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Who is Pearl

Who is Pearl Mackie?

“Introducing Pearl Mackie as Bill.” So read the on-screen caption at the end of a short, sparky clip which saw Peter Capaldi’s Doctor and his new time-travelling companion hiding from the Daleks in a space station corridor.

Announced live on BBC One during half-time of the FA Cup semi-final (wonder how much crossover there is between Whovians and football fans? Stereotype would suggest not much), the identity of the Time Lord’s next companion was revealed as newcomer Mackie. She becomes the Doctor’s 41st companion and the 10th since the 2005 reboot.

It was refreshing to see the new recruit revealed through filmed footage, a new clip entitled “Friend From the Future”, rather than the actress giving interview bland non-answers in a studio interview. The fact that Mackie happens to shares a hairstyle with Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini, the sole goalscorer in the match at half-time, was a slice of time-space-soccer serendipity.

“I’m incredibly excited to be joining the Doctor Who family,” says Mackie. “It’s such an extraordinary British institution, I couldn’t be prouder to call the TARDIS my home! Peter is such a brilliant actor, and his Doctor is such a wacky and wonderful character. I can’t wait to see what adventures are in store for him and Bill throughout time and space.”

What is she known for?

Londoner Mackie, who graduated from Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in 2010, is a relative newcomer with previous TV credits including Brit film Svengali and daytime Doctors. She also appeared in a music video for pop band Years & Years alongside Ben “Q from the Bond films” Whishaw and rising star Tuppence Middleton.

Mackie is currently starring in the National Theatre’s production of The Curious Dog in the Night-Time, which runs until June. Presumably when that wraps up, she’ll start filming at the time travel franchise’s Cardiff base.

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!”

All-new double act: Pearl and the Doctor
All-new double act: Pearl and the Doctor Credit: BBC/Ray Burmiston

Capaldi called her “a fine, fine actress with a wonderful zest and charm. She’s a refreshing addition to the TARDIS and will bring a universe of exciting new possibilities to The Doctor’s adventures”. Charlotte Moore, the BBC’s acting Director of Television added: “Pearl brings a wonderful energy and lights up the screen. She will captivate Doctor Who fans old and new across the globe.”

Bill looks like she’ll hold her own banter-wise, while sporting jeans-and-trainers in contrast to the Doctor’s tailoring and frock coats. As is traditional with the Doctor’s sidekicks, also expect her to marvel at the dimensions of the Tardis, followed by much dashing down corridors to flee from alien danger “When I say run, run!”

Where is she likely sit in the pantheon of Doctor Who companions?

Mackie replaces the popular Jenna Coleman, who played Clara for three years – making her the longest-serving companion since the reboot – and starred alongside two Doctors: Matt “bow ties are cool” Smith before Peter “eyebrows” Capaldi. 

The BBC will hope Bill goes on to win hearts and capture the public imagination, similar to Billie Piper a decade ago as Rose Tyler – or the likes of Elisabeth Sladen (as Sarah-Jane Smith), Sophie Aldred (as Ace) or Louise Jameson (as Leela) in the classic Doctor Who era.

Mackie will start filming this summer for the series to air in spring 2017 – the final run for head writer, executive producer and all-round “Whopremo” Steven Moffat, who will be succeeded by Broadchurch boss Chris Chibnall.

What the fans say

At first, it was mainly Doctor Who fans being bored by the football analysis and annoyed the announcement was running later than advertised. Once Mackie was confirmed, though, reaction centred mainly on “who?” and her hair. 

I can imagine the anxiety and stress. Who care about the football match, get to commercial (announcement). I bit like the Super Bowl. But I just watch the commercials online and skip the game entirely.

But the BBC had a spike in their ratings for a few minutes! 🙂

Then they were tossed to and FRO but Pearl Who? 🙂

Filming of series 10 is due to start in a few weeks but the next series is not due until 2017 – so it’ll be a while until we see Capaldi on screen with his new travelling companion. (UK Telegraph)

So we still have a year to wait folks. 😦



Capaldi 1 Pearl 2

The Pearl Revealed

Pearl Mackie has been named as the new Doctor Who companion alongside Peter Capaldi’s Time Lord in the Tardis.


The Londoner’s role was announced on BBC One during half time of the FA Cup semi-final match between Everton and Manchester United.

Mackie, 28, replaces Jenna Coleman, whose character Clara Oswald left the show in 2015.

Filming for the next series of the long-running science fiction show will start this year but air in 2017.

Mackie, who graduated from Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in 2010, played Anne-Marie Frasier in Doctors in 2014 and is currently performing in the National Theatre’s West End production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.

