Ncuti Gatwa: From the homeless to the Netflix star and now the Doctor of a lifetime

From struggling with depression and homelessness to becoming a Netflix star and now Doctor Who, the road to fame is sometimes long and winding for Ncuti Gatwa.

Ncuti Gatwa
Your new doctor, Ncuti Gatwa

So it’s official, Ncuti Gatwa will be the new Doctor Who in the future.

The Scottish-Rwandan actor – who is best known for his role as Eric Effiong in the Netflix series Sex Education – will take over from Jodie Whittaker, who has been at the helm since 2017.

Ncuti will become the 14th Time Lord, joining a list of illustrious names to take on the role including David Tennant and Matt Smith.

In a statement, the 29-year-old actor said: “There are no words to describe how I feel.

“This role and program means so much to so many people around the world, myself included, and each of my incredibly talented predecessors has handled the responsibility and privilege only that with the utmost care.

The Scottish-Rwandan actor is ‘honored’ to play Doctor Who


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“I’ll do my best to do the same.”

But who is Ncuti Gatwa?

Born in Rwanda before moving to Scotland, where he grew up, Ncuti began his career with a supporting role on the 2014 sitcom Bob Servant.

In 2016, he played Demetrius in the film A Midsummer’s Nights Dream at Shakespeare’s Globe.

Ncuti as Eric in Sex Education


Sam Taylor / Netflix)

His big break came when he was cast as Eric Effiong, a British gay teenager of Nigerian descent who is best friends with Otis, the show’s main character.

The Netflix trilogy chronicles Eric’s growth as he deals with his family’s sexual acceptance while he accepts his Nigerian heritage.

He also loves Adam, who bullied him in the first series.

Although Ncuti seems to be on the rise, his life has not been smooth sailing.

Writing in The Big Issue in May 2020, he said he became homeless after running out of savings in the months before he took on his role in Sex Education .

“Being a 25-year-old man with no money or a job has affected my sense of self-worth,” he wrote.

“Rejection becomes unbearable. The auditions aren’t just acting, they’re the lifeblood.”

He continued: “A friend gave me money to pay off last month’s rent and offered to let me move in free of their vacant room for a while.

Eric falls in love with Adam during Sex Education


Sam Taylor / Netflix)

“Great, I think. An opportunity for me to get up and start paying people back.

“On the day he moved in, he changed his mind. As I was standing on the street with my suitcase, a thought popped into my head: ‘I’m homeless.’

While everything was fine with the outside world, Ncuti lost weight because he couldn’t eat properly.

“To the outside world, everything seems fine. I was tempted in Harrods,” he wrote.

“I woke up from the double bed I shared with my best friend, out of the house with my hair unkempt in a polished tank top and sleek flats.

“I will get compliments for looking very polite. When I lost weight from eating only one meal a day, people told me how thin and healthy I looked.”

In fact, Ncuti suffered from depression, although he kept it a secret from his friends for fear of becoming a “burden”.

He was able to turn his life around and has since become a star.

Of course, Ncuti’s life changed when he took on the role in Sex Education.

Sex Education star will take over from Jodie Whittaker


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The show has received critical acclaim since the first series was released on the streaming platform in January 2019.

The fourth season was announced shortly after all eight episodes for the third season were released worldwide.

Ncuti has earned three BAFTA Television Award nominations for Best Comedy Actor since taking on the role, in 2020, 2021 and 2022 respectively.

The BBC hopes that Ncuti can get the same recognition when he takes on the role of doctor, following Jodie Whittaker’s farewell later this year.

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