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Sunday, May 24, 1998 Published at 15:58 GMT 16:58 UK


Who's Who?: What you think

The new Doctor should remain a male. The character is a male and as shown by numerous Gallifrey episodes, the timelords do not undergo sex changes upon regenerating. Romana remained female, Borusa remained male. As to the actor to play the role, Paul McGann fit rather nicely in the part. Perhaps Tom Baker would reprise the role, or perhaps John Cleese? And PLEASE, NO spider-daleks!!!
Richard S, Hartmetz

Paul McGann would be the logical choice - the movie showed just how good a Doctor he could be given a decent script and an essentially English production style. There are arguments within the programme history for not having a change of gender - how would Leela, the Doctor's companion who remained behind on Gallifrey, feel about her husband (a time lord) regenerating into a woman? If Paul McGann were not available, then why not the brilliant David Troughton who would surely get the programme back on top!
J.William Kay, Stranda, Norway

The only person I can think of who'd be better would be Rik Mayall. He'd be brilliant! Or, for a different type of choice, how about Alexei Sayle! Yes, this is my favourite option now! Or how about Michael Palin? I think Stephen Fry would be absolutely brilliant as the doctor in his "Wilde" outfit and wig!
Paul Gibson, Australia

Paul McGann, but get ride of this half-human rubbish. Romana was a female timelord and she regenerated into another female body. I think it is stupid to have the Doctor regenerating into a female body. If you must be politically correct why not include another timelord like Romana?
David Allan Finch, England

I'm slightly horrified by the contributions to your Talking Point which nominate "wacky" comic actors to play the part. Do these people (who paradoxically all think Paul McGann is the perfect first choice) think that a Big Screen Dr Who will be enlivened by Rowan Atkinson's facial gymnastics, or Eric Idle's squeaky voices?
Choose an actor - a serious actor - with an unusual but commanding presence. Obviously they should have the versatility to handle the traditional comic touches, but that doesn't mean you have to cast the reincarnation of Benny Hill.
Paul McGann of course, but if not, how about Bob Peck?
Stephen Russell, Great Britain

I have been a Doctor Who fan for many years, and, in spite of the terrible script he was given, Paul McGann did an absolutely wonderful job as the newest doctor. In fact, he was one of the few things in the telefilm that was readily recognisable. To be blunt, the production was so Americanised that hardly any of the traditional British aspects were retained. Too much glitz, not enough substance. If Doctor Who is going to continue to be the phenomenon it has been in the past, it is going to have to return to its roots. That would also mean no female Doctor. The idea is just silly to me. Why have two genders if you are switching all the time? Sounds like a dumb publicity stunt. Also, if McGann is not recast in the role, I think that it should default back to Sylvester McCoy. Not that we should forget about the spectacular work McGann did, but it would be a shame to waste a regeneration like that.
Alisha Roach, Illinois, United States of America

Without a doubt (in my opinion), the actor most suited to play the Doctor is Kenneth Branagh. Paul McGann would, of course, also be awesome, as would Patrick Stewart, Hugh Grant, or Roger Daltrey. Should a woman be cast in the role (though I greatly hope not), Emma Thompson or Judi Dench would probably be the best choice.
Matthew Sloughter, USA

PAUL MCGANN should continue as Doctor Who. He was universally praised for his performance as the Doctor. This is what Doctor Who needs, an actor who is popular with the general public, the fans, and the critics. He is a good actor and a great Doctor Who. The Doctor is an incredibly difficult character to cast for. It just won't do to pick a 'zany' actor, or a woman, as a gimmick. He is a great, heroic and enigmatic Doctor and he is good for the profile and respectability of the show. In short, he will bring a whole new audience that wouldn't usually watch Doctor Who, please the fans, critcs and general public, and turn in a performance which couldn't be bettered. If the BBC want a success in terms of viewing figures, audience appreciation and quality of programme, what is the point in not using the actor who could give them all that and opt for someone who could be a disaster on one or all of these fronts? Paul McGann has already proved himself, please give him a chance to develop the role.
Carl, Liverpool

