Ncuti Gatwa, who was announced as the 14th Doctor Who today, is about to become a household name after landing one of the most iconic roles on UK television. It’s a far cry from how his life began, born in war-ravaged Rwanda and forced to seek a new life in Scotland.
The 29-year-old was just a toddler when his family fled the genocide and moved to Dunfermline but few would have predicted the path his life would follow. Racially abused at school, the star moved to London at 21 to pursue his dreams of an acting career-but he ended up so poor he was homeless for five months.
The fashion-loving actor, who has a slew of celebrity pals and is a regular on the FROW at fashion shows, was sleeping on his friend’s sofas in London and borrowing money for his Tube fare to auditions after running out of savings.
The BBC revealed today that Ncuti Gatwa, 29, is set to replace Jodie Comer to become the 14th Doctor Who; Scottish-raised actor Gatwa, who was born in Rwanda but left the country as a young boy (Pictured: Gatwa and Doctor Who writer Russell T Davies at the British Academy Television Awards 2022 at The Royal Festival Hall on Sunday)
Gatwa (pictured at the BAFTAs) is set to become the 14th Time Lord and is the first official black actor to take on the lead role – although Jo Martin previously appeared on screen as the ‘Fugitive Doctor’
Gatwa, who is best known for starring as Eric in Sex Education (pictured), followed his dreams of acting to London – but suffered poverty as his big break failed to come quickly, and was forced to sleep on friends’ couches
FROW boy: The fashion-loving actor, who has a slew of celebrity pals and is a regular on the front row at fashion shows
The actor’s Instagram followers shot up to 2.6million with the news that he’s the latest Time Lord…and fans will find regular insights into his life, including snaps showing his love of working out
On the London party circuit: Gatwa pictured with (from left to right) Karen Elson, Nadine Leopold and Gemma Chan at Annabels in November
However, after he was cast in the role of Eric Effiong in Netflix’s hugely popular Sex Education, Ncuti’s star has been in the ascendant – and he’s now poised to take on the biggest acting job in British television.
Gatwa will take the helm from Jodie Whittaker as the Time Lord and become the first black actor to take on the lead role in the show’s history, after Jodie made history as the first female Doctor.
Jo Martin played the first black incarnation of the Time Lord in a January 2020 episode, Future of the Judoon, as Ruth Clayton, but Ncuti Gatwa has become the first black Doctor cast as the series lead.
Heaping praise on the star, Doctor Who writer Russell T Davies said: ‘Ncuti dazzled us, seized hold of the Doctor and owned those TARDIS keys in seconds.’
A graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, Gatwa completed his Bachelor of Arts in Acting in 2013.
He moved to London to pursue his dream of becoming an actor, rather than following in the footsteps of his father Mr Tharcisse Gatwa, who is a journalist with a PhD in Theology.
After moving to the capital, Gatwa struggled financially and even had to borrow £10 from friends so he could afford the tube fare for auditions.
Despite previously landing a role in BBC’s Stonemouth (pictured), Ncuti admits he was homeless before starring in Netflix’s Sex Education. Ncuti has said that he hopes that his role in Sex Education would help people to embrace their sexuality
Ncuti has won a Scottish Bafta (pictured) and a Rose d’Or Award for his popular role in Netflix’s Sex Education
‘I couldn’t seem to handle it all financially. I was supposed to move into a new place and it fell through,’ Ncuti said.
‘So for five months before Sex Education, I was couch-surfing among all my friends. I didn’t have a home.
‘I was homeless. The only thing stopping me from being on the streets was the fact I had friends.’
Accounts for Ncuti Gatwa’s company Gemini Moon Limited show he amassed assets of more than three quarters of a million pounds last year.
Ncuti’s breakout role was as Eric Effiong in Netflix’s hugely popular Sex Education about socially awkward high school student Otis (Asa Butterfield) and his sex therapist mother Jean (Gillian Anderson).
Written by Laurie Nunn, it turned many of the cast into overnight stars, which provided a huge contrast to the poverty experienced by Gatwa prior to landing the role.
His character – as the gay sidekick of the show’s star Otis, played by Asa Butterfield – has become one of Sex Education’s most loved actors.
Ncuti admitted that he is ‘a little bit scared’ to join the Doctor Who franchise, as the role means ‘so much to so many around the world’
Ncuti has previously appeared on screens in the Horrible Histories movie and as Nick in romantic drama The Last Letter from Your Lover (pictured)
Ncuti previously revealed that he hoped the role would help people to embrace their sexuality and give men hope that they won’t be held back due to their ethnicity.
Since his first role in an episode of the British sitcom Bob Servant, Ncuti has starred in a 2015 adaptation of Scottish author Iain Banks’ novel Stonemouth and a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
In 2019, he took to screens in the Horrible Histories movie then went onto land a role as Nick in romantic drama The Last Letter from Your Lover in 2021.
Gatwa shared the news alongside returning Doctor Who writer Russell T Davies after it was confirmed that he will take over from Jodie Whittaker as the Time Lord in the hit BBC series
Since winning a Scottish Bafta and a Rose d’Or Award for Sex Education, the actor has become hugely popular and now boasts an Instagram following of almost 3 million.
Alongside his 2023 debut as the 14th Time Lord in BBC’s Doctor Who, Ncuti Gatwa will appear on screen in the upcoming live action Barbie film, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling.
Gatwa said he was ‘deeply honored’ and ‘beyond excited’, but admitted that he was also a ‘little bit scared’ to join the Doctor Who franchise.
He told the BBC: ‘This role and show means so much to so many around the world, including myself, and each one of my incredibly talented predecessors has handled that unique responsibility and privilege with the utmost care.
‘I will endeavor my highest to do the same.’
Meanwhile, Davies said that Gatwa ‘dazzled’ in his audition, adding: ‘Sometimes talent walks through the door and it’s so bright and bold and brilliant, I just stand back in awe and thank my lucky stars.’