SDCC ’17: Pearl Mackie Returns For Doctor Who Christmas Special
by Erik Amaya
Fans celebrated the last appearance of Peter Capaldi as the star of Doctor Who at Comic-Con International: San Diego on Sunday July 23rd. The occasion also offered a few surprises for the upcoming Christmas Special.
A clip from the just-wrapped production revealed Mark Gatiss will guest star in the special. Also, Pearl Mackie will return as Bill. “Thanks for having me,” she said.
You can watch that trailer right here:
She added that the special will be her last planned appearance as Bill.
“I think you’ve probably figured out what we’re doing here, said executive producer Steven Moffat. “It’s the Twelfth Doctor trying to convince the First Doctor to regenerate. And they go on an adventure with Mark Gatiss and Bill Potts.” Moffat said his plans to bring David Bradley began at a New York Comic Con Panel in which he joked about calling Bradley to play the part. “His recreation of the Doctor is remarkable,” he said.
Not returning, but happy to be at the panel was Matt Lucas, who discussed the way Nardole went from the broad character in the 2015 and 2016 Christmas specials into the more layered character seen in the season ten finale.
“The pull to darkness was too strong,” said Michelle Gomez of Missy, the Doctor’s best frenemy. “It was good to sit in that grey area of emotionality and try on good.” She said it was a challenge to work with Capaldi “and not want to be your best self.” She also pointed the great friendship between the Doctor and the Master. “It’s a love-hate dynamic.”
“It’s a strange moment. It’s the end of several eras,” said Gatiss. “But it was great to be part of this new feel for it.” He said he was “privileged” to be part of Capaldi’s final episode. “It’s a Christmassy episode without being too on-the-nose Christmas.”
Capaldi was asked about his successor, Jodie Whittaker. “Jodie’s going to be amazing. She’s so full of excitement and so full of passion,” he said. “It’s thrilling to know that it will be in the hands of someone who’s so excited for it. The show will be in great hands with her.”
Matt Lucas called it “tokenistic” to cast a human in the part.
Moffat pointed out that the backlash against the female Doctor is non-existent. “So many people want to pretend there’s a problem and there isn’t,” he said. “Fans are more excited about this actor coming into the part than the fact she’s a woman.”
Following a clip recapping Capaldi’s time, he received a standing ovation. He immediately thanked Moffat for his work during his tenture. “The message of kindness comes from his heart,” he said.
Transitioning into a speech, Capaldi thanked his collaborators. “Pearl was a magnificent addition to the show. She joined this juggernaut and created a living character with her feet on the ground and her heart in the stars.”
“The creation of a female Doctor comes from the creation of a female Master. She came from Michelle, who crafted a masterful performance,” he continued. “Matt created the brand new creation: an alien who’s a sidekick. He’s funny and a little bit scary. He’s immensely talented and immensely famous. They all made season ten one of the best seasons ever.” He also thanked Gatiss for writing “tremendous” episodes and the fans “for their affections.”
Asked by a fan what he considered to be his iconic moment, Capaldi said it was chosen for him: the close-up on his eyebrows in the Fiftieth Anniversary Special.
“The Doctor was the most amazing character that I could see,” Capldi he continued. “I love the show and the character deeply. So it was a surprise that I found myself in it.” And though he knew it was time to leave the program, he admitted making the choice to do so was the hardest thing he ever did in the show.
The special also marks the end of Moffat’s time with the program. He admitted that “knowing there was a finish line” got him through is final year, but he also said he will miss it. “I love this show more than anything,” he explained. “But there comes a point where you’ve done everything you can think of and it’s time for someone new to come in and think of it in a new way.”
When asked whether or not the Doctor is named “Doctor Who,” Moffat said, “What would Doctor Who be without blatant and irreconcilable contradictions?”
Doctor Who returns for Christmas 2017.