Not every actor cast in Doctor Who is a super fan, there are examples of super fans living out the ultimate dream of becoming the Doctor – David Tennant and Peter Capaldi – but there are also others who are new to the show such as Matt Smith and Christopher Eccleston. However, it wasn’t until Pearl Mackie was cast as Bill Potts that an actor was actively discouraged from learning more about the shows fifty-plus year history.
Speaking to SFX Magazine (via the Radio Times), Mackie said she was initially keen to dive head first into past episodes – it wasn’t until Brian Minchin and Steven Moffat stepped in that she decided against cracking open the DVD’s:
“I think it’s stood me in quite good stead in terms of my approach to [playing Bill],” Mackie said. “I talked to Steven and Brian after I’d got the job – I was like, ‘Look, gimme the back catalogue, let me watch it all!’
“I initially planned to watch all of Peter’s stuff with Jenna, so I could see what he was like as a Doctor, and they were like, ‘Don’t watch it, because she doesn’t know anything about that, and actually what you’re bringing to it is a really nice kind of freshness. What you’re doing is working’.”
In other words, Pearl Mackie went method! (well, as method as you can, she hasn’t travelled back and forth in time…we think…)
Speaking of that first day on the TARDIS set – where, like Bill, she had little knowledge of just what a helmic regulator was and just what you might do with it – Mackie said:
“Oh, it was amazing…I think the first time was the day we were shooting the scene where Bill first goes onto it as well. It’s really nice that I’m experiencing that at the same time as her. No acting required, really. I’m just like, ‘Oh, this is cool!’”
So there really is no experience like no experience (bear that in mind when reading my CV Greggs).
Doctor Who returns this April on BBC One.