Doctor Who Star Mandip Gill: The Doctor Will Be a Woman of Color

With a TARDIS that finds Jodie Whittaker's 13th Doctor still at the helm, and a returning Yaz (Mandip Gill) accompanied by new companion Dan (John Bishop), production is currently underway on the 13th series of Doctor Who- and yet folks still can't stop speculating about the future (pretty fitting, actually). In this case, speculating about who the next Doctor will be- especially with social media buzzing with rumors of Whittaker departing after the upcoming eight-episode run. Speaking with Meera Syal, who was in character as Granny Kumar, during Syal's Radio4 show Gossip and Goddesses with Granny Kumar, Gill threw her thoughts into the ring- specifically, on if the Doctor will ever be portrayed full-time (will all respect to Jo Martin) by a woman of color.

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Photo Credit: James Pardon/BBC Studios/BBCA

"Yeah, I do. I think there's a long way to go but there's definitely room for change. And actually, I think at the BBC and at 'Doctor Who' they are very open and forward-thinking, so yes," Gill responded. Though Martin was the first woman of color to play the role, there hasn't been a man or woman of color to play the role on a full-time basis- in the case of Syal's question to Gill, the two would like to see an actress of Asian descent be offered the lead. The actor also understands and respects the role model that Yaz has become for young girls out there, saying, "I am very, very aware there are little people who are watching." For Gill, being cast in the role of Yaz was not only exciting but also a bit of prophecy-fulfillment. "I couldn't believe my luck. I'd filmed Casualty the January before and that was in the same building," Gill explained. "We were at the top of the hallway and when I finished Casualty, they walked us to the canteen and they were like, 'Don't go in that door, that's for the Doctor Who people!'. There and then I thought I'd never be in Doctor Who… Cut to six, seven months later and you know what? I'm like 'Don't go up there… that's for Casualty!'"

As we mentioned earlier, showrunner Chris Chibnall and the team are already hard at work on Series 13 production, revealing earlier this year, "We're filming as we speak. We've got lots of new characters, new monsters, some old ones coming back. We're only a few weeks in. It's very different, but we obviously have to work in a very different way, under COVID protocols. So, it's not without its challenges, but every series of 'Doctor Who' has had its challenges. At the moment, everybody's smiling." Now for the question that we're sure he's going to hear a lot over the next several months: so when will viewers be able to see it? Surprisingly, it sounds like Chibnall does know- it's just that there are some "higher powers" out there who would prefer he stay quiet for now. "Yeah, I've got an idea," Chibnall answered with a laugh. "But Charlotte Moore (BBC Chief Content Officer) would send 'the boys' round if I told you any hints. As soon as finish it, I promise we'll put it on telly straight away."

And even though their "Revolution" may be over (for now), is there any possibility of seeing the Daleks make a Series 13 return? Chibnall wouldn't say one way or another- but he did confirm that some familiar faces of the monster persuasion will be making their returns. "Yes, more monsters are coming back. There are ones who've appeared over the past 15 years that are deserving of another visit in the next series. In fact, they're probably formulating their plans as we speak…"

About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.