Russell T Davies says he wanted a ‘more emotional Doctor’ for new series

Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies has said it is time for a new Doctor who carries “emotions on the surface more visibly instead of hiding them away” after years of an emotionally reserved Time Lord.

The BBC sci-fi show will return to screens on May 11 with two episodes titled Space Babies and The Devil’s Chord starring Ncuti Gatwa as the new Doctor, opposite former Coronation Street actress Millie Gibson as his companion Ruby Sunday.

Davies described Sex Education star Gatwa as “already one of our great actors”.

“Quite by chance, I wanted a more emotional Doctor, and lo and behold, we have cast someone whose emotions are vast, turbulent, and visible,” Davies said.

“Historically, Doctors have tended to keep their emotions to themselves and play the game of being reserved. And the actors have done that brilliantly.

“But right now in 2024, I want a man who cries when it’s sad. And Ncuti does that to an astonishing degree.”

Doctor Who premiere – London
Millie Gibson, Russell T Davies and Ncuti Gatwa, arrive for the premiere of Doctor Who (Ian West/PA)

Davies said he could not take his eyes off Gatwa during Netflix series Sex Education, in which he played Eric Effiong, and predicts in five years’ time he will be starring as the next James Bond in the MI6 film franchise.

“It’s so exciting that it inspires me. It generates stories in me. It’s an absolute joy to work with him,” he said.

The showrunner, executive producer and writer said the new sci-fi series will see an “emotional” Doctor open up about his family “in a way that he’s never done before”, as well as connect with Ruby Sunday – who is also an orphan.

“It’s time for a new Doctor who carries those emotions on the surface more visibly instead of hiding them away,” Davies said.

“The Doctor doesn’t just wear one heart on their sleeve; they wear two hearts on their sleeve. I thought it was just the right time for that to be centre stage.”

The first episode titled Space Babies will see the Doctor and Ruby Sunday on a baby farm being run by babies facing off against a Bogeyman, alongside Bridgerton star Golda Rosheuvel, who will play Jocelyn in the episode.

Rosheuvel said she got to the end of a press tour for the Bridgerton prequel Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, and she told her agent she would love to next star in Doctor Who.

“It’s one of those shows that every actor has their eye on. It’s like a rite of passage,” the 54-year-old said.

“I had auditioned for it several times over the years, and friends had always pipped me to the post. But now the timing was definitely right.

“…I just randomly put the request out there, and it came back. So the stars, the solar system, the whole Doctor Who universe aligned.”

Gatwa said the monster in the first episode is “absolutely terrifying”.

Bafta TV Awards
Ncuti Gatwa arriving for the premiere of Doctor Who in London (Ian West/PA)

“We certainly are on track to get a whole new generation of kids hiding behind the sofa,” the 31-year-old said.

The second episode of the series will see the Doctor and Ruby Sunday meet The Beatles, but discover that the all-powerful Maestro – played by US drag queen and actor Jinkx Monsoon – is changing history.

Jinkx Monsoon, real name Jerick Hoffer, said “no-one cared that this was only my third live-action scripted TV appearance”, adding that Gatwa “was just so generous” while filming.

The first two episodes of the new season will premiere at midnight on May 11 on BBC iPlayer.

Space Babies will later air at 6.20pm on BBC One, followed by The Devil’s Chord at 7.05pm.

Outside the UK, Doctor Who will begin streaming on May 10 on Disney+.