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Paul John McGann (born 14 November 1959[1]) is a British actor who played the Eighth Doctor, beginning with the 1996 TV movie Doctor Who. He reprised the role in audio stories for BBC Radio and Big Finish Productions, and reprised the role twice onscreen in the Doctor Who mini-episode The Night of the Doctor and the special The Power of the Doctor.


He was born in Surrey, although his family moved to Liverpool when he was a young child. His brothers Mark, Joe, and Stephen are also actors; the four of them starred together (as four brothers) in the 1995 television miniseries The Hanging Gale. They also formed the pop quartet "The McGanns", releasing the single "Shame About The Boy".

McGann made his name on the BBC serial The Monocled Mutineer, in which he played the lead role of Percy Toplis. Following that part, he was cast as the eponymous "I" in Bruce Robinson's cult film comedy, Withnail and I (1987). He also starred as Anton Skrebensky in Ken Russell's 1989 adaptation of D. H. Lawrence's The Rainbow.

McGann was offered the lead role in the ITV series Sharpe in 1993. Unfortunately, during the filming of the series' first instalment, Sharpe's Rifles, McGann was injured while playing football and subsequently had to withdraw. The role was then given to, and made famous by, Sean Bean.

Doctor Who[]

Paul McGann reportedly found out about the Doctor Who TV movie during the production of the 1993 film The Three Musketeers. Tim Curry was offered the role of the Eighth Doctor and he was interested in playing the role because he's always interested in a role that isn't a villain, but he didn't know how to play the character. One day during filming, Curry approached McGann on how he would play the Eighth Doctor if he were cast. Curry turned down the role of the Eighth Doctor because of scheduling conflicts with several movies, and McGann would be cast as the Eighth Doctor.

During the production of the TV Movie, McGann participated in the documentary Bidding Adieu: A Video Diary, Sylvester McCoy's personal documentary of his then-final outing as the Seventh Doctor.

Post-Who work[]

Since Doctor Who, McGann's career has concentrated on television work including the Hornblower series. His voice was featured in the 1997 video game Ceremony of Innocence, together with those of Isabella Rossellini and Ben Kingsley.

McGann portrayed power-hungry ambassador Durian in The Minister of Chance series, a spin-off of Doctor Who.

In 2013, McGann appeared as himself in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, alongside fellow classic Doctor actors Peter Davison, Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy.

From 2017 to 2018, McGann played sinister surgeon John Gaskell in forty episodes of the medical drama series Holby City (1999-ongoing).

Reprising the Doctor[]

McGann had given permission for his likeness to be used in BBC Books' Eighth Doctor Adventures novel range and the monthly Doctor Who Magazine comic strip continuing his character's adventures without him having any actual involvement. As a result, in the many years before television Who returned to production, the Eighth Doctor remained the "current" Doctor in all the new Doctor Who spin-off media with the character's mannerisms extrapolated from his brief performance.

In 1997, McGann made his first foray into Doctor Who audio when he recorded several audiobooks for BBC Audio, beginning with an audio adaptation of The Novel of the Film and continuing with a collection of short stories, Earth and Beyond. In 2000, he joined the roster of Big Finish Productions, reprising the role of the Eighth Doctor for the Main Range, and was treated as the "current" Doctor by the majority of fandom and the BBC until Christopher Eccleston assumed the role in 2005. He also made his webcast debut with the animated Shada. McGann continues to play the Eighth Doctor in Big Finish's main Doctor Who range, as well as Eighth Doctor Adventures, a second series of audios produced by Big Finish for broadcast on BBC7 Radio.

McGann participated in a commentary and other material for the DVD re-release of his own TV Movie. He has narrated material on other classic Who DVD releases as well, for example, the Five Doctors DVD featurette "The Ties That Bind Us."

Paul McGann finally returned to the screen as the Eighth Doctor in 2013, when he reprised the role in The Night of the Doctor. Though it was only a brief outing, the mini-episode allowed him a chance to at last depict his regeneration story. Following this, he bragged that Colin Baker was now the only previous Doctor to have never filmed his regeneration sequence, due to his forced dismissal from the role, which was later rendered a moot point when Baker himself recorded his regeneration in the audio anthology The Sixth Doctor: The Last Adventure released in 2015. During his regeneration story, McGann also briefly portrayed the newly regenerated War Doctor, making him one of two actors to have technically portrayed two different incarnations of the Doctor (the other being his predecessor Sylvester McCoy, who similarly briefly played the Sixth Doctor during his regeneration sequence).

According to Nicholas Briggs, McGann nearly stopped doing Big Finish during his initial run with companion Charley Pollard, but changed his mind following the casting of Sheridan Smith as new companion Lucie Miller and the new direction for the Eighth Doctor.[2]

In the DWU[]

A version of Paul McGann was mentioned as being one of the actors in the Doctor Who TV movie, in Hospitality, a short story featuring the "lesbian novelist" Iris in Iris: Abroad.

Another version of Paul McGann appeared in the 2001 short story Father Time: "Set Visit", a speculative piece about what if the BBC Eighth Doctor Adventures was part of the television series.


As the Eighth Doctor[]


Doctor Who[]



Doctor Who: Main Range[]
Special Releases[]
Charlotte Pollard: The Further Adventuress[]
The Eighth Doctor Adventures[]
The Further Adventures of Lucie Miller[]
Dark Eyes[]
Doom Coalition[]
The Eighth Doctor: Time War[]
The War Doctor[]
Sontarans vs Rutans[]
The Robots[]
The Paternoster Gang[]
Classic Doctors, New Monsters[]
Once and Future[]
Doom's Day[]
Time Lord Victorious[]
The Diary of River Song[]
Susan's War[]
The War Master[]

As Durian[]


The Minister of Chance[]


The Minister of Chance[]

Other roles[]


Doctor Who[]


Doctor Who: Main Range[]
The War Master[]

Audiobook readings[]

BBC Novelisations[]

BBC Audio[]

Time Lord Fairy Tales[]


Audio commentary[]

External links[]