Doctor Who News 8th Doctor

Published on October 8th, 2013 | by Nick Kitchen

McGann Would’ve Returned in 2005

Holy smokes! According to the panel conversation at the BFI screening of Doctor Who: The Movie, the 2005 series could have turned out remarkably different. The story, as we all know it now, is that Russell T. Davies successfully brought back Doctor Who with Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor, after a failed attempt at a revival with the American made TV pilot, Doctor Who: The Movie, starring the freshly regenerated Eighth Doctor played brilliantly by Paul McGann. What if RTD had gone a different route? What if he had redeemed the Eighth Doctor and brought him back for the revived series? Would McGann have been onboard? Well, the question has been answered.

When asked at the BFI panel session if he would have resumed the role of the Doctor had RTD approached him, he answered with a “resounding ‘yes’”:

“It was really easy to get into the character of the Doctor, and daunting too.”

He also mentioned during the discussion that he had been prepared to play the part for several years and had imagined portraying the Doctor along the same lines of what Eccleston would eventually do in the revival series, shorter hair and leather jacket in tow! But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Thankfully, McGann has been able to continue the adventures of the Eighth Doctor in the audio adventures, but it would have been great to see him in the role again (maybe a little something for the 50th?).

Now I pose the question to you: would you have rather seen McGann get the nod with the 2005 series? Or are you happier that RTD went ahead with the Ninth Doctor and Christopher Eccleston?

(via Yahoo TV UK.)


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About the Author


“That’s bacon! Are you trying to poison me?” And from that line on, I’ve been unable to stop watching, reading, musing about the Doctor. As a recent transplant to the Whoniverse, I’ve been trying to soak up as much Who-related knowledge as possible. That journey has taken me from the Tenth Planet to the Fields of Trenzalore and gently set me at the edge of my seat for what’s next. It’s an honor to be here and I plan to bring a unique perspective. I hope you’ll enjoy the journey alongside me.

55 Responses to McGann Would’ve Returned in 2005

  1. avatar derekbd says:

    It’s a bit pointless to speculate on the past without a TARDIS at hand. While I would love to see/have seen McGann do a proper series I would not want to be without Eccleston’s terrific portrayal. While we cannot actually know that a McGann series in 2005 would have been as successful as Eccleston, I don’t see how he could have possibly been any more so.

  2. McGann is a fantastic actor and a great Doctor and I would have loved to see him stay in the roll. However, I really thought Eccleston was brilliant too. I have mixed feelings. I just wish that RTD had brought him back for a Two Doctors kind of thing, because he really is loved by many and he didn’t get a second chance to be the Doctor again after the TV Movie. Hope to see him in a cameo in the 50th.

  3. avatar Bob James says:

    I love what RTD and Christopher Eccleston did with Doctor Who in the 2005 revival. It was very nearly perfect, and that’s as near as you can ever get. Everything beyond expectations that was needed to bring the show back. But would I have rather it been Paul McGann in the role when the series was brought back? Absofuckinglutely. RTD and Steven Moffat have expressed respect for McGann, with RTD even rather forcefully reaffirming him as the official Eighth Doctor, but I don’t feel that either has given him his due, even remotely. I’m sure each had a rationale, but it’s my opinion that they have been horribly neglectful of an incarnation and an actor who could have contributed so much more. I would have gladly seen the flashbacks, and the hitherto unknown incarnation aspect of the Doctor cast aside for just one encore from Paul. But, alas, it didn’t happen, and it’s not going to happen, and I appreciate what we have and what we are going to be given. Thank God for Big Finish, and thanks to Paul for staying involved.

    • avatar FrancoPabloDiablo says:

      Remember, McGann never got a regeneration scene. He could be 90 years old and still reprise the role and it wouldn’t matter one jot as we don’t know where he was in his life when he changed into 9. I believe it will happen, hopefully sooner than later. McGann is the ONLY Doctor pre-2005 that could reprise the role at any time in the future and need no explanation regarding appearance! I believe it WILL happen – eventually :)

  4. avatar Colin says:

    I agree with the above, that McGann was great and while it would have been wonderful to see him continue the part in 2005, Eccleston was also great. I don’t know that I would change the 2005 series. It would have been nice to have more McGann between 1996 and 2005, especially if it could be done with the values (and to the script standards) of the 2005 series.

    I still think they could do a Summer mini-series of Eighth Doctor stories, perhaps adapt some of the novels. That would at least give us some more Eighth Doctor screen time without interrupting the continuity of the series. Just a thought, Moff, if you’re reading (The Moff reads Kasterborous for all his Who news and tips, of course! ;) )

    • avatar Christine says:

      A (summer) mini-series of the 8th? Wonderful! Excellent idea! .

