Doctor Who has cast openly transgender actress Bethany Black for a role in the new season, and according to the Independent, she won’t be playing a transgender character. The stand-up comedian is the first transgender performer in the British sci-fi series’ 52-year history. Black stars in an episode written by Mark Gatiss, who has been a major creative force in the production of Doctor Who since the 1990s.
Black’s episode also features Mark’s League of Gentlemen costar Reece Shearsmith. The actor, comedian, and award-winning writer played Doctor Who actor Patrick Troughton in the Gatiss-penned 2013 TV movie An Adventure in Space and Time, EW reports. Bethany’s acting credits include the U.K. comedies Cucumber and sister-series Banana, which was created by former Doctor Who showrunner Russell T. Davies. Black took to her Facebook page to describe her role as “the gig of a lifetime.”
“It is genuinely the greatest job I could ever have imagined getting. Everything about it is magical. I’m enjoying every day of filming and cherishing it, because you never know if you’ll ever get to do anything like this again. I only hope that I do the role and the show justice, and that you all enjoy it. For me it’s the gig of a lifetime.”
Black, of Lancashire, England, has mainly worked as a comedian, and described how she “accidentally” ended up with an acting career when she landed the role on Bananas — which lead to an audition for Doctor Who.
“I was walking through the offices of the production company with Andy Pryor, the casting director of Doctor Who, when former show runner Russell T Davies came bounding out of his office and greeted me, my head was spinning, then I got sat in a room waiting to go into the read through with Andrew Hayden Smith, who’d been in David Tennant’s first Cybermen story. I thought how lucky I was to be alive and to get to do this. It was an honour and a privilege.”
Doctor Who first aired in Britain in 1963. After a long hiatus, it was relaunched in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston as the space-travelling Time Lord, a role which is currently played by Peter Capaldi. Black will feature alongside Capaldi and Jenna Coleman as the Doctor’s loyal companion, Clara Oswald.
Bethany joins other guest stars confirmed by the BBC including Michelle Gomez, Rufus Hound, Rebecca Front, and Game of Thrones actress Maisie Williams, who has teased about her Doctor Who character, a previous Inquisitrarticle reports.
“My earliest TV memory was Peter Davison in Doctor Who in ‘Four to Doomsday,'” Black posted on Facebook. “I remember running into the lounge, running away from the music, running back in and hiding behind the couch, leaving when it got too much. I’ve been a Doctor Who fan ever since.”
Bethany Black will appear in the Doctor Who season premiere episode airing September 19 on BBC America.
Watch the trailer for season 9 below.
[Image via Bethany Black Facebook]