Men, women and a non-binary actor auditioned for Doctor Who lead role

New details have been shared on the casting process for the new Doctor Who lead, a part that would eventually be awarded to Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa.

Speaking in an interview alongside executive producers Phil Collinson, Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner in Doctor Who Magazine, Russell T Davies has shed a little more light on the process of casting for one of the most prestigious roles in television.

“As ever, we turned to Andy Pryor [casting director] and said, “Bring us the best in the land.” We saw all backgrounds, all genders,” explained Davies.

Added Phil Collinson: “We saw men, we saw women, we saw one non-binary actor”

Jodie Whittaker, the Thirteenth Doctor, had been the first woman to take on the role full-time in the television series.

Davies added that they were on the hunt for someone who could be described as a new talent, but admitted that their final choice Ncuti wasn’t exactly new after the success he’d had on Sex Education.

“I think, as a rule, we were looking for younger – most of the people we saw were under 30 – but not as a definite rule, and kind of new talent. Ncuti’s not exactly new. He’s world-famous already with Sex Education [the Netflix show in which he plays Eric Effiong]. But we weren’t looking for an older, established face.

He added: “And in he walked. The last person to audition. It sounds like one of those stories you tell as an anecdote, but Ncuti was absolutely the last person in and everything clicked into place. I sat there thinking, “Why didn’t we just offer [Ncuti the part]? Why did we need to audition the man from Sex Education? Of course he’s brilliant.”

But it turns out that Ncuti has some serious competition for the part.

“There was another actor who had already read on a different day, who we all loved –” said Phil Collinson.

He added: “And I think, as we were heading towards the end of the final day, Russell and I were thinking, “It’s going to be that person, isn’t it?” And then in walked Ncuti and absolutely stole the part. He took control of it and did things with it that I’d never seen an actor playing Doctor Who do. It was just extraordinary.”

Ncuti Gatwa will take on the role of the Fifteenth Doctor full time around the festive season of 2023 when he his joined by new companion Ruby Sunday who is played by former Coronation Street star Millie Gibson.

Before that Doctor Who will return in November 2023 with three one-hour episodes to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the show. The specials will star David Tennant as the Fourteenth Doctor.