People were talking about Pearl Mackie leaving Doctor Who even before her first episode as companion Bill Potts had aired. And although they could never have predicted the manner of her departure – converted into a Cyberman then rescued by a girl made of hyper-intelligent engine oil – when it did happen, at the end of series ten, there was a general assumption that that was it, Bill was gone for good.
But is that really true? The BBC tell me they’re not commenting on whether Mackie has left the show, which is suggestive in itself. And to me, a return for Bill in the Christmas special would make a lot of sense.
Think about it. When Bill left the Doctor lying prostrate on the floor of the Tardis console room – a little charred around the edges after finding himself on the wrong end of a Cyberman’s deadly energy beam – she thought he was dead. And as far as we know she knew nothing about the concept of regeneration. So after a tearful farewell, off she flew with new travelling companion Heather, to begin the next chapter of her adventures in space and time.
But of course the Doctor is not dead, and despite the fact that the regeneration process has begun, he’s resisting it (Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor won’t become Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth until the end of the Christmas special).
If Bill discovers that her Doctor is alive (if not exactly well), surely she’ll want to see him again, to say a proper goodbye, perhaps to let him know that she doesn’t blame him for what happened to her.
The Doctor will feel the same way. He may want to apologise properly for getting her shot and for leaving her to fend for herself for all those years at the time-dilated end of the Master’s Cyber-factory in space – but mostly he’ll just want to see her face again, after it’s been hidden behind that Cyber-mask for so long, and to say a final farewell.
And since the Doctor and Bill now both have time-travel and super-navigational abilities at their disposal, finding each other, even across the vastness of the universe, can’t be that hard.
It’s not just the Doctor and Bill who need closure, though – so do viewers. Pearl Mackie’s fresh, modern take on the companion has proved hugely popular with fans, so a return for Bill would be a nice Christmas present for them.
And with Moffat, Capaldi and Doctor Who producer Brian Minchin all bowing out at the end of the year, and Mackie having been an integral part of their final series, wouldn’t it be nice if they all took that final curtain call together?