Rwandan-Scottish actor Ncuti Gatwa, best known for his award-winning portrayal of Eric Effiong on the Netflix dramedy Sex Education, has been announced as the next person to assume the role of The Doctor on the BBC’s long-running series Doctor Who. Gatwa, 29, will take over for Jodie Whittaker and be the first Black person ever to play the primary incarnation of the title character.
“There aren’t quite the words to describe how I’m feeling,” Ncuti said in the press release announcing his appointment. “A mix of deeply honoured, beyond excited and of course a little bit scared. This role and show means so much to so many around the world, including myself, and each one of my incredibly talented predecessors has handled that unique responsibility and privilege with the utmost care.” He subtly made the reveal on his own Instagram as well by posting two hearts (representing the Time Lords’ own two hearts) and a blue square (to represent Doctor Who’s time-space travel machine, the TARDIS).
Showrunner Russell T Davies spoke with the press at Sunday’s BAFTA TV Awards in London and answered if Ncuti was hired only because he was Black. “No,” he told attendees, “simply the best actor walked into the room.” Davies said Ncuti was actually the last person to audition for the opening. He also added the following: “I don’t care but having said that, once cast, those things are very important. I think diversity and inclusion are very important so you will be hearing from us endlessly about that.
Davies made sure to acknowledge British actress Jo Martin, however, as “the most fantastic black female Doctor. I salute her. We aren’t trumping over that at all.” Martin has appeared in the show as a secondary incarnation of the title character known as The Fugitive Doctor.
“Sometimes talent walks through the door and it’s so bright and bold and brilliant, I just stand back in awe and thank my lucky stars,” Davies said in a separate statement, per NPR. “Ncuti dazzled us, seized hold of the Doctor and owned those TARDIS keys in seconds.” A graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Ncuti becomes only the 14th actor to assume the mantle of Doctor Who. Fans of the show can expect to see Ncuti’s official debut in the first episode of Season 14, scheduled to air on the 60th anniversary of Doctor Who, November 23, 2023.