Blog Archives

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.


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.



Katy Manning, who played Jo Grant on Doctor Who, has finally begun to open up to fans about her fascinating life, both in print and in person.

Jamie McLoughlin of the Liverpool Echo recently requested reader questions for an interview that was conducted this week with Katy Manning, who played UNIT employee and Third Doctor’s companion Jo Grant on Doctor Who, as well as appearing on The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Regarding which of the Doctor’s outfits that Manning likes best aside from the Third Doctor’s, she said that she likes the Twelfth Doctor’s because it is reminiscent of the Third’s, but that each Doctor’s wardrobe suited them “exactly right.” She discussed how she enjoyed the time that she had her picture taken with, and gave posing pointers to, Peter Capaldi.

A reader asked if Manning would ever consider reprising the role of Jo Grant, either on Doctor Who or a spin-off, and invoked her guest appearance on The Sarah Jane Adventures. She replied that while being on TSJA “was an extraordinary” experience, she feels that the character is probably too old now.

She refused to choose just one Doctor from the revival of the show with whom to travel, citing the greatness of all of the actors who have depicted the single individual. Also, she has enjoyed the opportunity to work both on screen and the audio adventures with many of the actors who have played the role.

Liverpool Echo:

“People tell me I should have been doing these shows for years”

Doctor Who actress Katy Manning is in conversation at St George's Hall on Saturday
Doctor Who actress Katy Manning is in conversation at St George’s Hall on Saturday

IF your sole knowledge of Katy Manning’s life and career is based on her Wikipedia page – she’s got news for you.

“None of it is true!” she told the Echo from her London home. “They’ve got my wrong age, my wrong date of birth and apparently, I’ve been married five times. I have never been married to any of my partners, it’s news to them when they see it on the page.

“And another one is Google. There’s a photo on there that says it’s me – and it’s Nanette Newman! I have never had dark hair!

“I loathe things that claim to give you information. You can only trust it if you put it up there yourself.”

Which makes Saturday’s event at St George’s Hall an opportunity for the former Doctor Who actress to set some of the records straight. An Evening With Katy Manning is a chance to hear recollections and anecdotes from a life just as fascinating as her varied career, taking in homes on three continents, raising twins and having a Hollywood legend organise their Christening.

But she had to be persuaded to do it in the first place. Seriously persuaded.

Katy, who played Jo Grant, the companion to Jon Pertwee’s Doctor from 1971 to 1973, explained: “They asked me to do it, to have an evening like this and I told my agent ‘no’, that’s not my thing.

“I do talks at Doctor Who conventions and I sort of go into manic overdrive. When I talk, I freefall and I’ll leap on a new subject like a seagull on a hot piece of fat. Also, I live very much in the ‘now’ and not the past so all I could think of was, ‘why would they want me?’. Then my agent said, you have had an extraordinarily interesting life, you have a plethora of stories. So for some reason, I said yes. I’ll do it. It’s not my comfort zone, I don’t really do ‘me’.

“But I adore people, I get very excited and the energy becomes quite manic and I just go with the flow. People tell me I should have been doing shows like this for years but I’ve told them, I’m just doing it in Liverpool and I’m never doing it again.”

Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning on location in 1972 filming the Doctor Who serial The Time Monster
Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning on location in 1972 filming the Doctor Who serial The Time Monster

Merseyside has featured heavily in Katy’s life this week. Her chat with the ECHO came after a very long recording session with Tom Baker, the city-born fourth incarnation of the Time Lord but you’d have to scroll back a lot further to find the last time she visited the city for a professional engagement.

“I did a play in rep in Liverpool many years ago,” she remembered. “I’ve done a couple of Doctor Who conventions here too but the thing with conventions is that you arrive somewhere, then you do it, get up and go straight back out again so you never see the place you’re visiting.

“It’s a wonderful city and I’m very excited about coming here, the music in particular is my era.

“I did Educating Rita for three years too when I was in Australia. I did the Liverpudlian accent and I got a lot of good feedback about it. There are a lot of Liverpool people in Australia and they were coming up to me after the show, saying ‘we never knew you were from Liverpool’ and I’d tell them ‘I’m not, doing voices is part of my job’. It was lovely, I never got one negative word about my Scouse accent! I’ve never met Willy Russell but I think he writes wonderfully for women and I’ve directed Shirley Valentine as well.

“I’m not getting a lot of time in Liverpool this weekend as I’m working right up until Friday night when I leave for this, then I’m leaving again early on Sunday morning but that is my life really, working. I haven’t had a proper holiday since 1976 but I’ve lived overseas, lived in three different countries and people say to me how lovely it is that you’re going to these places but it’s work. I love working and I’m not a great holidayer.

“I have travelled back and forth on planes on my own with twins (Katy’s children) – and I have lots of stories about that, believe me.

“But where my children are concerned, that is where I feel blessed to have been part of such an extraordinary programme as Doctor Who. I say to them, I will always have something to leave you to remind you of me. They’re two plastic figurines of Jo Grant and a sheet of special stamps that I’m on where my head is bigger than the Queen’s!”

