Paul McGann

Archived Bio. Not part of the current Guest list.


Paul John McGann's breakthrough role was Give us a Break, devised by Geoff McQueen. McGann played a good snooker player who got into scrapes with Robert Lindsay, who played his wideboy manager. McGann's first major dramatic role was the infamous British deserter and criminal Percy Toplis in the 1986 BBC serial The Monocled Mutineer. The film was based on the 1978 book of the same name, written by William Alison and John Fairley.

Following on from that part of Percy Toplis, McGann sought a less controversial and more comedic role for his next project. In 1986, he was cast as the anonymous main character in Bruce Robinson's cult film comedy, Withnail and I. He also starred as Anton Skrebensky in Ken Russell's 1989 adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's The Rainbow. McGann's other early film appearances include The Monk, Dealers, Tree of Hands, and the epic war film Empire of the Sun. McGann and other young British actors who were becoming established film actors such as Tim Roth, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, and Bruce Payne were dubbed the "Brit Pack."

Since 1989, McGann has concentrated primarily on television work, including Nice Town and Nature Boy for the BBC, and The One That Got Away and the second series of Hornblower for ITV. However, he has had small roles in a number of high-profile American films like The Three Musketeers and Alien 3. His role in Alien 3 was originally larger, but much of it was edited out of the final print. The cut footage can be seen in the extended version of the film.

In 1993, he was cast as Richard Sharpe, the lead character in the Sharpe series of made-for-TV films based on Bernard Cornwell's novels, however he injured his knee while playing football just days into filming Sharpe's Rifles in the Ukraine. He was replaced by Sean Bean and the role effectively kick-started Bean's career and is the one that he is most closely identified with.

Paul McGann played the eighth incarnation of the Doctor in the Doctor Who 1996 television film. The television film also starred Eric Roberts, Daphne Ashbrook, and featured the outgoing Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy.

McGann gave permission for his likeness to be used on the covers of the BBC's Eighth Doctor novels and he has reprised the role of the Eighth Doctor in an extensive series of audio plays by Big Finish Productions. A number of these plays have also been broadcast on BBC Radio 7 (later BBC Radio 4 Extra).

After months of speculation, as part of the show's 50th Anniversary celebrations, Paul McGann finally reprised his role as the Eighth Doctor, in the mini-episode "The Night of the Doctor." In this appearance his incarnation of the Doctor finally regenerates, 17 years after his first television appearance, into a previously unknown Doctor played by John Hurt.

In November of 2013 McGann briefly appeared in the 50th anniversary comedy homage The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.

In the years following his appearance as the Doctor, Paul McGann continued to diversify his acting portfolio with the television and film roles he accepted. In 1997 he appeared as a concerned father in the film FairyTale: A True Story and later that same year as Rob in Downtime, then in 1998 he appeared as Capt. Greville in The Dance of Shiva.

In the 2000s McGann's film appearances began to increase with films like My Kingdom (2001), Listening (2003), and Gypo (2005). Perhaps his most iconic role since Doctor Who came in 2002, when McGann appeared in the film adaptation of the third story from Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles, Queen of the Damned. McGann played the part of David Talbot, a member of the secret organisation the Talamasca, which researches and investigates the supernatural. Talbot has appeared in many of Rice's novels and has become a central character over the years. The film also starred Stuart Townsend, Marguerite Moreau, and R&B singer Aaliyah. McGann has also been in demand for voice-over work in Britain in recent years, particularly on television documentaries and commercials.

In 2006, he appeared in the television drama Tripping Over. In 2007, McGann starred alongside Dervla Kirwan, Lorraine Ashbourne, and David Bradley in BBC One drama True Dare Kiss, written by Debbie Horsfield. In 2010, McGann played a major role in a feature-length episode of long-running BBC mystery series Jonathan Creek, as well as appearing as a regular in the crime drama Luther. In 2011, McGann played a major role as an Assistant Commissioner with something to hide in the final episode of Waking the Dead. It was also announced that he will be featured in Simon Gray's Butley alongside Dominic West at the Duchess Theatre.