Friend from the Future (TV story)

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Friend from the Future was a promotional mini-episode broadcast during Match of the Day and later released online in 2016, which introduced the character of Bill Potts to the world. Originally, this scene was produced as a stand-alone episode to reveal the casting of Pearl Mackie, similar to 2017's Meet the Thirteenth Doctor.

However, when writing TV: The Pilot, Bill's introduction episode, Steven Moffat's intuition was to make Friend from the Future "fit" into the series. Because of this, The Pilot's plot carefully sets up the conditions of the mini-episode, although only copying part of the exchange from the scene due to the rest being cut for pacing. Moffat joked that Doctor Who fans knew when the story took place, and that they "could all sleep at night now."


The Daleks are following the Twelfth Doctor and Bill through a corridor. Will they get out alive?


The Twelfth Doctor and Bill Potts are running from Daleks. They hide behind a wall, and Bill repeatedly questions the Doctor as to what a Dalek is. He hurriedly explains to her. Then he receives a notification via the psychic paper and insists that they need to go back to the TARDIS, convinced that the future, specifically 2017, needs them. As they leave their hideout, a Dalek shoots at them and states that it detected humanoids.

As they turn around a text hits the screen that says "Introducing Pearl Mackie as Bill".




The Series 10 opener The Pilot was carefully structured to explain the plot and setting of this mini-episode. Bill's costume is the same in both episodes, and both feature the same scripted sequence of Bill and the Doctor turning to see a Dalek. In The Pilot, this Dalek is revealed to be Heather.
  • The promo teaser was shot on 13 April 2016 in a matter of three hours.[1]
  • The first few seconds are re-used footage from TV: Into the Dalek.
  • The BBC promoted this scene as "an exclusive scene from a future episode".[2]
  • The scene presented was the filmed version of Pearl Mackie's audition.[3]
  • This teaser was originally intended as a stand-alone introduction to Bill Potts, but Moffat decided to work it into the plot of the series 10 opener TV: The Pilot.
  • Originally, all of the dialogue was carried over directly to The Pilot. In a BBC post-interview, Moffat noted that ultimately this "didn't work" because Friend from the Future was an introduction to Bill, and the audience was already acquainted with her by this scene. Thus, almost all of the scene was deleted from the final version of the episode. Moffat still noted that he made it clear when the short was meant to take place so that the fans interested in timelines could know "where it fits," and that "[they] could all sleep at night now."[4]
  • For the most part, parts of the scene being deleted from The Pilot does not impact the main flow of Friend of the Future. Directly before the scene would take place, Heather faces off against a Dalek. It is thus implied that most of this mini-episode takes place during this encounter. Part of the Doctor and Bill discussing the Dalek remains in the episode, and all that is cut in-sequence is the Doctor telling Bill that they have to get back to the future (2017) and the "Dalek" stating "Humanoid detected!"
  • As becomes clear in TV: The Pilot, Bill and the Doctor are in a Dalek-Movellan war zone, where they have fled to free themselves from some sentient oil, who was pursuing Bill through time and space. The Dalek confronting the Doctor and Bill at the end of the clip is retconned in the episode to be the sentient oil disguised as a Dalek. This required to change the Dalek's "humanoids detected" remark into something compatible with the nature and objectives of the sentient oil.
  • Bill wears a t-shirt featuring the inner sleeve artwork of the Prince album Purple Rain. Coincidentally, the short was broadcast just two days after Prince's death. Pearl Mackie stated this to be entirely coincidental.[5]


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