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Who is Ncuti Gatwa: Where have you seen the new Doctor Who actor before?

The Fifteenth Doctor is probably a familiar face to you already.

Ncuti Gatwa as the Fifteenth Doctor
Image credit: BBC

The great thing about Doctor Who is how effortlessly it can reinvent itself thanks to the main character's regeneration and the liberal use of "wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff." In 2022, it was announced that Jodie Whittaker would be succeeded by Ncuti Gatwa in the iconic role of The Doctor, following a brief return by David Tennant to the role in the 60th Anniversary specials in November 2023. Gatwa might be a familiar face to fans, even if you don’t immediately recognize his name.

If you find yourself watching the Fifteenth Doctor in action and wonder where you’ve seen him before, here are some of his major roles:

What was Ncuti Gatwa in before Doctor Who?

Ncuti Gatwa is the first actor born outside the UK and the first Black actor to play the lead in Doctor Who. He was born in Rwanda in 1992, though his family moved to Scotland in 1994 to escape the Rwandan Genocide. He has been working as a stage actor in the UK since 2013 before shifting to television and film. His most memorable roles were:

In addition to his upcoming role as the Fifteenth Doctor in Doctor Who, Ncuti Gatwa will play 2nd Lt. Robert Daniels in the upcoming miniseries, Masters of the Air.

Who is Ncuti Gatwa playing in Doctor Who?

It is always convenient when a show builds in a handy plot device for recasting its main character. Each time the role of The Doctor is recast, the character regenerates, changing their personality, appearance, and gender to update the character for the modern era, which can be confusing for new viewers to follow. When Jodie Whittaker’s final episode as the Thirteenth Doctor aired in 2022, it was assumed that she would regenerate into Ncuti Gatwa, who had previously been announced as her successor.

However, fans were in for a surprise when the Fourteenth Doctor was revealed to be David Tennant, returning several years after his time as the Tenth Doctor. Gatwa, as a result, would instead be playing the Fifteenth Doctor during one of the 2023 Doctor Who Holiday Specials before becoming the protagonist of the next season of Doctor Who in 2024, which is set to be co-produced by Disney+ and the BBC.


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Trent Cannon avatar

Trent Cannon

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Trent is a freelance writer who has been covering anime, video games, and pop culture for a decade. (He/Him)
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