These are the never-before-seen images of the new Doctor Who working his trade as an unknown actor, which were taken a decade before landing the coveted role.
Rwandan-Scot Ncuti Gatwa, 29, has hit the big time after he was announced as the 14th Time Lord in the BBC’s long-running sci-fi TV series.
His portrayal of the time-travelling alien is likely to propel him to international stardom.
Change: These are the never-before-seen images of the new Doctor Who Ncuti Gatwa working his trade as an unknown actor, which were taken a decade before landing the coveted role (pictured in Hecuba in 2013)
Yet, when he was treading the boards in Dundee, Scotland, as a complete unknown he had no idea whether his ambitions of a career in acting would be realised and desperate for any roles he could land.
Gatwa, originally from Rwanda, had arrived in Dunfermline, Scotland as a refugee when he was just two years old.
In 1994, his family fled there with him as they escaped the genocide that was sweeping through their homeland.
Gatwa’s early life in Dunfermline was blighted by a torrent of racist abuse when pupils at his school in Dunfermline launched a social media campaign urging his classmates; ‘Get the N***** out the school’.
Incredible: Rwandan-Scot Ncuti, 29, has hit the big time after he was announced as the 14th Time Lord in the BBC’s long-running sci-fi TV series
He revealed that being subjected to racial abuse was ‘standard’ while he was growing in the town and that it took him a long time to learn to love Scotland.
He said: ‘It was so normal for me to have racial abuse spat at me and then when I moved to Dunfermline, there was a group of boys that made up a racist social media page geared at me. It was like, ‘Get the n***** out the school’.
‘I remember coming home that day and when my mum came home that day it wasn’t the most empathetic responses. I remember she was like, ‘get on with it’.
Start: In Dundee, he acted in adaptations of Roald Dahl’s The BFG (pictured), Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and a wounded Polydorus in Greek tragedy Hecuba
‘I was like, you can’t know me and not like me. I was actually quite confused! I was like, what? These people don’t like me? I was like, that’s never happened before.
‘So I was like, OK, fine. I’m just going to carry on being myself and they’re going to fall in love with me sooner or later. And they did.’
Incredibly he became friends with the boys who set up the page before pursuing his dreams of becoming an actor.
‘It was really a good lesson to me about the difference between hate and ignorance,’ he explained.
Before fame: Ncuti is pictured in the production of Cars and Boys in 2014 before his rise to fame
‘Obviously their behaviour was inexcusable. But at the same time, I was the first black person that they probably saw in real life.’
They ended up apologising profusely for what they had done and Ncuti puts his own resilience down to his mother.
‘My mum really toughened me up. I grew up watching her move to this country with three kids on her back.
‘She couldn’t speak the language, didn’t know the culture, no money, no nothing – and she raised all three of us. My mum has dealt with so much s**t.’
Role: The Sex Education star is pictured in 2014 in an Agatha Christie production of Then There Were None
He said the abuse made him so isolated he believed he was the ‘only black person in Scotland’.
But things improved when moved to Glasgow to study acting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He then got his first break by being accepted into the Dundee Repertory theatre’s graduate trainee scheme in 2013. Those who worked with him there say that his talent shone through and he was hungry for success.
In Dundee, he acted in adaptations of Roald Dahl’s The BFG, Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and a wounded Polydorus in Greek tragedy Hecuba.
Star: Things improved when moved to Glasgow to study acting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (pictured in Victoria in 2013)
Dundee Rep’s artistic director, Andrew Panton, said: ‘Ncuti always had a spark. You can never predict what is going to happen in someone’s career but what you can see is a hunger in emerging actors and Ncuti had that hunger.
‘What’s particularly exciting about Doctor Who is that every actor who plays the role makes it their own and makes it completely different, so Ncuti is the perfect actor to do that. Whatever he does with that role is going to be hugely exciting.’
