So these are the days which don’t come around but once in a very great while. There’s going to be a new Doctor hanging about with the announcement that Ncuti Gatwa would be succeeding Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor for the series which will go out in late 2023. Although the Tour had suspected that such news might be forthcoming relatively soon given that production is sure to be starting up and could not be kept under wraps after that, the timing did catch us off-guard.
The ‘good’ news, such as it is, is that we literally know nothing about his work, so there should be no pre-conceptions to work against in terms of having an immediate reaction one way or another. In terms of historical precedent, what we thought of first is, at 29, how freaking young this guy is. Echoes of November 1980 with Peter Davison–who was also 29, and Matt Smith in January 2009, when he was all of 26. Put another way, with Gatwa having been born in 1992, he is the first Doctor born during the ‘void’ years between the classic series and nu-Who–and is, in relative terms, not much older than the Tour itself.
Gatwa marks the third casting of the Doctor by returning showrunner RTD, which ties him with JN-T back in 80’s. If RTD eventually gets to top JN-T then we know the show will be very good shape indeed. But let’s not forget the current occupant, whose ending has yet to be ‘written.’ There is and should be a little uncomfortable feeling amongst all fans with nearly 60 years of conditioning that leads us to look beyond for the new and the next and emotionally move on before the change has occurred. And that would be a needless mistake. Heck it’s not even certain, as of this writing, that Gatwa will cameo at the end of Whittaker’s last outing, and unfortunately there’s a lot time between now and then.
As for what the Tour can do with this news is simple, what we’ve always done, in this case throwing together a quick 300 count image gallery of Ncuti Gatwa to get hist part of the Tour underway. In it’s own way this is also a Tour tradition.
One question which is inevitable at a time like this is why we at the Tour are calling Ncuti Gatwa the 16th Doctor. And the answer, which we will re-state here, is very simple. Part of classic Doctor Who canon has it that a Time Lord can only have 13 lives (or 12 regenerations), as laid out in The Deadly Assassin and re-inforced (mostly) in The Ultimate Foe. Fortunately because Steven Moffat is both clever and cares deeply about the classic canon, he laid out in The Time of the Doctor that John Hurt counts, as does the ‘self-regeneration’ (or hand) from Journey’s End. Matt Smith was granted a whole new regeneration cycle at that point, and so Peter Capaldi was, and for Tour purposes always will be, our 14th Doctor. That this all might be for naught with revelations for the Whittaker Doctor doesn’t make any difference to us.
At least not right now.