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Doctor Who’s Ncuti Gatwa: Check out his vibrant Attitude cover shoot, in 6 iconic images

Exclusive: "I'm now just learning not to care what other people think" says the Sex Education and Doctor Who star in our interview

By Jamie Tabberer

Ncuti Gatwa in shots from his Attitude photoshoot (Image: Attitude/Melanie Lehmann)
Ncuti Gatwa in shots from his Attitude photoshoot (Image: Attitude/Melanie Lehmann)

Doctor Who‘s Ncuti Gatwa is Attitude’s latest cover star, and appears in a vibrant, fashion-forward photoshoot as our magazine celebrates 30 years on shelves.

The actor – also known for roles in Sex Education and Barbie – is joined in our celebratory issue, which is on sale now, by everyone from Spice Girl Mel B to Gossip frontwoman Beth Ditto.

In his accompanying interview, Ncuti reflects on everything from his latest role in the iconic BBC show to his experience of intersectional identities and learning to accept love.

“I think I’m just learning now like: ‘Oh, you are allowed to be loved'” – Ncuti Gatwa

On why the world needs the Doctor’s kindness now more than ever, Ncuti told us: “The Doctor is constantly fighting for every life, even his villains.

Ncuti on the latest cover of Attitude (Image: Attitude/Melanie Lehmann)

“He shows mercy and compassion to all because he understands that there’s a need for everything, and that we need each other. It’s really nice to have a show like Doctor Who running after all these years in this era that we are in now.”

Reflecting on how his character Eric in Sex Education taught him to be braver, he said: “Eric ended up being that little surprise that teaches you more than you could ever teach him. That’s what it ended up being to me. He taught me to be braver.”

The 31-year-old’s Doctor Who casting was announced in 2022 (Image: Attitude/Melanie Lehmann)

The star also opened up about his attitude to love, saying: “I was very, very emotionally avoidant. I strictly emotionally avoided everything my whole twenties. I was catching up with my sister the other day, and I was like, ‘I think from the way that we were raised, I think we were taught that we have to earn love.’ Instead of it being an unconditional thing or that being an unconditional entity. I’m not saying it is that.

“I don’t know whether that comes from that African upbringing, that strict upbringing: get your grades, get into a good uni, become a doctor, become a lawyer. Start overachieving. It was like you have to prove why you’re lovable. We’re trained to be like, ‘If I’m not exceptional, I won’t be loved.’ Certainly, I think that was my thing.

In his Attitude interview, Ncuti reveals all about Doctor Who and Sex Education (Image: Attitude/Melanie Lehmann)

“So, yeah, I think I’m just learning now like, ‘Oh, you are allowed to be loved.’ You don’t have to be excellent or aspire to that term, ‘Black excellence’. What the hell? There’s so much white mediocrity that gets celebrated, and Black people, we have to be absolutely flawless to get half of [that] anyway. So, I’m slowly training myself out of that and being like, ‘No shit. You deserve love just for existing.’ And that has taught me to be a lot more loving as well, in a weird way.”

On how therapy has helped him address his internalised homophobia, the 31-year-old explained: “I didn’t really realise I had any internalised homophobia until I came into the public eye. I always thought that I was the most free-spirited person. No one could tell me what to do. I do whatever I want.

Ncuti is joined in issue 358 by Spice Girl Mel B and Gossip frontwoman Beth Ditto (Image: Attitude/Melanie Lehmann)

“Until I came into the public eye [and] I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t know.’ It is an ever-evolving journey… What I can do is try each day to tackle that and become more proud of who I am, fully. But it’s a long old slog.”

Speaking about racist reactions to the Doctor being cast as a Black man, Ncuti furthermore added: “It’s not something I’ll avidly keep up on. The hate? It is kind of fascinating to me because there’s so much energy they’re putting into it… I think they need to go find a hobby is one thing.

Doctor Who season 14 will begin on Saturday 11 May 2024 (Image: Attitude/Melanie Lehmann)

“But another thing is that we do see a shift happening in casting, in positions of power and in the status quo. I mean, not a fast shift, things could tip over the other way a little bit quicker, but you see people kind of malfunctioning because things are changing.”

Doctor Who season 14 will begin on Saturday 11 May 2024. Issue 358 of Attitude magazine is available to order online here, and alongside 15 years of back issues on the free Attitude app.