'Doctor Who' To Feature Its First Openly Gay Companion

Doctor Who may go down in history as the longest-running British sci-fi show, but it will make history again in its upcoming 10th season of the new Who franchise that began in 2005.

The Doctor's newest companion (the designated title for his permanent sidekick) played by Pearl Mackie, will be the first openly gay one in the show's 50-plus year run.

The tenth season will be Mackie's debut as Bill, a character with very little knowledge and experience with the world of Peter Capaldi's Doctor, approaching the screaming robots and tin-can men with a humorous skepticism. Her sexuality will be revealed almost immediately, in her second line of dialogue, according to BBC.

"It shouldn't be a big deal in the 21st century. It's about time isn't it?" Mackie told the BBC.

She continued:

"That representation is important, especially on a mainstream show. It's important to say people are gay, people are black – there are also aliens in the world as well so watch out for them. I remember watching TV as a young mixed race girl not seeing many people who looked like me, so I think being able to visually recognise yourself on screen is important. [Being gay] is not the main thing that defines her character – it's something that's part of her and something that she's very happy and very comfortable with."

Bill was first introduced in an April 2016 clip featuring the Doctor and his new befuddled friend running from his mortal enemies, the Daleks. Bill pokes fun at their cheap appearance, and is "not easily impressed" by the Doctor's stern warnings.

Bill won't be the first LGBTQ character to appear on Doctor Who, with bisexual characters like Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) and River Song (Alex Kingston) frequently appearing to travel and fight alongside the Doctor. Captain Jack even received his own spin-off show, Torchwood, after traveling for several episodes with the Doctor in season 1 and later recurring in seasons 3 and 4.

Bill, however, will be the first full-time companion to be open about her sexuality, which is a big deal for the long-running program. Think of the companion as the family equivalent to "the Bond Girl" — it's the role that's most speculated-over and coveted right after the Doctor's, and sometimes makes more of a pop culture impact than the nearly-immortal time-traveling hero of the series. Some companions were so popular that they recieved their own spin-off show, like Elizabeth Sladen, who first appeared as the popular companion Sarah Jane Smith in the 1970s before starring in The Sarah Jane Adventures in 2007-2011.

This season of Doctor Who will be Peter Capaldi's last, with the actor is due to hand over the key to the Tardis during this year's Christmas special. Speculation has been rampant about who will be the next Doctor, with many calling for an actress to take over the role (the Time Lords have the ability to regenerate into different races and genders). And hey, with an openly gay companion, who knows what progressive steps forward could be made for the casting of the titular Doctor — who, like Bond, has been straight and white for the entire show's run. Though, Capaldi was the first Doctor to be Scottish (David Tennant hid his own Scottish accent during his run).

The end for Capaldi is nigh in the latest trailer for the season, as you can see a brief clip of him regenerating, the familiar yellow rays emanating from his hand.

Doctor Who returns April 15 on the BBC.