“I’m incredibly excited to be joining the Doctor Who family,” she said. “It’s su an extraordinary British institution, I couldn’t be prouder to call the Tardis my home.”

‘Genuine delight’

She added: “Peter Capaldi is such a brilliant actor, and his Doctor is such a wacky and wonderful character, I can’t wait to see what adventures are in store for him and Bill throughout time and space.”

Mackie said her new character “Bill” was “wicked”, describing her as “cool, strong, sharp, a little bit vulnerable with a bit of geekiness thrown in”.

Image copyright BBC, Ray Burmiston
Image caption Mackie got her first encounter with a Dalek in the new Doctor Who trailer

Capaldi said: “It is a genuine delight to welcome Pearl Mackie to Doctor Who. A fine, fine actress with a wonderful zest and charm, she’s a refreshing addition to the Tardis and will bring a universe of exciting new possibilities to The Doctor’s adventures.”

Doctor Who, which was first shown in 1963, is heading for its 10th season since it was reintroduced to schedules in 2005 after a gap of nine years.

Coleman joined the show in 2012, and starred alongside two Doctors, Matt Smith and Capaldi, the 12th Doctor who joined in 2014.

She asked to be written out and left to take on the role of Queen Victoria in a major ITV drama series.

In January, it was announced that the head writer and executive producer of Doctor Who, Steven Moffat, was stepping down from the show.

The next series will be his last, after which he will be replaced by Broadchurch writer Chris Chibnall.


Trekking Along

Ok, I may get in dangerous territory today.

I love Star Trek. I’m American. It’s hard not to know about it. It’s the American equivalent of Doctor Who.

While it hasn’t been on TV as much as Who has, this year is the 50th Anniversary of the American institution.

I love imagination. That’s why I’m into Science Fiction in the first place.

So naturally I am into Trek.

What brought this up was a Concert here a couple of nights ago, call “Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage” which was a concert in celebration of those 50 years.

True, it was only estimated to be about a 30 pieces band helped by audio recordings and not The BBC Orchestra of Wales that I have seen also but it was a great concert nonetheless augmented by visuals.

It was afterwards that the discussion really got started, and this blog’s genesis (star trek pun).

It was pointed out that the concert itself was “inspiring” and that Star Trek, in general, is more “inspiring” than Who.

And that got me thinking.

Yes, I think Trek is more “inspiring”. This may also be an American point-of-view in someways as I didn’t grow up with Doctor Who as a kid. I was 21.

But I am big fan of both. But I am a bigger fan of WHO.

WHO is ALL OVER my house. Trek isn’t.

Trek inspired me as a kid for the imagination. Not the Science.

I am not the one who thought, I want to be a Planetary Geologist when I grow up. I know several who did.

I didn’t look at the communicator and go “oh look, a flip lid Cell phone, how 00’s of you.”

I gravitated to the imagination of it all. The going where no man has gone before. To go out there and see what and who is out there.

That was my thrill. Still is.

But Doctor Who has an even broader canvas. Arguably, the broadest possible one. Not just where Man hasn’t gone. He isn’t a Man. But Anywhere in Time & Space in the whole of creation and even beyond it.

Now that’s a imagination stage like no other.

And the lead character is the same one from 52 1/2 ago!

No “Next Generation”, you get Next Regeneration. 🙂

The Borg…HAH! Doctor Who had The Cybermen in 1966 when Star Trek had just premiered!

Doctor who has the Guinness Book of World Records for most Successful TV show.:)

Nov 25, 2013 – Guinness World Records can today confirm that the special 50 th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who which was broadcast globally on Saturday has set a new world for the largest ever simulcast of a TV drama after the episode was shown in 94 countries across six continents.

So, while Star Trek has inspired Science around the world. Doctor Who inspires even more Imagination.

And we need both.

So I am a fan of both. The Apple and the Custard. 🙂

The New Companion Announced

It can finally be revealed. After months of speculation.

The New companion has been announced.

The show is going to one of it’s old roots and rebooting a character that wasn’t well served back in the day because of the technology involved.


As you may recall Kamelion was a shape changing robot in the late Davison stories but because of the technology at the time he made his first appearance in “King’s Demon’s” and then largely got chucked in the bin until his last story, and death, “Planet of Fire”.

But with CGI now it can be so much better in 2016 plus you can have a guest actor in every week to play the part and you don’t have to have a permanent companion.

“We can do so much more with the concept now than 30 years ago.” said Doctor Who’s Special Effects Supervisor, Danny Hargreaves.

