In a shock move, actress Millie Gibson has been dropped from playing the Doctor’s companion Ruby Sunday on Doctor Who after just a single series. Gibson was set to continue in the role for the upcoming 60th anniversary season of the long-running BBC sci-fi series. However, showrunner Russell T Davies made the last-minute decision to write out the character and bring in a new companion instead.
Gibson “Gutted” By Sudden Exit
Just 18-years-old, Gibson had landed the coveted role of Ruby Sunday, the Doctor’s spunky northern sidekick, last year. She starred opposite outgoing Doctor Jodie Whittaker and incoming Doctor Ncuti Gatwa in an action-packed 2023 New Year’s special, which marked Gatwa’s debut as the Time Lord.
By all accounts, Gibson’s performance was well-received and the young actress was looking forward to continuing her Doctor Who journey. However, in a shock turn of events, new reports have emerged that Gibson’s character has been abruptly written out after just one appearance. No official reason was given for Gibson’s sudden departure.
Speaking to sources close to the production, Gibson is said to be “absolutely gutted” by the news. The actress had called landing the part of Ruby “a gift” and was hugely excited to film the upcoming 60th anniversary season with Gatwa. Having the role taken away from her so quickly has reportedly left the young star devastated.
New Companion Steps In
With Gibson out, newcomer Varada Sethu has been brought in to take over companion duties. Sethu is best known for her scene-stealing performance as the spirited Cinta Kaz in Disney+’s Star Wars spy thriller Andor.
The India-born British actress impressed many with her ability to hold her own against the likes of Diego Luna and Stellan Skarsgård during her guest role on the hit series. Now 26-years-old, Sethu brings plenty of screen presence and charisma to the table. Her worldly background should mesh well with Gatwa’s more eccentric Doctor.
Announcing the casting change, Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies stated:
“The Doctor always travels with the most wonderful people, but sometimes, just sometimes, the TARDIS brings home someone so bright, so sparky, so fabulous – they change destinies forever. Varada steps onto those blue boards and plants her flag in Doctor Who history.”
Why Was Millie Gibson Dropped?
The exact reasons behind Gibson’s abrupt exit remain unclear. The actress herself has so far not made any public comment. One report claimed Gibson was let go after rubbing fellow cast and crew members the wrong way with “difficult behavior” on set. However, individuals close to Gibson have strongly denied this rumor.
Another speculative theory is that Davies simply decided he wanted an older, more experienced actress in the companion role alongside Gatwa’s relatively young Doctor. At 31-years-old, Sethu certainly brings more life experience to the TARDIS. With Doctor Who undergoing a major regeneration both in front of and behind the cameras, it’s possible Davies felt the need for a steadying presence beside his new Doctor. If this is the case, cutting Gibson loose would have been a ruthless move on Davies’ part.
|18 years old
|26 years old
|Some previous roles including Andor
|1 episode as Ruby Sunday
What’s Next For Gibson and Sethu?
For Gibson, this disappointing setback looks likely to stall her career momentum in the short term. Prior to Doctor Who, Gibson was best known for playing troubled teen Kelly Neelan in ITV’s long-running soap Coronation Street. Her nuanced performance earned her Best Young Performer at the 2022 Inside Soap Awards.
With Ruby Sunday being written out after a single episode, Gibson joins a small and rather unfortunate club of actors who had their Doctor Who stints abruptly cut short. Hopefully this early career check does not damage Gibson’s prospects going forward too severely. She clearly has talent and star quality that should carry her onto brighter things before too long.
As for Sethu, she faces sky-high expectations stepping into the TARDIS as the newest companion. Hardcore Doctor Who fans can be notoriously tough on newcomers. If Sethu fails to make her mark, she risks facing the same kind of vitriol previous companions such Bill Potts and Martha Jones endured from portions of the fandom.
However, based on the praise Sethu earned for her limited but memorable role in Andor, there is clearly talent and charisma to burn. If she can harness that spark alongside Gatwa’s explosive Doctor, this could prove a dream pairing that takes Doctor Who to new heights.
What Does This Mean For Doctor Who Going Forward?
Behind the scenes, this last-minute companion shake-up may point to chaos brewing as Doctor Who undergoes massive changes. Showrunner duties have transferred from Chris Chibnall back to Russell T Davies, who revitalized the series from 2005-2010. Star Jodie Whittaker has also now regenerated into Ncuti Gatwa’s incoming Doctor.
Adding a companion swap into the mix signals that Davies perhaps does not yet have a firm grip on his vision for this new era. If so, there could be further major upheavals ahead.
Long-term, the key question is whether this latest bout of TARDIS turbulence will stabilize or see Doctor Who plunge back into the ratings and critical doldrums that have plagued it for much of the past decade. On the plus side, Gatwa and now Sethu make for an exciting, fresh pairing brimming with potential.
However, behind-the-scenes chaos this close to the 60th anniversary suggests the ongoing battle to revitalize this beloved British institution for the 2020s will continue to encounter painful growing pains. Both Gatwa and Sethu now carry heavy burdens on their young shoulders as the future of this iconic sci-fi series depends greatly on whether their partnership can capture viewers’ hearts.
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