Scottish-Rwandan actor, Ncuti Gatwa, has been announced as the new Doctor Who—the leading role in a beloved UK BBC television series. He becomes the first Black and African-born actor to officially play the iconic role.
Doctor Who—a science fiction franchise—has been airing for nearly 60 years in the UK over 39 seasons. Throughout the show, the Doctor regenerates into different people and a new lead actor takes over. Gatwa is now the fourteenth person to play Doctor Who and will replace the previous Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, who took over the role in 2017.
Gatwa was born in Nyarugenge, Kigali, Rwanda in the early nineties. He and his family fled Rwanda in 1994 at the beginning of the genocide. He subsequently grew up in Dunfermline and Edinburgh in Scotland, and moved to London at age 21 to pursue a career in acting.
“It’s just so nice to be able to fly that flag,” said Gatwa regarding his Rwandan identity. “That flag and my Scottish flag. I love that I come from both those places.”
Speaking on a BBC documentary, Black and Scottish, Gatwa has spoken briefly about the move from Rwanda to Scotland.
“We came to UK because of the genocide that happened in Rwanda in 94. Landscape wise it [Rwanda] looks really similar to Scotland. We were refugees, we were refugees coming to the UK and I definitely now view myself as a Rwandan Scotsman.”
Messages of congratulations have been pouring in for Gatwa.
“Very excited to see one of the biggest roles in British television go to Ncuti Gatwa,” tweeted the British High Commission in Rwanda, “Born in Rwanda, raised in Scotland. Congratulations, and we look forward to watching!”
Gatwa previously starred in the Netflix series ‘Sex Education.’ His role earned him a nomination for best male performance in a comedy program at the recent British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs.) He will also star in Greta Gerwig’s upcoming Barbie movie, alongside Hollywood actors Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling.
In a statement, Gatwa said: “There aren’t quite the words to describe how I’m feeling. A mix of deeply honored, 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 endeavor my utmost to do the same.”
His debut as Doctor Who is set to air in 2023.