Plus it would also add the first non-human companion in the new era of the show.

Seeing as Peter may or may not stay on after the Chibnall change it could be used as a nice bridge companion that Chibnall could dump or not, and if Peter Capaldi leaves with Steven then you can have a new Doctor and a New Companion without any carryover. Or you can just fix Kamelion in one guise and you have a new Companion for the new Doctor while having some continuity.

Steven Moffatt was quoted as saying it was another bold way to make a statement about the companion’s role and to do something innovative to keep the audience watching it brings something fresh to the show.

Co-star Peter Capaldi said: “I can’t wait to start working with the new Kamelion . It was vital to see someone very different in the role and Steven has just the ticket.”

“This way we can have good actors rotating in to play Kamelion and we don’t have to stick with just one actor or actress and we can have a variety. Kamelion can be programmed to be different and have different things happen to it each week so it keeps it fresh and interesting for an audience.” said showrunner Steven Moffat.

In my opinion, kind of like have K-9 without all the rights issues and Frobisher without the CGI costs.It has a lot of potential, especially in this vastly different technological age.

Good for you Steven. You made a good choice.


Sad News

I somehow missed this story. My sincerest condolences.

We are deeply saddened by the loss of David Tennant’s father, The Very Rev Dr Sandy McDonald.

Born: November 5, 1937
Died: March 17, 2016

Sandy, who was a former Moderator of the Church Of Scotland, passed aged 78, after a long battle with lung disease at the Erskine Care Home for ex-servicemen in Bishopton.

McDonald had been a regular on television in the 1980s, co-presenting the religious-affairs programme That’s The Spirit! In 2006 he appeared alongside his son David in Ready Steady Cook, and two years later he had a cameo role in Doctor Who. “I think they must have been short of someone,” he said. “They very kindly invited me to play the part of a footman.”  When Tennant received a National Television Award in 2015 he dedicated it to his father –“an inspiration and a role model.”

Born in Bishopbriggs, Glasgow, to Jessie Helen Low and Alexander M. McDonald, Sandy worked in the timber industry as a trainee manager from 1952-1958. During that time he took a break for two years when he was called up to do national service with the Royal Air Force. Whilst there his duties included operating the ground radar for the 617 Dambusters. After that he continued his wor in the timber trade from 1958 until 1962 when he responded to God’s call and decided to train for the ministry, studying theology at the University of Glasgow and at Trinity College in Dublin. He graduated later with a BA from the Open University, which subsequently granted him a Doctorate, in honour of his work as Moderator of the General Assembly.

Sandy served as an assistant minister at Merrylea Parish Church in Newlands, Glasgow, before being called as minister to St David’s in Bathgate, in 1968. As chaplain to the town’s British Leyland plant, he spoke out for workers during a period of industrial action.

In 1974 he became minister of St Mark’s Oldhall Parish Church, Ralston in Renfrewshire, Paisley, where he helped found a young ministers’ fraternal group that still meets today as part of the Presbytery of Paisley. He served as President of the Glasgow and Paisley Battalions of the Boys Brigade. He had a BB badge on every jacket he owned.

One of his passions was for the Church’s Summer Mission, which every year took hundreds of young people to the seaside.

As General Secretary of the Church of Scotland’s Board of Ministry, from 1988 until his retirement in 2002, he was an advocate for ministers. During his tenure ministers’ stipends were raised, benefits were improved and ministers were encouraged to see themselves as uniquely qualified professionals.

A natural media personality, Sandy co-presented STV’s religious magazine programme ‘That’s the Spirit’ during the 1980s, and was a guest on other religious shows.

Many fans of David will know of Sandy from his on screen appearances alongside his son on shows such as Ready Steady Cook and Who Do You Think You Are? He also made a guest starring role on The Unicorn And The Wasp, an episode of Doctor Who.

In early 2015 Sandy disclosed he was fighting the degenerative lung disease pulmonary fibrosis. He spoke out for the “right to die,” despite the Church’s official position against the proposal.

Also that year he appeared on a tribute video at the National Television Awards to praise David as he collected his Special Recognition Award. David subsequently dedicated the award to his father saying he was ‘an inspiration and role model’.

Sandy was married to his late wife Helen for over 40 years before her passing in 2007. He leaves behind three children, Karen, Blair and David and nine grandchildren.

11 years ago today

The Return of a TV Legend happened 11 years ago today.

So it’s sorta the Doctor’s Other Anniversary. The anniversary of re-birth.

