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Actor Ncuti Gatwa will take over from Jodie Whittaker as the star of Doctor Who, the BBC has announced.

The 29-year-old will become the 14th Time Lord on the popular science fiction show, and the first non-white performer to play the lead role.

Scottish actor Gatwa, who was born in Rwanda, is best known for starring in Netflix’s sitcom Sex Education, a role for which he has already won a Scottish BAFTA and a Rose d’Or Award for Sex Education, and was nominated for the BAFTA TV Awards for bestmale performance in a comedy programme for the third year in a row for his role as Eric on that show.

Speaking on the red carpet before Sunday’s BAFTA TV Awards, he told BBC News: “It feels really amazing. It’s a true honour. This role is an institution and it’s so iconic. [The role] means a lot to so many people, including myself.

He added: “I feel very grateful to have had the baton handed over and I’m going to try to do my best.”

Gatwa will make his debut as the Time Lord in 2023.

Ncuti Gatwa in Sex Education
Gatwa is nominated for a Bafta Award on Sunday for playing Eric in Sex Education

Showrunner Russell T Davies said Gatwa had impressed him in a “blazing” audition.

“It was our last audition. It was our very last one,” the writer and producer said. “We thought we had someone, and then in he came and stole it. “I’m properly, properly thrilled. It’s going to be a blazing future.”

As well as being nominated, he presented the BAFTA for best scripted comedy at Sunday’s ceremony, and received a loud round of applause as he walked on stage.

Ncuti Gatwa is a very shrewd choice for the role. He’s incredibly popular with viewers in their late teens and 20s, thanks to Sex Education on Netflix. He has more than 2.5 million Instagram followers, and that’s likely to shoot up even further after today’s announcement. This popularity almost certainly had bearing on his casting as The Doctor.

Gatwa said he was “definitely going to do my own thing” with the role rather than modelling himself on any previous Doctor.

In a statement, he added that the prospect of working with Davies was “a dream come true”.

He said: “His writing is dynamic, exciting, incredibly intelligent and fizzing with danger – an actor’s metaphorical playground. The entire team have been so welcoming and truly give their hearts to the show.

“And so as much as it’s daunting, I’m aware I’m joining a really supportive family. Unlike the Doctor, I may only have one heart but I am giving it all to this show.”

‘Talent and energy’

BBC chief content officer Charlotte Moore said: “Ncuti has an incredible dynamism, he’s a striking and fearless young actor whose talent and energy will set the world alight and take Doctor Who on extraordinary adventures under Russell T Davies’ new era.”

Others welcoming Gatwa’s appointment included Sex Education co-star Aimee Lou Wood, who said on the Baftas red carpet: “Obviously it’s just the best news in the world ever and he deserves it more than anyone.”

Scotland’s Culture Secretary Angus Robertson congratulated Gatwa, writing: “Great to see success of this young Scottish acting talent and graduate of Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.”

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