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Everything and More You Need to Know about ‘Doctor Who’s’ Ncuti Gatwa

Everything and More You Need to Know about ‘Doctor Who’s’ Ncuti Gatwa

When Season 13 of Doctor Who, called Flux, ended, both the media and fans alike turned the knob of speculation past 11 and up to 15 about who would be taking over in the role as the itinerant Doctor. However, all bets were called off on May 8, 2022, when the BBC officially revealed that Ncuti Gatwa would assume the mantle of the Time Lord as the Fifteenth Doctor, taking over from Jodie Whittaker.

The most interesting aspect of the reveal was the fact that no one saw it coming. Ncuti Gatwa’s name wasn’t even listed among potential candidates for the role on fan forums, media talks, and even betting sites — yes, people actually bet money on who the next Doctor is going to be. So, it’s safe to assume that BBC’s announcement took everyone by surprise, with everyone asking who this new Doctor is and how could an actor who seemingly “popped out of nowhere” land such as huge role. So, who is the new Doctor?

Ncuti Gatwa is the next incarnation of the Doctor, the second person of color (the first was Jo Martin), the first male of African descent, and the fourth Scottish actor to lead the Doctor Who series. He was born in Rwanda in 1992, but he and his family fled the country at the height of the Rwandan genocide when Gatwa was just two years old. His family settled in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he attended elementary school and high school, leading to his graduation from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in acting.

His acting career was mostly comprised of theater roles, brief sitcom appearances, and Shakespearean plays. He hasn’t received much publicity, but he did earn a Commendation for his role as Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, for which he received an Ian Charleson award in 2014. However, his acting career skyrocketed when he landed a role as Eric Effiong in the Netflix series Sex Education. Gatwa portrayed a gay character to great critical and fan acclaim. He’s also cast to portray Ken in the upcoming movie Barbie.

This portrayal earned Gatwa numerous accolades for the role, including the BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Actor in Television and three BAFTA Television Award nominations for Best Male Comedy Performance in 2020, 2021, and 2022 consecutively. So, for anyone asking how a “seemingly out of nowhere” actor got to play the Doctor, please note that the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Award is considered to be one of the most prestigious awards in visual media — and they don’t give those to just about anyone.

It’s pretty clear that Gatwa possesses the skill and talent to portray one of the most iconic sci-fi characters in television history. At the time of BBC’s announcement of Gatwa as the Fifteenth Doctor, the official reports suggested that he would make his debut in 2023, with many believing that he was to appear in the end-of-season regeneration scene, an in-narrative plot device that allows the showrunners to change the lead. However, the rumor was only partially true.

While the Fourteenth Doctor did make an appearance in the second of three special episodes, Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor didn’t actually regenerate into the Fourteenth Doctor everyone was expecting. Instead, the audiences were surprised by David Tennant’s return to the series. Tennant’s portrayal of the Tenth Doctor is among many fans’ favorites, and while unexpected, his return to the franchise was welcomed with open arms and bated breath.

We have to note that Tennant’s appearance wasn’t just out of the blue. Following Gatwa’s casting as the Doctor, BBC also announced showrunner Russell T. Davies‘ return to the series, which sparked rumors of David Tennant’s return to the series. Ultimately, those rumors proved true, and David Tennant has returned to the series as the Fourteenth Doctor, prompting us to ask what happened to Ncuti Gatwa’s highly anticipated portrayal of the iconic Doctor. 

As it turns out, there’s a very “Doctor Who-y” in-world explanation for this, and it’s currently the most viable one the fandom has managed to come up with — considering that the BBC runs a tight ship when it comes to detail leaks and set spoilers. It would seem that Jodie Whittaker’s regeneration went awry. She reverted to a form she’s comfortable with, and that’s apparently David Tennant’s version of the character. The Doctor even expressed, in a surprising manner, that he’s familiar with the form he assumed.

The BBC later confirmed that the fandom was right; David Tennant’s Fourteenth Doctor is actually scheduled to appear in one remaining special episode, with Ncuti Gatwa assuming the mantle as the Fifteenth Doctor past the November 2023 special episode. For those thinking that it’s strange to have a whole brand-new Doctor appear in a single episode, please remember to bookmark and re-stream Sir John Hurt’s Eighth and a Half Doctor(ish) that only appeared in two episodes of the show, titled “The Day of the Doctors,” and “The Time of the Doctor.”

Ultimately, Ncuti Gatwa’s talent is what helped him land one of the most legendary roles in television, but it would seem that the path to taking the controls of his very own TARDIS as the Fifteenth Doctor is still laden with all sorts of mysteries, horrors, Cybermen, and regenerative mischief that the Doctor Who universe has become known for.

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