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Why Doctor Who Fans Will Likely Be Waiting Quite A While Before Ncuti Gatwa's First Adventures As The New Doctor

Ncuti Gatwa on Sex Education
(Image credit: Netflix)

The end of another Doctor Who era is approaching. Later this year, Jodie Whittaker will make her final appearance as the Thirteenth Doctor, and it was announced in early May that Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa will take over as the title Time Lord. That said, it appears as though Doctor Who fans ill be waiting quite a while before Gatwa’s Doctor starts getting into wibbley-wobbly, timey-wimey shenanigans. 

According to THR, Ncuti Gatwa is expected to begin filming the next season of Doctor Who this November. Because of this shooting date and the Doctor Who 60th anniversary special that’s set to air in 2023 (more on that in a bit), the outlet speculates that this means the next regular season of Doctor Who, i.e. the first one with Gatwa’s Doctor leading the charge, won’t air until early 2024 at the earliest. Ahead of his work on Doctor Who, Gatwa will reprise Eric Effiong in Sex Education Season 4; the prior three seasons can be streamed with a Netflix subscription.

While the last full season of Doctor Who, a.k.a. Doctor Who: Flux, aired from October to December 2021, this year has seen Jodie Whittaker and her companions, Mandip Gill’s Yasmin Khan and John Bishop’s Dan Lewis, star in the specials “Eve of the Daleks” and “Legend of the Sea Devils.” The third special, which doesn’t have a release date set yet, is bringing back familiar faces like Sacha Dawan’s Master, Jemma Redgrave’s Kate Stewart, Janet Fielding’s Tegan Jovanka and Sophie Aldred’s Ace, the latter two having been companions during the classic Doctor Who years. So that leaves us covered for the rest of 2022, and Ncuti Gatwa’s Doctor Who debut isn’t expected until 2024, but as already mentioned, this popular property isn’t leaving us empty-handed for 2023.

For the Doctor Who 60th anniversary, the series is bringing back David Tennant and Catherine Tate. This will be Tennant’s first onscreen Doctor Who appearance since the 50th anniversary special, “The Day of the Doctor,” and Tate last appeared as Donna Noble in “The End of Time” over a decade ago. This special (there are varying reports about if it will be one episode or three) will also see Bernard Cribbins, who passed away in late July, reprising Donna’s grandfather Wilfred Mott, Yasmin Finney is appearing as a character named Rose and Neil Patrick Harris "playing the greatest enemy the Doctor has ever faced," in the words of showrunner Russell T. Davies. What hasn’t been officially clarified yet is if we’ll be witnessing an unseen adventure from the 10th Doctor years, or if the Thirteenth Doctor might regenerate into the familiar Tennant form; the Tenth Doctor 2.0, if you will.

If it’s the latter, then it’s likely we’ll get our first look at Ncuti Gatwa’s Doctor before 2023 is over, as we’d see Tenth Doctor 2.0 regenerate into a new form by the end of the 60th anniversary events. Technically speaking though, this means Tennant’s new Doctor would be the Fourteenth Doctor, thus making Gatwa’s Doctor the Fifteenth Doctor. In any case, those of you looking forward to seeing Gatwa’s Doctor travel through time and space in the TARDIS have a long wait ahead, but keep your fingers crossed that he does end up making a quick appearance next year.

Whenever Ncuti Gatwa’s Doctor Who tenure officially begin, you’ll be able to watch those stories on BBC America. Along with Sex Education, Ncuti Gatwa is starring in next year’s Barbie, and according to co-star Simu Liu, Gatwa kept his Doctor Who casting secret from the other people on that production for two months. 

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.