Are you tired of all the Doctor Who news and articles we’ve been rolling out this past year? No? Good. I didn’t think so, after all, it’s the show’s 60th anniversary and we have to celebrate in style. I’m so excited for the three upcoming specials starring David Tennant and Catherine Tate, that it’s hard to go to bed at night. But the fun doesn’t stop after this interlude between Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor and Ncuti Gatwa’s Fifteenth Doctor, who is making his appearance sometime within the three specials. As Russell T. Davies has hinted, the Whoniverse is growing, and it seems that there’s a new future for Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor.
What exactly is being cooked up in the mind of RTD and where exactly is the Whoniverse going? We don’t have all the answers to that, but there have been enough pieces laid out that we can begin to see something of a fuller picture. While this news we’re about to dive into is just a rumor, if it’s true, it’s quite possibly one of the most exciting rumors to date. Fans of both Classic Who and NuWho have been waiting patiently for this, as a bridge might finally be built connecting the distant past to the revival era. So let’s break down what exactly this rumor is and how it could impact the Whoniverse.
[Warning: potential spoilers about the future of the Whoniverse are below! Read at your own risk!]
Paging Paul McGann, we need a Doctor
Again, before diving into the rumor, remember that this is just a rumor, so it should be taken with a grain of salt until it’s confirmed by someone involved in the development, such as RTD or the BBC/Disney. That being said, let’s talk about what the recent rumor has to say about a new spin-off headed our way.
According to an exclusive posted by The Mirror, it appears that Paul McGann may be getting his own Doctor Who spin-off series, focusing on the Eighth Doctor and his adventures. It states that Disney and the BBC are looking to produce a slew of Doctor Who content, which will expand the already expansive Whoniverse. The Mirror specifically mentions a similar model to the world-building Disney+ exhibits with Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The article says,
“The spin-offs will work in the same way that Disney created series for Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe that stream on Disney+. A source said “Russell likes the idea of bringing back McGann with his own set of episodes in the TARDIS. Disney are on board as they want more original content and want to fully exploit the franchise as they know how big it could become.”
From the comment, it seems the push is driven by the new partnership with Disney, which is looking for more projects in which to stream on Disney+. That isn’t to say that some of these spin-offs, like the UNIT series rumored to be currently in development, weren’t in talks over on the BBC before the Disney+ deal, but it seems that the push from Disney is helping in the filling out of the Whoniverse.
However, this isn’t the first time that Doctor Who has spawned a multitude of spin-offs, with fan-favorite series such as Torchwood and the Sarah Jane Adventures produced during RTD’s first tenure as Doctor Who showrunner. There was also the ill-fated spin-off Class, which didn’t go past a single season, created during Steven Moffat’s time on the sci-fi series. Even looking back to the Classic Era, there were instances of spin-off stories that came into play, K-9 is the first to come to mind.
One of the best things about Doctor Who is the unlimited potential for spin-offs, with many characters and villains in which to explore. Wiktor Reinfuss proposed a few different ideas for spin-offs, one of which was an Eighth Doctor series. I have a few characters myself I would love to see pop up in a show because, after 60 years, there are a ton of loose ends and beloved characters. So, if this new rumor is true, what would a Paul McGann-led Eighth Doctor series look like?
Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor Adventures
What’s interesting about the Eighth Doctor is that so little is known about his tenure in the blue box. Fans know how his time began, thanks to the 1996 Doctor Who film, which was supposed to serve as a revival of sorts, but ultimately McGann’s film wasn’t well received and a revival never moved forward. Except for some novels and Big Finish audio dramas, the 8th Doctor wasn’t seen again on screen until the prequel to the 50th anniversary special “The Day of the Doctor” titled “The Night of the Doctor”, which showed Paul McGann’s Doctor regenerating into The War Doctor.
Since then, McGann’s Doctor has gained in popularity, even appearing in the most recent Doctor Who special, “The Power of the Doctor”. With the interest rising for this past incarnation, it makes sense that the BBC, Disney, and RTD are ready to explore the Eighth Doctor. Because there is so little known about McGann’s Doctor, there’s plenty of potential that can be explored between the film and his end in “The Night of the Doctor”.
In that interim period, the power that be can easily turn the Eighth Doctor’s adventures into the standard Doctor Who formula with one-off stories and overarching narratives. Sadly, the stakes might not be as high, as the original Doctor Who series is well past the events of any previous adventure. Regardless, any chance to see Paul McGann once again in the role is exciting, because his time as The Doctor was cut way too short.