Doctor Who's Pearl Mackie says it's about time sci-fi shows had diverse roles

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New Doctor Who star Pearl Mackie said diverse roles have been lacking in science fiction shows, as she joined her co-stars at New York Comic Con to reveal details of this year's Christmas special.

The actress, who plays the Doctor's new companion Bill in a new series airing next year, appeared in front of hundreds of fans at Madison Square Garden with the show's star Peter Capaldi, Matt Lucas and writer Steven Moffat.

Addressing the audience, Pearl, from Brixton, south London, said it was frustrating that a lack of diversity in the film and television industry remained an issue in 2016.

Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie
Peter and Pearl taking a selfie in Valencia, where they filmed some of the new Doctor Who series (Simon Ridgway/BBC)

She said: "It's something that should have been addressed a long time ago, especially in the science fiction genre. I think it's something that's been lacking.

"Something I noticed from the BBC America party last night was there is a lot of strong women of colour in the new series Class, Dirk Gently and Doctor Who, which I think is great."

Steven added: "It's not something we're looking for a pat on the back for to be honest. People watching television, particularly children, should see people like them up there."

Steven Moffat (Jane Barlow/PA)
Steven Moffat supported Pearl's calls for more diversity in film and television (Jane Barlow/PA)

The Doctor Who Christmas special, called The Return Of Doctor Mysterio, will air on BBC One on Christmas Day.

The 60-minute show will see Capaldi as the Doctor teaming up with an investigative journalist, played by Charity Wakefield, and a superhero named Grant to save New York from a deadly alien threat.

Grant will be played by Orphan Black actor Justin Chatwin, while Matt will return in his role as Nardole.

Justin Chatwin
Justin Chatwin who will star in this year's Doctor Who Christmas special (Chris Pizzello/AP/)

Steven said: "I've always loved superheroes and this Christmas Doctor Who dives into that world. My favourite superhero is Clark Kent. Not Superman, Clark Kent."

The BBC America event at New York Comic Con featured the cast of Class, the new Doctor Who spin-off, set in Shoreditch, London. The series airs on BBC Three from October 22, with Peter featuring in the opening episode.

Fans were also treated to a screening of the first episode of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, an adaptation of the novels from The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy author Douglas Adams.

The murder mystery, which stars Lord Of The Rings actor Elijah Wood and English actor Samuel Barnett, airs on BBC America on October 22 and on Netflix in the UK from December.