There are so many reasons for us to be pleased and excited that Ncuti Gatwa is the new Doctor. Indeed, many of us fans have spent the whole of the last few days beaming and smiling and whistling a little tune. How does it go now? Oh yes… “Dum de de dum, dum de de dum, dum de de dum de dum, WOOOO WOOOOO dum di di dum, dum di di dum WOOOOO WOOOO…”.
Here are some of the reasons why we are so excited:
Because he is such a great actor. He has range and heart and depth in his performance as Eric in Sex Education and his teacher at drama school says he has a sense of “mischievousness” in his work. Just the thing for the Doctor, who always has a sense of mischief at heart…
Because he has an inspiring life story and has fought adversity to become the new Doctor. Nguti was two years old when he arrived in Scotland with his family, fleeing the genocide in Rwanda. He went to school in Edinburgh, where there were few people of colour like him. He was homeless for a time after drama school and could only eat one meal a day; he commented wryly that people told him he was looking great and trim, when in truth, he was malnourished. Auditions were important because work meant that he could eat. And the story of Britain welcoming him and his family 27 years ago forms a silent but ironic contrast with the hostility to immigrants on the part of today’s British government, which plans to resettle asylum seekers fleeing conflict and terror in… Rwanda.
Because his first name is pronounced “Shooti”, as in “Get the shooty dog thing…” Surely such a name cannot be coincidence, but fate singled him out as the new Doctor because of the alignment between his first name and Mr Finch’s snarling words in School Reunion?
Because he won the part in an audition, as Matt Smith did, because he was the best actor there and the most suited to the Doctor; because, like Matt Smith, he is not a household name but got the part because he was the best actor the production team saw. Davies said they had already pencilled in another actor and then Ncuti came in and snatched the role away, because he was the best. And the audition was not an easy thing but an eight page scene. “You had to learn it and come in,” Davies said (and the DWC will come back to this later in the week). “Top, proper audition, not just standing there and giving Shakespeare. Really hard work. Me and Phil Collinson, the producer, were there. It was taped and it gets passed on. It’s tough, properly tough. And we do many versions of it, we do it lighter, funnier, harder.”
Because Steven Moffat has seen Ncuti’s audition tape and says it’s brilliant.
Because his interviews since getting the part show him to be a humble and enthusiastic and bloody nice person who values the show and understands it. When asked how he is feeling about being cast as the new Doctor, Ncuti said: “There aren’t 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 this 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.” When asked, are you a Doctor Who fan, he replied, “I don’t know anyone who isn’t a Doctor Who fan.” He says he can’t pick out a favourite among all his 13 (or 14, or 15) predecessors, saying they were all magnificent and that he will do his very best to be the Doctor.
Because he is 29 years old and the same age as Peter Davison when he was cast as the Doctor back in 1981…
· Because the show is being refreshed with a great new Doctor and a great new/returning showrunner. Matt Strevens said that he wasn’t sure there would be a new Doctor after Jodie Whittaker: now we know that there is one and he is going to be… fantastic.