The producers of Doctor Who have been rather open about the franchise’s need to push for a diverse cast recently, and it’s taking a big step forward this year with the young-adult spinoff Class, which writer Patrick Ness has revealed will have a gay lead character.
Class, which follows a group of students at Coal Hill School—the London school that has been home to both most recent Clara Oswald, and early companions Ian, Barbara, and Susan—focuses on four students played by Greg Austin, Fady Elsayed, Sophie Hopkins, and Vivian Oparah, and a teacher at Coal Hill played by Katharine Kelly.
According to tweets from series writer Patrick Ness, presumably either Austin or Elsayed’s character (unless there is an as-yet-unrevealed male character joining the series) will be portrayed as both openly gay and in a committed relationship. The news was meant to be kept under wraps for longer, but Ness revealed the information on social media as a show of solidarity in the wake of the tragic mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando over the weekend.
Class isn’t even the first Doctor Who spinoff to have an LGBT lead. Torchwood, of course, had Captain Jack in a relationship with team member Ianto Jones for most of its run, and even The Sarah Jane Adventures was planning on revealing Sarah Jane’s adopted son Luke, one of its young leads, was gay had the show continued. But nonetheless, it’s incredibly important for representation to have a young, school-aged LGBT character that plays a major role in the series—especially at a time when genre television is coming under fire for certain portrayals of LGBT characters.
Class is currently due to air in the UK and the US sometime this year.