Ncuti Gatwa Becomes First Black Doctor Who


photo courtesy of AP Images

Ncuti Gatwa poses for photographers upon arrival at the Brit Awards in London, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019.

Simon McKean, Student Life Editor

On May 7 the BBC announced that Ncuti Gatwa would play the 14th Doctor Who, making him the first Black doctor in the show’s 59 years.

The 29-year-old Scottish actor is best known for playing Eric, a gay Nigerian man, in Netflix’s “Sex Education.” His next role continues his pattern of breaking down stereotypes of black men in film.

It feels really amazing. It’s a true honor. This role is an institution and it’s so iconic.” Gatwa said in an interview with BBC.

His casting as the doctor follows a push in recent iterations of fan-favorite series: increased representation. 

There’s now a black Spiderman and gay Superman, but more specifically this isn’t the first time the trend of representation has changed the Doctor either, the latest version having been played by Jodi Whittaker.

Then and now, some fans dissented the change to the popular — and historically white male — character.

A common argument seen on Twitter is that in the rush for diversity, what made the doctor special has been forgotten.

Ironically, Gatwa agrees that a recentering is needed. In a statement this week he said that his aim was to return the doctor to its purest form, bringing back what made William Hartnell’s 1963 portrayal special.

He’s got the right idea, so why shouldn’t he be the one to try the role? He’s got the charm, the humor, the experience. He’s even got the fashion sense. 

If fan’s truly want a return to the classic he seems like the obvious choice.

Instead it seems they can’t stand the idea of two out of 14 doctors not looking exactly like them. It’s unfair.

“Doctor Who” is a strongly British show, ranked as the fifth highest grossing BBC program in 2021. In the past, its primarily white cast made sense, the Uk is still 78% white now. But, according to the British Census,  those numbers are changing. 

Since 2001, the nonwhite population has grown to about 120% its previous size, the Black population alone having nearly tripled in the same time. 

And yet before Gatwa “Doctor Who,” the monument to double-decker buses and phone booths, has featured only two POC main characters — and no doctors — in its six decades.

Gatwa is going to make a great Doctor Who, despite what some think. Honestly, he might be the first great casting in the last four versions.

Either way, at least he’ll be something new, unlike doctors 2 through 12. Even if it does flop, Gatwa is here to stay.

As the BBC said on Twitter, “The future is here! Ncuti Gatwa is the Doctor.”