Gatwa landed a brief TV appearance in the Scottish sitcom Bob Servant in 2014, alongside Succession star Brian Cox and comedian Jonathan Watson.
Potential: Dundee Rep’s artistic director, Andrew Panton, said: ‘Ncuti always had a spark. You can never predict what is going to happen in someone’s career but what you can see is a hunger in emerging actors and Ncuti had that hunger’ (pictured in Hecuba)
He then found himself a rising star after he was cast as gay black teenager Eric Effiong in the hit Netflix comedy drama, Sex Education.
He will pick up the sonic screwdriver in the next series of Doctor Who which returns to the small screen next year.
Thirteen actors have piloted the TARDIS since the time-travelling alien known as Doctor Who was first played on TV by William Hartnell in 1963. Gatwa takes over from Jodie Whittaker, who was the first female Doctor to take on the role in 2017.
Gatwa said: ‘It’s a true honour. This role means a lot to so many people, including myself. I feel very grateful to have the baton handed over and I’m going to try to do my best.’
Starting out: The BBC will hope to capture a younger audience for Doctor Who as Gatwa has 2.5 million Instagram followers (pictured in Cars and Boys in 2014)
He becomes the youngest actor and the first black actor to take on the role.
Dundee Rep’s Mr Panton added: ‘Discussions around Doctor Who’s ethnicity and gender are completely redundant. It’s nonsense to be discussing those things. Doctor Who is for everyone and everyone needs a chance to see themselves as Doctor Who.’
Gatwa claims not to have a favourite Doctor Who, but added: ‘They are all amazing, you can’t pick. I’m a fan of Doctor Who and I don’t know who isn’t a fan. I’m very excited to join the family. I want to battle aliens for a really long time. I can’t wait to do that. There will be pressure but I think I’ll handle it.’
Yet showrunner Russell T Davies has revealed that Gatwa came tantalisingly close to missing out on the coveted role.
Kind: Gatwa plans to use his acting success to help build a school in Rwanda through his parents’ charity (pictured in Then There Were None in 2014)
Davies said: ‘It was our very last audition. We thought that we had someone and then he came in and stole it. It was a blazing audition.
‘Genuinely, I’ve watched Sex Education and loved his work but I didn’t know what we were going to get until he was in the room. I am properly thrilled.’
The BBC will hope to capture a younger audience for Doctor Who as Gatwa has 2.5 million Instagram followers.
BBC entertainment correspondent Lizo Mzimba said: ‘It is interesting that they have gone for someone relatively young but who also has a huge following with young people thanks to Sex Education.
‘He has been nominated for Baftas three times for Sex Education, so it’s not just a demographic decision. It is hiring an actor who has got a huge amount of talent.’
Mr Panton said: ‘We are incredibly proud of Ncuti as we are of all the alumni from the Dundee Rep graduate actors scheme, but it is definitely Ncuti’s moment. David Tennant also appeared on the Rep stage early in his career, so it is our second Doctor.
‘He is fun and inquisitive and really skilled. I’m not sure anyone can predict that someone will be a star but he definitely had that spark.’
Before his fame: Ncuti (right) is pictured in a production of the BFG in Dundee back in 2014
Former Doctor Peter Capaldi said: ‘What a great story – a little boy whose family escaped from the genocide in Rwanda and, at age two, finds refuge in Scotland where he grows up to become Doctor Who. That’s a story to be proud of. I know Ncuti will make an amazing Doctor.
Gatwa plans to use his acting success to help build a school in Rwanda through his parents’ charity.
He said: ‘I want to build a school in Rwanda. There’s so many amazing fresh young minds in Africa that need nourishment from outside.
‘There’s a new generation forming and I feel like they need those of us who have left and made money in the west – they need our help.
‘I met so many young amazing kids in Rwanda when I went back and they just had so many amazing ideas – great entrepreneurial minds. I feel, ‘Where is the support?’ I want to help.’
