There are few roles in British television more iconic or long-lasting than The Doctor, which puts unique pressure on those who step into the Tardis. Ncuti Gatwa, who debuted as the Fifteenth Doctor during the 2023 Holiday Specials, has revealed that the actors who have played the lead in Doctor Who in the past have created a bit of a support group for each other to help cope with the often relentless British media.
During an interview with Rolling Stone, Gatwa explained that it was David Tennant – who has played not one but two previous incarnations of The Doctor – who set the whole thing up. The group chat includes several of the actors who have portrayed the character in the past to help them keep in contact with each other even after they’ve left the show. According to Gatwa, many of them have already offered him support and advice on how to handle the spotlight that comes with portraying the quirky time-hopping hero. No one knows what it's like to wield the Sonic Screwdriver like they do, after all.
We’re glad that Gatwa has that level of support because he brings a wonderful enthusiasm for Doctor Who to the show. In the same interview, Gatwa explains that he almost let his casting slip before the BBC was ready to officially announce it when he ran into Matt Smith, who played the Eleventh Doctor. “I’m following in your footsteps!” Gatwa shouted to the House of the Dragon star after a few too many drinks at a party. Thankfully, he neglected to give any context to the remark, so Smith was left confounded until Gatwa’s casting was revealed later that year.
With a new Doctor and, more importantly, a new global streaming partner in Disney+, it feels like Doctor Who is trying to break into the mainstream outside of its home in the UK. Thankfully, Gatwa has The Doctors who came before him to help keep him from being overwhelmed by the growing spotlight.