblowing season finale? Absolutely. Whether Bill lives or dies by the end of the season, we hope this isn’t the last we see of her.

Could Pearl Mackie be the next Doctor?

The Doctor Who season finale airs this Saturday, July 1st.

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