  5. avatar Paul says:

    I would have love to see more McGann on screen but, although not The 9th Doctor’s biggest fan, I think bringing the Doctor back without any baggage from the past initially was the master stroke in making the revival successful. Probably had a previous incarnation started off then it would have bogged the series down with continuity from the outset and general viewers would have switched off in droves. It’s fine now to drip feed elements of the Classic series into NuWho, but back then I think it could have killed it off forever.

    • avatar Bob James says:

      You’re most probably correct. And that was RTD’s thinking apparently as well. I just wish they would have given him a return performance later. But nearly 10 years on from the show’s return, they haven’t seen fit to do so.

  6. The would’ve, should’ve game is so hard to play. Yes, I would have loved to see McGann come back. But Eccleston was, as they say, brilliant.

    • “Fantastic”, surely?

  7. I agree with most that has been said but what has happened has happened and it has worked I would have still watched the show however it turned out and I have. Yes it would have been great but I still like the way it turned out and loved Ecclestone’s incarnation of the Doctor so the way it turned out is the best it has been in years.

  8. avatar Caz says:

    It would’ve been nice to see McGann back, but I think they maybe should’ve done something in a story where they meet or something. I absolutely love Eccleston’s Doctor though, he was brilliant. (He was my first Doctor…who knows if I would’ve liked the show as much without him??) I do know that it would’ve been nice to see, though. Even just for an episode or something. Or even a regeneration scene at the beginning of the show would’ve been interesting too.

  9. avatar Ron H says:

    I think McGann would have done just as fine a job as Eccleston. BUT why not give him another chance as #8 in a two Doctors story or possibly his own series ?

    • avatar Bob James says:

      I loved Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor, but, and this is just my opinion, Paul would have been better by far. If he had been allowed to play the Doctor the way Christopher did, hard edged, damaged, wounded, and guilt ridden, he would have rocked that part. That’s what he wanted to do, and that’s what he’s doing in the latest round of Big Finish, from “To The Death” through “Dark Eyes”. They wanted the iconic image Doctor from Paul in the Movie, and that’s what he gave them. But he always wanted to take it deeper and darker. Eccleston is a brilliant actor with the right material, but in my opinion, Paul is the much superior actor. I think he could have pulled off the gravitas, with an indigenous humor that would have been much less forced and clown like than Christopher. Again, he’s doing it now with Big Finish.

  10. avatar SandraL says:

    Ooh, tough choice. I loved Eccleston as the Doctor, but I can’t help but wonder what McGann would have brought to the role in the new series.

  11. avatar Marc Atkinson says:

    I would have much preferred to see McGann return in 2005. For me Eccleston was totally mis-cast as the Doctor. Although it was great to have the show back I felt the central character was missing until Tennant showed up. McGann’s Doctor deserves more screen time… It’ll be a travesty if he doesn’t have some part to play in the 50th…

    • avatar Max says:

      You can’t really ‘mis-cast’ the Doctor, though, unless you pick someone with no acting ability. Sure, there are some looks/personalities that are more suited to the Doctor, but with regeneration, anything can happen.

  12. avatar Koloth says:

    A summer miniseries! Cool!
    I have always wondered why Paul never returned in 2005. I thought it was the persistence of CE that got him the role. But CE can never be compared as he was the first one back, albeit for one year.
    PMs Doctor is almost comparable to John Hurts Doctor, limited appearances, enigmatic personality, and if the novels were anything to go by, a very dark streak.
    I vote Paul McGann all the way.

  13. avatar Chris says:

    I am still hoping for a spin-off one day or something where we have some good 8th adventures. It doesn’t matter how old he is until they show his regeneration, so hopefully they won’t do that anythime soon.

  14. avatar Paul McGann's Cat says:

    This isn’t news. He’s said it before.

    As for further TV adventures with him, not going to happen. If he’s not part of the 50th he’ll certainly never be part of a retrospective series. I just don’t think the BBC thinks he has enough of a draw outside of fandom and will forever associate him with the past. Shame.

    • avatar FrancoPabloDiablo says:

      You do realise that Paul McGann is an extremely highly regarded, respected and known actor outside of Doctor Who don’t you? It’s not just us fans that know and love his work!

    • This isn’t news.

      Well I’m delighted you’re on board to help with our editorial direction.

