How Pearl Mackie Was Cast As The New Companion

How does one get to be picked as the new Doctor Who companion? You have to stand out from the crowd and catch the eye of Andy Pryor, the casting director for Doctor Who since its return in 2005 – that’s how.

After that you need to outshine the competition and get yourself picked out from, in this case, the original 70 selected and the 50 of those that got viewed by Andy and his team. Of those 50, 10 were recalled and then the final 5 chosen few were brought before the hiring squad of The Grand Moff (showrunner, head writer, exec producer serving his notice…), Brian Minchin (Exec Producer), Andy Pryor, and some chap called Peter Capaldi who was there to read the Doctor’s lines, or something, in a scene specially written by Steven Moffat. As it turns out, the verdict was unanimous and Pearl was offered the job! Woohoo! With a side helping of Huzzah!

Rewinding slightly, the Radio Times takes us on the journey up to and beyond that point by having a nice chat with Andy Pryor. Covering his time on the show and his thoughts on what they look for in a new companion… and even a new Doctor. When asked if he’s met the Chibster or had any thoughts or discussions on the next Doctor he states quite categorically that he hasn’t met Chibbers yet, so no discussions on that subject have happened. I take that to mean we’ll have Peter for at least one season under the new showrunner, completing the obligatory minimum (in my head, anyway) 3 seasons as the star, and then some.

Back to Pearl, and Andy reveals that it was the plan all along for a relative unknown to take the role, and when asked what it was that made them select her, he replies:

“She arrived fully formed, with a strong personality and a strong sense of herself. A great deal of humour too, which is something we were looking for in this case.”

Peter was also very much a part of the casting process, not just in terms of him being there to work with the hopefuls, but also to test the chemistry and to have some say in the matter on the final decision.

There is also some discussion on diversity and ‘colour-blindness’ when casting, with Andy being quite proud of Doctor Who’s record in this area in recent years – you just have to reflect the audience so they can see themselves doing that job on or off screen.

The interview is pretty extensive. Go and read it now and then tell us what you think! I was initially quite sceptical (that’s my default mode) but I’m warming to her already after seeing the clip. ’80s girl, d’ya think? Seems quite likely to me with the clothes she’s wearing.

  • TimeChaser

    I wonder if that special scene was what they filmed to serve as her introduction? That would be a first time and pretty cool.

    70, to 50, to 10, to 5, to 1… That’s definitely lucky, but not just luck of course. It proves she has the chops and the right synch with Peter to have got the job. Lucky though in that she gets a job a lot of us probably wish we had. 😉

  • Dr. Moo

    Good to see it takes more credentials nowadays than back in the 80s where you’d get the lead role for making jokes at a party or shoving ferrets down your trousers.
    (Colin and Sylvester were brilliant though)

    • TimeChaser

      Hey, if it weren’t for those ferrets, we’d have missed a great Doctor! 😉

      • Dr. Moo

        I know. Number 7 is my favourite of the classics and number 6 comes in second.

        • TimeChaser

          I approve! For me It’s 1. Tom and 2. Sylv. If I were threatened to just have one choice for a third place, it would be 3. Troughton. That’s just based on the TV series. Taking all else into account, it would be 3. Colin.

          • Mark North

            Who would you choose among the four Doctors, beginning in 2005?

          • Dr. Moo

            *five

          • Mark North

            Whether to include the War Doctor as a classic Doctor, or the bridge between the Classic and New Doctors has been a source of controversy. You can make an argument that John Hurt’s Doctor is the final Classic Doctor or the first New Doctor. To me, the War Doctor is the bridge between the Classic and New Doctors. Either argument has merit.

          • Dr. Moo

            Fair point but I’d say that since his appearances are limited exclusively to the post-2005 run I would count him as a “New” Doctor.

          • TimeChaser

            There was a time when I would have said Matt, and while I still love his performance, hands down it has to be Capaldi. I don’t think any other actor who’s had the role could do a story like Heaven Sent. That alone makes Capaldi my favorite of the new era so far. He may end up being the Tom of the 21st century – no one will be able to match him.

        • FrancoPabloDiablo

          I’ve never been able to pick a favourite. That is like asking someone to pick their favourite child – impossible! Or at least it should be since you should love them all equally.

          • Dr. Moo

            I do love all of them. I have favourites and least favourites but there’s none who I would call “the best”.

          • TimeChaser

            They’re all wonderful, of course, I will always love certain ones over the rest. I mean, Tom was my intro to Who, and Tom was the one who popularized it here in the States. I think if you asked most older American fans, they would automatically single out Tom as their favorite.