The BBC has revealed that stage actress Pearl Mackie will be joining Peter Capaldi when Doctor Who next hits our screens in 2017.
The RTS sat down with Doctor Who casting director Andy Pryor who has worked on the show since it was resurrected in 2005. He gave us the low-down on the new face in the TARDIS.
Since the departure of Clara Oswald, played by Jenna Coleman, at the end of the last series, the Doctor has been flying alone. Coleman has gone on to play Queen Victoria in the forthcoming ITV drama Victoria, hitting screens later this year.
Pearl Mackie has been named as the Doctor's new travel companion, Bill, who she described as "cool, strong, sharp, a little bit vulnerable with a bit of geekiness thrown in", promising to "kick some evil monsters into the next dimension!"
“There was a chemistry that felt fresh and new and different to Peter’s relationship with Jenna” Andy recalled.
“You could see Peter [Capaldi] fizzing with ideas in that audition reading and in the clip that was ultimately produced with the announcement."
Lead writer Steven Moffatt, who is also behind hit BBC drama Sherlock wrote scenes especially for the audition process.
“What people saw in the announcement [on BBC One] was one of the audition scenes originally. I think Pearl grabbed those scenes and did something really exciting with them,” added Andy.
The extensive audition process saw over 50 actors competing for the part, before a handful made it through to an audition with incumbent Doctor Peter Capaldi in front of Andy and Steven Moffatt.
Andy explained: "In those intensive auditions what you’re looking for is something startling and new and somebody who going to bring idea to the part. She just stood out and did a fantastic job.”
This is Mackie's first major television role. While she’s a highly respected stage actor, currently appearing in the hit The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, her TV experience comprises one role on BBC medical soap Doctors.
“She’s a great example of somebody who proves that you don’t always have to have experience to be good," said Andy. "She’s a very experienced theatre actor and has done quite a variety of theatre work. She’s not naïve and she’s not a pushover.
“She’s one of those people that has a natural ability on camera."
Pearl Mackie will be playing Bill, the Doctor's new companion, from 2017, however if you need a little Who to tide you over, watch out for new spin off Class, which Andy Pryor also cast.
"I haven't seen any of it yet", he says, "but that's going very well, I am told. They all seem thrilled with it."