Actress Rebecca Root will again make transgender pop culture history as the first openly transgender companion in Doctor Who history. Root, who became the first transgender actress to lead of a sitcom as the star of Boy Meets Girl, will join the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) in the upcoming audio drama Doctor Who: Stranded, part of the soon to end Eighth Doctor Adventures line. Root will play Tania Bell as a part of a cast that includes McGann as the Doctor, Hattie Morahan as Helen Sinclair, Nicola Walker as Liv Chenka, and Tom Price reprising his role as Sergeant Andy Davidson from Torchwood.
"She's a person like all the other people I have played and hope to play in the future," Root tells Nerdist of her character. "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."
Root also touched on how important this kind of representation is for members fo the transgender community. "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."
The story of Stranded finds the Doctor and his companions without the TARDIS and left to live life in present-day London. The synopsis reads, "The TARDIS is gone. Stranded in one time and place, the Doctor, Liv and Helen seek refuge in Baker Street. But the house has changed: they now have neighbours – not all of them welcoming. And someone has a dire warning for the future. The Doctor and friends face their greatest challenge yet: living one day after another, in 2020 London."
At the time of the series' announcement, McGann said, "It's not our usual fare, so it feels refreshing and somehow wintry. It's dark outside. That time of year when the walls are closing in a bit. It's got the flavour of a bunch of polar explorers stuck on a rock for the winter.
"What I like most about it is the contrast - the whizzing round galaxies and having adventures, and suddenly they're having to share a space and they get cabin fever. And so the Doctor gets a bit bitter about it all. But they're trying to make the best of it. It's good and it's funny as well."
Producer David Richardson added, "Stranded is a brand new start for the Eighth Doctor Adventures. It's a new setting, bringing in new characters and it has its own distinct tone. There's no epic struggle to save the universe - this is about a group of people living in a house in London in 2020, and their struggles to find a role in this world. Of course there will be aliens and strange threats along the way, but the focus is always on our characters. It was a joy to see how much Paul McGann loved these scripts - some of his favorites out of all the ones we've made."