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.