His first trip back to Rwanda took place when he was a teenager.
He said: ‘I was born in Rwanda – my parents are Rwandese – then came over to the UK when things there started to get a little bit crazy.
‘I grew up in Scotland from when I was two and didn’t remember Rwanda from when I was born there.
New role: Ncuti, who was born in Rwanda, rose to fame as Eric Effiong in Netflix’s hugely popular Sex Education
‘The first time I went back after leaving as a baby was when I was 15.
‘When you go back to the place you were born, something very special happens.’
Ncuti’s mum Josephine, an administration clerk, and dad Tharcisse, a theological publisher, are trustees of Mission Rwanda, a charity that was set up in 2008 to help those living in poverty.
The charity states: ‘Our focus is on children and enabling their families to support themselves.
‘We send children to school, we feed malnourished children and help their families to generate regular income.
New cast: Transgender actress Yasmin Finney will play the Time Lord’s companion Rose. She recently shot to fame with an iconic role in Netflix’s gay teen romance Heartstopper
‘We also help women set themselves up in business to be able to feed their families.’
Projects the charity runs include working with street children from the rough city suburb of Nyarugenge, in the capital Kigali, where Ncuti was born.
Initiatives include Porridge Project, which provides a daily meal for underfed children in the Rutonde and Rimwe districts.
As part of the project, goats and rabbits have also been gifted to some of the poorest families in the two areas, to provide a source of income as well as food.
Exciting: Ncuti attended the BAFTA TV Awards ceremony alongside returning Doctor Who writer Russell T Davies hours after it was confirmed that he will take over from Jodie Whittaker
The charity, which lists Ncuti’s parents among its five trustees, receives backing from individuals and groups, including the congregation of Loanhead Parish Church, in Midlothian.
The church sponsors some of the children helped by Mission Rwanda to attend school, has bought a cow to help provide milk and income for one community and even makes baby jumpers and other knitwear to keep the youngsters warm.
Despite raising an income of only about £5000 a year, the charity has helped mothers in Rwanda. transform their children’s lives by setting up their own small companies selling everything from shoes and DVDs to potatoes.
Ncuti, who attended Boroughmuir High School and Dunfermline High School before moving to Glasgow to study acting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, has spoken of his pride at growing up as both Scottish and Rwandan.
But said his Scottish accent was a hindrance when it came to pronouncing his own name.
He said: ‘The spelling of my name is Ncuti. There is an N there – I don’t know why. It’s pronounced N-shooti – officially you are supposed to pronounce the N.
‘Growing up in Scotland, I could never get my mouth around it, so I just said Shooti and it stuck as Shooti.’
In 2019 Ncuti admitted he had encountered racism growing up in Scotland and rarely met any other people who looked like him.
Star in the making: Ncuti is pictured in a production of Victoria in 2013 where he delighted audiences
He told the BBC Scotland documentary Black And Scottish: ‘I definitely felt growing up that I wasn’t seen as the same as anyone around me because no one around me looked like me. I remember my mum being like, ‘Everyone looks the same.’ She travelled all around Edinburgh trying to find someone that was black and she couldn’t see anyone.
‘Role models? There were no black Scottish role models. I felt like I was the only black person in the world.’
Ncuti will take over from Jodie Whittaker and become the 14th Doctor during a Christmas special complete with the traditional regeneration scene.
Gatwa’s father, Tharcisse, has spoken of their pride after he landed his Doctor Who role.
Speaking from the family’s £300,000 home in Dunfermline, Scotland, Tharcisse Gatwa last week told Mailonline: ‘We are very proud. We’ve congratulated him. That’s all we can do. We are just so pleased. That is all we can say. As parents we are, of course, proud of Ncuti.’
The first series of the iconic series with Gatwa in the lead will be shown in 2023.
Fan favourite: The first series of the iconic series with Gatwa in the lead will be shown in 2023 (he is pictured in Then There Were None in 2014)