Doctor Who has cast Pearl Mackie as the new companion to star alongside Peter Capaldi’s Time Lord in the 10th season. She replaces Jenna Coleman who exited the series last year to join ITV’s upcoming drama series Victoria in which she plays the eponymous Queen.

Mackie will play Bill. She will star with Capaldi beginning in the 10th season of the sci-fi series which will air in 2017, preceded by the annual Christmas special this year.

The role marks Pearl’s first major television role. “I’m incredibly excited to be joining the Doctor Who family,” Mackie said in a statement. “It’s such an extraordinary British institution, I couldn’t be prouder to call the TARDIS my home!” She added that, based on the script she read at the audition, “I thought Bill was wicked. Fantastically written, cool, strong, sharp, a little bit vulnerable with a bit of geekiness thrown in – I can’t wait to bring her to life, and to see how she develops through the series.”

Said Capaldi said: “It is a genuine delight to welcome Pearl Mackie to Doctor Who. A fine, fine actress with a wonderful zest and charm, she’s a refreshing addition to the TARDIS and will bring a universe of exciting new possibilities to The Doctor’s adventures.”

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Mackie is currently appearing in the National Theatre’s West End production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. Originally from Brixton, South London, Mackie graduated in 2010 from Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Her TV credits include Doctors and Svengali.

This will be head writer and exec producer Steven Moffat’s last go-round with the series. He’ll be replaced after the next season by Broadchurch’s Chris Chibnall.

Coleman, who played Clara Oswald, joined Doctor Who in 2012 when Matt Smith was still at the helm of the Tardis. Other recent long-running companions have included Arthur Darvill as Rory Williams and Karen Gillan as Amy Pond.

In a cross-over event, today’s announcement was made live this evening during BBC One’s halftime coverage of the FA Cup semi-final match between Everton and Manchester United.

The official Doctor Who BBC America Twitter account has been teasing the announcement for days, like this Tweet earlier today: