Indira Varma to Play Mysterious 'Duchess' In 'Doctor Who' Season 14 Regency Adventure

Jonathan Groff, Millie Gibson, and Ncuti Gatwa dressed in Regency era costumes standing on a staircase

Jonathan Groff, Millie Gibson, and Ncuti Gatwa dressed for the Regency era in an episode from the upcoming Season 14.


Although we’re still months away from Doctor Who’s sixtieth-anniversary celebration later this year and several more beyond that from the first full season with Ncuti Gatwa’s Doctor (whatever number they end up calling him), the folks behind the scenes are not wasting any time getting fans excited for this new era of the iconic sci-fi series. 

From a steady stream of official photos in a variety of fun new costumes to a bevy of high-profile casting announcements, it seems like showrunner Russell T. Davies certainly has no intention of taking his proverbial foot off the gas when it comes to keeping viewer interest high in the lead up to the show’s return. 

A slew of guest stars have already been announced for Season 14, including the return of fan-favorite Jemma Redgrave, who is set to represent her role as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart before presumably moving on to that forthcoming UNIT spinoff. New faces include Aneurin Barnard (1899), Anita Dobson (EastEnders), Michelle Greenidge (It’s a Sin), Jinkx Monsoon (RuPaul’s Drag Race), and Jonathan Groff (Hamilton). And, now, former Game of Thrones star Indira Varma has been confirmed for a “mysterious new role” known only as The Duchess.

Though many viewers likely remember Varma as Thrones character Ellaria Sand, this isn’t her first time in the world of the Whoniverse. She initially played Suzie on Doctor Who spinoff series Torchwood. Though her character was killed off in the first episode, that didn’t keep her from returning to the role several times, including several Big Finish audio dramas.

“I’m thrilled to be in Doctor Who and particularly excited to be crossing cosmic paths with Ncuti as the Doctor, and I look forward to creating interplanetary mischief with him. I loved playing Suzie Costello for Russell T. Davies in Torchwood, so I am thrilled to be entering this world again.”

Few details about her villainous-sounding Duchess have been revealed. Still, given that the character was referenced during the release of several promo photos depicting Gatwa’s Doctor, companion Millie Gibson, and upcoming guest star Groff in period costume, it seems safe to assume that she’ll be their primary adversary during their Regency-set adventure.

“I’m overjoyed to be reunited with Indira after our Torchwood days, and this part is truly spectacular!” Davies said in a statement. “A whole new audience will hide behind the settee when the Duchess unleashes her terror.”

Doctor Who will return in November for a trio of special episodes celebrating the series’ 60th anniversary. Though we don’t have firm airdates for those episodes just yet, they are expected to day and date on both sides of the pond when they debut on BBC One and Disney+. Gatwa’s first episode as the Doctor will air over the festive period, and Season 14 is slated to premiere in 2024.

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality, and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast, and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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