The BBC has announced that the new companion to the Twelfth Doctor, Bill Potts, will be an openly gay woman.
The news will apparently be revealed in Bill’s second line of dialogue in the opening episode, The Pilot, to be shown on ABC on 16 April and in selected cinemas.
Speaking about the revelation, Mackie said her character’s sexuality “shouldn’t be a big deal”.
“[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,” she said.
Mackie did note, however, that representation of different races and sexualities is important, especially on a mainstream show such as Doctor Who.
“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.
“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.”
Of course the Doctor has had LGBT friends before – both Captain Jack and River Song had relationships with both men and women, and though Madame Vastra and Jenny were not technically companions, their status as a married lesbian couple was seen as a big milestone for the show. Bill will however be the first companion to both identify as gay and travel in the TARDIS on screen, joining off-screen companions such as Izzy Sinclair from the comics and Oliver Harper from the Big Finish audio dramas.