“Rose” was broadcast, complete with Graham Norton bleed-over to a public ( that hadn’t seen the show since the 1996 TV Movie and hadn’t been a regular BBC show since Dec 6,1989. (The BBC would make Graham infamous again in 2010 with a promo crawl at the end of an episode).

It started with “A New Dimension” before the appointed hour. A very Fan-y made history of the TV show. To remind those people and kids that this show was on before. 🙂

Narrated by future 10th Doctor David Tennant.

Ah, years of BBC bootlegs was born. 🙂

You know, with dial up at the time it took 24 hours to download the episode… 🙂

The excitement I felt was off the charts. Though as I have relayed before I was the recipient of a friend’s bootleg 3 weeks before the broadcast so by the premiere night I had already seen it and was not very impressed. The 2nd viewing was much better. Expectations were probably too high that night in early March 2005.

It will be around another year before Series 10 but we wait patiently.

So break out that copy of “Rose” and relive 11 years ago when The Doctor and his TARDIS appeared again.


Now that’s Scary

Over the years, David Tenant’s Doctor Who has fought numerous villains, from Cybermen to Daleks, but he never took on a threat quite like his next opponent: internet trolls.

In a new novel by Jenny T Colgan, the Tenth Doctor will be faced by hundreds of internet lurkers, the story revolving around aliens feeding off of their web-based hatred. 

Titled In The Blood, it will be the first novel to feature this iteration of the Doctor since 2009. He will, as you may have suspected, be accompanied by Donna Noble, played by Catherine Tate in the show.

“I wanted to write an exciting Earth-set adventure for the Tenth Doctor and Donna, and I thought, what would strike you, if you’d just arrived here, at this point in our history?” Colgan told Radio Times. “You’d probably be a bit amazed at how much pointless bile people send over the internet – this amazing tool we have, this amazing source of infinite knowledge and so on, getting used for so much abuse. It’s really mind-boggling.

“The thing is, I’m a Doctor Who fan, obviously, and 99.999% of fandom is absolutely lovely – I can’t stress that enough – but a tiny proportion are quite aggressive, and that’s puzzling to me, because it’s the antithesis of everything the Doctor stands for. So the book is looking at modern rage, how pent up people can get. It’s pent up anger that the virus feeds on, all that frustration with nowhere to go.

“When the trolls first start to die, people are not that concerned – people who’ve been bullied so much they’ve had to change schools aren’t that sympathetic. But of course the Doctor doesn’t see it like that at all. A life is a life to him.”

Sounds quite bizarre really. Still, not the weirdest Doctor Who story. In The Blood will be published by BBC books on the 12 May.

Synopsis: All over the world, people are ‘ghosting’ each other on social media. Dropping their friends, giving vent to their hatred, and everywhere behaving with incredible cruelty. Even Donna has found that her friend Hettie, with her seemingly perfect life and fancy house, has unfriended her. And now, all over the world, internet trolls are dying…

As more and more people give in to this wave of bitterness and aggression, it’s clear this is no simple case of modern living. This is unkindness as a plague.

From the streets of London to the web cafes of South Korea and the deepest darkest forests of Rio, can the Doctor and Donna find the cause of this unhappiness before it’s too late?

An original novel featuring the Tenth Doctor and Donna, as played by David Tennant and Catherine Tate.


The Best Month of My Life

How long does it take to watch every episode of Doctor Who?

How long does it take to watch every episode of Doctor Who?

By Radio Times staff

Are you a Doctor Who fan? We mean a real Doctor Who fan… a dyed-in-the-Tardis-seen-ever-episode-that’s-ever-been-made Doctor Who fan?

Yes? Well congratulations, it turns out you’ve essentially spent a full calendar month watching your favourite show from start to finish (and that’s if you only watch every episode once!)

Indeed, those of you who have watched all the episodes of Classic Who from Hartnell through to McGann, and then sat down to the nine series of new Who screened from 2005 to 2015 have enjoyed a whopping 28 days 7 hours and 50 minutes of Doctor Who, according to That’s like spending all of February awake with Doctor Who on the TV.

The 26 series (and specials) of classic Who are the biggest part of the viewathon, taking 21 days 22 hours and 30 minutes to get through.  But even those of you who are only fans of the modern show since Christopher Eccleston brought it back under Russell T Davies have still spent 6 days, 9 hours and 20 minutes (or just under a week without sleep) keeping up with adventures in space and time.

The ‘good news’ is that the total time won’t be going up for a while with no series of the show slated for 2016, so plenty of time to slip a quick month of Doctor Who in to remind yourself just what you’re missing.

