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Ncuti Gatwa: New Doctor Who star suffered campaign of racist abuse at Fife school

Ncuti Gatwa, Dunfermline High School, Fife
Ncuti Gatwa says he was exposed to racist abuse while at Dunfermline High School

Fife-raised actor Ncuti Gatwa, who was announced as the new Doctor on Sunday, was forced to endure a campaign of racist abuse while attending Dunfermline High School.

The 29-year-old, who also worked at Dundee Rep, has previously spoken of how pupils at the school created a social media page about him titled ‘Get the n****r out of the school’.

In 2019, the Sex Education star shared his story of racist abuse in the BBC documentary Black and Scottish.

The 30-minute programme, which was directed by Ugandan-Scots filmmaker Stewart Kyasimire, showcased the experiences of black people living in Scotland.

Racial abuse felt ‘normal’

Gatwa said: “It was so normal for me to have racial abuse spat at me and then when I moved to Dunfermline, there were a group of boys who made up a racist social media page geared at me.

“It was like, ‘Get the n****r out the school’.

Ncuti Gatwa as Eric Effiong, Asa Butterfield as Otis Milburn in Netflix's Sex Education.
Ncuti Gatwa as Eric Effiong, Asa Butterfield as Otis Milburn in Netflix’s Sex Education.

“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’.

“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.”

‘He wanted out of Fife’

Kyasimire added: “Ncuti has talked to me at length about the racism he endured.

“But to have a social media page dedicated to getting the ‘N’ word out the school, it takes a lot to be able to do something like that.

“It did break him a little bit because these kids were cruel and the kids did treat him like c**p.

Ncuti Gatwa as Eric Effiong in Episode 6 of Sex Education Season 3.

“He was very young. He would have been 15 years old. When I heard about that from Ncuti, I realised that before the internet this might have been some graffiti.

“He said he would walk out the door and people would be racist to him. It was natural and standard for him to get that racism.

“He wanted out of Fife where he was living because it wasn’t inclusive.”

Actor began career in Dundee

Gatwa first came to Scotland with his family in 1994 in order to escape the ongoing genocide in his home nation of Rwanda.

He was based partly in Fife, where he attended Dunfermline High School.

Despite the constant abuse, Gatwa focused on his love of acting and soon began working with the Dundee Rep, where he earned praise for his performances in plays such as Hecuba and Victoria.

Gatwa has been praised for his performance in Sex Education.

While working at the playhouse, the young actor landed a role in the 2014 sitcom Bob Servant alongside Dundee legend Brian Cox.

He would later go on to star in a TV adaptation of the Ian Banks novel Stonemouth, before being picked for a leading role in Netflix’s Sex Education.

Gatwa has scooped multiple awards for his portrayal of the show’s loveable Eric Effoing, impressing both fans with his comedic chops and endearing energy.

It was announced on Sunday that he will be the next actor to play the leading role in Doctor Who, taking over from Jodie Whittaker.

Dundee Rep.

Gatwa 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 around the world, 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 upmost to do the same.”

Dundee Rep has congratulated the actor on his incredible success, saying on Facebook: “We’re so proud of Ncuti Gatwa, former Rep Graduate Actor, who has just been named as the new Doctor.

We're SO proud of Ncuti Gatwa, former Rep Graduate Actor, who has just been named as the new Doctor🤩📺 The 2nd Rep Grad…

Posted by Dundee Rep Theatre on Sunday, 8 May 2022

“The 2nd Rep Grad Actor to step into the Tardis and take on the iconic role… not bad, eh?

“Congrats and all the best Ncuti, we’re absolutely thrilled for you!”

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