Through all his travels, the Doctor has been accompanied by a host of friends and foes. It goes to show that the Doctor is far more human than we initially thought, taking under his wing a range of interesting characters from school teachers to alien orphans.
The Doctor’s Companions have generally served one purpose, asking the questions that the audience wanted an answer to; after all, Doctor Who began as an educational television series exploring the world of history and science.
Older eras of Doctor Who emphasised the Doctor as the main character and the companion merely a plot device, rarely having a life outside of the Tardis. That all changed when the show returned in 2005 and introduced new Companions such as Rose Tyler, Amy Pond, and Clara Oswald. Companions finally had their own storylines and even theme music.
Bidding farewell to Oswald meant Doctor Who had lost a family member, but the show’s embrace of change plays a major role in its success. Bill Potts, played by Pearl Mackie, debuted in The Pilot, breathing new life into the show and forming a relationship similar to that of Donna Noble and David Tennant’s 10th Doctor. Not only was a romantic relationship off the cards, she pushed the boundaries of the show and gave an insight to what is yet to come.
Her time in the Tardis was short, but brought the story full circle and confronted heavier issues including sexual identity, overt racism and misogyny. Bill Potts, being the show’s first openly gay Companion, shone a light on the issue and brought to attention the fact that your sexual identity shouldn’t be a big deal in the 21st century.
She saw the future and was content with what it had to offer, which is why it came as no surprise that Jodie Whittaker will be wielding the sonic screwdriver in the 11th season of Doctor Who.
Mackie’s portrayal of Bill Potts was just a starting point for a new era of the Whoniverse.