Ncuti Gatwa: BBC names actor as next Doctor Who star

Actor Ncuti Gatwa will take over from Jodie Whittaker as the star of Doctor Who, the BBC has announced.

The 29-year-old will become the 14th Time Lord on the popular science fiction show, and the first non-white performer to play the lead role.

Scottish actor Gatwa, who was born in Rwanda, is best known for starring in Netflix’s sitcom Sex Education.

He said he was “deeply honoured, beyond excited and of course a little bit scared” by his new role.

He added: “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.

“I will endeavour my upmost to do the same.”

Gatwa will make his debut as the Time Lord in 2023.

Ncuti Gatwa in Sex Education

Sam Taylor/Netflix

Showrunner Russell T Davies said Gatwa “dazzled us” in his audition.

“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.

The Queer As Folk and It’s A Sin writer is returning as the programme’s showrunner after departing the show in 2009.

The new Doctor was announced hours before this year’s Bafta Television Awards, where Gatwa is nominated for best male performance in a comedy programme for the third year in a row for his performance as Eric in Sex Education.

He has already won a Scottish Bafta and a Rose d’Or Award for the role.

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‘A double bonus’

Analysis by Lizo Mzimba, BBC entertainment correspondent

Ncuti Gatwa is a very shrewd choice for the role. He’s incredibly popular with viewers in their late teens and 20s, thanks to Sex Education on Netflix. He has more than 2.5 million Instagram followers, and that’s likely to shoot up even further after today’s announcement.

Doctor Who, like so many programmes, is eager to win back some of those younger viewers, so the sheer interest from someone like him being involved is going to help with that.

That’s not to put aside the fact he’s an exceptionally gifted young actor. He’s absolutely brilliant. He’s been nominated for the Bafta for all three series of Sex Education, so he’s not just been cast because of what he can demographically bring in.

It’s a double bonus because he can bring in that demographic and in theory give a fantastic performance as the Doctor.

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Gatwa added that the prospect of working with Davies was “a dream come true”.

He continued: “His writing is dynamic, exciting, incredibly intelligent and fizzing with danger – an actor’s metaphorical playground. The entire team have been so welcoming and truly give their hearts to the show.

“And so as much as it’s daunting, I’m aware I’m joining a really supportive family. Unlike the Doctor, I may only have one heart but I am giving it all to this show.”

BBC chief content officer Charlotte Moore said: “Ncuti has an incredible dynamism, he’s a striking and fearless young actor whose talent and energy will set the world alight and take Doctor Who on extraordinary adventures under Russell T Davies’ new era.”

Whittaker took over as the Doctor in 2017 as the first female doctor.

She will bow out in a special episode to be broadcast this autumn. Her finale will also feature appearances from two previous assistants – Ace, played by Sophie Aldred, and Janet Fielding’s Tegan.

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