Reaction to first gay companion on Doctor Who is ‘nonsense,’ says showrunner Steven Moffat
Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has called reactions to the news the show will have its first gay companion “nonsense”.
Last week, the BBC announced that Pearl Mackie’s character Bill Potts will come out in the second line of dialogue when the show returns on April 15.
Mackie told the BBC that the move “shouldn’t be a big deal in the 21st century,” but added that “representation is important, especially on a mainstream show.”
Speaking about Mackie’s comments after a private screening of the series premiere, Moffat said: “When she did that interview we didn’t know there was going to be all of that fuss.
“And in a way, there shouldn’t be, that’s kind of nonsense.”
Fans heaped praise on the show after the decision was made public, and the excitement generated was enough to place Doctor Who at the forefront of the national consciousness.
me: nah im done with doctor who
doctor who: bill is gay
— abbie? (@abbiecresta) March 31, 2017
the doctor who companion is such an iconic role and it's going to be a gay black girl pic.twitter.com/igX0InXgeT
— beth (@chysalex) March 31, 2017
me: doctor who's so boring now
doctor who: the new companion's gay
— ?matt ? (@MattEvuns) March 31, 2017
But Moffat rejected this praise, saying that “just to be clear, we are not expecting any kind of round of applause or pat on the back for that; that is the minimum level of representation you should have on television”.
The Emmy Award-winning producer added that “the correct response should be: ‘What took you so long?’
“We didn’t expect all the fuss, so the fuss stops now.”
Referring to a group of schoolchildren in the first row of the screening, he said they were “much, much wiser than our generation.”
Moffat, whose co-showrunner Russell T Davies said last month that gay people are “better and cleverer” than other people, said the students’ reactions would be: “’What the hell of a fuss are you making?’
“They don’t understand. ‘You just did a headline out of someone being a fairly average person. What are you talking about?’”
Moffat, who also co-created and wrote for another hit BBC show, Sherlock, said it was “important we don’t make a big fuss of this in a children’s show that communicates directly with children”.
“You don’t want young kids who regard themselves as normal and happen to fancy their own gender – we don’t want to make them feel as if they are some kind of special case,” he added.
He then joked: “That’s frightening, and journalists: it is not your job to frighten children. It is my job.”
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LGBT characters have featured in the series before, including John Barrowman’s Captain Jack and River Song, but Potts will be the most prominent in the show’s history.
Mackie takes over as the new companion after Jenna Coleman’s exit from the show.
She said it was “kind of insane” to be the centre of attention, as she has been ever since she was announced as the new companion last year.
“I remember watching TV as a young mixed race girl not seeing many people who looked like me, so I think being able to visually recognise yourself on screen is important,” she added.
“[Being gay] is not the main thing that defines her character – it’s something that’s part of her and something that she’s very happy and very comfortable with.”