Ncuti Gatwa, who is set to play the Fifteenth Doctor in Doctor Who, reflects on what the series means for people of color and marginalized people. Doctor Who is the longest-running sci-fi television series in history, with much of its longevity owed to the constant re-casting of its main character, the Doctor. Thirteen actors have now starred in the series as the Doctor, with Gatwa officially set to play the Fifteenth Doctor after the events of the most recent special, « The Power of the Doctor. »
In May, it was announced that Gatwa was set to take over from Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker once her run was complete. Whittaker was the first female incarnation of the Doctor, and Gatwa’s upcoming regeneration will make him the first Doctor of color. While Tenth Doctor actor David Tennant has become the Fourteenth Doctor after Whittaker, Doctor Who fans can expect to see Gatwa step into the TARDIS late next year. Looking forward to his run, he has already revealed he is hoping to face the Weeping Angels and the Beast, two classic villains in the Doctor Who universe.
At a lunch hosted by BBC and Disney (via Deadline) to celebrate a major distribution deal for Doctor Who to be streamed on Disney+ outside of the UK and Ireland, Gatwa reflects on what the series means for marginalized people. He says that, as a Rwandan immigrant, stepping into the role of a quintessentially British character « feels just really powerful. » Read Gatwa’s comment below:
[Doctor Who matters] for people of color, for marginalized people who really gravitate towards the show because it’s about friendship, and it’s about adventure, and it’s about union and unity. And also Doctor Who is able to turn into anything or anyone, so the possibilities are endless. So the fact that that mission is going out to lots of people, that the possibilities are endless, is extremely cool.
From Doctor Who’s 1963 debut through to 2017, twelve different actors stepped into the role of the Doctor, all of whom were white men. 2018 marked a major change when Whittaker took over the role, making her the first female Doctor in the series’ history. While there have been beloved POC companions like Yaz Khan, Martha Jones, and Mickey Smith, there has been a serious lack of diversity when it comes to regenerations of the Doctor – which makes Gatwa’s casting such a major milestone for the long-running series.
Though Tennant is stepping back into the role of the Doctor in time for Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary, Gatwa is still very eager for his time as the Fifteenth Doctor to come. 2023 will be a big year for the series, as three anniversary specials are set to run in November, featuring all-star casts that include many previous Doctor Who actors. While Gatwa won’t be making his debut as the Doctor for at least another few months, Doctor Who fans around the world are eagerly awaiting this newest regeneration of the beloved character.