Gatwa will be the first Black lead in the show’s 59-year history. Whittaker was the first woman. Previous Doctors include Peter Capaldi, Matt Smith, David Tennant, Christopher Eccleston, Peter Davison, Tom Baker (who played the role longer than anyone, and had the famous lengthy scarf, now ubiquitous at comic book conventions), and John Pertwee.
When William Hartnell, who played the first Doctor, suffered from deteriorating health in 1966, he decided to leave the popular series in its fourth season. Producers decided that since The Doctor was not of this Earth, he could “regenerate” into another form. Thus, not only did Patrick Troughton take over as the second Doctor, the show secured a method to keep the story going for decades, inspiring theatrically-released films, spin-off series like Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, radio programs, novels, comic books, and untold galaxies of fan fiction.
The next chapter in Doctor Who will also serve as a return for Russell T Davies as showrunner. Davies was responsible for reviving the franchise in 2005 after a 16-year hiatus. The creator and writer of other British hits such as Queer as Folk and A Very English Scandal left the franchise in 2010.
Davies referred to Gatwa’s audition for the role as “blazing,” according to the BBC’s report, and added that the Scottish actor “was our last audition. It was our very last one. We thought we had someone, and then in he came and stole it.”
The Guardian noted that, going forward, Doctor Who will not be produced in-house at the BBC but by a company called Bad Wolf Productions, headquartered in Wales, set up by former Doctor Who producers Julie Gardner and Jane Tranter, and majority owned by Sony Pictures Television.
Whatever changes occur behind the scenes, we trust they are wise enough not to exterminate the greatest theme song in the history of television.