Ncuti Gatwa Tells ‘Doctor Who’ Fans ‘Don’t Watch. Turn Off the TV’ After His Debut Ratings Fail to Impress

Doctor Who / YouTube

Actor Ncuti Gatwa, now the star of the long-running science fiction series Doctor Who, is telling potential viewers not to watch the show if they don’t like his casting or his political preaching.

“Don’t watch. Turn off the TV. Go and touch grass, please, for God’s sake,” Gatwa said of his critics in a recent interview with Variety.

As That Park Place points out, the actor is standing on shaky ground if he wants to be openly hostile to the show’s existing fans.

In Doctor Who, the main character is recast every few years and worked into the show’s narrative as “regeneration” — the humanoid but alien “Time Lord” taking on a new physical form and personality. Gatwa is the 15th actor to play the titular character — and the first black and queer iteration of the character, after the series’ first gender swap with actress Jodie Whittaker taking on the role.

To build interest in Gatwa’s first appearance, the BBC put out four 60th anniversary specials that brought back fan favorite David Tennant as the Doctor and Russell T. Davies, the former showrunner who resurrected Doctor Who in the mid-2000s and made it a cultural phenomenon for new generations.

However, viewers were disappointed by egregiously woke dialogue in Tennant’s return, such as a trans character lambasting him for being unable to let go of power because he is “male-presenting.” And in the future, they can expect to see a drag queen, Jinkx Monsoon, as a villain who will be facing off against Gatwa’s Doctor.

At the third special’s conclusion, Tennant did not “regenerate” into Gatwa but split into two Time Lords — a fluke dubbed “bi-generation.” Thus, if the Gatwa character fizzles out with fans, Davies can shift the show’s focus back to Tennant’s character. But after his introduction, Gatwa then had to carry a whole episode on his own — and the ratings were less than impressive.

The first two specials with only Tennant as the Doctor had viewerships of 5.08 million and 4.83 million. Interest continued waning in “The Giggle,” which first brought Gatwa to the screen, with only 4.62 million viewers. Gatwa’s first solo episode, “The Church on Ruby Road,” climbed a mere 80,000 viewers to hit 4.7 million, according to the BBC.

According to That Park Place, “The Church on Ruby Road” is the second-lowest debut episode for any actor playing the Doctor, less than half of the viewers for his female predecessor’s introduction:

Gatwa’s debut ratings as the Doctor are the second worst in the show’s entire history. Jodie Whittaker’s debut episode “The Woman Who Fell to Earth” had overall viewership of 10.96 million.

The only Doctor debut that Gatwa’s debut beat was the first first episode of Doctor Who with William Hartnell as the First Doctor in “An Unearthly Child.” That episode, which aired back in 1963, premiered with 4.4 million viewers. However, Hartnell’s First Doctor would see viewership increase over the next 10 episodes. Initially, it increased to 5.9 million. In the third episode it went up to 6.9 million. By episode 7 it hit 8.9 million. With episode 8 it increased to 9.9 million. By episode 10 it hit 10.4 million.

Elsewhere in his interview with Variety, showrunner Davies touched upon the criticism of Doctor Who casting a “queer” actor to play the Doctor when it is a show that appeals to children (and will stream on Disney+).

“I think if you’re six years old, you don’t care — not at all,” the producer — who created Queer as Folk in the ’90s — said. “But nonetheless, as the world darkens — and I do think the world is darkening around queer rights — there is a joy and a celebration, and there’s a community.”

“Whether you’re 12 years old and just beginning to work out who you are, 62 years old and you’ve never been who you are, or 61 years old like I am and beginning to worry about where we are in society — there is a hero out there cutting his way through the universe, looking damn good in his suits and doing it with a laugh and a smile,” he added.

As Breitbart News reported, Gatwa promoted his first season as the star of Doctor Who with a litany of woke grievances, from “white mediocrity” to “transphobia.”

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and X/Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


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