Ncuti Gatwa addresses racist backlash over Doctor Who casting: ‘Go find a hobby’

Ncuti Gatwa has reacted to the racist backlash he faced for being cast as the first Black star to lead BBC’s long-running sci-fi series Doctor Who.

The Sex Education breakout, 31, returns as the 15th iteration of the Time Lord in the forthcoming season 14, following his acclaimed debut in the show’s Christmas special, “The Church on Ruby Road”.

Asked about the uproar his casting caused among some fans, Gatwa told Attitude magazine: “It’s not something I’ll avidly keep up on. The hate? It is kind of fascinating to me because there’s so much energy they’re putting into it.

“I think they need to go find a hobby is one thing,” he added. “But another thing is that we do see a shift happening in casting, in positions of power and in the status quo. I mean, not a fast shift, things could tip over the other way a little bit quicker, but you see people kind of malfunctioning because things are changing.”

In recent years, the industry has been shifting towards a more diverse paradigm, hiring people of colour to portray traditionally white characters.

The efforts, however, while openly welcomed by a majority, have also been torn apart by critics who have taken issue with the change.

Just last week, more than 800 Black female and non-binary actors signed an open letter in solidarity with Francesca Amewudah-Rivers after she was subjected to vile online abuse for her casting as the female lead in a forthcoming West End production of Romeo & Juliet.

Ncuti Gatwa photographed by Melanie Lehmann for Attitude (Melanie Lehmann for Attitude)
Ncuti Gatwa photographed by Melanie Lehmann for Attitude (Melanie Lehmann for Attitude)

“The racist and misogynistic abuse directed at such a sweet soul has been too much to bear,” the letter reads. “For a casting announcement of a play to ignite such twisted ugly abuse is truly embarrassing for those so empty and barren in their own lives that they must meddle in hateful abuse.”

Meanwhile, Amewudah-Rivers Romeo & Juliet co-star Tom Holland has been urged to speak out in support. Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story actor Arséma Thomas wrote on Instagram: “You lot need to put pressure on @tomholland2023’s head top. I need my guy to say something, ANYTHING, about the disgusting racial abuse being thrown at our angel Fran.”

Doctor Who season 14 debuts its first two episodes on 11 May on BBC at midnight, with both instalments available to watch on BBC One later that day, right before the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest. US viewers can watch the episodes on Disney+.