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New Doctor Who actor Ncuti Gatwa on ‘the tragedy and the depth’ of his version of The Doctor

As the fifteenth incarnation of the famous Time Lord, Scottish actor Ncuti Gatwa talks about the tone this new season sets, and the changes coming to the beloved character.

Scottish actor discusses the complexities, challenges and joys of becoming the fifteenth Time Lord

A man wearing a brown leather coat stands in the snow.

Ncuti Gatwa's time has, in fact, been a long time coming.

That's partially because the Sex Education star was first cast as the new lead in the long-running Doctor Who series back in 2022.

But it's also because his own trajectory — when he was a child, Gatwa's family immigrated to Scotland to flee Rwanda's civil war — has a certain symmetry with The Doctor's backstory as the sole remaining Time Lord after war and genocide decimated his race.

Gatwa says he's happy he could inject his own unique mix of delight and drama into the show.

"There's a lot of talk about how much joy and hope runs through our season — and our season, and our era, feeling a lot more colourful and happy — and it definitely is that," he said in an interview with CBC News.

"But it has the darkness and the tragedy and the depth that all great sci-fi shows should have."

WATCH | Ncuti Gatwa on the Doctor Who episode he likes the most:

Ncuti Gatwa's favourite Doctor Who episode? The one Steven Moffat wrote

1 hour ago

Duration 2:05

Ncuti Gatwa is the latest actor to take on the role of Doctor Who. He says writer Steven Moffat returning to the show led to his favourite episode.

No limitations for Gatwa's Doctor

As the fifteenth incarnation of the famous Time Lord, that tragedy, depth — and loads of colour — have already hit the small screen; the series released its first episodes on Disney+ this Friday.

Though Gatwa only became a fan of the series after landing an audition for the role, he says he's now a committed watcher. But he's been thinking and talking about the new season for years, first making headlines when he started referring to The Doctor using they/them pronouns.

It's a description that had been used by some fans — especially since Jodie Whittaker became the first woman to portray the character in 2018 — but had never been embedded into the show officially.

Gatwa, the first Black and queer actor to take on the role, said that framing just made sense to him.

"I mean, The Doctor is not from this planet, so who are we to know what pronouns they have and what gender they are?" he wondered.

"They're a shape-shifting alien that can be anything or anyone. And so, for me, it makes the most sense to use they/them pronouns for this character that is not from Earth — or limited by any earthly limitations."

LISTEN | Ncuti Gatwa on becoming The Doctor:

21:23Ncuti Gatwa: On becoming the first Black queer Doctor Who

Ncuti Gatwa is the new Doctor Who — the time and space-travelling lead in the BBC's hit show of the same name. Ahead of the season premiere, Ncuti joins Tom to tell us what it was like taking the reins on this British pop culture institution, and what he wanted to bring to the show as the first Black queer Doctor.

Steven Moffat pens episode

Despite the changes to the show this season, there are also returns to form. After months of speculation, Steven Moffat — who famously helmed the series from 2010-2017 — was confirmed to have written an episode for the new season.

Gatwa said that episode, releasing next week, is one of the most important the show has to offer. Filmed chronologically, it felt to him like a play put on in front of a camera — which he hopes comes across to audiences.

A man and woman stand arm in arm in what appears to be a spaceship.

"It was actually the script that I understood the least when I was reading it," Gatwa said. "I had to read it over and over and over again. But then watching it, it's my favourite episode."

He said that episode, and others throughout the season, underscore that mix of hope and tragedy that imbues this latest reset of the series.

While that chancy tone and his own move into the lead of this beloved but scrutinized series could be risky, Gatwa says he's excited for fans to share in both.

"It just enriches everything. It makes everything so enjoyable to play with," he said. "As actors, all you can want is complex text and complex characters, and narratives in which to sink your teeth into."


Jackson Weaver is a senior writer for CBC Entertainment News. You can reach him at jackson.weaver@cbc.ca, or follow him on Twitter at @jacksonwweaver

    Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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