British actress Rebecca Root is to portray new Doctor Who companion in a new audio drama from Big Finish Productions.
On June 14, 2020; ScreenRant announced that British actress and comedian Rebecca Root is to play a new Doctor Who companion: Tania Bell. Bell is to be the Doctor’s companion in the new audio drama from Big Finish Productions: Doctor Who: Stranded. Unfortunately, there isn’t much on Tania Bell’s personality and character aside from the fact that she’s a transgender character. The most we’ve gotten is a description from Root herself saying:
“She’s [Tania Bell] a person like all the other people I have played and hope to play in the future. She’s not perfect, but she’s not a mess, and certainly, I don’t think her gender identity has any influence on her behavior in the story…It would have been amazing to see a trans person in a show like Doctor Who. In fact, to see a Trans person period would have been amazing. But I [grew] up in the ’70s and society was differently populated back then, and gender ID was not really ‘a thing.'”Rebecca Root
The Eighth Doctor?
Rebecca Root’s transgender character will be accompanying the Eighth Doctor in Stranded. This incarnation of the Doctor is a little-known one played by British actor Paul McGann. To date, he has only appeared onscreen twice. Once was in a single 1996 feature-length movie simply called Doctor Who: The Television Movie. It was intended to be a backdoor pilot for a new American-made Doctor Who TV series. Unfortunately, it didn’t do very well in the US, and thus no TV series was ever made.
The Eighth Doctor’s other appearance was in a 7-minute long mini-episode made in 2013 called “The Night of the Doctor”. This little episode takes place during the Time Wars, and it not only marks the second appearance by the Eighth Doctor, but also the birth of the War Doctor played by John Hurt. The War Doctor is the incarnation of the Doctor who not only fought in the Time Wars, but ended it. There’s a reason this particular Doctor is the “Warrior”, after all.
While the Eighth Doctor barely gets any screen time, he appears virtually everywhere else. Mostly though, he’s famous for audio dramas. To date, over 70 audio dramas stars the Eighth Doctor. Big Finish Productions is responsible for a rather sizeable portion of them. The upcoming Stranded series featuring the Eighth Doctor and Root’s character, Tania Bell, will merely be the latest.
Rebecca Root’s character in Stranded marks the first openly transgender character to appear in Doctor Who. It’s actually not all that surprising, considering that characters of wildly differing sexual orientations and genders have appeared before in the show.
*Cough* I’m looking at you, Jack Harkness. *Cough*
Regardless, if I know anything from following Doctor Who for years now, it’s that anything to do with the Doctor is going to be a blast. Even if it’s audio-only.