EXCLUSIVE - 'We are VERY proud of him!': New Doctor Who Ncuti Gatwa's father - who brought his family to Britain to flee Rwandan genocide - tells of his joy at Sex Education actor being named as 14th Time Lord

  • New Doctor Who Ncuti Gatwa's parents are overjoyed their son is the timelord
  • Tharcisse Gatwa said he and wife Josephine are 'very proud' of son Ncuti, 29
  • The couple and their three children fled genocide in Rwanda for the UK in 1994
  • The family eventually moved to Dunfermline, Scotland, where they still live

New Doctor Who Ncuti Gatwa's father has told of his joy after his son became the first black actor to star in the lead role as the timelord.

Gatwa's incredible success is the latest chapter in a remarkable journey for a man who was a toddler when his parents fled to the UK from Rwanda to escape the genocide that killed more than one million people in an horrific civil war.

When his mother arrived in Scotland with her three children on Guy Fawkes night in 1994 and, having just escaped one war zone, she said she scared of the bangs, believing they were guns going off.

Speaking from the family's £300,000 home in Dunfermline, Scotland, Tharcisse Gatwa told Mailonline: ‘We are very proud. We have congratulated him. That’s all we can do. We are just so pleased. That is all we can say.

Beaming Tharcisse, a journalist who lives at the family home with Gatwa's mother Josephine, added: ‘There is nothing else we can add. We are not allowed. He has his profession and we have ours. 

'So we do not do any comments regarding this but we are, of course, very proud of him. As parents we are, of course, proud of Ncuti, of our children.’

Ncuti Gatwa's father Tharcisse (pictured) says he and wife Josephine are very proud of their son's accomplishments

Ncuti Gatwa's father Tharcisse (pictured) says he and wife Josephine are very proud of their son's accomplishments

Ncuti Gatwa and his mother Josephine pictured at the Newport Beach Film Festival in January 2020

Ncuti Gatwa and his mother Josephine pictured at the Newport Beach Film Festival in January 2020

Gatwa shared a childhood picture on Instagram as he celebrated his 28th birthday

Gatwa shared a childhood picture on Instagram as he celebrated his 28th birthday

Gatwa's early life in Scotland was blighted by a torrent of racist abuse when pupils at his school in Dunfermline launched a social media campaign urging his classmates; ‘Get the N***** out the school’.

The Sex Education star, 29, revealed how being subjected to racial abuse was ‘standard’ while he was growing in Dunfermline and that it took him a long time to learn to love Scotland. 

However Gatwa went on to become a rising star after he was cast as gay black teenager Eric Effiong in the hit Netflix comedy drama.

He revealed: ‘It was so normal for me to have racial abuse spat at me and then when I moved to Dunfermline, there was a group of boys that made up a racist social media page geared at me. It was like, “Get the n***** out the school”.

‘I remember coming home that day and when my mum came home that day it wasn’t the most empathetic responses. I remember she was like, “get on with it”.’

Gatwa posted a picture after an emotional visit back to Rwanda

Gatwa posted a picture after an emotional visit back to Rwanda

He revealed: ‘I was like, you can’t know me and not like me. I was actually quite confused! I was like, what? These people don’t like me? I was like, that’s never happened before.

‘So I was like, OK, fine. I’m just going to carry on being myself and they’re going to fall in love with me sooner or later. And they did.’

Incredibly he became friends with the boys who set up the page.

‘It was really a good lesson to me about the difference between hate and ignorance,’ he explained.

‘Obviously their behaviour was inexcusable. But at the same time, I was the first black person that they probably saw in real life.’

They ended up apologising profusely for what they had done and Ncuti puts his own resilience down to his mother.

‘My mum really toughened me up. I grew up watching her move to this country with three kids on her back.

‘She couldn’t speak the language, didn’t know the culture, no money, no nothing – and she raised all three of us. As cheesy as it sounds, I’ve been watching strength from young. My mum has dealt with so much s**t.’

He said the abuse made him so isolated he believed he was the ‘only black person in Scotland’.

Gatwa went on to become a rising star after he was cast as gay black teenager Eric Effiong in the hit Netflix comedy Sex Education (Pictured: Ncuti Gatwa as Eric alongside co-star Asa Butterfield as Otis in Sex Education)

Gatwa went on to become a rising star after he was cast as gay black teenager Eric Effiong in the hit Netflix comedy Sex Education (Pictured: Ncuti Gatwa as Eric alongside co-star Asa Butterfield as Otis in Sex Education)

Gatwa has attended this year's BAFTA TV Awards ceremony alongside returning Doctor Who writer Russell T Davies after it was confirmed that he will take over from Jodie Whittaker as the Time Lord in the hit BBC series.

It was revealed that the 29-year-old will become the 14th Doctor on the popular sci-fi show, after Whittaker announced last July she will be leaving the role this autumn.

