Fifteenth Doctor

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Ncuti Gatwa

Facts

Name:

The Doctor

Species:

The Doctor’s species

First Appearance:

Contents

First Seen In:

The Giggle

Other Appearances:

The World Tree
First Day of the Doctor
Rose
Whotopia: The Ultimate Guide to the Whoniverse
Space Babies
The Devil’s Chord
Boom
73 Yards
Dot and Bubble
Rogue
The Legend of Ruby Sunday

Played by:

Ncuti Gatwa

Gallery

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Biography

The Fifteenth Doctor, freed from the emotional baggage and deteriorating mental state of his predecessor, journeyed the universe with invigorated optimism following a fabled bi-generation. Charismatic and adventurous, this incarnation of the Doctor would eagerly anticipate this new chapter in his life, even while knowing of the threats ahead, and soon became acquainted with “Ruby S” during his travels.

A DAY TO COME

The Fifteenth Doctor came into existence via a process previously believed to be a myth: bi-generation. While he did regenerate from the Fourteenth Doctor, that incarnation continued to exist once the Fifteenth Doctor came into being. However, the Fifteenth Doctor was indeed older than the Fourteenth, with the Fifteenth Doctor’s carefree attitude only being possible thanks to the retirement undertaken by the Fourteenth Doctor after the bi-generation. The Fifteenth Doctor even advised the Fourteenth to take the break to help recover from their billions of years of trauma; in effect, the Fifteenth Doctor came into existence before the therapy had even started, yet he had still learnt from that experience due to the Fourteenth Doctor being a prior incarnation. Seeing his successor’s emotional health helped convince the Fourteenth Doctor to undertake the retirement, which ensured the Fifteenth Doctor would come into being with the personality he did. As the Fifteenth Doctor summarised, The Doctor was thus “doing rehab out of order”. (The Giggle)

POST-REGENERATION

Atop the helipad attached to UNIT HQ in the City of London in late 2023, the Toymaker reasoned that under the Fourteenth Doctor’s “rules”, the third game they played in their “best of three” must be played with another incarnation. Thus, the Toymaker shot The Doctor full on with UNIT’s Galvanic Beam, initiating his regeneration; however, as Donna Noble and Melanie Bush rushed to his side, he found that he wasn’t regenerating as he typically would and asked them to pull on his arms. Doing so, the Fifteenth Doctor split out of the Fourteenth Doctor, in a process previously believed to be a myth: bi-generation.

After the Fifteenth Doctor cracked his neck and flirted with Mel, the Toymaker interrupted him, wanting to continue forcing The Doctor to bigenerate. The two Doctors challenged him to a game of catch, and while the Toymaker protested, believing this to be cheating, he was unable to justify why. The trio played the game, with the Fifteenth Doctor ultimately playing the winning throw after the Toymaker failed to catch the ball. As his prize, the Fourteenth Doctor chose to banish the Toymaker from existence.

The Fifteenth Doctor and Donna consoled the Fourteenth Doctor over the deaths caused by the Toymaker, with the Fifteenth Doctor giving his predecessor a reassuring hug, before walking back into the UNIT HQ. In the TARDIS, the Fifteenth Doctor explained to the Fourteenth Doctor that he needed a break, as ever since the First Doctor’s encounter with the Toymaker, they never stopped adventuring, not for a second. As the Fourteenth Doctor confided that he couldn’t leave the TARDIS behind while living on Earth, the Fifteenth Doctor realised that, as the Toymaker’s domain was still lingering and that he hadn’t yet claimed his prize, he could use a large wooden hammer to hit the exterior of the TARDIS, to duplicate it. The Fifteenth Doctor entered the original TARDIS, with the Fourteenth Doctor and Donna following him in to say goodbye. He began to dematerialise the TARDIS, so his predecessor and Donna left, leaving the Fifteenth Doctor to travel the universe. (The Giggle)

Shortly after, deciding that the attire of his previous incarnation “[wouldn’t] do”, The Doctor[nb 1] choose his new clothing in the TARDIS, selecting sturdy boots and a new hat. (Contents) He then had an adventure involving “Ruby S”, and following that, wrote in his diary about his first adventures, quoting himself saying “what the h[…] here?” (First Day of the Doctor)

The Fifteenth Doctor, early on, was aware a new chapter in his life was beginning, as he had a new face, friends and adventures to go on. He was aware that he had new threats and enemies to face, and that they had “no idea what [they’d] let themselves in for.” (“Heroes of Time”)

TRAVELLING WITH RUBY

On 22 December 2023, The Doctor wore a stetson to the same bar Ruby Sunday visited, but didn’t meet her, when the power went out. The next day, he went to a bar again, which Ruby was also in. She saw him dancing in a tank top and a kilt, and he caught her drink when she nearly knocked it over. He then saved her and her friends from a falling snowman decoration, saved a woman with a pram full of presents from it as well, before it collapsed on him.

