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How Doctor Who's Ncuti Gatwa landed the iconic role with just one audition

Ncuti stars alongside Coronation Street's Millie Gibson in series 14

Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
May 11, 2024
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Doctor Who returns to our screens with its hotly-anticipated 14th series on Saturday, which will see Ncuti Gatwa back in action as the Fifteenth Doctor following his grand debut in December's Christmas Special. 

Ncuti will be joined by Coronation Street star Millie Gibson as the Doctor's companion Ruby Sunday in the new episodes – and his performance has already been praised by critics. 

But just how did Ncuti land the iconic role in the first place? 

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Showrunner Russell T Davies has previously spoken about giving the role to Ncuti, who read a ten-page scene of the moment the Doctor meets Ruby for his audition scene. 

"I'd watched him on screen, and thought I had the measure of him, until he walked into the room for the Doctor Who audition. Bang! Thunderbolt," Russell wrote in Time

Ncuti Gatwa in leather coat in character as The Doctor© James Pardon
Ncuti Gatwa plays the 15th Doctor

"And bear in mind, for UK TV, the part of the Doctor is the Crown Jewels, it's history, it's tradition, it's... oh, sod that, I said, and threw it at him. He's conquered the world. Now all of time and space is his."

Russell also revealed that Ncuti only had to audition once to convince the showrunner that he was perfect for the part.

Speaking at Q&A panel ahead of the Christmas special, Russell said: "I was very lucky that I did the audition with Ncuti, and it was one of the most astonishing afternoons of my life, because you were just so amazing – to actually be in a room with you and to see you face-to-face. 

Ncuti stars alongside Millie Gibson© Lara Cornell
Ncuti stars alongside Millie Gibson

"He did one audition. Normally there's, like, 27 auditions – one! He just got it," he added, per

While Ncuti won over the show's producers after just one reading, the actor previously admitted that he "almost forgot" about the audition immediately afterwards as he thought "there was just no way" he would land the role. 

 Ncuti Gatwa as Doctor Who© James Pardon
Ncuti landed the role after one audition

"I knew I needed to go in and give them a wink and a [smile]," he told GQ

"But I almost forgot about [the audition] as soon as I left the room, because there was just no way," he added.

The new series begins on Saturday 11 May, with not one but two episodes. The season premiere, titled 'Space Babies', will air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer at 6:20pm, followed by episode two, 'The Devil's Chord', at 7:05pm. 

Jonathan Groff guest stars in the new series© James Pardon
Jonathan Groff guest stars in the new series

Teasing the episodes, Russell previously said: "At last, it's my great delight to unleash a whole new season of the Doctor and Ruby's adventures together.

"Monsters! Chases! Villains! Mysteries! And a terrifying secret that's been spanning time and space for decades. Don't miss a second!"

The series consists of eight episodes in total and will feature guest appearances from Jonathan Groff and Emily in Paris actor Paul Forman.

Doctor Who series 14 begins on Saturday 11 May on BBC One and BBC iPlayer at 6:20pm.

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