Doctor Who: Pearls of Wisdom

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Isa Gunther shares some pearls of wisdom.

“Time will tell. It always does.”
Twelfth Doctor, The Girl Who Died

I was going to title this piece “A Pearl in the TARDIS, (a diamond in the rough?),” but after doing my research, I realized that there really is no “in the rough” when it comes to the new Companion, Pearl Mackie, soon to be known as “Bill.” Ms. Mackie, however, was not the bookies' first choice, nor was she mentioned in the early rumors. Much like Capaldi himself, who the bookies initially placed at 20/1 odds for the Twelfth Doctor, Mackie faced nearly 30/1 odds, if she was mentioned as a candidate at all. It was only in the last twenty-four hours leading up to the reveal that her odds jumped to 4/6 in the final hours before betting was suspended. Maybe it was the image of Capaldi visiting the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, where Mackie is currently involved or the fact that she started following several other former Companions hours before the reveal that tipped them off. In either case, betting was closed, and the Companion was revealed.


So, we have a new Companion. But what do we really know about her? She is a virtual unknown, which was intentional, according to recent interviews with the Doctor Who casting director. A quick glance at her IMDb page lists only two minor television credits, which is a bit disturbing for someone who is set to take on one of the most visible roles on television. A deeper look into her career, however, gives a much different picture of who Pearl Mackie is. A few quick notes before continuing:
  • 28 years old, which makes her just a few years older than recent Companions.
  • Studied Drama at the Bristol Old Vic theatre school, and graduated in 2010. According to Mackie herself, she “loved stage combat at drama school.”
  • She's a character actor and a triple-threat—she acts, sings, and is trained in several styles of dance.
  • Known as a television actor for “Svengali” (2013) and “Doctors,” (2014). Historian's note, “Doctors” also includes six Doctor Who alumni in its extensive cast list.
  • Since graduating, she has been working steadily in theatre, and in 2010, co-won a BBC Carlton Hobbes award for Best Dialogue.
  • She is a drama teacher and workshop leader at Troupers, which teaches acting skills to children.
I, for one, am curious to see how this background, which is quite different from that of most of her predecessors, will influence her performance and her interactions with fans. I am also curious to see how the connection between the fans and the actor and character develops over the next year or so. Thus far, Ms. Mackie seems to be taking to her new status quite well, and the fans have certainly taken to her. Ten minutes after the announcement that she would be the new Companion, “Pearl Mackie” gained its own hashtag and joined “Doctor Who” and “New Companion” as trends on Twitter. About an hour after that, the first piece of fanart had appeared.



Through this past week, the BBC have released publicity photos and brief videos of Ms. Mackie and her introduction to the Daleks, Capaldi, and the fandom. Ms. Mackie herself has reached out to fans on both Twitter and Facebook. By all standards, Ms. Mackie is jumping in to her new life with both feet and a good head on her shoulders. This writer thinks that she may very well be one of the best Companions of NuWho, provided that the fandom can continue to allow Clara to be a fond memory while at the same time, embrace this new Companion and the changes she will undoubtedly bring.

Isa Gunther

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