LONDON (AP) — Ncuti Gatwa will take the mantle from Jodie Whittaker on “Doctor Who,” the BBC announced Sunday, ending speculation over the iconic Time Lord’s next regeneration.
“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,” returning showrunner Russell T Davies said in the broadcaster’s release. “Ncuti dazzled us, seized hold of the Doctor, and owned those TARDIS keys in seconds.”
Gatwa, whose first name is pronounced ‘SHOO-tee, currently stars in Netflix’s high school comedy-drama “Sex Education” as the effervescent Eric Effiong, who is openly gay but from a highly religious family.
The Rwanda-born, Scotland-raised Gatwa, 29, will be the first Black actor to helm the quintessential British sci-fi show, but he won’t be the first Black Doctor — Jo Martin has played “Fugitive Doctor” in several episodes.
Whittaker became the 13th Doctor — and the first woman to play the central galaxy-hopping, extraterrestrial Time Lord who regenerates into new bodies — in 2017 when she took over from Peter Capaldi. Her last episode of “Doctor Who” is expected to air later this year.
The original run of “Doctor Who” spanned 1963 to 1989. Since the show was revived in 2005, the Doctor has been played by Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, and Matt Smith, in addition to Capaldi and Whittaker. Other stars, like Karen Gillan and Billie Piper, have made their names on the show as the Doctor’s “companion.”
“This role and show mean 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 utmost to do the same,” the release quoted Gatwa — who described his emotions as “a mix of deeply honored, beyond excited and of course a little bit scared” — as saying.
In addition to seeing the start of Gatwa’s tenure, next year also marks Davies’ return to “Doctor Who” after more than a decade’s absence. “Russell T Davies is almost as iconic as the Doctor himself and being able to work with him is a dream come true,” Gatwa said.
The writer and producer ran the reboot until 2009, and has worked on shows like “A Very English Scandal” and “It’s A Sin” in the interim. He promises a “spectacular” 2023. “Unlike the Doctor, I may only have one heart but I am giving it all to this show,” Gatwa added.