‘Doctor Who’ – Pearl Mackie Interview on Playing Bill Potts and Being a Part of the Iconic Series

BBC America’s Doctor Who Christmas Special will send off the current Doctor, Peter Capaldi, and it will also, sadly, be the final episode for fan favorite Pearl Mackie. Mackie plays companion Bill Potts opposite Capaldi, and fans of the long-running sci-fi series quickly latched on to and embraced Mackie’s character as soon as she was introduced.

The 2017 Doctor Who Christmas Special is titled “Twice Upon a Time” and will air on Christmas. BBC America has confirmed the official synopsis: “The magical final chapter of the Twelfth Doctor’s (Peter Capaldi) journey sees the Time Lord team up with his former self, the first ever Doctor (David Bradley) and a returning Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie), for one last adventure.

Two Doctors stranded in an Arctic snowscape, refusing to face regeneration. Enchanted glass people, stealing their victims from frozen time. And a World War One captain destined to die on the battlefield, but taken from the trenches to play his part in the Doctor’s story.

An uplifting new tale about the power of hope in humanity’s darkest hours, ‘Twice Upon A Time’ marks the end of an era. But as the Doctor must face his past to decide his future, his journey is only just beginning…”

Mackie took part in the 2017 San Diego Comic Con and in addition to participating in a panel in front of a jam-packed crowd, she also sat down for roundtable interviews. In our interview, Pearl Mackie discussed her feelings about the show’s impact on audiences and about being part of the Doctor Who universe.

Pearl Mackie Doctor Who
Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts in BBC America’s ‘Doctor Who’ (Photo by Ray Burmiston/Noise In Colour)

Doctor Who Pearl Mackie Interview:

What is the absolute best thing about being part of the Doctor Who world?

Pearl Mackie: “I think all of it. Everything. I think Doctor Who is such a wonderful show that people relate to so individually, and personally, and differently. Everyone, I think, has something special that they get from it. It seems to really resonate with people in a really powerful way, actually.

I think people really engage with it and engage with the issues, and engage with the emotional journeys of all the characters. As an actress, that’s a wonderful thing to be able to give, essentially, to be able to explore something that people really, really relate to and people really resonate to.”

Was there one particular fan encounter that really did resonate with you about what you just said regarding Doctor Who’s impact on people?

Pearl Mackie: “Well, actually two, but they’re both quite similar. There was one…I was in a Pret in North London. I can’t remember what I was doing, just wandering around probably, wandering around trying to get something to eat, and this woman came up to me and was like, ‘You’re amazing. You’re amazing on the show. My daughter just loves you.’ And this little girl just bounced out from behind her mom, with this curly hair, everywhere. She was wearing like a ballet getup. She had just been to ballet or something and she was on this pink scooter. She was just like, ‘Hey, Bill!’ I go, ‘Hello, nice to meet you.’ She’s like, ‘I love you!’ (Laughing) I was like this is so great. I said, ‘So nice to meet you,’ and I went to shake her hand. She launched herself at me and just gave me a massive hug.

I think to be able to see that with young kids, especially young kids of color who don’t see themselves so much on screen… We’re getting better these days, but I know when I was young I didn’t see many people who looked like me on the screen. For me, that was something. She sort of bounced off and was really happy. I don’t know if it was something that she had consciously gone, ‘Hey, she looks like me.’ But I think for me it’s great to be able to experience that, experience the joy that that gives to kids and adults, and everyone, really.”

Bill’s sexual orientation really threw a lot of people. Do you hope people start to see that as just part of the human condition, so it doesn’t make waves?

Pearl Mackie: “Yes, exactly. I do. You have summed it up. I do hope that, yes. I think we should continue moving forward in that direction, for sure.”

A lead role in Doctor Who has increasingly become a launch pad to great career things.

Pearl Mackie: “Fingers crossed!”

What personal career ambitions do you have for the future that you may be able to achieve as a result of being a part of Doctor Who?

Pearl Mackie: “I mean, yes, firstly you’re right. Looking at previous companions and the journeys that they’ve been on, that they’re still on, there are some incredible alumni as Doctor Who companions. For me, there are so many things that I would like to explore as an actress.

Essentially for me it’s about character; that’s what really gets me. It’s about someone who’s real…or not real. I’m not adverse to playing unreal people. But, yeah, as long as like the journey’s real and the emotions are real, that’s what I want to explore. Something with an interesting story. I want to play some characters that are struggling with some stuff, maybe. I think it’s nice to be able to explore. I mean, not nice, but it’s good to be able to explore people who aren’t just happy and chilling, you know? Not that Bill was in any way. I’m not saying that at all. This has been an amazing character and an amazing journey. I’d like to just do lots more, really.

I still don’t really know what I’m doing, especially in front of a camera. So, I’d like to do a little bit more of that just so I can make sure it wasn’t just the wonderful crew that we had on Doctor Who that enabled me to actually do it.”

Also of Interview: Doctor Who Peter Capaldi Interview