Yasmin Finney on how Doctor Who became her family – and the best way to deal with trolls

Yasmin Finney.
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Doctor Who star Yasmin Finney has opened up about how the sci-fi series helped her “relive the family experience” after coming out as trans.

The 20-year-old actor catapulted to stardom this year after featuring in Heartstopper season two as trans teen Elle and the Doctor Who 60th anniversary opposite David Tennant as Donna Noble’s (Catherine Tate) daughter, Rose Noble.

Finney’s groundbreaking roles have pushed the envelope for trans representation in mainstream media and seen the trans trailblazer infuse her own life experiences into her characters. In “The Star Beast”, for example, a scene where Rose is deadnamed by high school bullies was cited by Finney as triggering her own “PTSD”.

Luckily, the Manchester-raised star has also drawn joy from the filming process. Much like Heartstopper, Doctor Who also holds chosen family at the heart of the show and never was that more clear than during Saturday (9 December) night’s 60th anniversary finale, “The Giggle”.

Yasmin Finney with onscreen mum and grandma.
Yasmin Finney with onscreen mum and grandma. (BBC Studios/Alistair Heap)

The dramatic one-hour episode, created by returning showrunner Russell T Davies, featured the highly-anticipated appearance of the 15th Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa), but in a surprise twist, Tennant’s 14th Doctor also survived and decided to live with Donna and her family.

The end of the episode showed the Doctor sitting around the table with his new adopted family, where he endearingly calls Rose his niece. Finney reflected on why her makeshift Doctor Who family is so important to her in an interview with the Independent on Saturday (9 December).

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“[The show] has given me the opportunity to be in a family – a very crazy family, but a family nonetheless,” she said.

“And I kind of lacked that with my family, we kind of parted ways once I transitioned: things got really complicated. So to be able to relive my family experience, especially with these amazing actors – it was a pinch-me moment.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Finney responded to the ongoing backlash from bigots over a trans person featuring in the new Doctor Who episodes. New data has revealed that over 140 people filed anti-trans complaints to the BBC, while transphobes review-bombed the episode on Rotten Tomatoes.

“When I read comments saying, ‘Oh you were terrible and also you’re a man’, it just makes me realise that they don’t actually care about the show. There’s always been queer characters throughout the universe,” Finney wisely commented.

She added that she needs “tough skin” to face more anger in the future when she steps into non trans-specfic roles.

Yasmin Finney talks the inspiration behind one key moment in new Doctor Who episode.
Yasmin Finney as Rose Noble. (BBC Studios/Bad Wolf/Disney)

But Finney already seems incredibly comfortable in herself and ready to take on the world, sharing wise words for those who might also face abuse or trolling.

“When you put yourself first, any other comment made by a relative or a family member or a friend, best friend, complete stranger off the streets – you really won’t care,” she concluded.

This is not the end of Rose’s story on the show. Russell T Davies (one of Finney’s biggest champions) recently confirmed Rose would appear in future episodes opposite Gatwa.

“She’s absolutely terrific, and she has more appearances to come, simply because I adore working with her,” Davies told Entertainment Weekly.

Doctor Who returns with the Christmas special “The Church on Ruby Road” at 5:55pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer. It will stream globally on Disney+.