What The Holographic Slides Say.

TV  Just a brief round up of some of the commentary about Ncuti's casting as the Doctor.

Firstly, James Cooray Smith has his first column in The Guardian and does an excellent job of putting this casting in the cultural context of those who've played the part before:

"Gatwa is the first black actor to play the role as a series lead. The black British actor Jo Martin has played the part, but not as the lead. Further back, Tom Baker’s father was a Jewish seaman, Davison’s a Guyanese engineer turned grocer. Interestingly, the role has been disproportionately played by Catholics, to the extent that Baker and Sylvester McCoy (1987-89) both trained for life within the church before becoming actors."

Writing for The New Statesman, Jonn Elledge captures pretty much beat for beat what my reaction to the casting was.  I too had hoped for another female Doctor for many of the reasons he lists, but swiftly realised that I shouldn't really give a fuck what misogynistic non-fans think:

"I had, if I’m honest, been hoping another woman would take the role next: Whittaker has not been well-served by the lead writer Chris Chibnall, ratings are down, and there is a danger her casting – like the absolutely brilliant but commercially lacklustre gender-swapped Ghostbusters movie – will come to look like an aberration, or even a mistake. I didn’t want anything to happen that might suggest the awful pink-faced men who sit on Twitter all day using hashtags like “#NotMyDoctor” had even the vaguest semblance of a point. And yet it took all of half a second for my reaction to the announcement that the next actor to play the Doctor would be Ncuti Gatwa to cycle from, “Oh” to, “Who?” to, “Oh my f***ing god.”"

Of course as Lola Christina Alao points out in The Independent, its unfair to pit people of different identities against one another:

"When I heard the news, I was really happy for Ncuti. I loved him in Sex Education and I can’t wait to see what he brings to his new role in Doctor Who. As a Black woman, representation and diversity in TV and film are, of course, important to me. And one thing I didn’t want to do was take this moment away from Ncuti by saying “this is great but I wish the new Doctor had been a Black woman”. (Jo Martin made a guest appearance as a fugitive Doctor back in 2020, but Ncuti will become the first Black actor to play the titular role full-time.)"

David Chipakupaku in the Metro notices that the casting may bring in new audiences:

"So as you can imagine, Sunday was a very exciting day for me. But online, my eyes were drawn to a particular type of tweet that kept appearing. These comments came from other Black and Black-origin users, and made me just as happy, if not more so, as the announcement of our new Time Lord.

"One of those tweets belonged to the TV writer Tianna Johnson, who tweeted: ‘LMAOOO they know our asses are gonna flock to watch that blue phone box show now. They’ve got us.’

"A new arrival in the TARDIS always provides a stepping-on point for many."

On Twitter, Mags L Halliday talks about the intelligence of the announcement methodology was:

"So an Insta that instantly sets a buzz going, followed by a trad press release, all timed so it creates a BAFTA red carpet hot topic tonight (thus generating immediate short video clips). That’s smart marketing if you want to engage new fans as well as reengage long time fans."

Let's end on an wide-ranging interview Tcuti gave to The Guardian back in January 2020 publicising the second series of Sex Education.  I'm struck by this anecdote about being recognised in the street:

"It isn’t just kids who come up to him in the street. He was at a station recently when a woman and her granddaughter stopped him. “The nan was the effusive one. She said: ‘I wish I had a show like that when I was young, I thought you were brilliant.’ And the granddaughter was just looking at me, like…” He pulls a bored, distant, unimpressed face."

Hopefully kids will be embracing him too now.

“Life depends on change, and renewal.”

 TV  Evening all.  Scott Bryan is a TV critic and broadcaster and if you don't already follow his twitter feed, you really should.  If there's an entertainment story brewing, especially about UK TV he'll be waaay ahead of most sources, even our lord Lizo Mzimba.  At just before noon today he posted this for those of us who avoid Instagram because we're too old to understand it:

Frankly initially, I didn't understand that either.  Who was @ncutigatwa and what did this code mean?  But that's how the new Doctor was announced, via emojis two hearts and a blue box on the actor's Instagram page.  Welcome to 2022, where the news goes first to the people that matter with the kind of cryptic messaging beloved of hard core Swifties.

We have been delivered of a new Doctor who is Ncuti Gatwa, best known for Netflix's Sex Education, which I have not seen but all of the people who's opinion I admire indicate is excellent and he's excellent within.  This is one of the images the official website ran to publicise the announcement, taken (I think) just before tonight's red carpet at the Baftas:


Lizo interviewed him and RTD2 on that red carpet:

Firstly, who's the new Ken Campbell?  Next of all, it's refreshing to have a showrunner who seems genuinely excited to be in the role again and wants to be right in the thick of publicity, so much so that it's through him that we know Jodie's send off will be 90mins long and broadcast in October (Halloween weekend perhaps?).

My only brush with Gatwa is in the absolutely fine The Last Letter from Your Lover as Felicity Jones's friend from the magazine office and although he doesn't have much to do other than be squeezed next to her in a meeting, he plays his discomfort very well.  I also like his round glasses.  Perhaps they'll use those in the new series, although they do dampen his dynamism a bit.

But that's all to the good.  My first though was that it means that unlike some previous Doctors I'll be able watch his interpretation fresh and without any preconceived notions.  But even when Jodie, Peter C, Matt, David and Chris were announced we won't really know how they were going to interpret the role and it's the same for Ncuti.

[Quick sidebar:  Above, I've linked to the posts where I write about the announcements for all of the most recent Doctors but I can't find anything for Chris.  There was a time I barely mentioned Doctor Who on this blog and the return of a show I'd been a fan of for at least five years didn't seem to be worth a mention.  It's been a weird journey.]

Will there be a whole series as well as a 50th anniversary special in 2023?  The announcement of a new Doctor usually coincides with the start of production and it would be strange if they begin filming something which won't be seen until for eighteen months now and then a bunch of episodes for 2024?  The press releases say:

"Russell T Davies will make an explosive return to screens to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Doctor Who in 2023, and series beyond."

Which has a little bit of wiggle room - "celebrate the 60th anniversary of Doctor Who" needn't mean "with a single episode in November".  Wouldn't a whole new series also be a celebration?

Just so long as they don't change the logo.