Class is the latest spin-off series in the Doctor Who universe, or Whoniverse as it’s known to some. The series focuses on a group of teenagers finding the balance between sixth form and fighting various monsters. As time and space around Coal Hill School has worn thin owing to the actions of the Doctor over the years, more creatures have come through into London.
Series creator Patrick Ness and five of the young cast members paid a visit to London Comic Con to speak about the new series and the characters being introduced. Sophie Hopkins describes her character April MacLean as a, “really good girl that begins to toy with the dark side.” April also shares a heart with Corakinus, the group’s arch nemesis.
Vivian Oparah plays Tanya Adeola, a girl three years younger than the rest of the group but who has been moved up thanks to her incredible intelligence. “Throughout the series you see her attempt to navigate being young amongst older people, trying to define herself. Obviously she could be the young one or the smart one but she just wants to be her, and you see that journey, also being young and having all this stuff thrown at you cause you forget that 14 is really young to be fighting monsters.”
Charlie Smith is the sole alien character of the main group. Actor Greg Austin describes Charlie as the, “literal fish out of water.” (Why? Is he from an aquatic race? – ed.) Austin also adds, “He’s trying to find his way; he’s very socially inept as you would be, not knowing what humans are all about. He’s trying to learn his place and what to do really, and trying to find his humanity throughout the series which will be nice for him. I love it.”
Fady Elsayed describes his character, Ram Singh, a Sikh student at Coal Hill, as a “cool, caring young man, very driven, and passionate about football.” Elsayed goes on to say that something significant happens in the first episode that changes his life forever and after that, “He’s just trying to find himself and who he was at the beginning of the season.”
Finally, Jordan Renzo introduces his character Matteusz Andrzejewski as Charlie’s love interest and “just trying to find love in a cold world.”
While some have questioned whether making the the lead gay character an alien falls into the trope of Othering LGBT+ sexualities Patrick Ness responded in a separate interview taking place just round the corner at the same time, “Speaking as a gay man myself I can point out how alienating it can be – not that I’m being that on the nose about the metaphor. I didn’t really think of it in those terms; I just thought we all feel different for some reason, and he’s just an alien who happens to like Matteusz and that’s no big deal. That’s what I thought was important. Because I never saw myself on TV when I was growing up and I vowed that wouldn’t happen on my watch. I really want to see my story up there.” Certainly Matteusz’s willingness to date an alien speaks volumes about the show’s attitude.
Class certainly remains a step forward in regards to representation for the Whoniverse. With so much chatter among viewers about the Doctor having yet to regenerate as anything but a white man, and most of the companions in the modern era having also been white, the significance of having two POC characters in the core group is not lost on the cast.
Vivian Oparah says, “Our generation is multicultural. We have friends of every colour, every size, everything. It’s good to see yourself and it’s good to see the people that you love in places, it makes you feel that it validates your existence. At the premiere of the show, it was nice to have girls coming up to me and saying, ‘Oh my god, it’s so nice that you’re in it.’ People just love the truth of the show and whether that’s because of who we are and what we look like or just because of the amazing writing, people just love it.”
Fady Elsayed adds, “It’s actually an accurate representation of life in London or just in general, schools. A group of friends don’t just stay from one type of community. We’re all different people and that’s what’s real about London and school, and just life in general and that’s how it should be.”