Doctor Who producers, casting director and Millie Gibson revealed new details about the characterisation and casting of the Fifteenth Doctor and his companion Ruby Sunday in Doctor Who Magazine 586.
The Fifteenth Doctor:
Showrunner Russell T Davies revealed in a DWM Zoom interview which included executive producers Phil Collinson, Julie Gardner and Jane Tranter “as a rule, we were looking for younger – most of the people we saw were under 30 – but not as a definite rule, and kind of new talent.”
Collinson said “We saw men, we saw women, we saw one non-binary actor.”
There was another talented actor in contention for the role who had already read on a prior day.
“I think, as we were heading towards the end of the final day, Russell and I were thinking, “It’s going to be that person, isn’t it?,” Collinson continued. “And then in walked Ncuti [Gatwa] and absolutely stole the part. He took control of it and did things with it that I’d never seen an actor playing Doctor Who do. It was just extraordinary.”
In fact, Gatwa was the very last person to audition.
“I don’t think I’ll ever forget that audition tape,” added Tranter. “Because I hadn’t been given a tip-off. Russell and Phil hadn’t said, ‘All eyes are on Ncuti.’ They just sent them all through, and it was the most extraordinary audition I’ve ever seen. I didn’t even clock that it was Eric. He was the Doctor.”
In a separate article in the same magazine, Mille Gibson spoke of Ncuti Gatwa.
“He’s got such an infectious energy and personality. I think that’s what Ruby bounces off as well. Their dynamic is… childlike in some ways. Like two schoolgirls gossiping in the corner. It’s that sort of friendship. But Ncuti is just… radiant. Even the clothes they’ve got him in. It’s going to be absolutely incredible. Honestly, what an entrance it’s going to be when he finally comes on screen. I can’t wait to see it.”
In a separate DWM interview, casting director Andy Pryor said “we knew that Ruby would be young”.
18-year-old Manchester native Millie Gibson will use her own Mancunian accent as Ruby Sunday, who will also be a Manchester native. The dialogue written for Ruby Sunday in Davies’ scripts will reflect this.
“I’d say the haircut is important,” Gibson teased to DWM. “I think Ruby’s a bit punky, a bit spiky. Jane, the executive producer, really described it well to me – she said: ‘Ruby’s one of those girls that will go to a charity shop and pick the best item off the rack.’”
Gibson had an in-person audition on 24 September, 2022.
“The auditions were done in these funny little Bad Wolf offices we have in London,” Jane Tranter revealed. “She was brilliantly confident and centred and just a shining star. The wattage of her stardom is very, very bright.”
Gibson had this to say in her DWM interview:
“I got a callback, inviting me to an audition in London. They said I’d be meeting Ncuti, Russell, Phil and Andy Pryor, the casting director. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh – what a room!’ I was shaking. I’m never usually that nervous for auditions – I always think, it either happens or it doesn’t. But it’s just because I cared so much, and I wanted to make a good impression.”
“They were seeing what the chemistry was like, how [Ncuti and I] bounce off each other with the lines, etcetera. That was another thing I was nervous about – because you know chemistry as soon as you walk into the room. So if it doesn’t happen, you’d know straight away, and they’d know it, too. But what’s so great about Ncuti is, a stranger could bounce off him without even knowing him. He’s just so beautifully talented, in that aspect. He’s the perfect Doctor. And I’ll try to be the perfect companion.”
“We showed those auditions tapes to the BBC and to Disney, and everyone instantly went, ‘Millie, Millie, Millie’,” Russell T Davies gushed to DWM.
Doctor Who returns in November 2023 with three 60th anniversary specials starring David Tennant as the Fourteenth Doctor. In the following festive period, Ncuti Gatwa will star in his first full Doctor Who episode as the Fifteenth Doctor.