It’s one of the great turning points in Doctor Who history – when the 1996 TV movie failed to pull in big ratings in the US, a planned series starring Paul McGann was dropped, with the series remaining off our screens until 2005 when it was revitalised by showrunner Russell T Davies.
Now though, seventh Doctor actor Sylvester McCoy – who appeared in the TV movie to hand the keys of the TARDIS over to McGann – has hinted at what might have happened in a McGann series, telling RadioTimes.com that he would have returned for further appearances.
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Not only that, but flashbacks detailing events in the Doctor’s history between the end of the classic series in 1989 and the TV movie would also have brought back companion Ace (Sophie Aldred) – and the series might have even seen appearances from other old Doctors…
“I believe, if it had taken off and had been more successful, they were going to bring all of that back,” McCoy said. “They would have revisited it.”
He continued: “The producer [Philip Segal], who is an Englishman and who loved Doctor Who, it was in his dreams of the future of the show that the other Doctors would have popped in and the companions and all that kind of stuff.”
Asked if this meant a potential appearance from Ace, whose departure was never seen on-screen, McCoy replied, “Exactly. And, you know, Colin [Baker] and Peter [Davison], and Jon Pertwee was still around, I think, then.”
Though none of this materialised, McCoy says he was “absolutely delighted” to be asked to appear in the TV movie, since he thought Doctor Who was gone for good after being put on ‘hiatus’ by the BBC in 1989.
“I thought that the hiatus was definitely not going to finish, and it’d be forever,” he admitted. “And I felt a bit sad about that. I was like, ‘Oh, God, I’m going to be known as the actor who killed off Doctor Who.’
“So when they asked me, I bit their hand off to do it: ‘Yes, I’ll do it! I’ll do whatever the hell you want me to do. I’ll hand it over, and hopefully it’ll come back again.’
“But it didn’t. I mean, it was very successful in Britain, but it was made for an American audience. It was very successful with male viewers, but, bizarrely, with Paul in the role, it didn’t attract the female viewers. Maybe that’s because I started it off first! Maybe they thought, ‘I don’t want to watch this old man sitting there, sipping tea!’.”
The classic series of Doctor Who will be available on BritBox from Boxing Day (Thursday, 26th December)