The new Doctor Who spin-off, entitiled Class, will feature an LGBTQIA+ character in the lead role.
The series’ writer, Patrick Ness, revealed the news on Twitter after attending a vigil for the 49 victims who died in the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
He wrote, “Been asked if Class will have LGBT representation in it. Will a lead character with a boyfriend who he kisses & sleeps with & loves do?”
Ness, who is openly gay himself, has been keeping information about the upcoming series largely under wraps. But while admitting his characters' sexuality was also supposed to be confidential for the time being, said, “today that secret doesn't seem very important.”
Vivian Oparah, Greg Austin, Sophie Hopkins and Fady Elsayed will play four high school students in Class, which will see them navigate issues of teen angst while grappling with various extra-terrestrial invasions. Katherine Kelly is also joining the cast as a trusted teacher.
Promoting diversity has been a goal for the Doctor Who franchise for some time now, with executive producer Steven Moffat saying the show has “no excuse” not to include a diverse cast.
After casting actress Pearl Mackie, whose background is West Indian and British, as the doctor’s companion, Moffat told Doctor Who Magazine: "We decided that the new companion was going to be non-white, and that was an absolute decision, because we need to do better on that. We just have to."
"I don't mean that we've done terribly - our guest casts are among the most diverse on television - but I feel as though I could have done better overall.”
He also revealed that the part of the space and time-travelling doctor had been offered to a black actor but the offer was declined.
The series also previously featured a number of LGBT characters including Madame Vastra and Jenny, and Captain Jack Harkness and Ianto Jones in the spin-off Torchwood.