Ncuti Gatwa in Doctor Who: Why It’s Historic

Ncuti Gatwa becomes the new interpreter of Doctor Who. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

The announcement yesterday had the effect of a thunderclap on social networks. Iconic actor of the “Sex Education” series, Ncuti Gatwa has been chosen as the new face of the most famous British small screen hero in the “Doctor Who” series. He will take the place of Jodie Whittaker in the role and make history by becoming the first black man to embody the character.

In Britain, the “Doctor Who” series is an institution that has gone far beyond its borders and has spread all over the world. It must be said that this is the oldest series still broadcast on the small screen: born in 1963 on BBC One, it was entitled to a hiatus between 1989 and 2005 to finally resume at top speed. The pitch of “Doctor Who” allows for regular cast renewals: its hero, the Doctor, is an alien. More precisely, a Time Lord who does not die, but who regenerates and changes his face as a result.

A character that moves with the times

Since the return of the series in 2005, the famous Doctor has had five different faces: Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi and the latest: Jodie Whittaker. Indeed, in 2017, the Doctor became a woman, a change that has been demanded for years by fans who were tired of seeing white men in this role, even though all the performers of the hero of “Doctor Who” were highly appreciated.

Since its debut, the series has been known to convey several messages through its characters: the hero is anti-gun and anti-violence, and the series has regularly criticized racism, homophobia, sexism, lack of action by governments in the face of climate change, police brutality or the poor reception of refugees. For years, several of the show’s characters have been openly members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and where works like “Harry Potter” have been criticized for their lack of openness, this is far from the case for “Doctor Who”. And the arrival of Ncuti Gatwa will still allow things to change.

A new shock recruit

Unfortunately, the last three seasons of “Doctor Who” starring Jodie Whittaker did not attract viewers. However, every effort was made to always be more inclusive, with a woman in the lead and many people of color to join and support her in her adventures. Rather, the problem comes from the way the episodes and characters are written: many fans of the series denounced particularly sexist treatment, as well as screenplays and a realization that prevented Jodie Whittaker from starring like her. in other projects in the past.

After three seasons, the BBC therefore decided to take a new direction and this Sunday, May 8, 2022, the station announced that the role of the doctor would now be filled by Ncuti Gatwa, known for playing Eric Effiong in “Sex Education Netflix’s huge success. A young British-Rwandan actor, he has just started in show business but has already impressed audiences. Especially because he will soon be seen in Greta Gerwig’s film “Barbie” together with Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling.

Why will everything change?

Some may have seen the return of a male actor as the Doctor as a step back from production. This would have been the case if the role had been given to a new white actor, but the arrival of Ncuti Gatwa brings a real breath of fresh air to the series. Because of his youth, but also the values ​​of the actor, who fought for a career, and who in 2020 had entrusted The Big Issue: “When I arrived in London for five months, I had no permanent address. I went from bank to bank The only thing that kept me from ending up on the street was the presence of my friends.”

The young man is the first black actor to land the lead role in “Doctor Who,” and while he’s never spoken openly about his own sexuality, his commitment to the LGBTQIA+ universe and dedication make him a choice that could potentially open up new topics. opening through her character, in a series that has never been afraid to tackle taboos. In a statement from the BBC, Ncuti Gatwa said he was “deeply honored and excited” to return to the role of the doctor, but was also “a little scared” by the magnitude of the task ahead.

“This role and this series means so much to so many people around the world, including me, and all my predecessors were incredibly talented. They all brought a unique dimension to the character and I will strive to do the same.” will be joined by Russell T. Davis, the series’ emblematic showrunner. However, it will have to wait until 2023 to discover the result on the screen.


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