The Doctor is in! As Jodie Whittaker prepares to exit the time-traveling arena of Doctor Who, a new time lord in Ncuti Gatwa is waiting in the wings.
“There aren’t quite the words to describe how I’m feeling. A mix of deeply honored, beyond excited and of course a little bit scared,” the Sex Education alum, 29, gushed in a Sunday, May 8, statement via the Doctor Who official 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 endeavor my upmost to do the same.”
He continued: “[Returning showrunner] 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: an actor’s metaphorical playground. The entire team have been so welcoming and truly give their hearts to the show. … Unlike the Doctor, I may only have one heart, but I am giving it all to this show.”
Gatwa takes over the Doctor Who mantle from Whittaker, who portrayed the 13th Doctor for three seasons on the BBC hit. The Broadchurch alum will leave the series along with showrunner Chris Chibnall, who will hand the reins back to Davies. The Queer as Folk creator helped relaunch the show in 2005 and departed in 2010.
“In 2017, I opened my glorious gift box of size 13 shoes. I could not have guessed the brilliant adventures, worlds and wonders I was to see in them,” the English actress, 39, confirmed her series exit in July 2021 in a BBC statement. “I will carry the Doctor and the lessons I’ve learnt forever.”
She added: “My heart is so full of love for this show, for the team who make it, for the fans who watch it and for what it has brought to my life. I cannot thank Chris [Chibnall] enough for entrusting me with his incredible stories. We knew that we wanted to ride this wave side by side and pass on the baton together. So here we are, weeks away from wrapping on the best job I have ever had.”
The British series initially aired between 1963 and 1989 before being revived in 2005. On the show, the Doctor explores the universe via a time-traveling spaceship, otherwise known as a TARDIS. The Black Mirror alum — who became the first female Doctor during her show tenure — took over from predecessor Peter Capaldi. Prior to that, the show launched the careers of Matt Smith and David Tennant, who played the 11th and 10th versions of the time lord, respectively.
Gatwa, for his part, and the BBC America team are ready to shake up the beloved sci-fi series with the new casting.
“The future is here and it’s Ncuti,” Davies, 59, noted in a Sunday statement. “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.”
Whittaker’s run as the 13th Doctor is set to come to an end this fall before Gatwa’s version officially takes over next year.
Scroll below to learn more about the latest Doctor Who star:
Credit: Sam Taylor/NETFLIX
1. He’s An Accomplished Actor
Gatwa notably played Eric Effiong in Netflix’s Sex Education, earning a coveted Best Actor trophy at the Scottish BAFTAs in 2020. He is also featured in The Last Letter From Your Lover and Margot Robbie’s forthcoming Barbie movie.
Credit: Scott Garfitt/Shutterstock for BAFTA
2. His ‘Doctor Who’ Role Makes History
He is the first Black actor to become the legendary time lord on a full-time basis. Jo Martin was the first ever Black Doctor, but she only guest starred as a future incarnation of the Doctor throughout Whittaker’s run.
Gatwa told the BBC on Sunday, “It feels really amazing. It’s a true honor. This role is an institution and it’s so iconic. I feel very grateful to have had the baton handed over and I’m going to try to do my best.”
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Credit: Carlo Paloni/BAFTA/Shutterstock
3. He Grew Up in Scotland
The Stonemouth alum was born in Rwanda before his family fled the country amid the 1994 genocide. They eventually settled in Scotland, where Gatwa went to study acting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
Credit: John Salangsang/Shutterstock
4. He Struggled Before Making It Big
“Moving into a new place meant paying the deposit and first month’s rent,” he told The Big Issue in May 2020 of attempting to secure acting roles upon his school graduation. “I started temping but had to take time off to audition for roles I wasn’t getting. When I didn’t get enough temping work, I fell behind on my rent. By the end of my second month of unemployment, I was out of savings. … Being a 25-year-old man with no money or job affected my sense of self-worth. Rejection became unbearable. Auditions weren’t just acting jobs, they were lifelines.”
He continued at the time: “I felt guilty, ashamed, a bit pathetic. … As I was standing on the street with my suitcases, one thought came into my head: ‘I’m homeless.’ I couldn’t have got through without two wonderful friends. One made me stay with her and the other wired me money for food every week. Their generosity was incredible but difficult to accept as it meant accepting what my situation had become – and it was a situation I could barely comprehend.”
Credit: Courtesy of Ncuti Gatwa/Instagram
5. He’s an Animal Lover
“I want to get a puppy,” Gatwa teased during a November 2019 Build series interview with Sex Education costar Asa Butterfield. “I want to get a Staffy [Staffordshire Bull Terrier] and I think, like, February, I’m gonna get a puppy. … I can [manage puppy parenthood], I’m gonna do it.”