Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has played down the revelation that the show’s new companion will be gay.
Last month, it was revealed that Pearl Mackie’s character Bill Potts will come out as gay when the long-running BBC sci-fi show returns on April 15.
The news came out in an exclusive interview with the BBC’s own entertainment correspondent Lizo Mzimba, in which Mackie revealed her character would be gay.
But Steven Moffat, who has attacked attention paid to the announcement and branded coverage “nonsense” is now claiming it wasn’t planned in advance.
Speaking at a press event, he claimed: “This wasn’t, as some people thought, some kind of press release we made – it was just mentioned by Pearl in an interview.
“I didn’t even know it was happening. I saw it on the internet!”
He added that the character’s sexuality “barely comes up”, trashing hopes of a romance plot for the character in line with those of previous companions.
The showrunner said: “It’s not a major plot strand. It’s not even a minor plot strand. It’s just there. She’s not ‘the gay companion’ – she’s Bill Potts.
“She barely bothers to mention the fact. It only comes up when it’s relevant.”
Mackie’s character will be the first out series regular on the show, but there have been a string of recurring LGB characters in the past.
Former fan favourite characters River Song (Alex Kingston) and Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) were both omnisexual, while the show more recently featured married lesbian interspecies crime-fighters Madam Vastra and Jenny (Neve McIntosh and Catrin Stewart) in recurring roles.
Speaking at a screening last week, Moffat said: “Just to be clear, we are not expecting any kind of round of applause or pat on the back for that; that is the minimum level of representation you should have on television”.
The Emmy Award-winning producer added that “the correct response should be: ‘What took you so long?’
“We didn’t expect all the fuss, so the fuss stops now.”
Referring to a group of schoolchildren in the first row of the screening, he said they were “much, much wiser than our generation.”
“’What the hell of a fuss are you making?’
“They don’t understand. ‘You just did a headline out of someone being a fairly average person. What are you talking about?’”
Moffat, who also co-created and wrote for another hit BBC show, Sherlock, said it was “important we don’t make a big fuss of this in a children’s show that communicates directly with children”.
“You don’t want young kids who regard themselves as normal and happen to fancy their own gender – we don’t want to make them feel as if they are some kind of special case,” he added.
He then joked: “That’s frightening, and journalists: it is not your job to frighten children. It is my job.”