Mr Gatwa, the star of the Netflix series Sex Education, will be the first black male to star in an enduring BBC sci-fi franchise.
Ncuti Gatwa, star of the Netflix series Sex Education, will be the 14th actor and the first black man to star in Doctor Who, the long-running British sci-fi franchise about a time-traveling adventurer. It is reported by the BBC on Sunday.
He will replace Jodie Whittaker, who announced her departure last July after three seasons as the series’ first female doctor.
Mr Gatwa, 29, a Rwandan-Scottish actor, plays Eric Effiong, a gay man struggling to understand his sexuality and identity in a religious Nigerian family, in the popular British teen comedy-drama series Sex Education on Netflix.
“It’s really amazing, it’s a great honour,” Mr Gatwa told the BBC on Sunday as he arrived at the EE British Academy Film Awards, commonly known as the BAFTA, where he was nominated for Best Actor in a Comedy Program for his work on “Sex Education”.
“This role is an institution,” he said of Doctor Who. “It’s so iconic and means a lot to a lot of people, myself included, and that’s why everyone feels like they’ve been noticed too. It’s something that everyone can enjoy, so I’m very grateful for the baton being passed to me, and I’ll try to do my best.”
Doctor Who fans celebrated the news on Twitter on Sunday, with many expressing their excitement to see a doctor like them. Others noted the low-key nature of the announcement, with the tweet followed by a news release shared by the BBC on social media. In July 2017, the BBC announced the selection of Ms Whittaker in a commercial that aired after the Wimbledon men’s final.
In a statement released by the BBC, Mr Gatwa noted the importance of Doctor Who – both the character and the show itself – to fans around the world, and acknowledged the feeling of “combining deep honor, over-enthusiasm and, of course, a little scary.”
“Unlike the Doctor,” he added, “I can only have one heart, but I give it to the whole show.”
The BBC has aired 39 seasons of Doctor Who in nearly 60 years. The show, about a time-traveling alien known as the Doctor, who travels through time and space in an old-fashioned British police telephone booth called the TARDIS, has developed a legion of devoted fans who call themselves the “Hovians”.
The Doctor is reborn into new people, and in turn, every few years the series changes its lead actor. While fans have been anticipating and eagerly anticipating the transition to the new Doctors, the show’s previous attempts at change and diversification have not been universally welcomed. When it was announced in 2017 that Ms. Whittaker would become the Doctor, some fans used the hashtag #NotMyDoctor and wondered why the character had suddenly changed gender.
The final episode of Miss Whittaker is yet to come, series showrunner Russell T Davies said in a statement. It will air in the fall during the BBC’s centenary celebrations, according to the trailer announcing the episode.