From The Archives: Pearl Mackie Announced as New Companion 1 Year Ago

Well, whaddaya know? It’s been just over a year since we learned that Pearl Mackie had been cast as the new companion and now three weeks since we first saw her on screen in a proper story and not just a specially written scene. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve really enjoyed her portrayal of Bill Potts and was pleasantly surprised by this, having been sceptical at first. Not really sure why I was sceptical, to be honest. Maybe I just didn’t like change. But, as we all know, it was probably not a moment too soon… And by “all”, I mean those of us of an age who remember the ’80s and a rather egostistical young lady.

Anyway, we thought it might be interesting to look at that time last year to see how we reported on all of this exciting news. So, without further ado being any furthered, we’ll start with how we broke the news on 23rd April 2016 that PEARL MACKIE IS THE NEW DOCTOR WHO COMPANION! and that the announcement was made during the mid-way break of a popular game of “footing the ball”. I understand a lot of people enjoy the ball kicking game, but fairly certain the Doctor Who core demographic wouldn’t be watching. But what do I know???

On 24th April, we fielded a brace of articles covering a brief introduction of Pearl and the first interview. Our intro article noted that bookies odds on Mackie being cast dramatically reduced a few days before the announcement was made. A little bit like how a flurry of bets on Kris Marshall a few weeks ago caused the bookies to close their books on him being named! Betting activity like that can be a strong indicator that a decision has been made and certain people in the know are hoping to cash in… I am certainly rooting for Kris Marshall – I think he’d be great!

26th April saw us reveal an amusing snippet in Pearl Mackie’s Doctor Who Codename! The showrunners dream up codenames (often anagrams) to disguise who they are talking about so they can try and keep the news under wraps for as long as possible. For Mackie, it was “Mean Town” – an anagram of Ten Woman, referring to the fact she is the tenth companion of the new series and also the companion for Series 10. Nice! Other codenames used has included Jenna Coleman as “Men on Waves” (Woman Seven, for Series 7 of the revived show) and Karen Gillan as “Panic Moon” (aka companion). I likes a bit of word play, I does! With regard to Ten Woman, we speculated on who exactly the first 9 were, aside from the obvious Rose, Martha, Donna, Amy, Rory, and Clara – who else? Captain Jack almost certainly. Lady Christina from Planet of the Dead? I’d count her. Adelaide from Waters of Mars? Probably not. Maybe Astrid from Voyage of the Damned? The forgettable Adam from Dalek and The Long Game? Nope!

On 29th April, we politely suggested that you follow Mackie on Twitter. She is active on there and that may have been what gave the game away of her casting. A few days before the announcement, she started following former companions Freema Agyeman and Jenna Coleman… and even the casting director Andy Pryor! A little object lesson in circumspection, there, I think.

Next up, on 30th April, yours truly wrote a BAFTA award winning article (also nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and a Blue Peter badge!*) about how Mackie actually got cast. She ultimately won the role against fierce competition out of an initial list of 70 names. 50 were viewed by Andy Pryor and his team and then whittled down to the final 5 who were brought before the Grand Moff and the hiring squad, including Peter Capaldi himself who was there to read the Doctor’s lines and a specially written scene. As it turns out, the whole team were unanimous in choosing Mackie. A fantastic vote of confidence, if you ask me.

So, how much are you enjoying Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts? Is it Bill Hot or Bill Not? Let us know!

* I may have exaggerated about the awards a little. Except the Blue Peter badge which I actually won for writing a poem sometime in the ’70s. Yes, I am that old.