As someone who has watched "Doctor Who" from its very first episode, I would love to see it brought back again. However I would rather it return as a TV series rather than a film because I have always been of the view that it really is at heart a soap opera. What is really important about the series is not the Doctor and his companions but the exciting adventures that they enjoy. Reading through the Nth Doctor book I was struck by the feeling that few of the writers understood the show. They were too concerned with the mythology and the continuity rather than ensuring their films were enjoyable and exciting stories.
I would like to see a 26 week series composed of various adventures of differing lengths set in Earth's past, Earth's future, on strange new planets and in parallel dimensions. Now here is where you could have a female Doctor Who. She comes from a parallel universe. She is not "our Doctor" but an alternative Doctor. In this universe there was a Time Lord who was a renegade, but this being was female not male. Thus you could conceivably have a story featuring this Doctor and our Doctor. This Doctor could be different (in fact she could be evil, or rather along the lines of the original Valeyard) or could be a female take of our Doctor. If you wanted to you could have one of the TV Doctors playing a minor role in the film with him meeting this alternative version of himself which could then be the focus of subsequent stories. This I feel would meet the needs of the people asking for a female Doctor Who without ruining it for the people like me who would hate the Doctor we had followed all our lives suddenly changing sex.
One of the big drawbacks to the sex-change idea is that like the half human idea in the TV movie this just makes the Doctor seem more human rather than more alien. This underscores the fact that he is not a real alien but just a special human. Also would anyone seriously consider making a film of Sherlock Holmes and turning him into a woman; or a film of Biggles and making it a she. Of course not! Doctor Who is a male hero. There is also the fact that females in title roles of action adventure films don't do as well as male heroes. Sorry but that is the way it is. You could of course have a film where the companion was more action minded than the Doctor and the companion was female. I would like the idea of a pacifist Doctor and an aggressive female companion. But please whatever you do no female ninth Doctor please!
I would be quite happy with Paul McGann or Alan Rickman as the Doctor. I think Peter Howell would be an interesting choice or what about Nigel from Eastenders - he looks quite like Tom Baker and he can play action, tragedy and comedy.
Ian, Scotland

As far as a new Doctor goes, KEEP PAUL MCGANN! He only had one story as the Doctor! Give the man a better chance! It would be kind of lame to have the Doctor regenerate after one adventure! I'm all for political correctness and all, but I think to change the Doctor into a woman now would be just ridiculous. If the Doctor became a woman that would change too much of the original show. It would be like making "Bat Woman" or "Jane Bond!" Keep the Doctor a man. There's nothing wrong with the way things are already. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Nate Bliss, NY, USA

I think that in any form a return of the good Doctor would be great. To repeat a tired theme, Paul McGann did a great job and I would like to see him come back. But as another (maybe better) choice, I suggest David Suchet, who played the lead on Poirot. He is a very good actor and could lend a lot of depth to the role of the Doctor.
Ivan Pour, Connecticut, USA

Well, if Paul McGann isn't available for the role, I'd personally go for Ade Edmondson. In the role he played on an episode of Absolutely Fabulous, he showed that he'd be perfect for the part. Either that or Chris Barrie, who has shown on occasion in Red Dwarf that he can play it straight when necessary.
Simon Cooke, currently in the USA, usually in Manchester, England

Just an idea, but what about James Bolam?
Steve, Norhern Ireland

My candidates for new Doctor are: 1)Paul McGann: He's proven himself to be a worthy Timelord and a competent actor, but he's only had the one chance via the TV Movie. Why not another??? 2)Nicol Williams: A characteristic face, a remarkable voice and a superb actor. 3)Jonathan Pryce: Appreciated on all sides of the pond, charismatic and likeable. Again, a terrific actor.
Scott Alan Woodard, Burbank, CA US of A

The new Doctor (and yes, there should be one - Digital TV means there'll be plenty of room for anyone's tastes to be catered for) shouldn't be a woman as that smacks of a publicity gimmick, and an old one at that (first used when Tom Baker vacated the role). Once Alan Rickman has been ruled out as too expensive I'd suggest the greatest veteran traveller of them all - Michael Palin. And once he's unavailable, Geoffrey Palmer would be rather good. Or I'll do it if the money's right.
Guy Clapperton, UK

