-Doctor Who in Sculpture: 1963 to 2013-
Time to talk about the Eighth Doctor.
Played by Paul McGann, this Doctor appeared only once. This being the 1996 Fox produced Television Movie simply called “Doctor Who", although “The Enemy Within" is often used as an episodic tagline title to the film by some.
The BBC television series was cancelled in 1989 leaving the then incumbent Doctor played by Sylvester McCoy and his companion Ace, played by Sophie Aldred, walking into the sunset discussing cities made of song and people made of smoke.
From that point, the show was now in the air, its future bleak and unclear. The BBC showing little to no interest in pursuing further adventures from the Doctor and his friends.
This came at an unfortunate time in the show’s history, it had just begun to pull itself into a tighter, leaner form, something that had darker implications and more deeper story lines. Cruelly this was curtailed and the show flashed and faded away, its new life left in limbo.
There was instances where the show tried to return in different forms. Educational school videos, charity telethon specials, yet nothing worked. Nothing fitted. Nothing worked.
Then came the upsurge of New Adventures books which kept the adventures going.
New worlds and new stories to tell. This was what Doctor Who was in the early 90s.
Rumbles began to grow in America as plans to produce a television movie as a new bid to restart the show were tentatively drawn up.
What became the television movie was originally planned as a pilot, for a series that would follow the new Doctor both battle old enemies and go on a journey to find his father Ulysses.
Neither came to pass, but the Pilot/Movie remains and is the only visual record of this Doctor.
This adventure took place on December 31st 1999 as the world entered a new Millennium.
It begins with the Seventh Doctor having to make an emergency landing on Earth whilst transporting the remains of the rival Timelord The Master back to Gallifrey after he was exterminated by the Daleks on Skaro.
He hadn’t stepped more than two feet outside of the TARDIS when he was mown down by gangland members in a darkened back alley in San Francisco’s Chinatown. He was rushed to hospital but died on the operating table when the surgeons attempting to save him were perplexed by his two hearts.
Whilst in the morgue, the Doctor regenerated and the Eighth Doctor was born.
This Doctor dressed in a beautiful Edwardian outfit, originally a fancy-dress costume found/stolen from a hospital locker. Wild Bill Hickok was who it was supposed to be.
This Doctor was “younger" than before. Almost Byron-esque in appearance, the Eighth Doctor was passionate, poetic and romantic.
Noticeably the first Doctor to kiss his companion, which caused uproar amongst older fans.
His single adventure was shared with the surgeon who tried to save him but ultimately caused his death on the operating table, Dr. Grace Holloway. Who’s intelligence and quick wit made her a perfect companion for the Doctor. She was played by American actress Daphne Ashbrook.
It could be argued that Grace was the Doctor’s first on-screen romantic interest. Many have disliked this story element and to be fair was at the production company’s request or insistence that it be added.
I myself believe it to fit with this Doctor’s personality. He was young, passionate and thrilled by life, it was only natural that he should fall in love with the person who brought him to life.
This adventure saw the Doctor battle against the Master who also found a new body, in the form of Eric Roberts, other than that, the Eighth Doctor’s tenure is clouded.
He exists in three realms, this singular televisual appearance, dozens of books and copious amounts of audio adventures produced by Big Finish.
All are excellent and all deserve attention.
Although his appearance was brief, Paul McGann is widely if not conclusively considered to be the official Eighth Doctor and is repeatedly called by fans for a return to the show.