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Interview: Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson Talk ‘Doctor Who’ and What Fans Can Expect from the Show’s 14th Series

May 8, 2024Ben MK

Throughout all of television history, precious few shows have endured as long as Doctor Who. First aired in 1963, the iconic British sci-fi series has amassed a loyal fanbase over the course of its decades-long run, thanks in no small part to the many talented actors who have filled the shoes of the legendary Doctor. Whether it's Tom Baker in the '70s, Sylvester McCoy in the '80s, or more recent fan favorites like David Tennant and Matt Smith, each new regeneration of the show's titular protagonist has left an indelible mark on viewers' hearts. And with Doctor Who's fourteenth series, fifteenth Doctor Ncuti Gatwa is making franchise history, as he and the Doctor's wide-eyed new companion, Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson), set out to make this one of the show's most fun and unforgettable seasons — one time-travelling, out-of-this-world adventure at a time.

I caught up with stars Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson to chat about their roles in Doctor Who, their most memorable moments from this season, and the legacy they hope to leave for this new generation of the series' fans.

The beauty of Doctor Who is that, with each new iteration, you're able to build off what's come before, but you're also given a blank slate in terms of how to approach the lead characters. With that in mind, how did you set out to put your own spin on the iconic archetype of the Doctor?

Gatwa: I was always very nervous about how I would effectively play wisdom, just because I look so young and beautiful. [laughs] I didn't know how I would effectively show that. And so I would always think about this notion of the regeneration and the Doctor being born again and having this new lease on life, and the excitement that that would bring — to see things again and to get to live life again. So, yeah, that sort of sense of curiosity, excitement, and then also compassion were the three sort of traits that helped me characterize the Doctor.

You've both pretty much worked on more grounded productions prior to Doctor Who — except for you, Ncuti, since you were in Barbie. What has working on such an effects-heavy production been like?

Gibson: Yeah, for me it was a whole new world. But Coronation Street was such a great training background for me, cuz you just learn pace and lines and everything so quickly. So to come on Doctor Who and [for] it to be equally as fast, to be honest, because there's so much to do and to learn and to be on your toes for — yeah, that was very much a good skill to have in my toolkit. And to adapt to the CGI that they have was really, really fun to learn, and how the Millennium [FX] team worked. I think what's great about Doctor Who, though, is the majority of their monsters are made by the fantastic props team. Like, the Goblin King, for example, was lovely. So that's the nostalgic point of the monsters I have always loved about the show, so yeah, that helped.

Was there a scene or an episode in this new season that was the most memorable for each of you, personally?

Gatwa: I would say the two final scenes of "Regency" to me are like, "Whoaaa..." Yeah, can't say much about them. I can't say a thing about them, not a thing.

Gibson: Mine would be from something that's not spoiler-related, when Ruby's going around the Tardis and realizing it's, you know, "Bigger on the inside!" for the first time. That was definitely my favorite.

Of course, it's all about time travel. So if you could travel to any time period in real life, what would it be?

Gatwa: Maybe the future. I'd like to see if we make [it]. You know how Ruby says in "Space Babies," "Oh, we made it to the stars." Like we went to the stars. I want to see where humanity goes next.

Gibson: Oh, the '20s always springs to my mind. I just think I'd look really good in a flapper dress.

Last but not least, with so many actors having played the Doctor, each generation has grown up with their own specific version of the character. What kind of legacy do you want to leave today's generation — those viewers who might be coming in fresh to the series?

Gatwa: In terms of legacy, just the era of chaos and adventure. I think myself and Millie bring a lovely dose of chaotic energy to the Tardis, and we can be remembered for the fun times, and that would be cool.

Doctor Who streams exclusively on Disney Plus, beginning May 10th.

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