Doctor Who’s Ncuti Gatwa on why show reminds us ‘there is always hope’

Ncuti Gatwa shares the reason why he never though he would land his role in Doctor Who.

Doctor Who star Ncuti Gatwa embarks on his first adventure as the 15th Doctor on Christmas Day and he has one festive mission – to spread hope.

The 30-year-old Sex Education star will make history as the first queer Black actor to take over the TARDIS in the British sci-fi series’ wide-spanning 60-year history. Following the return of showrunner Russell T Davies, Gatwa will star opposite Millie Gibson as companion Ruby Sunday in the upcoming season, which premieres in 2024.

The highly-anticipated new episodes will feature major LGBTQ+ guest stars and allies including Jonathan Groff, Jinkx Monsoon and Nicola Coughlan to name a few.

Meanwhile the series – which has already aired its first two 60th anniversary specials starring David Tennant and Catherine Tate – has continued made its progressive stance clear, championing LGBTQ+ characters and starring a diverse range of actors.

For Gatwa, offering a hopeful and forward-looking message into the hit family BBC show is what Doctor Who is all about, as he told the Big Issue.

First look at Millie Gibson (L) and Ncuti Gatwa (R) in Doctor Who Christmas Special
First look at Millie Gibson (L) and Ncuti Gatwa (R) in Doctor Who Christmas Special. (Lara Cornell/BBC Studios/Bad Wolf)

Reflecting on Davies’ approach to storytelling, Gatwa said: “He’s dealing with such existential crises and huge issues channelled in a really artistic, creative sci-fi way.”

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He continued: “Hope is certainly something he has put into these scripts. I was speaking to him the other day – not as actor to producer or Doctor to showrunner, just as Ncuti to Russell. We were talking about the world. I was like, ‘I just think it’s just not in a good place is it, and I don’t think it is going to get better, Russell. It seems like the human race is kind of useless!’

“All of us. White, Black, whoever. We’re all kind of useless on this planet – we keep chopping down trees, you’ve got bloody Suella chatting rubbish. How are we gonna get better?’.”

Gatwa was likely referring to the former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who was heavily criticised comments around migration, homelessness and the LGBTQ+ community.

Gatwa went on: “And [Davies] said ‘Ncuti, you can’t not have hope. You have to have hope in life. And you have to have hope in the fact that we are useless, but we’re also full of amazingness and wonder. Hope is what saves us’.”

The actor then pointed to his full name, Mizero Ncuti Gatwa, explaining that Mizero means ‘hope’.

“So I must remember to have hope. Because what else is there? And this show always reminds me of that. There’s always hope at the end of each episode,” Gatwa concluded.

It’s not the first time Gatwa has spoken about the power of having a Black man as the face of a British TV institution.

Ncuti Gatwa in a black and white shirt and black and yellow neck tie.
Ncuti Gatwa. (Getty/ Raimonda Kulikauskiene)

In October 2022, during the launch of Doctor Who’s partnership with Disney+, Gatwa said: “[The role] is so deep in British culture and the fabric of Britishness that as a Rwandan immigrant to the country, it just feels really powerful.

“[Doctor Who] matters for people of colour, for marginalised people who really gravitate towards the show because it’s about friendship and it’s about adventure and its about union and unity.”

Meanwhile, in a recent interview with GQ magazine, Gatwa explained that he “never thought that I’d be chosen to front something that is basically the heart of the BBC,” as a Black man.

“And then I did, and I thought ‘Wow… Oh s**t…. Oh sh**! What have I done?!’. And then once the shock of it all left my system, it was a no-brainer,” he concluded.

Doctor Who returns on Saturday, 9 December, with “The Giggle” on BBC One and BBC iPlayer. It will stream globally on Disney+.

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