Sex Education actor Ncuti Gatwa has been confirmed to play the lead in Doctor Who, taking the mantle from Jodie Whittaker, the BBC announced on Sunday. Currently, Ncuti stars in Netflix’s high school comedy-drama as Eric Effiong. The actor will be the first black actor to helm the British sci-fi show, but won’t be the first black Doctor. Jo Martin has played Fugitive Doctor in several episodes. (Also Read | Sex Education cast exclusive interview: Asa Butterfield, Emma Mackey, Ncuti Gatwa on relevance of the show in repressed nations)
Jodie became the 13th Doctor–and the first woman to play the galaxy-hopping, time-travelling, extraterrestrial Time Lord in 2017. She took over from Peter Capaldi. Her last episode of Doctor Who is expected to air later this year. Since Doctor Who revived 17 years ago, the Doctor has been played by Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith, in addition to Peter and Jodi.
Speaking at the BAFTA TV Awards 2022, alongside Doctor Who writer Russell T Davies, Ncuti said, “It’s been emotional, it’s been emotional. I woke up crying then I started dancing. I’m glad it’s finally out, I don’t have to keep it a secret anymore because I’m terrible at it.” When asked for how long he kept it a secret, Ncuti looked at Russell who said it was since February. Ncuti added, “February. A long time.”
News agency AP quoted Russell as saying in BBC’s release, “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. Ncuti dazzled us, seized hold of the Doctor and owned those TARDIS keys in seconds.”
As per the AP report, Ncuti said, “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 utmost to do the same.”
It also marks Russell’s return to Doctor Who after more than a decade’s absence. Ncuti said, “Russell T Davies is almost as iconic as the Doctor himself and being able to work with him is a dream come true. Unlike the Doctor, I may only have one heart but I am giving it all to this show.” The writer and producer ran the reboot until 2009.
Doctor Who is one of the longest-running science-fiction shows. In the show, the Doctor is a humanoid alien from the planet Gallifrey. He travels in a ship called the TARDIS, which gives him the ability to travel through time and space, almost always with human companions. His unique physiology allows him to regenerate into a new body every few years, giving the producers the opportunity to cast a new actor every few seasons. So far, 13 actors have played the Doctor.
Doctor Who first began airing in 1963 with William Hartnell in the lead. The original run of the show ended in 1989. In the interim, six other actors took over the mantle. There was an attempt to revive the show through a TV movie in 1996, in which Paul McGann gave his only performance as the Doctor. The modern revival of Doctor Who began in 2005.
(With AP inputs)