In advance of Saturday night, it’s important Katy keeps the powder dry where her anecdotes are concerned – but she did have one last appeal for the people of the city: “I hope people will come to see me and everyone’s going to get a big hug.

“I want it to be as intimate as possible and I may run into the audience and sit on a few laps.

“And if you want to know the real facts about me, go to my website!”

With that our talk was at an end but even though she had yet to leave London, the Mersey influence on Katy’s week continued unabated.

Later that evening, after the final whistle went on the Europa League leg at Old Trafford, she posted on her Twitter account: “Well done Liverpool ! You’re through ! Just seen football & now long day endeth & bed is beckoning ! Night night xxx”

If we’re thinking of making anyone an honorary Scouser…

To find out what links Katy to the Australian soap Neighbours, how she helped Peter Capaldi strike a pose and why she couldn’t make Liza Minelli’s wedding – click here to see the answers she gave to our readers’ questions.




Finally, it appears the new Doctor Who companion has been cast – and Jenna Coleman’s replacement could be someone Peter Capaldi has worked with before…

“We will have a new companion, and I’m excited because obviously I know who this person is,” Capaldi told Brazilian website Omelete, reportedly adding that the actor joining him in the TARDIS is someone he has worked with in the past.

However, Capaldi said it was likely to be a very different relationship to that between the Twelfth Doctor and Coleman’s Clara Oswald and that the new arrival will know “very little about the Doctor”.

“Clara had prior knowledge of the Doctor,” said Capaldi. “It was conceived as a human connected to your timeline, and so had access to the cosmic nature of the Doctor. She understood a little about how he was. And as she was already with [Eleventh Doctor] Matt [Smith], she knew the Daleks and the TARDIS. Now we have someone who knows very little about the Doctor.”

Interesting read, especially for the Clara Haters.

Me, I like Clara, but I agree that her character was difficult because she was just a Plot Device for her first year as “The Impossible Girl” which didn’t really make her a companion in a since. Then she became the part-time-full-time-sorta companion that went on an adventure and then went home to her job which never quite settled. She didn’t become an actual companion in the normal sense until Peter Capaldi.

Then there’s F*ck The Raven. Which I still hate. Her character will always be marred by that in my opinion.

The problem is illustrated also by “Can’t we the ____ Clara back? (Oswin, Nanny, etc). That kind of schizophrenia does help. Oswin Oswald was awesome. Then She died. Victorian Nanny Oswald was awesome, then she died.

“The Impossible Girl” was a Plot Device, not a character.

Then she lived.

Jenna Coleman is a wonderful actress. I was genuine broken up to see her go. Clara, by Face The Raven was a good character, and a good companion.

But that was 2015! Years later.

Her death was magnificently written. Her “save” was not. IMHO.

Doctor Who: What Went Wrong With Clara Oswald?

“Asylum of the Daleks”

Jenna Coleman’s tenure on Doctor Who set records as far as companions go, as she appeared in more separate television stories than Karen Gillan and spent more time assigned to the show than Janet Fielding (Frazer Hines remains the actor who has appeared in the most separate episodes). You can measure things in a lot of different ways, but regardless, it’s clear that Coleman was a big part of Doctor Who for a long time.

So why was Clara so…bad? I don’t mean Coleman was bad. She’s a gifted actress who managed a unique rapport with four separate Doctors, and that’s something only Elisabeth Sladen or Nicholas Courtney could previously say. There are many great Clara moments I’ll fondly remember.

However, she simply never grew as a character. Nothing ever stuck with her and nothing ever changed who she was. She drifted from being a mystery to being part of a very lackluster love triangle to finally being a proper companion. It took the writers two whole seasons to do with Clara what they can usually accomplish in two episodes with anyone else.

Consider the four other main companions and how their stories played out. Rose was a shopgirl whose life felt empty and meaningless, but then she realized her own heroic potential and was left to be that hero in a world without The Doctor. Martha was in love with The Doctor, who didn’t love her back, and she learned to accept this. Donna was terrified of not mattering in the world and eventually became the most important woman in it. Amy was afraid to commit to her husband, but stranded herself in the past away from everything to be with him.

Some of these arcs are stronger than others, but they all have a basic form. Clara never did. The entire payoff for the reveal of how the three different versions of her we saw happen was completely overshadowed by the appearance of the War Doctor and the lead-up to the 50th anniversary. Then, it was her job to nurse us through the regeneration of a new Doctor, but she was left with nothing to do or be in a season of scripts that were often mediocre at best. While Danny Pink was a good character, he never joined the Tardis crew, and as a result the love triangle that the show tried to build was hamstrung around the Coal Hill School rather than in the middle of adventures.

Doctor Who: What Went Wrong With Clara Oswald? (2)

“Face the Raven”

Once Series 9 came on and Peter Capaldi seemed to finally have his feet firmly planted in the role (banging out badass guitar solos as he stood), Clara and he brought out the best in each other right up until her stupid, stupid death. You could argue that as someone “born to save The Doctor,” Clara’s new-found reckless streak was a way for Clara to define herself apart from him, but as she ultimately ended up traveling around space and time with someone else, even that doesn’t work. There’s simply no indication that Clara was changed significantly by meeting The Doctor, and that is a cardinal Whovian sin.

