Press Release

“My name means hope. So I must remember to have hope. Because what else is there?” Ncuti Gatwa gives exclusive interview to the Big Issue

Ncuti Gatwa. Photo by Yoshitaka Kono/BBC Studios

Today (Monday 4th December), Ncuti Gatwa has given an exclusive interview to the Big Issue to mark his upcoming outing as the new Doctor Who.

Gatwa auditioned in February 2022 and was unveiled to the world by showrunner Russell T Davies two months later. He said: “It’s felt like I’ve been the Doctor and also had to hold off from being the Doctor for most of the last two years,” he adds. “So how do I feel about people seeing it? I feel ready. But I’m sooooo nervous.”

“I think that is for everyone to see at Christmas,…you know what it’s like. Anything I say will get dissected, people will be like, this is exactly what it’s going to be. And I don’t want to paint anyone’s perceptions. But I guess he is very human.”

Gatwa continued: “It’s so exciting to have David and Catherine back. A nice little lead-in for me! It feels like it’s come full circle – because David was my Doctor and such a great inspiration to me as an actor.

“I would have been 13 – a pivotal time. And firstly, he’s Scottish. Plus he was so charismatic and fun – I mean all the Doctors have been fun, all the way back. Well, I don’t know if you can say that about William Hartnell. Maybe he wasn’t fun. But David had such a Scottish almost feral-ness to him, which is what I liked. I felt an affinity to that. So for him, of all people, to be handing the baton over – it just feels really surreal. Because I just loved his Doctor so much. So I’m very excited to be a part of the 60th. But also, it signifies the start of my tenure, which is nerve racking.”

Gatwa continued: “Russell doesn’t shy away from big, bad danger. The scripts are intense, they’re energetic, they’re funny and light, but also very dark and heavy. You know, the way he writes – he’s dealing with such existential crises and huge issues channelled in a really artistic, creative sci-fi way. But hope is certainly something he has put into these scripts.

“He told me the other day that you have to have hope in life… Hope is what saves us. My mum says the same thing. And that’s what my name means. Mizero [his full name is Mizero Ncuti Gatwa] means hope. So I must remember to have hope. Because what else is there? And this show always reminds me of that. There’s always hope at the end of each episode.”

In 2020, Gatwa revealed in an interview with the Big Issue about his experiences of becoming part of the hidden homeless crisis while sofa surfing as a jobbing actor.

He said: “A majority of people are one bad incident or one bad pay cheque away from a really drastic situation. I don’t know if this is the right thing to say to the Big Issue, but to this day I still wake up and check my bank balance and that there’s food in my fridge. And that’s because of that brief period where I was struggling. I feel good that I spoke about it. Because it can happen to anyone and can be extremely difficult to get out of. There’s just so much judgement towards people who are homeless.

“I think about us as a society. As someone who grew up working class, who didn’t have money but now has some – and I’m sat here now in my Prada loafers – seeing how the world reacts to you differently depending on your situation is wild.”

Gatwa bought his first home recently. It understandably means a lot to him. “It feels really good. I’m so obsessed,” he says. “I struggle to leave my home, because I love it so much. I never thought I’d ever be able to buy one when I was doing theatre in London.”

The Big Issue with the full interview is out now, please find your local vendor to buy a copy or subscribe online.  You can also support by buying a Big Issue Working Winter Support Kit for £34.99 www.bigissue.com/christmas.  

Doctor Who: The Church on Ruby road is on BBC One on Christmas Day.

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