Doctor Who's Sacha Dhawan opens up on pressure of playing The Master

Sam Warner
·3-min read
Photo credit: Ben Blackall - BBC
Photo credit: Ben Blackall - BBC

From Digital Spy

Doctor Who star Sacha Dhawan has opened up about the immense pressure he felt playing The Master on the show amid his struggles with anxiety.

The actor has portrayed the latest incarnation of the Whoniverse villain since last year, though has admitted that he felt "sad" when he initially landed the role.

"My agent was ecstatic," he recalled to The Guardian. "The BBC was ecstatic. I put the phone down and I couldn't have felt more sad."

Photo credit: Ben Blackall - BBC
Photo credit: Ben Blackall - BBC

Related: Doctor Who's Sacha Dhawan responds to fan campaign

The star explained: "I would be the first British South Asian actor to play The Master. So I'm kind of representing not only the Whoniverse but my community. And if I f**k this up, they aren't going to be casting another South Asian actor for this."

Dhawan also spoke about his mental health struggles, adding: "The saddest thing in this business is that no-one will know if you have something like anxiety, because you always have to have this confidence on set.

"No-one will know you've been sitting in your trailer, not eating your lunch because you're trying to sleep because you want to switch the anxiety off. The heartache I'd go through before a scene – worrying that I wouldn't deliver – was traumatic."

Photo credit: Ben Blackall - BBC
Photo credit: Ben Blackall - BBC

Related: BBC responds to report Jodie Whittaker is leaving Doctor Who

The actor revealed that he sought help for his anxiety during lockdown, continuing: "It was f**king scary. Especially since us guys aren't very good at talking about these things.

"And the South Asian community aren't very good about talking about these things either. In some way, you're conditioned to feel like a bit of a failure, that you're letting your community down a bit."

Dhawan went on to admit that much of his anxiety came from what he felt was a "confused" sense of identity, adding: "The pressure of being British South Asian, is that it feels like you're not just doing it for yourself but the entire community.

"It feels like your success is everyone's success, but your failures are also everyone's failure. It shouldn't be like that any more. You should feel confident enough to take risks."

Doctor Who airs on BBC One in the UK and BBC America in the US. Series 13 is due to premiere later this year.

We would encourage anyone who identifies with the topics raised in this article to reach out. Organisations who can offer support include Samaritans on 116 123 ( or Mind on 0300 123 3393 ( Readers in the US are encouraged to visit

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