I have been recently watching a UK Gold programme, "Doctor Who @ 40", and there was a segment on the future of Doctor Who after the cancellation. They were showing an interview with Paul McGann, about the Doctor Who movie, filmed just months before the reboot was confirmed, where McGann said he was contracted for 6 years. I think he meant contracted to the production company who did the movie, but he said that he would love to be considered for the TV role, as he didn't want to be a "one story Doctor", and to "watch this space".

I know that McGann did audio stories, but my question is, was any reason ever given by anyone involved with the Doctor Who reboot, as to why he wasn't approached or why they never went in that direction with the character? Since he only did the movie, they could have still gone and made him the tired and angry doctor who survived the Time War and burnt his race. Seeing as Eccleston only did one series, it wouldn't have made much difference.

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    I heard that Paul McGann's Doctor Who TV movie was supposed to be a sort of backdoor pilot - if well received it would've revived the TV show with Paul McGann as the Doctor. Since that didn't work, they likely figured McGann already had his shot and therefore cast someone else for the (awkward) first season of the 2005 revival of Doctor Who.
    – RedCaio
    Nov 19, 2015 at 6:17
  • @RedCaio: “the (awkward) first season of the 2005 revival of Doctor Who”. You mean the season was awkward? Nov 19, 2015 at 10:11
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    And to answer the question with a Yoda quote, “Too old. Too old!” (Also belated happy birthday Mr McGann.) Nov 19, 2015 at 10:12
  • @PaulD.Waite Yes, I'm saying the 1st season of the revived (2005) Dr. Who show is IMHO very awkward and cheesy. It's much better once David Tennant takes over.
    – RedCaio
    Nov 19, 2015 at 21:52
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    @RedCaio: HERESY! Tennant never had an episode as good as Father’s Day. Nov 20, 2015 at 9:58

1 Answer 1


One possibility is mentioned in this article (in between numerous quotes about how much McGann would have loved to return): perhaps Russell T Davies wanted to distance himself and the new show from the "half-human" thing in the McGann film.

“I don’t like the half-human thing. He certainly isn’t half-human, but it’s less interesting to say it simply doesn’t count. I always wanted to put in a line where someone says to the Doctor ‘Are you human?’ and the Doctor says ‘No’, but I was once in 1999. It was a 24 hour bunk. Part of the reason I never put that in was it was a bit too self-referential but also I thought I’m spoiling the TV Movie if I do that. In that time, like it or not, the Doctor was half human. Everything in that story says he was half human, so you can’t not count it. I don’t think we can ignore it.”
-- Russell T Davies

Alternatively, perhaps the idea was simply to get a completely new start: new series, new Doctor, cut more of the ties to the old series. Eccleston had a different appearance and personality to the previous Doctors; Gallifrey was no more; the sonic screwdriver was brought back after a long hiatus ... about the only thing new Who had in common with old Who at the beginning was the TARDIS and some of the villains.

And yes, I know there's The Night of the Doctor, showing McGann regenerating into Hurt, who then interacts with Tennant and Smith from new Who. But this was made a long time after 2005: Russell T Davies was no longer in charge by then, new Who was more stable, plus McGann and his gans fans had had more time to campaign for his return.

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    For me, the "half-human" thing was post-regeneration craziness and nobody will ever convince me otherwise.
    – tilley31
    Nov 19, 2015 at 0:05
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    @tilley31 - That would be the easiest explanation, except that in addition to the Doctor's line, the retinal scan on board the TARDIS required a human retina, and from that the Master concluded the Doctor was half-human. I liked the explanation in one of the comics that the Doctor had used the chameleon arch to temporarily change his biology as part of some ruse to fool the Master.
    – Hypnosifl
    Nov 19, 2015 at 3:18
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    Well, it was also stated that it was "on his mother's side" and then there's The Woman. Nov 19, 2015 at 3:31
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    Rule number one: The Doctor lies. Nov 19, 2015 at 10:13
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    @PaulD.Waite I haven't seen the McGann film, but wasn't his half-humanness somehow essential to the plot?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Nov 19, 2015 at 12:42

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