I don't have a beef with Paul McGann, or WHOever, but I believe the BBC and the Foreign Office underestimates the effect that Doctor Who has had on bringing in younger viewers to British television programs in the U.S. It is a "training" program to teach youth about British senses of humor, cultural phenomena (I knew about cricket as a 15-year old American-not very common!), and plot development/production values. Having grown up on Doctor Who, I was soon turning to other PBS shows in the US, and enjoying British drama and comedy. Unless "Teletubbies" does it, the BBC needs to market to kids in the United States, and Doctor Who has proven very effective!
Patrick Schmidt

A woman? No way!!!!!! It wouldn't be Dr. Who!!!!!! Start a new series and use a woman if you want to, but bring back Doctor Who as it was. (I would settle for reruns - none showing where I live!!!!!!!!!) Thank you.
Linda Dragisic (42 yrs. old, female) Orland Park (Chicago), IL USA

I'm glad to see the BBC is considering doing something with Dr Who - a series unique in its popularity, its ethos part of the national (and these days international) consciousness. With the current spate of big budget adaptations of classic series (The Avengers, Mission Impossible, Lost in Space, many others), it's bound to be a winner, as long as the producers keep hold of its roots. When you're relying on nostalgia to grab the initial audiences, you have to keep the product recogniseable: there's a danger that changing the Doctor's gender, for instance, (one of the few constants of the series) may well break the spell and drive away those who would otherwise revel in a big-screen version of a childhood memory. Of course this logic suggests Tom Baker should play the Doctor, which seems unlikely, but Paul McGann (an established regeneration despite his only having appeared once) could do as well. I think Stephen Fry might turn out to be rather wonderful. Richard O'Brien would play a perfect villain against him.
Matt Kimpton, Cambridge, UK

Paul McGann is the obvious choice. Previously, the other Doctors took a few 2-hour episodes to 'get into character' before they could maintain their unique characters onto the role. McGann immediately placed his stamp on the role and made it his own in less than 30 minutes. Another word to the powers that be: less effects and more script. Even with the most extravagant effects that money can buy, they still date - George Lucas proved that with a 30 million plus 'Special Edition' of his Star Wars trilogy. However, people still buy the videos of the good Doctor when the sets are visibly creaking and the monster suits threaten to burst at the seams. A good script which will capture the imagination costs less than expensive special effects that will date in time.
Adrian Tullberg, VIC, Australia.

I'll cast another vote for Paul McGann. His performance in the TVM perfectly captured everything that made the character great over the years, and added a sense of innocence and wonder much lacking in the later years of BBC Who. I'm on the fence about a female Who -it could be done well, but other than to generate publicity, what's the point? Don't mind Alan Rickman, either. And, um, Eric Idle.
Jon Hunt, USA

I grew up on the Tom Baker episodes. This was the show I grew to love. Now that a new Doctor is in the calling, I do not have any suggestions. Though, I would have to side with another male Doctor. My reasons are not discriminatory. I know that numerous females could fill the roll, but is that "the show"? Or is that just society pushing its way into media. If a woman were the Doctor, would she act similar and portray the character as the others have? I just think that in the rise of lead female roles in continuing series, they tend not to be "female", yet a male in the female body. By all means, a full female role would open so many more possibilities, but it would need to be fully female in all aspects. I do not feel "Doctor Who" is ready for that fast of a change. Take some more time to lead into this change. I would hate to see the show hang itself by making hasty moves. Besides, wouldn't the plot of this new movie lend any input into this decision?
Daniel Cash, USA

