What else do we know about her?
Not terribly much. A late flurry of bets had been placed on newcomer Mackie in the two days preceding the announcement, to such an extent that she became the 4/6 odds-on favourite for the job. Secrecy clearly wasn’t quite as tight as the BBC wanted.
As an acting tutor for children, she’s described as having “vibrant optimism” with her special skills listed as “mixing maturity and immaturity” – which sounds on-brand for Doctor Who. Peter Capaldi says he’s “very excited” about Mackie joining him in the TARDIS. “We’ve been doing a bit of work together already,” said the Twelfth Doctor.
Mackie’s appointment makes good casting sense in response to recent suggestions that it’s time to see a non-white actor back in the TARDIS. The last companion of colour was Freema Agyeman eight years ago. As Capaldi says: “Doctor Who is at its best when it reflects contemporary culture. It’s time for us to be recognisably in the 21st century.”
What will her character be like?
Unlike previous incumbent Clara Oswald, whose Impossible Girl status meant she had prior knowledge of the Time Lord, Capaldi says “now we have someone who knows very little about the Doctor”. That was reflected in the special preview clip, in which Bill was inquisitively lippy but ignorant of the Daleks
Capaldi had expressed a preference for a female companion, quipping: “With the best will in the world, I don’t want a bloke, because I’m frightened that they’ll give him all the action and I’ll be standing around spouting scientific gobbledygook. I just think that combo of the slightly strange, alien Time Lord with the intelligent, enthusiastic, inquisitive girl is a good combo. I don’t know why – but it just seems to work.”
Mackie herself says: “Reading the script at the audition, I thought Bill was wicked. Fantastically written, cool, strong, sharp, a little bit vulnerable with a bit of geekiness thrown in – I can’t wait to bring her to life and to see how she develops through the series. I always loved stage combat at drama school, so I can’t wait to get on set and kick some evil monsters into the next dimension!”