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Ncuti Gatwa Reflects on the Impact of His Historical ‘Doctor Who’ Role Amidst Controversy

It was an announcement that sent ripples through the realm of science fiction and television fandoms alike. The popular Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa was named the next lead in the esteemed BBC series Doctor Who, marking a historic moment as he would become the first Black actor to step into the iconic role of the Doctor. Despite the significance of this casting, the actor found himself in a whirlwind of social media commentary, some of which was far from positive.

In a candid discussion with Attitude magazine, 31-year-old Gatwa revealed his astonishment at the backlash he faced after his casting was publicized. “It is kind of fascinating to me because there’s so much energy they’re putting into it. You are so angry over something so inconsequential that you can’t be an interesting person. You can’t have much in your life. I don’t have the time to do that,” he shared, expressing his disbelief at the intensity of the negative reactions.

Remarkably, Gatwa remained undisturbed by the online storm, focusing instead on his work on the series. He posed a reflective suggestion that such detractors would benefit from more constructive hobbies, hinting at the deeper societal underpinnings of the backlash. “I think they need to go find a hobby is one thing. But another thing is that we do see a shift happening in casting, in positions of power, and in the status quo. I mean, not a fast shift, things could tip over the other way a little bit quicker, but you see people kind of malfunctioning because things are changing,” Gatwa discussed, highlighting the shifting dynamics in the entertainment industry and society at large.

The actor then turned to the broader challenges Black actors face in the industry, where the bar for success is often set higher than for their white counterparts. Gatwa candidly addressed the disparity: “There’s so much white mediocrity that gets celebrated, and Black people, we have to be absolutely flawless to get half of (that) anyway.” Through his own journey, he has been learning to trust in his worth and talent, stating, “So, I’m slowly training myself out of that and being like, ‘No s***. You deserve love just for existing.’ And that has taught me to be a lot more loving as well, in a weird way.”

Doctor Who, standing as one of the longest-running TV shows, is an ever-evolving epic that follows the adventures of the Doctor, a Time Lord with the ability to travel through time and space. The character’s regenerations have introduced various incarnations, each with their own quirks and qualities, a cornerstone feature that has kept the show fresh and exciting over the decades. The casting of Gatwa is yet another bold step in the show’s storied history.

News of Gatwa joining Doctor Who comes with Indira Varma’s inclusion in the cast, contributing to the excitement surrounding the series’ new direction. Gatwa’s exceptional body of work, including performances in The Last Letter from Your Lover and the upcoming Barbie movie, has proven his diverse acting skills and has well-prepared him for the multifaceted role of the Doctor.

Embodying a character revered by generations, Gatwa stands on the precipice of becoming a defining face in both English and world cinema. As he gears up to assume the mantle left by Jodie Whittaker, audiences hold their breath for what promises to be a groundbreaking era for the iconic sci-fi drama.

With production still ongoing, Gatwa has the opportunity to shape a Doctor that reflects both his unique talents and a modern audience’s aspirations for diversity and representation. While the backlash may be loud, it signals the birth pangs of change—a transformation in storytelling that Gatwa is not only a part of but at the forefront of, as Doctor Who continues to traverse the uncharted territories of time, space, and human experience.