Over the last 50 years and counting the Doctor has had over 40 companions with him inside the Tardis, now its time to meet the newest – walk in Bill.
With the new series of Doctor Who around the corner ready to be unleashed on us, the BBC released an exciting piece of information about Bill Potts the newest companion to the Doctor – she is gay.
I am so excited for this news especially hot off the heels of my Power Rangers blog regarding gay superheroes, Doctor Who has followed with this historic announcement. Doctor Who for many years has been led or inspired by the LGBT community, even the shows epic return in 2005 helmed by Queer As Folk’s Russell T Davies. But so much was just gay context, nothing ever stood out and proud to say this is gay.
It shouldn’t be a big deal, but it also kind of is… in the sense that representation means a lot to viewers of all ages who aren’t used to seeing their own race, gender, sexual orientation or other underrepresented identities present on screen. For Britain and much of the world, Doctor Who is more than just a TV show. It is an institution. The fact that, with Season 10’s Bill, we are getting our first openly gay companion is news worth celebrating.
There have always been gay characters in Doctor Who more so since the revival in 2005, so the show is not a stranger to this. Captain Jack Harkness played by John Barrowman was the nearest we had to an openly gay companion, but Jack was more a trysexual – he’d fuck anything with a postcode. To be honest Captain Jack was a bit too much for me, suddenly the Tardis was like Carry On Who. Every sentence was turned into an innuendo for Jack to make it more a bit gayer. But I wont take away from what John Barrowman did with the character, the relationship in Torchwood with Ianto. The two brilliantly acted and showed what great love and affection, something a gay relationship can truly be. But Jack was a Time Agent from 51st Century, not a great deal the average person watching Doctor Who could relate too.
Played by Pearl Mackie she commented the news by saying;
“That representation is important, especially on a mainstream show … It’s important to say people are gay, people are black — there are also aliens in the world as well so watch out for them … I remember watching TV as a young mixed race girl not seeing many people who looked like me, so I think being able to visually recognise yourself on screen is important. … [Being gay] is not the main thing that defines her character – it’s something that’s part of her and something that she’s very happy and very comfortable with.”
Doctor Who doesn’t start for a few more weeks, but already the world is trying to judge what sort of companion she is by over analysing the trailers being released. But to be honest I just hope they get her right. Its strange to think I don’t want her to be screaming in your face gay, or yelling gay rights to a Dalek. I want to see a normal person living day to day life, having a gay social life and doing well – until she meets the Doctor.
According to the BBC, the reveal is first made in Mackie’s second line of dialogue in the season premiere. And while the actresses stresses that Bill’s sexuality should not be all that defines her, she also recognizes the significance of portraying the first openly gay companion, and the importance of diversity on television.
Even today as I write this blog poor Bill is already receiving Press backlash and negativity, as today it was announced before the series even airs that poor Bill will be leaving when Peter Capaldi leaves the role at the end of the year. This being a mutual decision from the BBC and new showrunner Chris Chibnall. I hope after this season, this is not the last we see of Bill, but what do I know I’ve not even seen her debut yet? Fingers crossed for Bill I was a massive fan of Martha Jones, and I remember uproar when she was revealed to be only staying for one series. But it was the best thing that happened for that character, she came back for 5 episodes the next series and also in the spin off Torchwood. So its down to the audience to embrace her.
But like the Doctor says
“Time will tell, it always does”