Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa will become the 14th actor to play the highly coveted role of Doctor Who, the BBC announced Sunday. Gatwa will be the first Black actor to play the Time Lord full-time.

Gatwa, 29, will assume the role after Jodie Whittaker takes her final bow in an episode set to air this fall.

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The Scottish-Rwandan actor is best known for his highly acclaimed work as Eric Effiong, a openly gay teen, raised in a deeply religious family, in Netflix’s highly rated Sex Education.

‘A Dream Come True’

“There aren’t quite the words to describe how I’m feeling. A mix of deeply honoured, beyond excited and of course a little bit scared,” Gatwa said in a statement posted to the official Doctor Who website.

“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,” said Gatwa.

“Russell T. Davies is almost as iconic as the Doctor himself and being able to work with him is a dream come true. His writing is dynamic, exciting, incredibly intelligent and fizzing with danger.”

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“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,” Gatwa said.

The Future Is Here

Doctor Who showrunner Russell T. Davies told the Radio Times about casting Gatwa. “It was an amazing audition and the last person to audition. I thought someone else was a guaranteed hit and then in [Ncuti] came and that person will never know.”

In a statement posted on the official Doctor Who website, Davies heralded his new star. “The future is here and it’s Ncuti!”

“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. It’s an honour to work with him, and a hoot, I can’t wait to get started.”

“I’m sure you’re dying to know more, but we’re rationing ourselves for now, with the wonderful Jodie’s epic finale yet to come. But I promise you, 2023 will be spectacular!” Davies said.

While he was the initial showrunner for the revival, Davies left in 2010, but he is returning for the upcoming season, which will also mark the 60th anniversary of the show.

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Davies is also the creator of LGBTQ favourites, Queer as Folk and It’s a Sin.

On Playing A Gay, Black Character

 

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Whittaker, who was cast as the Doctor in 2017, was the first woman to play the Doctor. Whittaker will appear in one more episode, expected to air in the fall during the BBC centenary celebrations. Whittaker herself took over the role following the departure of Peter Capaldi

Gatwa has never commented publicly about his sexuality, although in a 2020 interview with IndieWire, about Sex Education, the actor talked about the importance of representation. 

“It’s really nice to have a gay character, a black character, be at the forefront of this story on a show like this that has the reach it does on Netflix.”

“It matters, I hope, that other little black boys round the world can be like — ‘Oh, Eric is like this, and it’s cool.’ It’s important that we allow different people to occupy these spaces,” Gatwa said.

Gatwa has also been open about his struggles in getting work as an actor. “Being a 25-year-old man with no money or job affected my sense of self-worth,” Gatwa said in the Big Issue. “Rejection became unbearable. Auditions weren’t just acting jobs, they were lifelines.”

Longest Running Sci-Fi TV Show

Doctor Who originally ran from 1963 to 1989 and was revived in 2005. Since then the casting for each new Doctor creates an avalanche of speculation and discussion.  Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith have all played the titular role since its return to the airwaves. 

Future stars Karen Gillan and Billie Piper also made an early splash on the show playing the Doctor’s “companion.”

According to The Guinness Book of World Records, Doctor Who is the longest-running science-fiction television show in the world, as well as the “most successful” science-fiction series of all time, based on overall ratings.

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