Please use Paul McGann.
Bill Albert, USA

1. Paul McGann if not available... 2. Rik Mayall.
M Kileen

I would vote for Richard O'Brien of Rocky Horror Fame.
Janice Sorrell, Scotland

I've been a Dr. Who fan since I first discovered the show about 14 years ago. In that time I've seen most, but not all, of the series including portions of each of the seven Doctors. I've also seen the recent TV movie with Paul McGann. (I live in western Canada, by the way) I would have to say that I don't like the idea of a female Doctor, though I admit it could be done well. The Doctor has always been a strongly male character in my mind. If there were to be a new Dr. Who movie or (please please please) TV series, I would prefer that Paul McGann carry the role for a while. Failing that, perhaps Sylvester McCoy again? Thanks.
Soleil Lapierre, Canada

I would love to see Doctor Who return, especially on a regular televised schedule. The time is right for his return. But not as a woman!! I would love to see him return as
(1) Paul McGann
(2) Richard O'Brien
Joe, Orlando, USA

No question about who should play Who...Richard Wilson.
John Luby, Duns, Scotland

The actor for the new movie would have to be PAUL MCGANN. He captures all that is Who and I think that even from one telefilm, he helped create the charisma that Tom Baker had previously provided in the programme.
Terry, Toronto, Canada

Of course, I'd like to see Paul McGann back in the role. He is now established as "the Doctor", and it would be a pity to trade him in for someone else in such short notice. However, if you must, I would go for David Dixon. His characters in "Hitchhiker's Guide" and "LA Story" were absolutely wonderful and on opposite poles of the Doctor's personality: intellectual and moody in "LA Story", eccentric and lively in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". If neither McGann nor Dixon is available, my next choice would be Rowan Atkinson. As for a female Doctor... No. It would be a pathetic grab for ratings, in my opinion. I don't think you could cast a woman in the part for two reasons: One, everyone already identifies with a male Doctor, a sort of father figure. Two, as I said, the whole thing would be a ratings stunt.
So, please keep our old Doctor around. Too extreme a choice would just be ridiculous!
Eric Schluessel, United States of America

I think the starring role of The Doctor should be given to Dawn French (of French & Saunders and the Vicar of Dibley fame.) I think she would make an excellent alien time lord!! (Mind you, she is better with comedic roles, but she could add a touch of comedy in such a way as Tom Baker did with the role.) I think she would be perfect!!!
Brian Bolding, Dallas, Texas, USA

I'm afraid I'm going to be terribly unoriginal and proclaim my support for Paul McGann as the next Doctor. Though there were many things wrong with the television movie, McGann's performance (and the stunning TARDIS interior) where very definitely right. He slipped so effortlessly into the role that for me, at the movie's end, he WAS the Doctor, something that has never been achieved by all the actors to play the Doctor before. I was truly saddened when a series didn't grow from the movie, as I believe McGann's portrayal might well have been one of the greats. The energy and air of innocence he brought to the role were wonderful contrasts to the previous Doctors, yet contained enough of the character's essence to make you believe he really was the same man we'd watched for all those years. If the Doctor is to return to our screens or to the cinema, Paul McGann is the man for the job.
Chris Halliday, Boston, USA

I would be happy to see either a male or female doctor in the next regeneration. Good luck in your quest - I hope you decide to make a new set of episodes or a new film!!
Linda Haynes, Tucson, Arizona

I would love to see Doctor Who come back as a series!! I think Paul McGann did a great job in the TV movie and think his character has been developed well in the New BBC Doctor Who Books. So I'd like to see him continue in the part. I don't have a problem with women in major roles, but I definitely think making the Doctor a female would ruin a tradition.
Matt Barnes, Grand Island, NE USA

Please consider keeping a male Doctor - Time lords have never changed sex. If the movie was going to be big maybe Sean Connery would do it. He always has had some English pull.
Jerry W, Washington State, USA

I have been a fan of Dr Who for almost 20 years now, and I am active in the club scene. I am familiar with both the history and problems of Dr Who. In my opinion, Paul McGann is the ONLY choice to play the Doctor! Although many fans had problems with the movie, I have heard nothing but universal acclaim over McGann's portrayal of the renegade Time Lord. Dr Who fans rarely agree on anything, so when an actor is universally acclaimed, it truly means something. Not only would there be broad support among viewers for this choice, but it would maintain continuity with the film. Continuity is also important to Who fans, as the aberration for the Peter Cushing films reflects. No matter what, DON'T select a woman to play the Doctor! Too much change will isolate you from your current fan base, and personally, I've never seen the appeal. If you want to bring in a female Time Lord, then bring back Romana. We don't need a female Doctor. Anyhow, that is my opinion. Thank you for listening to my input, and may you find it in your heart to return Dr Who to the airwaves or big screen!
Thomas Jennings, Tuscaloosa, AL, USA

