Doctor Who News The Night of the Doctor - regeneration

Published on March 17th, 2014 | by Jonathan Appleton

McGann’s Quick Decision For Night Of The Doctor

Paul McGann has revealed how he was forced to make his mind up quickly when it came to appearing in the special 50th anniversary mini-episode The Night of the Doctor. It appears there was no room for any dilly-dallying where setting up the Eighth Doctor’s final adventure was concerned:

“It was a quick decision. Steven Moffat got in touch and said ‘If I were to write it, would you do it?’ I asked could I think about it and he said ‘Think about it now… because we want to do it next week.’ I had such a quick decision to make and I’m glad, because sometimes when you do things quickly, it’s better.”

His comments provide an insight into the breakneck pace at which key decisions concerning the series can be made, and provide an interesting counter to the common assumption we tend to make that these matters are all part of some intricate master plan, mapped out months or even years in advance.

“I felt when I arrived in Cardiff that [Moffat] had probably written it the day before. That was the only gap he had, on that Sunday, because they were trying to finish the big 50th. We arrived and it was next to the set of the 50th and [the actors] had all left. They’d had the party the night before and they’d all just left. We arrived the next day and shot the mini-episode.”

Paul seems to have enjoyed the big 5-0 as much as anyone connected with the programme and his brief return, agreed at short notice, certainly made for a memorable highlight of a very special year.


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About the Author


has watched Doctor Who since those great big spiders did for Jon Pertwee, and it's way too late to stop now. When he's not at his job working for a charity in Hull he spends his time following Hull City's fortunes, listening to Bruce Springsteen and wondering why it took thirty years too long for Doctor Who action figures to come along. Favourite stories include the one with the mummies, the one with Mr Sin and the one with the Mona Lisa. Currently listening to: Tom Baker at 80 (Big Finish interview). Reminiscences, religion, tall stories - it's all there. Great stuff.

11 Responses to McGann’s Quick Decision For Night Of The Doctor

  1. avatar Fiona says:

    The McGannisode was one of the highlights, for me.

  2. avatar TonyS says:

    And for me

  3. avatar vortexter says:

    Written the day before? Would they have had enough time to make the Shrine set in that time? That’s amazing if they did and a real testament to the design team.

    • My best guess: The base set itself was a recyc from the war-torn Gallifrey set, while the rock Eight wakes up beside and Cass is placed upon is a reuse of the faux stone used for the Underhenge entrance in “The Pandorica Opens”.

  4. avatar J W says:

    I for one am glad he decided to do it. Not only did it answer the question of how the Eighth Doctor met his end, but also, when he acknowledged his Big Finish companions, legitimized those stories as being part of the series canon – putting to rest that particular debate.

    • avatar mrjohnm says:

      I liked that as well, but I would have also liked to hear him mention Sam or Fitz from the novels.

      • avatar TonyS says:

        and Anji, Trix, Compassion…

    • avatar Anup says:

      And in turn, canonising 4′s, 5′s, 6′s and 7′s audio adventures seeing as they all made an appearance in The Light at the End

  5. avatar STLShawn says:

    You know, to me,,,, this is possibly bigger than the episode itself. It took me by complete surprise. Now it is what I think of first when the 50th is mentioned.

  6. avatar Chris says:

    I may be the only one on this, although some people I know agree, but I thought that Night of the Doctor did a much better job of exploring the mythos of The Doctor in the new series than Day of the Doctor, The Name of the Doctor (or any episode that involves the great “Doctor Who?” / Trenzalore plot), or anything RTD gave us that involved Doctor and Gallifrey. Especially its reference to the Sisterhood of Khan and the Brain of Morbius (on a side note, Moffat did a better job at writing the Sisterhood of Khan than he did with the Great Intelligence). All in under 7 minutes.

  7. avatar Geoff says:

    As you say above I think Steven Moffat showed his writing class there. Very short time, to write and the actual programme, limited sets, limited cast. Reintroduce and the regenerate a Doctor. I’m very pleased he was bold enough to even consider it and equally pleased that Paul McGann threw his hat into the ring and trusted him, he can’t have seen any script or had much idea what it was going to turn out like but he agreed anyway. I too think this was the best surprise of the 50th…this will always be a big fan favourite I think.

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