‘Doctor Who’ announces show’s first openly gay companion

Pearl Mackie will play Bill Potts in the cult BBC show

Doctor Who‘s next companion will be the first in the show’s history to be openly gay.

Pearl Mackie will play Bill Potts when the cult BBC show returns on April 15. The character replaces Jenna Coleman’s Clara as the companion of Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor.

Although the show has contained numerous gay characters, none have featured as full time companions to the Doctor.

Speaking about the news, Mackie said: “It shouldn’t be a big deal in the 21st century. It’s about time, isn’t it? 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, 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,” Mackie continued.

“[Being gay] is not the main thing that defines [Potts’] character – it’s something that’s part of her and something that she’s very happy and very comfortable with.”

Meanwhile, Capaldi will leave his role as the Doctor at the end of the upcoming season. Fleabag‘s Phoebe Waller-BridgeKris Marshall and Tilda Swinton have been tipped for the role.