Why the casting of Ncuti Gatwa for the lead role in Doctor Who is historic

Why the casting of Ncuti Gatwa for the lead role in Doctor Who is historic

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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 13: Ncuti Gatwa attends the 27th Annual Critics Choice Awards at Fairmont Century Plaza on March 13, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
Ncuti Gatwa will be the new interpreter of Doctor Who. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

The announcement yesterday had the effect of thunder on social networks. Ncuti Gatwa, iconic actor from the series “Sex Education”, has been chosen to be the new face of the most famous British hero on the small screen in the series “Doctor Who”. He will take the place of Jodie Whittaker in the role and make history by becoming the first black man to embody the character.

In Great Britain, the series “Doctor Who” is an institution that has gone far beyond borders, to spread throughout the world. It must be said that this is the oldest series that is still broadcast on the small screen: born in 1963 on BBC One, it was entitled to an interruption between 1989 and 2005 to finally resume it at full speed. The tone of “Doctor Who” effectively allows the cast to be regularly renewed: its hero, the Doctor, is an alien. More precisely, a Time Lord who does not die, but rather regenerates and thus changes his face.

A character that evolves with the times.

Since the return of the series in 2005, the famous Doctor has already had five different faces: Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi and the last one: Jodie Whittaker. In 2017, the Doctor effectively became a woman, a change requested for many years by fans tired of seeing white men in this role, although all the interpreters of the “Doctor Who” hero have been highly appreciated.

Since its debut, the series has been known to convey various messages through its characters: the hero is anti-gun and anti-violence, and the series has regularly criticized racism, homophobia, sexism, lack of action by governments in the face of climate change. change, police violence or the poor reception of refugees. For years, various characters on the show have been openly members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and where works like “Harry Potter” have been criticized for their lack of openness, this is far from the case with “Doctor Who.” And the arrival of Ncuti Gatwa will still allow things to change.

A surprise new recruit

The last three seasons of “Doctor Who”, starring Jodie Whittaker, unfortunately did not attract viewers. However, everything had been done to always be more inclusive, with a woman in the main role and many people of color to accompany and support her in her adventures. The problem comes rather from the way the episodes and characters were written: many fans of the series denounced a particularly sexist treatment, as well as scenarios and a production that did not allow Jodie Whittaker to shine as she has been able to do. on other projects in the past.

After three seasons, the BBC decided to take a new direction, and this Sunday, May 8, 2022, the channel announced that the role of the Doctor would now be occupied by Ncuti Gatwa, known for having played Eric Effiong in “Sex Education”. “, the huge success of Netflix. A young British-Rwandan actor, he is just starting out in show business, but has already impressed the public. Especially since he will soon star in the film “Barbie” by Greta Gerwig, alongside Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling.

Why will everything change?

Some may have seen the return of a male actor as the Doctor as a step backwards in production. This would have been the case if the role had been given to a new white actor, but the arrival of Ncuti Gatwa brings a real breath of fresh air to the series. Because of his youth, but also because of the actor’s values, that he fought for a career, and that he had entrusted himself to The Big Issue in 2020: “When I arrived in London, for five months, I was homeless. I went from sofa to sofa. The only thing that saved me from ending up on the street was the presence of my friends.”

The young man is the first black actor to land the lead role in “Doctor Who”, and although he has never openly discussed his own sexuality, his closeness to the LGBTQIA+ universe and his commitments make him a choice that can potentially open up new topics. through his character, in a series that he has never been afraid to tackle taboos. In a statement released by the BBC, Ncuti Gatwa said he was “deeply honored and excited” to return to the role of the Doctor, but he was also “a little scared” by the magnitude of the task ahead of him.

“This role and this series mean so much to so many people around the world, including myself, and each of my predecessors has been incredibly talented. They have all brought a unique dimension to the character and I will strive to do the same.” “Especially since he will be accompanied by Russel T. Davis, emblematic showrunner of the series. However, we will have to wait until 2023 to discover the result on the screen.

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