      Oh wait, you’re not…

      • avatar Bob James says:

        One has got to love the armchair editors. They are second only to the armchair showrunners.

  15. avatar Nick Kitchen says:

    This may be an insane idea, but depending on how Hurt’s story arc plays out, I’d like to see McGann come back as the Valeyard.

  16. It would have been great to have McGann grow in the part but I would never want to undo Eccleston’s Doctor. They’re both too FANTASTIC!

  17. avatar FrancoPabloDiablo says:

    I would have loved to see McGann back in 2005, but that would most probably have been the wrong thing to do. You only have to look at the TV Movie to see that. Introducing an already established incarnation who had minimal connection with the unfamiliar audience was disastrous (not for us fans of course, but the casual viewer). RTD was right in his decision, but that shouldn’t mean McGann can’t reappear now, especially since the new series has grown and established a whole new audience who are familiar with and accept that the Doctor has had many faces before Eccleston.

  18. avatar Megan says:

    I think that it would have been cool to have both. Have McGann start at the beginning and then regenerate after a period of time. You can still have Eccleston as the ninth Doctor. The regeneration will give DW fans the closure that we wanted.

    • avatar Sally Ann Price says:

      I love Christopher Eccleston. I would have liked McGann to regenerate into Eccleston. I think that would have been cool.

  19. avatar Geoff says:

    At the time in 2005 I think they went the right way by starting over. After all one of the main criticisms of the 1996 movie is that instead of hitting the ground running it bogs itself down with back story that could have been filled in later on. In 2005 they didn’t make that mistake. What I can’t understand is why they now won’t go back and fill in the gaps from McGanns time. The actor is willing and the public understand enough about Doctor Who that it wouldn’t be the turn off it would have been in 2005. I’ve said this before but if you’re willing to risk confusing the public by chucking in an incarnation of The Doctor no ones ever heard of I can’t understand the argument for not bringing back Paul McGann…unless the Hurt Doctor is going to do something do dreadful that we wouldn’t accept it from a Doctor we already know?

  20. avatar Sally Ann Price says:

    I am glad that Eccleston got it. I never new about McGann.

    • avatar Bob James says:

      Ignorance is, well, ignorance, I guess.

  21. avatar johnnybear says:

    I would have preferred McGann to have returned myself! Eccleston was miscast and is the most undoctorish Doctor of them all!

  22. avatar Tony Sobol says:

    I’d have loved more McGann adventures, but not at the cost of Eccleston’s astonishing, wonderful Doctor.

  23. avatar lara says:

    i have watched the mcgann movie and while it think he was fine in the role, i don’t remember any depth and here i am only a couple of months later, no strength. i don’t remember him at all ever saying anything powerful like “i am the doctor!”

    the thing that eccleston brought to the role was masculinity. no weird costumes. no foppishness, such a strong defined character. his ability to play it both strong and with a hint of vulnerability was sublime. in retrospect people love mcgann, and i agree he is a committed actor but would he have had a strong enough fan base to support a whole new “who” series? in 2005 i think the world had moved beyond velvet and sick.

    • avatar zarbisupremo says:

      So you’re saying that there wasn’t a scene in the TV movie where the Doctor gets his memory back and shouts “I… am… The Doctor !” ?

  24. avatar Lesley Dolan says:

    They shoulda at least had him start it and regen into the 9th.

  25. avatar GlassworX says:

    I think its easy with the benefit of 10 years of hindsight for McGann to say “yes , I wouldve done it ” especially since the show is so successful . But had he been asked back in 2003 , Im not so sure he wouldve taken the role.

    • avatar Bob James says:

      On the contrary, he openly stated back then that he would have reprised the role if asked. He said he would had to have had certain assurances about where they were taking the character, but he would have done it, even if only to come back for the (then anticipated) regeneration. He also said that if he were them (RTD and his team) that he wouldn’t have picked himself. He expressed that he thought that they should have given the role to someone who really wanted it. This was all in an interview in SFX magazine back in 2004, I’d have to dig it out to get the precise issue and month, but I remember a very pretty Eliza Dushku in a purple shirt on the cover. So you’re “not so sure” isn’t in any way speaking for Paul.

      • avatar zarbisupremo says:

        Mmmmm… Eliza Dushku… :-)

        • avatar Bob James says:

          I am in absolute agreement with what you just expressed……..

          • avatar Sally Ann Price says:

            Thank you.

