A queer Black Doctor, Disney money and the Beatles: Get excited about Doctor Who

Ncuti Gatwa as The Doctor
Ncuti Gatwa as The Doctor Copyright James Pardon/Bad Wolf/BBC Studios
Copyright James Pardon/Bad Wolf/BBC Studios
By Jonny Walfisz
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Set your clocks to the past, present and future. Doctor Who is back this weekend with the first full series starring Ncuti Gatwa in the lead role as beloved showrunner Russell T Davies returns to the helm.


Doctor Who, the long-running TV series about an idiosyncratic alien dashing about time and space solving problems returns to screens with a new full-time cast. Despite its over 60-year history, the future has never looked brighter for the show as the creatives in-front and behind the camera have been regenerated.

Here’s all the reasons we’re excited for the 14th season of Britain’s iconic sci-fi adventure show.

The return of Russell T Davies

In the past two years, Doctor Who produced a set of special episodes. The first was to recognise the 100th anniversary of the BBC with another triple-header of episodes to coincide with the 60th anniversary of Doctor Who itself.

While the BBC centenary special should have been cause for celebration, to the casual observer it represented a nadir for the show’s enduring popularity. ‘The Power of the Doctor’ was the final story in showrunner Chris Chibnall’s tenure of the show.

Chibnall had made the long-overdue decision to cast Jodie Whittaker as the first woman to play the titular character, and while that still stands as a landmark moment for a series that always championed representation within its stories, Whittaker’s time as the Doctor was beset by low-quality writing and poorly executed episodes.

The viewership figures gave everything away. Whittaker’s first episode represented a long-time high as viewers flocked to see the show with a female Doctor, they steadily declined over the three seasons under Chibnall.

And then at the end of ‘The Power of the Doctor’ something surprising happened. Whittaker’s Doctor regenerated (it’s the in-series sci-fi justification for swapping out actors) into David Tennant, the Scottish actor who played the lead at the show’s zenith of popularity. It wasn’t just Tennant though, the three 2023 episodes celebrating the 60th anniversary of the show also featured the return of national treasure Catherine Tate in the companion role.

Most importantly though, it also signalled the return of showrunner and writer Russell T Davies. In the UK, Davies is TV royalty. He’s the genius scribe behind innumerable shows including Queer As Folk, Cucumber, and It’s A Sin. In 2005, he was the writer who brought Doctor Who back onto screens after it was cancelled in 1989 and it was his direction that put the series back into its rightful spot as one of Britain’s greatest cultural assets.

The combo of Tennant and Davies in the driving seat brought audiences back to the show in their droves. But while some worried that bringing back Tennant signalled Davies resting on his laurels, he was quick to prove otherwise when Ncuti Gatwa showed up in the final of the specials as the new Doctor.

A new TARDIS team

Ncuti Gatwa is the 14th official actor to play the Doctor. The Scottish actor also represents a significant milestone for the series in terms of representation. Gatwa is both the first Black actor and openly queer actor to take on the top role.

It’s worth noting that during the Chibnall years, Jo Martin was the first Black actor to play an incarnation of the Doctor, but as her inclusion was as a side character in a Whittaker storyline, Gatwa is the first Black actor to play the Doctor as the show’s lead.

Gatwa impressed audiences as the charismatic Eric Effiong in the Netflix hit show Sex Education and his first appearance as the Doctor in 2023’s Christmas special episode ‘The Church on Ruby Road’ proved he’s brought all the same charm and confidence to the time-travelling alien.

Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday
Millie Gibson as Ruby SundayJames Pardon/Bad Wolf/BBC Studios

Joining Gatwa in the TARDIS is Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday, the Doctor’s companion for the series. Gibson is a 19-year-old English actor who’s best known for starring in long-running British soap opera Coronation Street.

Between Gatwa and Gibson, the TARDIS crew feels younger, fresher and more relevant than it has in ages, making their first series together one of the most highly anticipated for the show in years.

Exciting episodes aplenty

Starting this Saturday, the eight-episode series will air on the BBC in the UK and Disney+ internationally. The British show’s inclusion on Disney+ is the result of a major acquisition of broadcasting rights by the US media conglomeration that has also provided a cash injection to the series, which fans hope will have upped each episode’s budget.

Across these eight episodes, there’s a lot to be excited for. While few details beyond titles is know about the majority of the series, the second and third episodes in particular have raised alarms for potentially incredible upcoming TV moments.

With a little help from my friends...
With a little help from my friends...James Pardon/Bad Wolf/BBC Studios

Episode two, ‘The Devil’s Chord’ has been revealed to feature the Doctor and Ruby returning to the 1960s Abbey Road studio of The Beatles in their heyday. It’s a Doctor Who tradition to use historical episodes to visit British icons but this is the first time the Fab Four will feature in the show. It’s quite surprising it’s taken this long given the show’s debut in 1963 was at the height of Beatlemania in the country.

Not only will the Beatles feature, but it’s also been revealed that Davies has an intriguing trick up his sleeve to get around the costly question of securing the rights to the band’s songs. We don’t know for sure yet, but it seems like a mysterious character called the Maestro (played by American drag queen Jinkx Monsoon) is doing something to change history.

Jinkx Monsoon being extra
Jinkx Monsoon being extraJames Pardon/Bad Wolf/BBC Studios

Then there’s the third episode ‘Boom’. On the BBC website, it gives the episode this exciting summary: “Caught in the middle of a devastating war on Kastarion 3, the Doctor is trapped when he steps on a landmine. Can he save himself and Ruby, plus the entire planet... without moving?”

It’s not just an intriguing set-up that’s got fans’ tongues wagging. It’s the writer behind it. Davies has brought back one of the show’s most celebrated writers, Steven Moffat, the second showrunner of the series’ modern era known for his wicked sense of humour and complicated time travelling plots.

Doctor Who will be available on BBC iPlayer and Disney+ from Saturday 11 May and will air live on BBC One.

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