'Doctor Who's' Newest Companion: What You Need to Know

Pearl Mackie, a relatively unknown British actress, was introduced Saturday to Doctor Who fans as the choice to play the newest companion to the time-traveling Doctor. She’ll join Peter Capaldi, who plays the Twelfth Doctor, when the BBC series returns to the airways in 2017.

Mackie is playing a new character called Bill, and in a trailer released Saturday, Bill looks like she’s got plenty of spunk and is unfazed by her first encounter with a Dalek, one of the Doctor’s longtime foes.

“What’s a Dalek?” Bill asks the Doctor, who doesn’t have time for a lot of questions. “Why do they keep saying ‘exterminate’?” she wants to know. “Because they want to kill us,” the Doctor answers. “Wouldn’t it be quicker to just say ‘kill’?” she asks. The doctor: “Do we really want them to save time?” “Good point,” Bill replies.

The actress describes Bill as “wicked. Fantastically written, cool, strong, sharp, a little bit vulnerable, with a bit of geekiness thrown in,” and she says shooting the trailer was “absolutely mental.”

Mackie, 28, graduated from the Bristol Old Vic Theater School in 2010 and is currently appearing on stage in London at the National Theater’s West End production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night. She also has had roles on the BBC soap The Doctors and in the 2013 film Svengali.

On her Twitter account, @Pearlie_mack, Mackie describes herself as “actor, singer, general noise maker,” and on Friday, she paid tribute to Prince, writing, “Prince. Legend. Inspiration. Pioneering talent and so uniquely himself. Devastated. RIP.”

If she herself decides to join the Doctor in song should he pick up his guitar, she’s a mezzo soprano. She’s also fluent in French, can manage a conversation in Spanish and has mastered a range of accents from Cockney to Caribbean to American Standard.

At 5’6”, with black hair and brown eyes, Mackie is not the first actress of color to serve as a companion — that distinction belongs to Freema Agyeman, who played Martha Jones alongside David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor.

The freedom with which Bill talks back to The Doctor is reminiscent of Donna Noble, the companion played by Catherine Tate, who also joined the Tenth Doctor.

And what about that name Bill? Could it be a call back to William Hartnell, the first actor to play The Doctor in the original 1963 series, or to Billie Piper, who played Rose Tyler, the new companion when the series was revived in 2005?

As word of her selection spread, Mackie tweeted, “I'm so excited to be the next companion on Doctor Who! Can't wait to join the family! Thank you for all the lovely messages!