The show also wasted the best versions of her character. Who didn’t fall in love with Oswin in “Asylum of the Daleks?” Soufflé Girl was strong, smart, funny and absolutely adorable, and Coleman played her ups and downs perfectly. She seemed the perfect candidate to replace Amy and Rory until she committed suicide.

Then came Victorian Clara in “The Snowmen,” and she was even better. Her double life as a serving girl and posh nanny had shades of Lady Christina, and her ability to reach a grieving Eleven melted all our hearts. According to Neil Gaiman, this was actually the original version of the character, and that may be why she’s the strongest of the bunch. In later episodes where Clara Prime would don Victorian costumes, as in “The Crimson Horror” and “Deep Breath,” these were usually the places she would best fit in.

By contrast, Clara Prime was a pale imitation of her other aspects. She was colder and more severe, and she insisted on keeping a distance between her and The Doctor by not traveling full-time with him. Sure, Amy and Rory did something similar near the end of their tenure, but that was after months, maybe years of adventures. Clara wanted to see the universe, but only on her terms, and it made her feel slightly condescending. Maybe that’s why her reckless streak in the last season stuck in my craw. Had time travel and fighting monsters become boring to her?

I think Clara as a character became a victim of very bad timing. Steven Moffat crafted a fairly interesting mystery in her, but he used it for a twist ending that dragged her into “Day of The Doctor” having to carry the companion load for three different actors. On top of that, I’m not sure anyone expected Matt Smith to quit the role when he did, and suddenly Clara is there to hand us over to a new Doctor. A few episodes into Series 8 would have been the best place to let her go, but if Capaldi had been badly received, a new companion might have been a change too much.

Fond as I am of Jenna Coleman, I doubt Clara Oswald is going to go down in many people’s books as a favorite companion, even just of the revived era. She simply carries too much baggage, and she’s a prime example of why characters should not be written simply to fill holes in The Doctor’s stories. Whoever runs with The Doctor next, I hope he or she can just be him or her.  (Houston Press)


I’m a LEGO and More

Bite The Hand

‘It’s not been looked after’ Peter Capaldi criticises BBC bosses over Doctor Who

PETER CAPALDI has risked biting the hand that feeds him as he criticises the BBC’s inconsistent scheduling of Doctor Who.

The programme shifted about in the timetables several times last year, as the lengths of Strictly Come Dancing’s live shows fluctuated from week to week.

At the time, he called for the corporation to go back to airing the sci-fi series in one regular slot, and has now re-enforced those claims once again.

“The BBC is an incredible organisation, but… sometimes people there think, ‘That’s looking after itself’. And it’s not being looked after,” he told Newsweek.

“I think maybe their eye was taken off the ball, or the show was seen as a thing they could just push around. It’s not. It’s a special thing.”

The programme’s ratings were up and down last year but its catch-up numbers remain strong.

The actor continued: “I have to pay attention to ratings – I’d rather not – but it’s the way the business is. I think overnight ratings are a thing of the past.

“You can’t really measure the success of the show by its overnight ratings, which is what the papers do. But there’s still a place for families to sit down and watch the show – that’s still a great, fun thing to do.”

He added: “That’s what the show’s success has been based on. That has to be protected.” (The Express).

Peter’s not wrong. The whacked scheduling of last series was bad. Very bad. I mean most episodes were on AFTER the “target” audience had gone to bed or don’t do “family time” after 8pm, which is why you had such high numbers of recordings and replays.

But the Network clearly values the mass appeal of Strictly Come Dancing more than WHO, and old franchise even by modern day standards with 9 series in 11 years under it’s belt.

The No New WHO in 2016 doesn’t help either.

If you got the feeling that WHO was kind of just dump after Strictly and it was left flapping int he winds I wouldn’t disagree.

The only thing precious to a Network, is Money. Ratings, at least for now (with technology changing the paradigms) are still King.

Strictly is a “mass appeal”. Broad “demographics” and above all “cheap”.

The “Reality” program is not what it used to be because of over-satuation, but it is still cheaper than a Legendary Science Fiction Show that has some mass appeal but not as much as Dancing.

Remember, the cardinal rule of TV (IMHO) that I learned as a young kid:

THE PROGRAM IS ONLY THERE TO TAKE UP THE SPACE BETWEEN THE COMMERCIALS.It’s like Legos, they can be reshaped at anytime to make a new “something”.

It’s a business first. Entertainment, 3rd or 4th.

Admittedly, in England, you don’t have the commercial breaks like you do here but it still applies because the BBC is charged with making money off it’s programming just like everyone else and they’ll do it like everyone else, as cheaply and and as profitably as possible.

Fandom aside.

So WHO came up on the short end of the scheduling in 2015, and none at all in 2016.

That’s Show BIZ!



With the complete ninth series of Doctor Who out this week, Peter Capaldi paid a visit to our store on London’s Oxford Street to meet fans and we grabbed him for a chat.