Early this morning, the official Doctor Who Twitter account shared some big news: Ncuti Gatwa is the new Doctor. Gatwa, who was born in Rwanda, is the first non-white person to play the lead on Doctor Who, and—until next year, when he becomes the star of an iconic sci-fi franchise—he’s best known for his role as Eric Effiong on Netflix’s Sex Education.
In a statement shared on the official Doctor Who website, Gatwa had this to say:
There aren’t quite the words to describe how I’m feeling. A mix of deeply honoured, beyond excited and of course a little bit scared. This role and show means so much to so many around the world, including myself, and each one of my incredibly talented predecessors has handled that unique responsibility and privilege with the utmost care. I will endeavour my upmost to do the same.
Gatwa’s run on the show will coincide with the return of showrunner Russell T. Davies, who rebooted the franchise in 2005 with Christopher Ecclestone’s (deeply underrated) version of the Doctor. Regarding Davies’ return, Gatwa went on to say in his statement that the writer is “almost as iconic as the Doctor himself” and that his work is “dynamic, exciting, incredibly intelligent, and fizzing with danger.” Davies, meanwhile, says that Gatwa has the kind of talent that “walks through the door and it’s so bright and bold and brilliant” that you just “stand back in awe.” He says Gatwa “dazzled us, seized hold of the Doctor and owned those TARDIS keys in seconds.”
If history is any indication, and this is a show about a time traveler we’re talking about so it might not be, Jodie Whittaker will make her final appearance as the 13th Doctor in an end-of-the-year special before regenerating into Gatwa’s 14th Doctor. Sometimes you get a little sense of the new Doctor’s personality in those regeneration episodes, which seems especially likely this time given the fact that it’s only May and we already know who the new Doctor will be (meaning the BBC can get him on to set without having to worry about leaks).
For the pedants: Gatwa is technically not the first non-white person to play the Doctor, as a version played by Jo Martin showed up during Jodie Whittaker’s run on the show, though she was later revealed to be a version of the character from the past and not a canonical regeneration in the run that started with William Hartnell. (This all makes sense, trust us.)
Also, this means we thankfully dodged the bullet of the BBC stupidly hiring another white man for the role, with very stupid rumors insisting back in March that Davies wanted old white man Hugh Grant to be the new star. As for Gatwa’s Doctor, though, he’ll officially take over the TARDIS in 2023.