Ncuti Gatwa’s Doctor will explore his queerness, says RTD: ‘We’re not delivering a neutered Doctor’

Showrunner Russell T Davies has confirmed that Ncuti Gatwa’s first series of Doctor Who will touch on the character’s “queer energy”.

While the Doctor’s sexuality has never been explicitly stated, it was touched on in last year’s first 60th anniversary episode, when David Tennant – briefly reprising the role – said he found Isaac Newton “hot”.

Now, with Sex Education star Gatwa set to step into the Tardis for his first full season next month, the Doctor will be played by an out queer actor for the first time.

Speaking to Variety, showrunner Davies commented on whether that means that the Doctor’s sexuality will be firmly addressed.

“You’re talking about someone who does have a lightness and a joy about him that, to me, chimes with queer energy,” he replied, suggesting that previous incarnations of the Time Lord “weren’t exactly the straightest men”.

As to how the Doctor’s “queer energy” will present itself, Davies continued: “It’s very rarely driving the story vehemently, but you will see moments exploring it. We’re not delivering a neutered Doctor.”

Ncuti Gatwa is the first queer Black actor to portray The Doctor in Doctor Who
Ncuti Gatwa has taken over the role of The Doctor. (BBC Studios/Bad Wolf)

While having the first queer actor playing the Doctor lends itself nicely to discussions of the character’s sexuality, Davies revealed that it was never his intention to make history – although he would have been open to a non-binary actor playing the role, too.

“We auditioned men, women, Black, white, non-binary actors, and actors whose sexuality was their own private matter… [these are] exactly the type of barriers I like to break,” he said.

“It’s very hard for anyone to stop me doing these things… you’d have to be a pretty brave executive to say: ‘Don’t go there’ to me.”

Much like Jodie Whittaker, who became the first female Doctor in 2017, Gatwa has had to endure the wrath of some Doctor Who fans who are furious that the most famous native of the fictional alien world of Gallifrey is not a straight, white man.

It’s a complaint that Gatwa has no time for. In his eyes, anyone who has issue with his casting was never “truly a fan” of the show to begin with.

“You’ve not been watching,” he said to them, “because the show is about regeneration, and the Doctor is an alien. Why would they only choose to be this sort of person?”

Gatwa’s Doctor won’t be the only character bringing bundles of “queer energy” to the show. In episode two, fans will meet RuPaul’s Drag Race two-time winner Jinkx Monsoon as the Maestro, probably the Doctor’s campest villain to date.

The new series is set to premiere on 11 May, with a midnight release of the first two episodes on iPlayer and Disney+, before both are aired on BBC One later that day.