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Can Ncuti Gatwa Save Doctor Who?
By Veronica Letourneau
June 12th, 2022
Photo: Den of Geek– Source
"Doctor Who" is the longest running British Sci-fi television program, but has been dropping in viewership recently. When Jodie Whittaker took the role of the Doctor during series (season)11, she had a viewership of 8.2 million. By the series 13’s premiering episode, the viewership of series 13 had dropped to 4.43 million views, which is a 3.77 million decline. Viewership of that series continued its decline until by the fourth episode it only had 3.45 million views.
However, there is hope for the show as there will be a new actor to replace Whittaker who has an already established fanbase from “Sex Education”, Ncuti Gatwa. The 29-year-old Rwandan-Scottish actor has been casted as the 14th Doctor.
Upon the release of his casting as the new Doctor during his arrival to the EE British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs) he told BBC “It feels really amazing, it’s a true honor.” The actor was on his way to awards for his nomination as Eric in “Sex Education.” He later went on to say, “It’s so iconic and it means a lot to so many people, including myself, and so it makes everyone feel seen as well. It’s something that everyone can enjoy, so I feel very grateful to have had the baton handed over and I’m going to try to do my best.” This comment shows his respect for the show and a good attitude for how he will portray the character. He finished off the interview by saying, “Unlike the Doctor, I may only have one heart, but I am giving it all to this show.” Making a reference only a “who-vian” would understand and a hint of some charm he will bring to the show. The BBC was also excited for this news as they even tweeted “The future is here! Ncuti Gatwa is the Doctor.”
There are several reasons why Gatwa will revive the show, one of those being his already established fanbase. Unlike Jodi Whittiker, Gatwa was a part of the very popular Netflix show prior and has fans wanting to watch “Doctor Who” just for him. One fan tweeted, “I don’t know a single thing about that time traveling phone box, but for Ncuti? I’m now invested.” Gatwa could potentially bring back old fans that lost interest during the run of Peter Capalidi and Jodi Whittaker’s run; both great actors, but something was not clicking with their portrayal as the Doctor and the fans watching.
Some of Doctor Who’s most viewed episodes since the 2005 revival are the Christmas episodes; their most viewed episode was “Voyage of the Damned” in 2007 with David Tennets’ Doctor, bringing in 13.31 million views. Jodie Whittaker’s “Eve of the Daleks” Christmans special had only 3.21 million views, one of the lowest viewed specials in the show's history and in her run as the Doctor.
Some have stated as much as one fan tweeted, “I’ve not watched Dr Who since Matt Smith, but Ncuti Gatwa is such an effervescent presence on the screen that I might have to come back to it.”
Not only will "Doctor Who" be gaining a fresh, newly popular actor with Ncuti Gatwa, but also the return of the respected former showrunner Russell T Davies. Davies, who revived the show in 2005, was a lead player during the show’s most successful run when David Tennet played the Doctor. Davies also has high confidence in Gatwa’s portrayal of the character as he says the actor’s audition “was our last audition. It was our very last one. We thought we had someone, and then he came and stole it.” People will speculate for years on who that potential actor was, but Gatwa was definitely the right choice. We shall just have to tune in for the new series in 2023 to see if he really does bring back the spark of the U.K.’s longest running sci-fi show.