Last week it was revealed that Pearl Mackie’s new Doctor Who character Bill would be the first openly gay main companion in the sci-fi series’ history, to the enthusiasm of many fans and viewers.
And now actor Russell Tovey, who portrayed a gay character in Doctor Who in 2007 and 2010, has discussed his own excitement over the news, saying the move should be “celebrated” for diversifying the TV landscape.
“I think it should be celebrated. And it should be highlighted and let people know that in mainstream TV, in Doctor Who world, there is an openly gay woman assistant. Fantastic.”
Since the reveal, Doctor Who head writer Steven Moffat has stated that he’d prefer people made less of a fuss about Bill’s sexuality, arguing that the furore sets a bad precedent to young viewers who may begin to see being gay as something unusual.
Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts in Doctor Who
“It is important that we don’t make a big fuss about this in a children’s show, which communicates directly with children,” he said earlier this week.
“We don’t want young kids, who may happen to fancy their own gender, we don’t want them to feel as if they are some of kind of special case, as that’s frightening.”
But Tovey (who is gay himself) is of a different opinion, believing that the existence of a gay character in a high-profile show like Doctor Who should be “talked about and highlighted” in an effort to promote diversity.
“Maybe it shouldn’t be discussed, but within Doctor Who world it’s a new spin on something,” he said. “We’ve had gay characters, we’ve had John Barrowman as Captain Jack, and then my [character] Midshipman Frame is hinted as being gay.
“That makes me happy – it makes me very happy,” he went on. “I think it should definitely be something that is talked about and highlighted and celebrated, and everyone should know about it.”
Of course, in the last few years Tovey has been given a closer look at the kind of environments where sexuality is still a taboo subject, with the Essex-born actor putting in a critically-acclaimed turn as gay footballer Jason for play-turned-movie The Pass (see clip above).
“There’s not a premiership footballer who’s come out while they’re playing,” he told us. “So that taboo is definitely still there, there’s definitely fear of doing it.
“Whether it be from fans’ reactions or other teams, whenever you go round the world… it’s definitely seen as a weakness within the football world, it seems. And until someone’s brave enough to break that taboo it’s gonna stay that way.
“And I think this film sort of…highlights what happens to people when you choose your career over your identity, and you never really deal with who you are until you’re a lot older than everyone else has sort of got their s**t together.
“This film just shows the kind of devastation that can come from that.”
The Pass arrives on DVD April 10th & is available to watch on Digital Download now