TV News: Paul McGann Talks NIGHT OF THE DOCTOR

Written by Tony Jones Monday, 20 January 2014

TV News

Paul McGann (along with his son Jake) guested at this year’s Big Finish Day which was held on January 19th in Slough. Amongst many other topics he talked about his role in the 50th Anniversary minisode The Night of the Doctor.

Paul was in Australia with Colin [Baker], Peter [Davison] and Sylester [McCoy] when Steven Moffat approached him about doing a minisode for the anniversary. Paul was somewhat taken aback, as this was the first call he’d had from the BBC about a TV project since filming The Movie back in 1996. He couldn’t tell the others at the time as the project wasn’t confirmed and he was sworn to secrecy. Even back at that stage the synopsis was a now familiar one: “All action, a space ship, gives up the fight, strangers, a final speech but not as expected and gives up the title of Doctor.” All that really changed was that the strangers became the Sisterhood of Kahn.

Nick Briggs and Paul McGann answer field questions from the audience at Big Finish Day 4

The Night of the Doctor was filmed on the remnants of the Day of the Doctor set and all done within one day. The idea of name checking the Big Finish companions was Steven Moffat’s. For Paul the Eighth Doctor has always been about the audio journey his character has gone on with Big Finish and he was very pleased at the way Steven Moffat captured the essence of the character in a six minute story.

Paul had meant to tell the others [Colin, Peter and Sylvester] about his appearance when they filmed Peter Davison’s Five-ish Doctors reboot; as it turned out Tom Baker had just told the others that he was appearing in The Day of the Doctor and Paul decided against adding to complications with his own news.

As is now well known the story was released a week early as it had started to leak; Paul had only seen it himself the day before and on the day of its release got a text from Steven Moffat telling him to ‘brace yourself number 8’.

The reaction to the story was incredible and Russell T Davies himself was overjoyed when he saw the minisode, even texting Nick Briggs (of Big Finish) to share the excitement of Big Finish companions being named in the story. Paul’s reaction was typically laconic: many years back Russell T Davies had a scene in his programme Queer as Folk where a serious Doctor Who fan was reciting a list of past Doctors only to be told “Paul McGann doesn’t count”.

Amusing stories to the side Paul won’t be changing his audio portrayal of the Eighth Doctor and feels that The Night of the Doctor really captured the essence his ambition for the character:

“…battered but honourable, decent but worldy…”

With the Eighth Doctor boxset Dark Eyes 2 released in February we look forward to spending more time with Paul’s character and hope his journey towards his final night is a long one.

Photos: Tony Jones

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