Paul McGann was initially “sceptical” about Doctor Who role: ‘It felt a bit uncool’

The actor revealed he "couldn't be happier being part of that world" now, but he wasn't so keen when approached for the 1996 Doctor Who TV film.

Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor in The Night of the Doctor

Paul McGann, who played the eighth incarnation of the Doctor in the 1996 Doctor Who TV film, has opened about his thoughts on the role. 

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The actor, who is best known for his roles in cult film Withnail and I and Luther, has revealed he wasn’t so sure about playing the Time Lord when he was first approached by the BBC. 

“I was sceptical when I was offered the part of Doctor Who,” McGann told The Big Issue. “I thought ‘God, do I really want to do this?'”

He added: “This was in the ’90s, before the big revival. Like everyone, I’d watched it as a child but I’d never been a big fan. At that time it even felt a bit… uncool. But my kids were babies and we needed to pay the mortgage and the BBC were offering a bit of money so I did it.”

The film, which he described as a “pilot for an American show” that “wasn’t picked up”, was a joint venture between the BBC, Universal Studios and Fox. 

Ultimately, however, McGann revealed he was glad he took part. “The revived show has such a smile on its face and a sense of humour,” he said. “Now, I couldn’t be happier being part of that world. Going to conventions, meeting fans, it feels like you’re in a big gang. It couldn’t have worked out better.”

McGann has reprised the role several times, appearing in a series of Big Finish productions and on the show’s 50th anniversary mini-episode The Night of the Doctor. 

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