The A-Word

A young Doctor Who fan with Asperger interviews Christopher Eccleston about autism drama The A-Word

By Paul Jones   (Radio Times)


Gerard Groves is a talented young filmmaker. He describes himself as being on the autistic spectrum. And he is a huge Doctor Who fan, whose love of the show began with Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston.

So landing an exclusive interview with Eccleston about The A-Word, his new BBC1 drama about autism, and then editing a film about it must have ticked a lot of boxes for Gerard…

Gerard’s early obsession with Doctor Who will be recognisable to many fans, and it’s also what sparked his interest in filmmaking.

“I was watching Doctor Who back in 2005 when Christopher Eccleston started and it was his portrayal of the Doctor that really got me into it,” says Gerard, now 19. “It was halfway into series one when I started making these films and when my whole childhood started revolving around his portrayal of this one character on TV.

“Back in the day, I did all kinds of different films… I did a series of films as a kid called Cat Who. Basically, due to my lack of available friends who wanted to be in a film on the internet – this was back when it was ‘what the hell’s YouTube, this weird thing? We don’t want to be on the internet’ – I ended up roping my cats in to being the companions to my Doctor Who, so I filmed these cats and added the voices in later.”

“After spending a year obsessing about that one thing, especially as a 7/8 year old, I think it kind of gets burnt into your brain, and into you as a person, and it holds that very special place for you, almost like how a parent or a granddad or someone close to you would. It’s funny how TV can do that.”

Gerard is not alone. Doctor Who is now a global phenomenon and there are millions of fans of all types, shapes and sizes around the world. But Gerard says that in his experience the show holds a special appeal for those, like him, on the autistic spectrum.

“Doctor Who’s got a big audience – but especially an audience of people on the autistic spectrum,” he says. “I don’t know what it is about Doctor Who exactly but I was volunteering at the Doctor Who Festival a few months ago and what I noticed there was that there was a huge, huge autistic spectrum fanbase. And since Christopher Eccleston is not only a big name in [The A-Word] but also a big name in the Doctor Who world, so I thought he’d be a really good person to talk to; it kind of ties it all together.”

Eccleston doesn’t do a huge number of interviews (in fact, Gerard’s was the only one he did for The A-Word aside from the official BBC Q&A) and he doesn’t necessarily have a reputation as being particularly forthcoming. So what was he like?

Let’s just say Doctor Who fans scared of having their illusions shattered needn’t worry…

“He was absolutely lovely. He’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking to,” says Gerard.

“You often hear the phrase ‘don’t meet your heroes’ but it couldn’t have been further from the truth. I was scared going up to interview him as you see in the film… but he was so lovely and so warm. He was happy to talk about his role and he was happy to talk about my experiences [as someone on the autistic spectrum] and he reacted to it, you could tell he listened – in his eyes and in the way he spoke and in his reactions.

“He’s just a very genuinely nice man. I think he’s caring and I think his work means a lot to him; that when he hears how his work’s impacted someone it means a lot to him. He’s always thinking about his work but I think what that boils down to is thinking about people, and how people work. And I suppose when you’ve got someone whose job is people, and taking on those roles, you’re going to get someone who’s really nice and a people person.”

And how was it for Eccleston? “You got me then,” he tells Gerard at the end of the emotional interview. “You got me crying…”

Watch Gerard’s exclusive interview with Christopher below and see for yourselves.

But as someone on the autistic spectrum, what did Gerard think of Eccleston’s new drama, penned by Peter Bowker, which follows a family who discover that their child is autistic? Having seen the first two episodes, Gerard says that at times “it was like staring into a mirror”.

“Watching it was a really bizarre thing. I had goosebumps all up my arms. It was like staring into a mirror or watching a biopic of my life. Some of the moments in it that the family have were just so representative… I was thinking ‘I can relate to a lot of those moments from my childhood’ and ‘this is maybe what my mum was going through’, that kind of thing.

“It was really nice to see it all being represented in such a positive and real way. I think it’s very easy to fall into those pitfalls of doing something negative and dreary and showing someone that’s in distress, and a family being stressed out. But that almost becomes voyeuristic and a very negative way of doing something. I think it’s better to show the fun moments too, and that’s what I really loved about the show.

“All the characters could have their own spin-offs – that’s how you know a show’s really good, they’ve all got those dimensions to them. And each of them have their own funny moment. I was sat through this show with goosebumps, with some moments very close to the bone but then others where I was really laughing.”

The A-Word starts on Tuesday 22nd March at 9pm on BBC1