Gatwa is the first black actor to take on the leading role as The Doctor, after Jodie made history as the first permanent female Time Lord in 2017.

Jo Martin played the first black incarnation of the Time Lord in a January 2020 episode, Future of the Judoon, as Ruth Clayton, but Gatwa has become the first black Doctor to be cast as the series lead.

The new Dr Who said he could not find the words to describe his joy at landing the role.

He said: ‘There aren't quite the words to describe how I'm feeling. ‘A mix of deeply honoured, beyond excited and of course a little bit scared. This role and show means so much to so many.’

The actor said the racism he experienced while living in Fife made it difficult for him to fit in, but he says he now considers himself Rwandan-Scottish.

He said: ‘I thought I was the only black Scottish person in the world. I definitely felt growing up that I wasn’t seen as the same as anyone around me because no one around me looked like me.

‘There were no black Scottish role models. Like I said I thought I was the only black Scottish person in the world.

‘I was born in Rwanda. Landscape wise it looks like Scotland. We came because of the genocide that happened in Rwanda in ’94.

Ncuti Gatwa attends the British Academy Television Awards yesterday
Gatwa at day nine of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in July 2019

Ncuti Gatwa, 29, at the British Academy Television Awards yesterday (left) and attending the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in July 2019 (right)

‘Yeah, we were refugees coming to the UK and I definitely now view myself as a Rwandan Scotsman.

‘I’ve always been a bit scared to say that I’m Scottish because it’s almost as if people wouldn’t believe me or people wouldn’t buy that from me or people wouldn’t accept it.

‘And so now I think nobody has got the right to tell you what you are. You just are who you are.’

Gatwa talked about his experiences in a 2019 BBC documentary ‘Black & Scottish’, made by Ugandan-Scottish filmmaker, Stewart Kyasimire.

He said his upbringing saw him negotiate the difficulties of living parallel lives – bible study at home while getting up to all the usual teenage mischief when he was out of the house.

His talent for acting saw him join the Dundee Rep while at school and he ended up studying for a BA in acting at the Royal Conservatoire in Glasgow.

After enjoying some initial success in a TV adaptation of the Ian Banks novel Stonemouth, Ncuti returned from a tour in the USA to find himself out of work and out of luck in his new home of London.

In an interview with The Big Issue, he revealed the agonies he endured as his dreams appeared to be fizzling out.

‘Moving into a new place meant paying the deposit and first month’s rent,’ he said. ‘I started temping but had to take time off to audition for roles I wasn’t getting.

‘When I didn’t get enough temping work, I fell behind on my rent. By the end of my second month of unemployment, I was out of savings.

‘Being a 25-year-old man with no money or job affected my sense of self-worth. Rejection became unbearable. Auditions weren’t just acting jobs, they were lifelines.’

His sense of desperation was made more acute knowing the sacrifices his parents had made for him.

‘I couldn’t tell my parents because I already felt like a mess up, he said. ‘I’d been warned that acting was an unstable profession and knew my parents couldn’t support me financially.

‘I had assured them I was going to work as hard as possible to make this career happen so their hard work, as immigrants who fled Rwanda and sacrificed everything for me, wouldn’t be in vain. But I was falling short on my promise. I felt guilty, ashamed, a bit pathetic.’

He was helped by two incredible friends who gave him sofas to sleep on and money for food but the kindness couldn’t stop him slipping into depression.

‘Sofa surfing is tough,’ he said. ‘No matter how nice your friends are there is a limit. I could see the strain I was putting on them.

‘It felt awful being that guy – using the electric and water but not contributing. And sharing a bed with someone you’re not intimate with, no matter how close you are or how nice they are, gets annoying.

‘I developed depression. But I never let people know how down I was feeling. That would have been another burden for my friends to take on.’

His fortunes changed when he landed the part of Eric Effoing, a gay teenager from a Nigerian-Ghanaian background and best friend to Otis, a student turned sex therapist in Netflix’s Sex Education.

It became a huge cult hit and after flying back from the New York launch Ncuti went from having fewer than 1,000 followers on Instagram to over 200,000.

As well as adding followers, the show gave him money in the bank. Accounts for his company Gemini Moon Limited show he amassed assets of more than £775,000 last year.

Now his future seems secure with the announcement by the BBC that he will be the 14th person to star as Dr Who.

Speaking about landing the iconic role, he said: ‘‘There aren't quite the words to describe how I'm feeling. ‘A mix of deeply honoured, beyond excited and of course a little bit scared. ‘This role and show means so much to so many, including myself, and each one of my incredibly talented predecessors has handled that unique responsibility and privilege with the utmost care. I will endeavour my utmost to do the same.’

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Father of new Doctor Who Ncuti Gatwa tells of his family's joy after his son is named as Time Lord 

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