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Doctor Who's Pearl Mackie says it's about time sci-fi shows had diverse roles

Published 07/10/2016

Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, and Pearl Mackie as new companion Bill (BBC/PA)
Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, and Pearl Mackie as new companion Bill (BBC/PA)

New Doctor Who star Pearl Mackie said diverse roles have been lacking in science fiction shows, as she joined her co-stars at New York Comic Con to reveal details of this year's Christmas special.

The actress, who plays the Doctor's new companion Bill in a new series airing next year, appeared in front of hundreds of fans at Madison Square Garden with the show's star Peter Capaldi, Matt Lucas and writer Steven Moffat.

Addressing the audience, Mackie, from Brixton, south London, said it was frustrating that a lack of diversity in the film and television industry remained an issue in 2016.

She said: "It's something that should have been addressed a long time ago, especially in the science fiction genre. I think it's something that's been lacking.

"Something I noticed from the BBC America party last night was there is a lot of strong women of colour in the new series Class, Dirk Gently and Doctor Who, which I think is great."

Moffat added: "It's not something we're looking for a pat on the back for to be honest. People watching television, particularly children, should see people like them up there."

The Doctor Who Christmas special, called The Return Of Doctor Mysterio, will air on BBC One on Christmas Day.

The 60-minute show will see Capaldi as the Doctor teaming up with an investigative journalist, played by Charity Wakefield, and a superhero named Grant to save New York from a deadly alien threat.

Grant will be played by Orphan Black actor Justin Chatwin, while Lucas will return in his role as Nardole.

Moffat said: "I've always loved superheroes and this Christmas Doctor Who dives into that world. My favourite superhero is Clark Kent. Not Superman, Clark Kent."

The BBC America event at New York Comic Con featured the cast of Class, the new Doctor Who spin-off, set in Shoreditch, London. The series airs on BBC Three from October 22, with Capaldi featuring in the opening episode.

Fans were also treated to a screening of the first episode of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, an adaptation of the novels from The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy author Douglas Adams.

The murder mystery, which stars Lord Of The Rings actor Elijah Wood and English actor Samuel Barnett, airs on BBC America on October 22 and on Netflix in the UK from December.

Moffat ruled out reuniting actors who had previously played the Doctor for a special episode.

"The first three never really return their phone calls," he said.

Moffat pointed out that 2013's The Day Of The Doctor had featured Matt Smith and David Tennant as the Doctor, John Hurt as the War Doctor and included an appearance from former Doctor Who star Tom Baker.

He added: "I remember David Tennant saying at the time you can only do that kind of thing very rarely or it stops being special.

"Certainly not in my time on the show will that happen again."

Capaldi, who won an Oscar for directing the short film Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life, said he had no plans to direct an episode of Doctor Who.

He also revealed his wife had recently tattooed his name on her lower back. "Which is really scary because now I've got to get one of her," he told the audience.

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