Ncuti Gatwa’s Doctor Who Performance Has 1 Thing I Can’t Get Enough Of


Ncuti Gatwa brings something exciting to Doctor Who, and I really want it to continue. Although it was technically David Tennant’s Fourteenth Doctor who passed the baton to Gatwa at the end of the Doctor Who 60th-anniversary specials in 2023, the Sex Education star is arguably taking over from Jodie Whittaker, as her version of the Doctor was the last to lead the show on a full-time basis. I had many issues with Chris Chibnall’s time in charge of Doctor Who, but a particular element of Gatwa’s performance makes it easy to move past such an underwhelming era.

Gatwa’s role in the Doctor Who season 14 cast has been a little unusual, as he’s already been sidelined twice. Of every actor to play the Doctor, I don’t recall this happening so soon, or twice in the same season. I’m aware that Gatwa’s commitment to other projects has made it difficult to have him as a focal point, but I’ve still found it a little jarring to have such a vibrant version of the Time Lord swept aside. That being said, when he has stepped into the limelight, it’s impossible to ignore the level of quality his performance provides.

Ncuti Gatwa’s Fifteenth Doctor Has An Inner Darkness In Doctor Who Season 14

Fifteen has been tapping into his ruthless side

I’ve noticed on several occasions that the writing and performance choices for Gatwa’s Fifteenth Doctor have strongly alluded to the character’s darker side. Of course, he’s still the hero I’ve come to know and love, but there’s something sinister bubbling under the surface that makes him an even bigger force to be reckoned with – and I love that so much. One of the earliest examples comes in “Space Babies,” when the Doctor intentionally scares the episode’s titular infants by briefly impersonating the Bogeyman, then bringing the monster up on the screen out of the blue.

Although he apologizes for the stunt, he does it while laughing, clearly enjoying the fact that his prank – which was ultimately harmless – had the desired effect of making the babies jump. This felt incredibly out of character when I first watched it, but then I quickly reminded myself that it was a new version of the Doctor I was watching, and he clearly just has a different sense of humor. Once I’d worked that out, I started to notice it more in other episodes.

Vengeance isn’t a trait I commonly associate with the Doctor, if at all, but Fifteen straying from the beaten path is another reason why I’m so in awe of this version of the character.

At the end of “Dot and Bubble,” it’s possibly the most outwardly enraged I’ve ever seen the Doctor. What I found even more compelling is the fact that the anger doesn’t seem to stem completely from the racist attitude of Finetime’s residents, but also from the incredible frustration of not being permitted to save them. He was begging to let them be the hero they so obviously needed, and his outburst perfectly summed up the sheer fury he felt for a variety of reasons.

Fifteen’s darkness is confirmed in a much more level-headed line in “Rogue,” but it’s dialogue that comes loaded with a thirst for revenge. Again, vengeance isn’t a trait I commonly associate with the Doctor, if at all, but Fifteen straying from the beaten path is another reason why I’m so in awe of this version of the character. When he thinks Ruby is dead and learns about the Chuldur’s 600-year lifespan, Gatwa’s delivery of the line, “Good. It’s a long time to suffer,” chilled me to my core.

Doctor Who Season 15 Can Properly Explore The Current Doctor’s Darker Side

Ruby’s storyline has been too interesting to stray from too long

As I mentioned earlier, one of the most disappointing parts of Doctor Who season 14 is Gatwa’s absence from what is essentially two entire episodes. That being said, “73 Yards” and “Dot and Bubble” are two of my favorite installments of the Disney era so far, and it also makes sense why the mystery of Ruby’s lineage would pull more focus than any arc from the Doctor could do. As a result, I’ve taken what I can get from Gatwa’s initial presence in the show, even if it’s only allowed for brief glimpses into the darker parts of Fifteen’s persona.

Gatwa’s presence should be far less sporadic in Doctor Who season 15, and I’m hoping the enigma of Ruby Sunday has at least been partially solved. If so, the Fifteenth Doctor can be what he hasn’t yet been: Doctor Who’s main character. That way, there can be far more interactions with both friends and foes that can bring out his more off-beat impulses. I can’t wait to see how far Gatwa can push this element of his performance while still being recognizable as the Doctor.

Gatwa Brings Back A Fascinating Part Of The Tenth & Twelfth Doctors

Tennant & Capaldi both teased the Doctor’s darker tendencies

Ncuti Gatwa isn’t the first Doctor actor to display a dark streak, but he does do it pretty consistently. Despite his cheery demeanor, David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor would also surprise me whenever he acted particularly ruthlessly. There’s a moment that sticks in mind from the 2006 Christmas Special, “The Runaway Bride,” when Ten is directly responsible for the deaths of the Racnoss Empress and all her children. The look on his face makes him look like a different man, and it only falls into one of stark realization when Donna pulls him out of the macabre mindset.

Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor was often severe to varying degrees. He would use those lending him a hand as bait to draw in the real enemy, and sometimes without the knowledge of the poor soul in question. I think Gatwa strikes the perfect middle ground between these two iterations of the Doctor when it comes to his innate potential for what some would call evil. Hopefully, I won’t be waiting long to see what Fifteen is truly capable of, but I think his place in Doctor Who canon will be an incredibly memorable one whenever he decides to depart.