  26. avatar says:

    The most tragic part is McGann only got to play the Doctor for about 25 minutes in the Doctor Who movie, the rest of the time he didn’t know who he was. I think the idea of an 8th Doctor spinoff or mini-series is brilliant.
    And being American, I would like to apologize for the horrible atrocities the movie committed. The half human Doctor, the Master as a serpentine creature…and Eric Roberts. Please forgive us, American studio execs know not what they’ve done.

  27. avatar authorman94 says:

    That’s a difficult one that. While McGann’s one of my favourite Doctors and has proved his worth time and time again with Big Finish (as well as nailing it in the 1996 TV Movie, especially the speech about Gallifrey in the park), to be honest, it was really Eccleston’s casting as the Doctor that really brought the show back to the life and I wouldn’t change Eccleston’s involvement for the world. So, it’s an interesting question really. The only thing I hope is more appearances from both, whether it’s in the show or in Big Finish, will happen in the future since both McGann and Eccleston were fine Doctors.

    • avatar Sally Ann Price says:

      I have never seen McGann, but I think Eccleston did a great job. I hope he comes back in the future.

      • Sadly, Eccleston wants nothing more to do with Who. Hopefully he comes back to his senses someday.

  28. avatar steveee says:

    Eccleston was better suited than McGann i feel; the revival needed a new fresh start, even with a new doctor.

  29. While I was glad to see ‘Doctor Who’ revived in 2005, I wasn’t as thrilled with Eccleston’s Doctor overall. I felt it was a bit too short a season to really get to know the character. Two episodes that really stand out for me in his time were “Dalek” and “The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances”.

    However, I think it would definitely been decidely different if McGann have been the Doctor, given a chance to further explore the 8th Incarnation. Having experienced what he has done with the character, via the BF audios, I think the 2005 revival could have been even more awesome.

    Ah well, as so many others have commented, there’s always hope for he and Capaldi to appear together for a “two Doctors” story. *hope*

  30. avatar Ranger says:

    I love McGann (though not what they did with the Doctor’s ancestry in the Movie). I love Eccleston. Hmm, too difficult to chose. The stuff that McGann has been doing in audios, with the darker Doctor, has been fantastic. I just think it is a crying shame that they haven’t utilised him in this 50th year.

  31. avatar Paul Blume says:

    If they were to elaborate the McGann Doctor, two words: Time. War.

  32. I just want McGann back. Been wishing this for so long. There’s so much to explore with his Doctor. He has proved himself through Big Finish to be an amazing Doctor. Wish Moffat would concentrate a little less on what HE wants to do with DW and actually give us 8th Doctor fans what we want…..Paul McGann back. A mini-series seems like a great way to do it.

  33. Pingback: Paul McGann mógł powrócić w 2005 |

  34. avatar whoman69 says:

    Its always easy to say change history. Putting McGann in the role doesn’t just get rid of Eccleston as the Doctor, it could have meant Tennant and Smith never did either. It also would have meant that the John Hurt incarnation never took place either. So much of the casting of the Doctor is about timing. While I didn’t like the fact that Eccleston took the role and discarded it after one year, the repercussions of him not doing so go deep.

  35. avatar rickjlundeen says:

    I think McGann would have been brilliant coming back in 2005 as the war torn/damaged Doctor instead of Eccleston. But that would literally have changed everything. McGann would have stayed a few years, maybe 3 or 4 to get his swings in before moving on, unlike Eccleston who split after one series. That alone shifts everything back….

    Davies had worked with Tennant on Casanova and knowing of his love for the show would probably still have given 10th Doctor to him, only 2 or 3 years later and odds are, he might have stayed around for the 50th–how could he not when it’s so close? We may never have seen a Matt Smith in the role—it might have gone straight from Tennant to Capaldi, who knows? Many many things would have switched up.

  36. avatar Tino Rozzo says:

    That should have happened. It is amazing he nailed it and was neglected, what a crime.

  37. avatar A Chapman says:

    As much as I like Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor, I would have prefered to have seen Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor return for at least one or two series and then regenerate into Christopher Eccleston. He only appeared in the 1996 TV movie and barely got much to do. Sylvester McCoy’s Seventh Doctor appears in the first 21 minutes of the movie, regenerates into Paul and then the Doctor spends several minutes suffering from amniesa. When he finally remembers who he is, there is only about 40 minutes left of the movie.
    By not showing more of Paul, it feels like there is quite a bit of Doctor Who’s history that we have missed out on. At least he has been doing the Big Finish Audio Adventures. I hope that one day, the Eighth Doctor will at least make a guest return to Doctor Who and perhaps the cause of his regeneration will at least get mentioned.

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