Ncuti Gatwa will make history as the first Black actor to be cast as the regular lead in Doctor Who, something the show's very first director Waris Hussein says is a 'victory'.


Celebrating the upcoming 60th anniversary of Doctor Who, Hussein told Radio Times magazine he often faced prejudice when working in his field, revealing that people were "waiting to see" if he'd fall on his face – something he wasn't prepared to do.

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Hussein directed the first Doctor Who serial, An Unearthly Child, in 1963 and was the BBC's youngest ever drama director at the time.

Speaking about working in the television industry at that time in history, he said: "We were living in times where Enoch Powell had made that terrible speech about rivers of blood. If you were an immigrant, then you had to put up with that subconscious prejudice."

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Also speaking to Radio Times magazine was current Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies, who reflected on Hussein's career.

He said: "I look back and I think, 'What an extraordinary figure you must have cut walking through Television Centre as an Asian man.' Frankly, that wasn't the norm then. And now you look at it 60 years later where Ncuti, a Black man, is about to walk through the BBC as the Doctor."

When asked if Gatwa being the Doctor felt like a victory, Hussein agreed that it did.

He explained: "It does. I was the first British Asian in my field to be doing what I was doing. What did worry me internally was working on set and all these people watching me.

"I'd think to myself, 'They're waiting to see whether I'll fall on my face. But I'm not going to fall on my face.'"

Ncuti Gatwa
Ncuti Gatwa as The Doctor. BBC/Bad Wolf

Davies added: "I felt that as a gay man. If you fail, you fail all other gay men at the same time."

Gatwa will appear as the Doctor in the upcoming Christmas special, which Davies has described as "thrilling".

Describing the festive episode on Morning Live, Davies teased: "It's really exciting, it's thrilling, it's explosive, it's brilliant. You've seen Ncuti in Sex Education, he is just the most phenomenal human being. Christmas Day is a new start again, come and join a brand new adventure."

Read more Doctor Who interviews in the latest issue of Radio Times magazine – out now.

The Doctor Who Radio Times cover with David Tennant and Catherine Tate
The Doctor Who Radio Times cover

Doctor Who's first 60th anniversary special The Star Beast airs at 6:30pm on Saturday 25th November on BBC One and BBC iPlayer. Classic episodes are available on BritBox – you can sign up for a 7-day free trial here.

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