The Doctor Who 60th anniversary is almost upon us, which has brought with it the official launch of "The Whoniverse," the BBC's larger shared universe around the show that includes both new and classic episodes, spin-offs, documentary features, and ancillary material, like the new Tales of the TARDIS episodes or the An Adventure in Space and Time film that dramatized the series' origins.
The expansion of the franchise in this way has, of course, kicked off all sorts of rumors about what other sorts of stories we might see in the world of Doctor Who, from a rumored spinoff focused on the more Earthbound adventures of UNIT to one based on the series' various iconic villains. None of these have been officially confirmed, of course, but the latest rumors are perhaps the most enticing yet: That former Eighth Doctor Paul McGann (Annika) will reprise his role for a new series of adventures in the TARDIS.
Granted, the source of this rumor is The Mirror, so we should take all of this with a heaping grain of salt, but it's honestly a potential spin-off that would make complete sense. McGann only ever played the Doctor in the 1996 made-for-television movie of the same name, which was, admittedly, dreadful. It was so bad it essentially sent the franchise into hiatus for the better part of a decade and, as a result, was the only proper onscreen adventure the Eighth Doctor ever had. The show returned with Christopher Eccleston (The Leftovers) as the Ninth incarnation of the Time Lord in 2005, though McGann returned for a special mini-episode called "The Night of the Doctor" prior to Doctor Who's 50th anniversary that made his regeneration into Eccleston canon. (He also briefly appeared again in Jodie Whittaker's final episode, "The Power of the Doctor," alongside several other previous incarnations of the character.)
The current division of Doctor Who has left McGann's Doctor in something of a weird liminal state. Technically not considered one of the series' classic Doctors, his era has been very deliberately left out of this inaugural set of Tales of the TARDIS episodes, likely because Eight only really has the one story to revisit. But he's also not grouped with the series' modern era either, which definitively begins with Eccleston's debut.
McGann has stayed busy over the years having further adventures as his Doctor in mediums beyond television, from comics and novels to his extensive run of Big Finish audio dramas. But it would be so satisfying to see him get the chance to play the role properly again -- and serve as a very real reminder that the current season of the flagship show isn't the only place for stories about the Doctor. Plus, since he's only ever had one onscreen story, the possibilities of what the franchise could do with the character are virtually limitless. (I'm sure McGann's charm and silver fox good looks wouldn't hurt either, just saying.) More importantly, he sounds interested in the possibility.
"The fans call me the longest and the shortest. I’ll have it. Less than two hours of screen time in 27 years, but somehow still kind of everywhere all at once. It could only happen in Who world," McGann said in a recent Guardian interview. I was recently in one of the Jodie Whittaker episodes. That’s the only time that the eighth Doctor got on to the telly. So it gave me a little taste for it. I wouldn’t mind doing some more."
The BBC, naturally, doesn't comment on speculation of this type. But The Mirror source insists that Davies is on board with the idea and that new international Doctor Who distributor Disney+ is on board with more original content that could expand the franchise in the same way its Star Wars and Marvel properties are. Is any of this true? I have no idea. Do I want it to be? Desperately. Don't the fans and McGann --- ultimate Doctor Who loyalist that he is --- both deserve it?