Yes, there should be a new series of Doctor Who. And aside from the fact that this is roughly the 20th anniversary of my flipping past it on PBS back in '78, my feelings are that there is obviously a strong market for it. The new generation of children in the UK and around the globe is making the effort to purchase the video releases when they are unable to receive it on their local TV dials. THAT shows a certain effort, if not a determination! Also, the books and merchandise are selling well. The time is right and the iron is hot. As for a female... I'm a traditionalist. I need a fella in there. And my vote is for Paul McGann - get him before he gets tied down to a commitment elsewhere!!! The fans adore him and he has all the hallmarks of a Doctor. Plus, his image is a welcome change from the increasingly bizarre looks the last Doctors were given. I still liked them, oh yes, but the classic Victorian element has long been missed.
Rob Shade, York, Pennsylvania, USA

I think Paul McGann is the best choice for an actor to portray the Doctor. I feel he was more successful in his first attempt at tackling the role than his predecessors were in their first episodes (perhaps excepting William Hartnell). I also feel Mr McGann has what it takes to comfortably bridge the gap between "maintaining the tradition" and "changing to keep up with the times".
While I wouldn't say a female Doctor is impossible or a bad idea, I do question whether it is a necessary change. Rather than going into a detailed monograph, I will simply pose: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
Adric Macsisak, Baltimore, MD, USA

Just a quick email to tell you that I think good old Paul McGann should play The Doctor, because his role as the Eighth Doctor has so much potential, but it was wasted on the 96 telemovie. So, come on BBC, give Paul another chance and commission a new series (at least make it in-house, otherwise it won't be Doctor Who)!
Yours in Time and Space

I always felt that Alan Rickman would make an interesting Doctor, but the easy answer would have him playing the Master. I was also partial towards Liam Neeson as the Doctor. But the ultimate, bringing in all audience types to see the film yet keeping it British, would be to have David Bowie play the Doctor with Sting as the Master and Winona Ryder as the companion. Just a thought.
John S Drew, New York City, USA

OK - maybe I'm being old fashioned here but why should we pander to "sexual equality" and have a female Doctor?? My vote goes to sticking with Paul McGann. In the last movie he proved himself quite well despite not having a chance to develop himself in the role (mainly due to the lack of a follow-up TV series! (not-so-subtle hint!)
If the Doctor gets changed yet again that is one more re-generation used up and one step closer to the death of the doc for good.
Why not just go back to having the Dr, K-9 (yes please!), a companion and the good old Daleks or Cybermen!!! Just my Tuppence worth!
Mike Hartley, UK

I think that Paul McGann should be the first choice. He was easily the best thing in the BBC/Universal film from 1996. The ratings were very good in the UK and as far as the role goes, I think he hit the ground running. It was a regeneration story, so now I'm dying to see what he'd do with the role next.
As for a female Doc - no thanks. That would just make the show trivial. I have no problem with a Time Lady show though. I'd love to see Romana or the Rani back.
Faiz Rehman, Gwent

