Lenny Henry praises Russell T Davies for casting Ncuti Gatwa as Doctor Who – three years after he said BBC bosses would rather hire a DOG than a black Time Lord
Lenny Henry has praised Doctor Who’s returning showrunner Russell T Davies for casting Ncuti Gatwa as the show’s first black Time Lord.
Three years ago, Lenny ruffled feathers when he claimed BBC bosses would rather cast a dog than a person of colour in the role.
So the comedian, 63, shared his delight at the show’s new direction, however, stated that the TV industry still has a long way to go in promoting diversity.
Lauded: Lenny Henry has praised Doctor Who’s returning showrunner Russell T Davies for casting Ncuti Gatwa as the show’s first black Time Lord
Speaking to Radio Times about the casting, Lenny said: ‘A lot of black fans have been looking at our watches for a while! More power to Russell T Davies.
‘But with people like Kit, Steve McQueen, Malorie Blackman and our team on this – writer Shola Amoo and director Lynette Linton – we’re securing a future for British drama.
‘I grew up in a working-class neighbourhood in the Black Country – I want to see those stories. The Crown is great, but can we see ourselves on TV too?’
Lenny’s comments came after he criticised the BBC for the lack of diversity in Doctor Who that came after Russell left his role as showrunner in 2010.
Wow: Ncuti is likely to be catapulted into global stardom with the new role, as he is making history as both the youngest and first black actor to play the role (pictured with Russell)
After Lenny was offered a small role in the sci-fi show in 2019, he told London’s Colourful Radio that despite the introduction of Jodie Whittaker as the first female doctor, he thought the channel still had a long way to go when it came to promoting diversity.
Lenny said: ‘Why have we never had a black Doctor Who? They would rather have a dog do Doctor Who than a black person. There’s no black people in Doctor Who.
‘When Russell T Davis was doing Doctor Who there was so many black people in the show I rang up and said there are too many black people in the show — put in some white people, it’s getting embarrassing.’
He added: ‘We’re still a long way away. The ‘in’ group who are in charge of everything are getting complacent.’
Diversity: After Lenny was offered a small role in the sci-fi show in 2019 (pictured) he said the number of black people on the show had decreased since Russell left his post
Ncuti is set to take over the Doctor role following Jodie’s departure from the show at the end of 2022.
Attending the BAFTA Television awards shortly after the announcement, the actor received some words of encouragement from previous doctors Jodie and David Tennant.
Out now: Read the full interview in this week’s edition of Radio Times magazine
Taking to Instagram, he shared: ‘There are a lot of thank you’s in this caption so please excuse the cringe. But mans feeling hella grateful at the moment….
‘The Doctor herself, Jodie Whittaker and Mr David Tennant for your beautiful words of support and encouragement on BAFTA day,’ Ncuti wrote.
‘I was absolutely cacking my pants and honestly speaking to you two was priceless.’
He also thanked Russell, adding: ‘The Doctor Who fam: Russell, all the producers and the wonderful fans have been so gracious and welcoming. I am stunned and speechless at the support.’
Ncuti is likely to be catapulted into global stardom with the new role, as he is making history as both the youngest and first black actor to play the role.
End of an era: Ncuti is set to take over the Doctor role following Jodie Whittaker’s departure from the show at the end of 2022