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Ncuti Gatwa takes over the TARDIS as the 15th Time Lord

Whovians got a taste of what was to come this past holiday season when Doctor Who premiered The Church on Ruby Road as a part of a selection of Christmas specials, but the time for the real deal has finally arrived. Now that fans of the show — and no doubt some new viewers, as well — have been introduced to the 15th Doctor, played by quickly rising star Ncuti Gatwa (Sex Education), the TARDIS is officially preparing to take off on a new adventure through time — and from the looks of it, this may be one of the most exciting seasons to date.

Kicking off with the 305th episode in the Doctor Who saga, Rwandan-Scotsman Gatwa has already been turning heads and garnering great reception in the role of the extraterrestrial Time Lord, thanks to his first appearance in The Giggle, wherein the 14th Doctor, played by fellow Scot David Tennant (who was also the 10th) passed him the torch.

Doctor Who on Disney+. Pictured: Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday and Ncuti Gatwa as the newest Doctor.
Bad Wolf/BBC Studios/Disney+

“He has everything he needs to be a charismatic and defining Doctor for the second Russell T. Davies era,” wrote Guardian writer Martin Belam of Gatwa’s premiere as the Doctor.

“Gatwa oozed charm,” Belham later added in his article, stipulating that, “when needed, he turned on the seriousness like a tap, looked mortally wounded at time travel being taken lightly, and totally owned the episode.”

All high praise for Gatwa’s performance, to be sure, but Gatwa is hardly working alone on the series. As mentioned by Belham in his Guardian piece, acclaimed Welsh screenwriter and television producer Davies (Torchwood) is once again attached to the newest string of episodes as lead writer/showrunner. In fact, Davies wrote six of the new season’s eight episodes, including the premiere and the two-part finale (scheduled to air June 15 and 22). Other writers on the show this season include Sherlock’s Steven Moffat, who took up lead writing duties on episode four, titled “Boom,” and short-film creators Kate Herron (Rest Stop) and Briony Redman (Forget Me Not), who co-wrote episode six, “Rogue.”

Doctor Who on Disney+. Pictured: Ncuti Gatwa as the newest Doctor and Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday.
Bad Wolf/BBC Studios/Disney+

Behind the camera, direction duties are shared by Jamie Donoughue (A Discovery of Witches), Dylan Holmes Williams (Servant), Julie Anne Robinson (Bridgerton) and Ben Chessell (Deadloch), each providing direction on two episodes.

On screen, Gatwa is also in good company. Joined this season by his partner in time travel, the optimistic Ruby Sunday — played by Coronation Street alum Millie Gibson — the pair navigate “infinite adventures across time and space in the TARDIS,” (per Disney+).

“From the Regency era in England to war-torn futures,” the official description reads, “the duo champion the forces of good while encountering incredible friends and dangerous foes.”

With a name reminiscent of the 1967 Rolling Stones song “Ruby Tuesday,” the Doctor’s cohort is described by as “kind, curious and playful,” also carefully noting that Ruby “even has a positive influence on her mother, Carla, whose experience with Ruby inspires her to foster over 30 more children.”

Carla Sunday is portrayed by After Life and It’s a Sin actress Michelle Greenidge, while Angela Wynter, known for her role as Yolande in more than 400 episodes of EastEnders, plays Ruby’s nan, Cherry Sunday. Existing fans of the show will be happy to see Yasmin Finney (Heartstopper) and Bonnie Langford (EastEnders) return as Rose Noble and Mel Bush, alongside Jemma Redgrave (The Beekeeper) as UNIT head Kate Lethbridge-Stewart and Anita Dobson (EastEnders) as Mrs. Flood, but the fun hardly stops with those familiar faces.

Joining the cast for this first Disney+ season are Torchwood star Indira Varma as the Duchess; Lenny Rush, who last year won a BAFTA at age 14 for his role in Am I Being Unreasonable?, as Morris; Aneurin Barnard (Dunkirk) as Roger ap Gwilliam; Jonathan Groff (Hamilton) in a “mysterious and exciting” guest-starring role; and Jinkx Monsoon, twice a winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, who takes on the enchanting role of the Doctor’s “most powerful enemy yet.”

“I’m honoured, thrilled and utterly excited to join Doctor Who,” drag icon Monsoon said following the casting announcement. “Russell T. Davies is a visionary and a brilliant writer — I can’t wait to get into the weeds with him and the crew. I hope there’s room in the TARDIS for my luggage!”

Other guest stars are said to include former Doctor Tennant, as well as Catherine Tate (who reprised her character, Donna Noble, in last year’s trio of specials), Ruth Madeley (Renegade Nell), Karl Collins (Trying) and Alexander Devrient (All the Old Knives).

Doctor Who begins streaming Friday, May 9 on Disney+

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