Creator / Paul McGann
"I'm not a sci-fi lover; I wasn't from the start. So perhaps I miss that passion for other worlds, other dimensions, that sort of scope and that magnitude of storytelling; that's not my thing though I meet plenty of people whose thing it definitely is."

Paul John McGann (born 14 November 1959) is an English actor who made his name on the BBC serial The Monocled Mutineer, in which he played the lead role. He's also known for his role in Withnail & I, and for portraying the Eighth Doctor in the 1996 Doctor Who television movie and subsequent Big Finish Doctor Who audio plays, along with a brief appearance in the revived series.

Despite his extremely brief on-screen tenure in Doctor Who, his Doctor is well-loved due to his being a connecting thread during Who's cancellation years; his comic series and audio adventures have quite a large fandom. Starting in 2008, he stopped being a regular in the monthly episodes and started starring in his own separate Big Finish Doctor Who series The New Eighth Doctor Adventures. McGann finally got to canonically connect the dots between his Eighth Doctor and Christopher Eccleston's Ninth Doctor via John Hurt's War Doctor seventeen years later in the minisode The Night of the Doctor.

His brother, Stephen, currently plays Dr. Turner on Call the Midwife.

Tweets as @pauljmcgann.


Tropes associated with this actor's works include:

  • Cozy Voice for Catastrophes: His deep, soothing voice has led him to narrate documentaries on uncomfortable and/or frightening subjects. (Counting multiple-episode documentaries, he's narrated nearly a hundred.)
  • Evil Is Hammy: Whenever he plays a villain. A good example is the Doctor's evil Split Personality Zagreus from the Big Finish story of the same name.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Almost every movie he's in casts him as a lust object.
    • The Rainbow pushed the trope to its natural limit by having him frolick naked through the woods.
    • Withnail & I could easily just have been called "Paul McGann Is Almost Naked A Lot".
    • He spends his first ten minutes as the Eighth Doctor wearing nothing but a sheet.
    • Lampshaded a bit in a Big Finish episode where, despite it being a sound-only medium, he still manages to lose his shirt. Twice.
    • Horatio Hornblower: He's not the only one Mr Fanservice is this series, but his Mr Bush tends to get wet a lot and has some glorious Shirtless Scenes.
    • He appeared in the Doctor Who after-credits behind the scenes feature to wish the show a happy fiftieth birthday... Which he then followed up with a kiss while looking seductively at the screen. Woof.
  • Older Than They Look: Time has been very kind to him between the Doctor Who movie (mid-30s) and the present (late 50s). This allowed him to play the Doctor on screen 17 years after his first outing without much problem.
  • Old Shame:invoked A mild one, but don't bring up the wig he wore for his role as the Eighth Doctor for the TV movie, he hated wearing that wig. One of the reasons he got cast was the producers like his naturally curly mop top which he had for his roles in Withnail & I and The Hanging Gale (which according to Paul his role as Father Liam helped get him the part of the Doctor). Unfortunately he had to cut it for another role, so when he arrived in Vancouver to begin filming the makeup people hastily produced a wig to match his old look.
  • Scully Box: In an interview in which he was asked how tall he is, he mentioned that he ends up standing on boxes often enough.
    "Five feet nine. Quite little, really. From a squat tribe, you see. My brothers (and sister) are all taller than me, as are most of the actresses I'm required to smooch. At such times they usually stand me on a box. Sort of keeps your feet on the ground, paradoxically."
  • Wag the Director: Positive example in Big Finish. He pushed for a new look for his Doctor, based on World War I-era navy clothes, as well as a World War I storyline.
  • What Beautiful Eyes!: No matter what he's in, it's almost a guarantee his blue eyes will get at least one close-up.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • He was cast as Sharpe, but broke his leg before filming could start. Had he not broken his leg, Lt. Bush would have been played by someone else. He also auditioned for Robin in Robin of Sherwood but was deemed too short.
    • Had Pierce Brosnan not accepted the role of James Bond after Timothy Dalton departed from the role, then it appears that Paul would've been offered the role and could've potentially played Bond.
    • General consensus in the Doctor Who fandom is he could have been a fantastic screen Doctor if he'd only been given some decent material to work with, an opinion that The Night of the Doctor certainly did nothing to debunk.
    • Fans originally assumed that the Eighth Doctor was the one who fought in the Great Time War and were hoping to see him again and at least get closure and a regeneration scene. Understandable, as both the Eighth Doctor novels and the Big Finish audio series give him loads and loads of character development where he becomes Darker and Edgier due to the many traumatic adventures he's had. Also, he does not have one of the limitations that has for the most part made return by other surviving pre 2005 Doctors difficult. He still looks very much like his 1996 self. One of the Audio drama covers even had a photoshoot of him with a different costume to reflect the evolution of his character. However, Steven Moffat decided that fans who remembered the charming, romantic, cheerful, eternally bright and optimistic Eighth Doctor either wouldn't buy (or accept) his transformation into a darker, more violent character. Thus leading to "The Night of the Doctor" where we still get to see a more haggard, hopeless Eighth Doctor regenerate into the War Doctor as played by Sir John Hurt.