On Christmas Eve, he saw Ruby again when he was following a Goblin ship and he saw her hanging off the ladder. They were then captured, but escaped once The Doctor figured out the language of the ropes, and tried to saved Carol’s foster baby called Lulubelle. They did that by singing and tricking the Goblin King, but when they returned, The Doctor realised Ruby didn’t exist. He then went back in time to the day she was abandoned to stop the Goblins from stealing her and undoing their altered timeline. She then joined him in the TARDIS. (The Church on Ruby Road)

FURTHER ADVENTURES

The Fifteenth Doctor arrived outside the Time Bubble containing Nora Wicker’s home on 16 December 2033. The Eleventh Doctor had secured his help after deciding to free Nora following the forty-six years she spent inadvertently trapped inside, each day looping over and over, as the Eleventh Doctor miscalculated the size of the bubble when he erected it to contain the seed of the World Tree that had landed in her garden on 19 August 1987.

After exiting his TARDIS, the Fifteenth Doctor waved to Nora and the Eleventh Doctor, then readied himself to use his sonic screwdriver at the same time as the Eleventh Doctor to produce a precise frequency to create a crack in the bubble. However, at the last possible moment, Nora confided to the Eleventh Doctor that she wanted to remain in the bubble to look after the tree, distracting the Eleventh Doctor and causing the sync to fail. The Fifteenth Doctor lowered his screwdriver and returned to the TARDIS, planning to return the next day, but ultimately did not as to respect Nora’s wishes. (The World Tree)

At some point prior to 5 March 2005, The Doctor was photographed on Earth. This photo would later be in the possession of Clive Finch. (Rose)

OTHER REALITIES
THE DAFT DIMENSION

In the Daft Dimension, the “new Doctor”, as mentioned by one fan, was among the exciting new developments of Doctor Who. (The Daft Dimension 579)

PSYCOLOGICAL PROFILE
PERSONALITY

The Fifteenth Doctor displayed an optimistic and adventurous outlook towards the future; (“Heroes of Time”, etc.) he was freed from the emotional baggage of his past, following the Fourteenth Doctor’s rehab on Earth; he was accepting of his losses, while fondly remembering his past loved ones. The Doctor was also flirtatious and charismatic. He was overjoyed meeting his predecessor and had an excellent relationship with him. He was sympathetic about the Fourteenth Doctor’s struggles and would hug him in comfort. (The Giggle)

The Fifteenth Doctor took pride in his status as a time traveller, taking offence when Ruby called the Goblin’s time travellers He corrected her that their time-surfing capabilities were a mere “bimble” in comparison to “cool” time travellers like himself. (The Church on Ruby Road)

SKILLS

The Fifteenth Doctor displayed sharp deductive and reasoning skills, being able to interpret a reading from his sonic screwdriver which detected a 2 carat diamond ring in the pocket of a policeman and deduce that he intended to propose to his girlfriend. (The Church on Ruby Road)

HABITS AND QUIRKS

The Fifteenth Doctor spoke with a unique Scottish-Rwandan accent, which meant that, unlike his predecessors, his accent did not originate solely from the British Isles. The Fifteenth Doctor wasn’t much for feeling embarrassment; spending his post bi-generation without trousers on. (The Giggle)

APPEARANCE

The Doctor had a “nice” new face which fitted well into place, with his hair being short and his nose being just right. His legs were firm and his eyes were bright. (Contents) He had dark skin and a thin black moustache. (The Giggle, “Heroes of Time, Rose etc.)

