Who is Ncuti Gatwa? From a hit Netflix series to being the new Time Lord in Doctor Who

In case you missed it: The loveable Ncuti Gatwa will become the first person of colour to play the lead role in Doctor Who, taking over from Jodie Whittaker. 

The 29-year-old, whose first name is pronounced Shoo-ti, is set to become the 14th Time Lord on the beloved science-fiction show, as announced by the BBC on Sunday.

He will make his debut as Doctor Who in 2023. 

What is Gatwa known for? 

Ncuti Gatwa rose to fame through his role in hit Netflix series Sex Education. Photo: Sam Taylor/Netflix

The Scottish actor, who was born in Rwanda, is best known for starring in the Netflix series Sex Education.  

If you’re unfamiliar with the series, it’s a wildly popular comedy-drama about the students (and their families) and staff of the fictional Moordale Secondary School. 

Gatwa stars as Eric Effiong, a young gay British-Nigerian who is best friends with the show’s lead character Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield).

Thanks to his role, Gatwa is incredibly popular with viewers in their mid- to late-teens and 20s.  

He already has 2.6 million Instagram followers and counting, and that’s only bound to rise after the exciting announcement. 

“It’s been emotional,” Gatwa said on the BAFTA red carpet on Sunday, where he was nominated for Sex Education. 

“I woke up crying and then I started dancing and then I was just like, it’s – I’m glad it’s finally out and I don’t have to keep it a secret any more.” 

Gatwa had been waiting for his casting to be announced since February.

The actor was nominated for best male performance in a comedy program for the third year in a row at the BAFTAs for his role as Eric in Sex Education. 

His past roles include Nick in the Netflix film The Last Letter from Your Lover.

He is also slated to appear in Greta Gerwig’s live-action Barbie movie, starring Margot Robbie as the iconic doll. 

With his talent and followers behind him, there’s every chance Gatwa’s casting will bring a slew of new (and returning) viewers to the show. 

A ‘blazing audition’

Russell T Davies, the man who helmed the revival of Doctor Who from 2005 to 2009, will return to the next series as showrunner. 

Davies was also at the BAFTA Awards on Sunday where his show It’s A Sin was nominated for a handful of gongs.

“It was the most blazing audition,” Davies said, explaining why Gatwa was his choice for the top job. 

“It was our last audition. It was our very last one. We thought we had someone and then in he came and stole it.” 


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A post shared by Russell T Davies (@russelltdavies63)

In the BBC’s statement, Davies added that Gatwa “dazzled us”. 

“[He] seized hold of the Doctor and owned those TARDIS keys in seconds. It’s an honour to work with him, and a hoot. I can’t wait to get started.” 

Although Gatwa will be the first Black actor to play the lead, he won’t be the first Black Doctor.

That honour goes to Jo Martin, who entered the Who-verse as the ‘Fugitive’ Doctor – a forgotten incarnation of the Time Lord – in 2020. 

Speaking to the BBC at the BAFTAs, Gatwa was asked about his approach to playing the Doctor and if he plans to model his Time Lord on any of the past incarnations. 

“I’m definitely going to do my own thing. Definitely,” he answered. 

“They’re all amazing. You can’t pick, you cannot pick.”

Whittaker, who became the first female doctor in 2017, will bow out as the current Time Lord in a special episode to be broadcast later this year. 

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