Rwanda-born Ncuti Gatwa to play first black Doctor Who in series

Friday May 27 2022
Ncuti Gatwa.

"Doctor Who's" Ncuti Gatwa casting could hide a big twist. PHOTO | COURTESY | RADIO TIMES


Rwandan-born Ncuti Gatwa is the new lead actor in Doctor Who, for the third and final of the 2022 specials to air in October.

On the announcement this week, Gatwa said, "There aren’t quite the words to describe how I am feeling. A mix of being deeply honoured, beyond excited and of course a little bit scared."

Gatwa will be the first black actor and the 14th person to play the lead in the British TV series, broadcast by the BBC since 1963. He is replacing Jodie Whittaker, who took over the role in 2017.

"This role and show mean so much to so many around the world including myself, and each one of my incredibly talented predecessors handled the unique responsibility and privilege with the utmost care. I will endeavour my utmost to do the same," he said.

Gatwa, an award winning actor, played Eric Effiong in the Netflix series Sex Education, winning a BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Actor in Television and three BAFTA award nominations for Best Male Comedy Performance this year.

He is also set to act in Greta Gerwig’s upcoming Barbie film, alongside Hollywood actors Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, planned to be released in July 2023.


Doctor Who is the story of a time lord called the Doctor, an extra-terrestrial being who looks like a human being. He explores the universe in a time-travelling spaceship called Tardis, which appears as a blue British police box. As the Doctor regenerates into different people, a new lead actor takes over the role.


Gatwa was born in Nyarugenge, Kigali in 1992. His family migrated to Scotland in 1994, to escape the Genocide against the Tutsi.

Gatwa was raised mostly in Dunfermline and Edinburgh. He attended Boroughmuir High School and Dunfermline High School.

He studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, where he graduated with a BA in acting in 2013.

He worked as an actor at the Dundee Repertory Theatre, performing in several productions.

In 2015, he appeared in a supporting role in the miniseries Stonemouth, an adaptation of the 2020 novel of the same name.

That same year, he performed in the Kneehigh theatre production of 946, which was adapted from Michael Morpurgo’s book The Amazing Story of Adolphus.