CLOTHING

Upon bi-generation, the Fifteenth Doctor split from his predecessor; taking some of his clothing. Wearing the Fourteenth’s dress shirt, The Doctor also ended up with his untied tie, underpants, socks and shoes. (The Giggle)

The Doctor wore the clothes of his predecessor for a short time and, believing them to be “off-the-peg”, he first pondered on wearing a frilly shirt and a scarf before deciding they were “over them” and “a touch too soon” respectively. The Doctor finally chose some sturdy boots, believing them to be handy for the Moon and a “nice” new hat. (Contents)

MAIN ATTIRES

The Fifteenth Doctor frequently wore a burnt orange double breasted leather trenchcoat, complete with pockets and belted cuffs. Additionally, he wore a striped zip-up cardigan, blue trousers, and a silver necklace and rings. (The Church on Ruby Road, “Heroes of Time”, etc.)

BEHIND THE SCENES
THE FOURTEENTH DOCTOR?

The BBC announcement revealing Ncuti Gatwa’s casting as The Doctor was worded ambiguously, with Gatwa’s Doctor only described as “the new Doctor”; he was not explicitly stated to be the Fourteenth Doctor, or the successor to Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor.[1][2] Nevertheless, numerous news outlets presumed that Gatwa’s incarnation would be the Fourteenth Doctor and incorrectly reported as such.

However, Whittaker’s final episode, The Power of the Doctor, depicted the Thirteenth Doctor regenerating into a new incarnation once again portrayed by Tenth Doctor actor David Tennant. After Power of the Doctor’s broadcast, Russell T Davies confirmed that Tennant’s new incarnation was the Fourteenth Doctor, and that Gatwa’s would follow as the Fifteenth.[7]

Gatwa was again incorrectly identified as the Fourteenth Doctor by the Channel 5 documentary Doctor Who: 60 Years of Secrets and Scandals which aired on 25 November 2023, shortly following the premiere of The Star Beast, the first full episode of Tennant’s run as the Fourteenth Doctor.

THE FIRST BLACK DOCTOR?

The Fifteenth Doctor was the first “main” ordinal incarnation of the Doctor in the programme’s history to be played by a black man, namely Rwandan-Scottish actor Ncuti Gatwa;[3][8] however, other black Doctors have previously appeared in The Doctor Who universe.

Comedian Lenny Henry was the very first non-white actor to portray The Doctor; in an untitled skit from an episode of The Lenny Henry Show broadcast on 3 October 1985, Henry portrayed a parodical Seventh Doctor. Upon Gatwa’s casting in 2022, Henry praised the development, noting “a lot of black fans have been looking at our watches for a while! More power to Russell T Davies.”[8] While Henry’s incarnation is not considered part of Doctor Who’s “main continuity”, it would take thirty-three more years for another black Doctor to appear in any media.

Russell T Davies’s novelisation of Rose, released on 5 April 2018, featured a photograph in conspiracy theorist Clive Finch’s possession that showed a tall, bald, black female Doctor who wielded a flaming sword.

The 2020 episode Fugitive of the Judoon introduced the “Fugitive Doctor”, a mysterious, previously unknown incarnation of the Doctor portrayed by BAME actor Jo Martin. This unseen incarnation, a predecessor to the First Doctor, joins the ranks of the eight other “pre-Hartnell” Doctors introduced in the 1976 serial The Brain of Morbius. Within the same series as Fugitive, several of the Timeless Children — seven youthful incarnations of the Doctor — were played by BAME child actors, most notably including the first.

In addition, various “bodyswaps” have been depicted wherein The Doctor temporarily possesses the body of a BAME individual, such as Daniel Anthony’s Clyde Langer being possessed by the Eleventh Doctor in Death of the Doctor, and Damian Lynch’s Benjamin Chikoto, who the Third Doctor uses as a means to communicate in Ghost in the Machine.

At the time of production for Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead, Steven Moffat secretly intended Doctor Moon to be a future Doctor, meaning that Colin Salmon would have been the first BAME actor to portray a main ordinal Doctor, although this was never revealed in any later work of fiction. In Showrunner Showdown in 2020, Moffat commented that he thought a version of this idea could still work and Russell T Davies revealed that he always thought of the character as The Doctor while watching the episode.

A QUEER INCARNATION?

Gatwa has the distinction of being the first openly queer actor to portray a mainline ordinal incarnation of the Doctor;[9] queer actor Mark Gatiss portrayed an non-ordinal Doctor in the parody skit The Web of Caves, while Geoffrey Bayldon portrayed an alternate universe Doctor in The Doctor Who Unbound audio series.

