Paul McGann reveals he felt 'responsible' for the end of Doctor Who

Paul McGann as the Doctor.
Paul McGann talks his time as the titular Time Lord. (Image credit: BBC)

Paul McGann has opened up about his time at the helm of Doctor Who, revealing that he felt at least somewhat responsible for the show coming to an end.

McGann only played the Doctor once. He served as the Eighth Doctor in the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie, which was the final installment in the franchise until the series was rebooted by Russell T. Davies nearly a decade later. 

The Doctor Who Movie may have its fans now, but it did not fare well with its target US audience at the time. Plus, it was meant to serve as a backdoor pilot for a new series, but FOX didn't pick it up for more episodes, either.

Whilst speaking to Radio Times (opens in new tab) recently, Paul McGann has revealed how he felt about the show's end. He said: "I remember thinking Doctor Who is now finished and I’m probably partly responsible for it.” 

When Davies—who is returning as the showrunner for the Doctor Who 60th anniversary special and subsequent series beyond —brought the show back, it was with Christopher Eccleston at the helm as the Ninth Doctor.

In the same interview, McGann joked that he was waiting to make a return to the show. "It's funny to tell now", he says, "but at the time, I really was like 'It's me and Peter Cushing. We're in the naughty room. No one's going to mention our names when they talk about Doctor Who."

McGann did finally get to make a return in a mini-episode leading up to the show's 50th-anniversary event. In "The Night of the Doctor", we got to see McGann's regeneration into the War Doctor, giving his character a fitting send-off. Of this return, he told the Radio Times: "If I never get to play the Doctor on screen again, then it was good to get back into the costume, not wear the wig, say some different lines and look a little older and hopefully sound a little wiser - it was good to do it again.”

Since then, his Doctor also made a cameo appearance in The Power of the Doctor, Jodie Whittaker's final adventure as the Thirteenth Doctor. Along with incarnations of the First, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors, McGann's Eighth Doctor helped Whittaker work through and undo her forced regeneration at the hands of the Master (Sacha Dhawan).

Doctor Who returns in 2023 for the Doctor Who 60th anniversary special miniseries, with David Tennant returning as the 14th Doctor. 

Martin Shore
Staff Writer at WhatToWatch.com

Martin is a Staff Writer with WhatToWatch.com, where he produces a variety of articles focused on the latest and greatest films and TV shows. 

Some of his favorite shows are What We Do In The Shadows, Bridgerton, Gangs of London, The Witcher, Doctor Who, and Ghosts. When he’s not watching TV or at the movies, Martin’s probably still in front of a screen playing the latest video games, reading, or watching the NFL.