Along came Stacy Embry...
Like the classic song from Show Boat, it’s hard to quantify any person named Bill. My Dad was a Bill, I’ve known several, and each was memorable. Doctor Who’s Bill, played by Pearl Mackie, looks complex. The ham-fisted split-face shirt aside, the idea of a gender fluid character is a good one. Though I can’t fully predict what they are doing with the girl named Bill, I do have many gender fluid students at both secondary and post levels. They switch, they bend and they educate us all. Refusing to be a square peg, they embrace their roundness and help society to do so, too. I don’t think there will be any preaching at us in series ten, but by being out of the norm, I find the potential of this character quite interesting.
Ms. Mackie is currently starring in the West End’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, so you know that this gal’s got chops. However, the video preview did no favors for her at all. Bad camera angles and very cheeky dialogue requires knowing a person, and they are not for when we first meet them. She came across rather dim as a daft comic relief. I don’t believe Bill will be that narrow.
Pearl Mackie, and therefore Bill, has presence. She is confident. My only fear is how old the character will be played. She looks mid-twenties, but some speculation mentions Bill as a teenager. I say, please no. This woman is no child, not even a young adult. This actress looks older than Jenna Coleman who was a teacher. (I looked Miss Mackie up and she’s a fit 28). Personally, I’ve always believed that Rose, Billie Piper, was asked to appear younger and that was part of what grated on me about that character. Donna Noble was brilliant and her age was never an issue. If the producers/directors can avoid this trap, I predict glorious success for series ten.
Finally, I feel compelled to examine the tone of many posts and articles that have appeared since Ms. Mackie's reveal, those commenting on her appearance. The same people have complained of model-looking Doctors and companions who walked off runways into the TARDIS. As a Theatre Educator I know that how you look can often be more important than how you act, but Ms. Mackie is a unique woman who is comfortable in her skin, and in such a companion role I admire the casting and her faith in the Whovian universe to give her a chance. I know we, of all people, can adjust to a new companion, especially one as unique as Bill.
That Show Boat song ends with “I love him because he's… I don't know… Because he's just my Bill.” I predict that this time next year we all will agree that talent is talent.
Risk-averse, Stacy would not even enter the TARDIS in case it suddenly
set to motion. Yet, gentle reader, she feels compelled to clarify that
she writes opinion or editorial pieces. By using logic and reasoning,
she always hopes to coherently provoke honest discourse.