Though it remains to be seen if the Fifteenth Doctor himself is queer, co-star Neil Patrick Harris has described Gatwa as “the first gay Doctor”.[10] The question of which incarnation constitutes the “first gay Doctor” is a matter of debate; the friendship between the Thirteenth Doctor and Yasmin Khan became romantically tinged towards the end of the Chris Chibnall era, though the pair never explicitly expressed their attraction to one another, and the Eighth Doctor was implied to be non-heterosexual in the Eighth Doctor Adventures series of novels. Furthermore, many stories released in the 1990s and beyond reiterate that the Time Lords’ concept of gender differs to that of humanity.

APPEARANCES PRIOR TO HIS FIRST FULL TELEVISION STORY

Continuing the trend set by the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Doctors, the Fifteenth Doctor appeared multiple times in expanded media before his television debut.

Interestingly, the Fifteenth Doctor’s first appearance was technically before the Thirteenth Doctor’s television debut in The Woman Who Fell to Earth; he appeared implicitly in the 2017 poem Contents, as an ambiguous then-future Doctor with short hair, wherein this Doctor rummaged through a chest looking for a new costume, settling on a hat and boots. As revealed on the Official Doctor Who Twitter account, the Fifteenth Doctor does indeed have very short hair, wears a stetson,[11] and boots.[12]
His second appearance was also implicitly in the audio drama The World Tree, which, while ambiguous as to which future Doctor appeared in it, Nick Slawicz, the story’s author, confirmed that the Fifteenth Doctor was indeed The Doctor present in that story. Slawicz further explained that he didn’t consciously make the future Doctor ambiguous as the costume reveal hadn’t been revealed at the time of the final draft of the story.[13]
The pink-painted TARDIS that appeared as part of a cross-promotion exhibit with the 2023 film Barbie could be argued to be that of the Fifteenth Doctor, owing to the fact that Ncuti Gatwa also played a Ken in the film; Russell T Davies claimed the exhibit depicted genuine in-universe events.[14]
The first explicit appearance of the Fifteenth Doctor was in the short story First Day of the Doctor, which depicted an obscured diary entry of the Doctor written shortly after his first adventure.
The Fifteenth Doctor’s entry in the encyclopaedia Whotopia: The Ultimate Guide to the Whoniverse was styled as an inner monologue of the Doctor, wherein he reflected on the new friends and foes in his life.
Although not an appearance of the Fifteenth Doctor per se, Ncuti Gatwa appeared in-costume as The Doctor in a version of An Adventure in Space and Time broadcast on BBC Four on 23 November 2023 as part of William Hartnell’s (David Bradley) premonition of the future of Doctor Who, replacing Matt Smith’s role from the original version broadcast in 2013.
In the illustrated edition of the novelisation of Rose released on 23 November 2023, photographs of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Doctors were added to Clive Finch’s collection of photographs of the Doctor.

COSTUME

Ncuti Gatwa had a role in the costume chosen for the Fifteenth Doctor.[15]
The Fifteenth Doctor’s Christmas outfit has an overall retro appearance: his cardigan is Madcap England’s “Capitol 60s Mod Stripe Zip Polo” [16] and his trainers are Grenson’s “Sneaker 51”.[17]

MMERCHANDISE

Titan Merchandise, for MCM Comic Con, released an exclusive t-shirt, sweatshirt, cup and coaster using a promotional picture of the Fifteenth Doctor. These were later sold by Forbidden Planet.
A poster of the Fifteenth Doctor was included with Doctor Who Magazine #598.

OTHER MATTERS

THE WHOUNIVERSE INDENT

A clip of the Fifteenth Doctor was used in the Whoniverse ident released on 31 October 2023.
A version of Lee Sullivan’s The Usual Suspects? art piece including the Fifteenth Doctor was released on 21 October 2023 for the Adventures in Time and Space – 60 Years of Doctor Who Art Exhibition exhibition held at Weston Museum,[18] although there is no indication that this version of the artwork is licensed, although versions released earlier were.
Various pieces of fan art of the Fifteenth Doctor and Ruby were shared by the Official Doctor Who Twitter account under the #FanArtFriday and #DWFanArt hashtags.

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