I imagine there have been many posts before me, and there will probably be many after. Certainly, for the first time in two years, or thereabouts, there is national interest in 'Doctor Who', on nothing much more substantial than a rumour and, in the absence of official confirmation, a rumour that is only a little younger than I am. Surely questions ought to be asked in certain quarters about this interest, not only from long term fans, but from people not generally observed in the 'on-line community'. Another, far more pressing question is:
What would be the problem in letting Paul McGann continue as the Doctor? I've no doubt certain people have made their dislike of the 1996 telemovie clear, but the one thing that is generally applauded is the multi-layered performance of the star. If one thing could, perhaps, be salvaged from the vast investment made by the BBC, surely it is the discovery of an actor willing and able to do justice to a complicated role.
Such an ability is indeed a rare quality, and while I believe it may be found in the vastly talented collection of British actresses out there, I do not believe the character of the Doctor would be effectively played by a woman, not just because of the track record the series has in presenting female characters, but simply as a matter of audience acceptance. While there are fans (and members of a new, potential audience) who no doubt believe in the wisdom of casting a woman, I know I am not alone in wondering if the attributes of a character beloved of the British public for thirty five years could be transferred without profound alteration or some form of debasement. In those circumstances, the very people who have been clamouring for the series' reinstatement would begin to wonder if it might not have been kinder to let the series die after all.
Ni., UK

As a long time fan of Doctor Who I would like to submit my humble opinions on the matter of who should play Who if a movie does indeed get made.
1. I believe Paul McGann is the obvious choice for the part based on his remarkable performance in the 1996 attempted revival TV movie. Even those who criticised the film loved his Doctor.
2. On a non-casting note, I also believe any reasonable arrangements should be made with Terry Nation's estate to allow the Daleks to appear in the film. I think the public would love to see a well-crafted story line based around a showdown between the Daleks and the 8th Doctor.
Peter Weiss, Madison, WI, America

I've been a Dr Who fan since I first discovered the show about 14 years ago. In that time I've seen most, but not all, of the series including portions of each of the seven Doctors. I've also seen the recent TV movie with Paul McGann.
I would have to say that I don't like the idea of a female Doctor, though I admit it could be done well. The Doctor has always been a strongly male character in my mind.
If there were to be a new Dr Who movie or (please please please) TV series, I would prefer that Paul McGann carried the role for a while. Failing that, perhaps Sylvester McCoy again?
Soleil Lapierre, Canada

Who should play the Doctor? My vote is for Paul McGann, although Rowan Atkinson could pull it off. Alan Rickman is a great actor and it would be interesting to see him in a "good guy" role for a change. Gary Oldman would be FANTASTIC as the MASTER.
Christopher Scott, USA

Paul McGann deserves another shot in the role. When Dr Who was, in my opinion, at its most successful was during the Pertwee - Baker era. It was the story telling, not the special effects, which stood out.
The '96 movie was style over content but McGann's performance was solid.
I don't understand why the debate is over who should be the next Doctor. The question should be, can anybody at the BBC convince Terrence Dicks and Barry Letts to produce and direct a new movie starring Paul McGann as the Doctor and Carmen Electra as Leela for early 1999??
100,000 Doctor Who fans chipping in 50 quid each should just about do it !!!
Michael Stewart, Scottsdale, Arizona

I think you should keep Paul McGann. He was great as the doctor. In the books they have already established him as the Doctor. I would like to see him do more. He is one of the best Doctors. He reminded me of the old Doctors; back to the classic ways.
Francesca Poli, Fair Oaks, CA, USA

Female Who? If it would bring the show back, I'd settle for that.
Eric, US

I would like to see Paul McGann return to the role of the Doctor. He did a good job in his first outing and I would like to see more done with his regeneration. He enbodied all of the qualities of the Doctors over the years while adding a new dimension to the character.
I have followed the adventures of the eighth Doctor through the novels and I have liked what has been done. Should a project go forward, I hope that some of these writers have the chance to work on the project.
Brent D Casteel

I am an avid fan of the show Doctor Who, and would like nothing more than to see it return. However, I'm not sure that the idea of a female doctor, to give the show a new "twist", would be one that works (especially as the show's own legacy states that Time lords and Time ladies are two separate genders).
I would love to see Paul McGann reprise his role as the 8th Doctor and develop the character further.
Mark Garside, UK

So long as the BBC brought Dr Who back, I would be happy to see anyone in the role, so long as they were British and had that touch of eccentric charisma that the part requires. Paul McGann was wonderful, and could be asked back. Someone suggested Miranda Richardson as a female Who, and why not! She's gorgeous and a great actor - who could ask for more?
Josh Frost, USA

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