New Doctor Who companions hope series 11’s diversity will “inspire” young fans

Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill have their fingers crossed that the gender and ethnic diversity in the sci-fi series can be a shining example going forward

Doctor Who stars Mandip Gill, Bradley Walsh, Jodie Whittaker and Tosin Cole (BBC, BD)

A lot of excitement surrounding Doctor Who series 11 has been focussed around casting Jodie Whittaker as the first female Doctor, with the Broadchurch star keen to help young girls picture themselves as all-conquering superheroes just like boys have been able to for decades.

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However, the series is also notably diverse in other areas, with two of Whittaker’s newly-christened “Tardis team” – Ryan and Yasmin, travelling with the Doctor and Bradley Walsh’s Graham – portrayed by young actors Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill.

In exclusive Radio Times interviews, the pair discuss what it was like growing up with few non-white characters on TV, and how it feels to potentially inspire a new generation of kids with their high-profile roles.

“When I was younger I didn’t feel I was represented in popular culture — you couldn’t get a brown doll in the shops and you didn’t see many brown people on TV,” Gill says in the new issue of Radio Times.

“I thought I was going to be the first brown person on The Bill! And now there’s going to be millions of other people watching me and relating to my character.”

“I used to watch Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and My Wife and Kids because it’s easier to relate to what you see around you,” adds Cole.

“That’s not to say that I didn’t watch other shows, but there’s an easier acceptance when you see something familiar to you.

“Now diversity is more of a discussion, whether it be gender or ethnicity. We still have a long way to go, in terms of equal rights and equal representation on screen, but it’s exciting for the kids to see people like themselves in the new series — and for girls to become superheroes!

“Hopefully we will inspire and touch people,” he concludes.

When the series does finally arrive this autumn, we’re sure they will.

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Posted by Radio Times on Monday, July 16, 2018

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Check out Radio Times’ exclusive Doctor Who series 11 preview issue, on sale from Tuesday 17th July and featuring interviews from Jodie Whittaker and her Tardis team