Doctor Who: Why Night Of The Doctor means the world

Paul McGann’s return in The Night Of The Doctor is the most important thing in Doctor Who

Immediately watch The Night Of The Doctor before you read on.


Seeing Paul McGann return to Doctor Who in ‘The Night Of The Doctor’ is one of the most incredible things I’ve ever experienced.

I’ve been a Doctor Who fan for as long as I can remember. I inherited it from my dad (his Doctor was Jon Pertwee, and he didn’t realise it was in colour because they didn’t have a colour TV), so I consider myself a hereditary fan with an inbuilt set of prejudices, entitlements and a sort of ambivalent attitude to change or crisis.

I wasn’t particularly excited when Doctor Who returned in 2005, in fact it took me until ‘School Reunion’s continuity money-shot of K9 and dear sweet Sarah Jane Smith for me to pay attention at all.

‘The Night Of The Doctor’ provoked a more heartfelt, lightheaded delight in me than anything since the soaring opening credits of the Doctor Who TV Movie in 1996, when a brave new world seemed about to dawn, banishing all the bloody awful Star Trek: The Next Generation from my teatime schedule.

Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor in The Night Of The Doctor
Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor in The Night Of The Doctor


‘The Night Of The Doctor’ has left me breathless, giddy, and overwhelmed.

It’s like getting a dream job. It’s like falling in love. It’s the most incredible thing I’ve ever experienced and why that simple six minute webisode means so much is more to do with why other things do not.

I never felt Doctor Who was lost to me in the period between 1996 and 2005, so I never really got worked up about it returning. In fact I felt angry and cheated.

The BBC Books, picking up where the superb Virgin New Adventures had left off, had shown me a universe of the most incredible storytelling possibilities. They had built upon the subtle brilliance of Paul McGann’s portrayal of the Eighth Doctor a towering ziggurat of adventure, tragedy, war and betrayal, and the big rubbery face of Christopher Eccleston had gurned and bellowed and galloped it all away in a shower of Adipose and Slitheen.

Sylvester McCoy’s demise in the TV Movie may not have been dignified, but he was there to pass on the torch.

When Colin Baker declined to return after being jilted by conniving BBC execs, they at least made his coat fall off an exercise bike.

When Doctor Who returned in 2005, Paul McGann – the serving Doctor – was nowhere to be found. Unmentioned and unacknowledged for years, and to make matters worse, a certain section of fandom hated Paul McGann. They actively campaigned for his extermination from the scrolls of Who lore.

Paul McGann as he appears in the 1996 Doctor Who TV Movie
Paul McGann as he appears in the 1996 Doctor Who TV Movie

Despite being one of the finest capital letter Actors to take the TARDIS console, despite embodying all the dignity of the First Doctor and all the sincerity of the Fifth with an exuberance that was all his own, and despite his incredible steampunk TARDIS of walnut and brass, some fans hated him as he were personally responsible for the line “half human on my mother’s side” or a leering Eric Roberts.

Now an immensely talented actor promised a series and then denied it when the 1996 TV Movie stumbled has closure. Yes, he has completed the link and saw out his destiny!

Now fans who followed the Eighth through BBC Books or Big Finish audios have validation. Yes, now everyone else can see all the glory of the Eighth and the sheer acting chops of the masterful Paul McGann!

Seeing Paul McGann return to Doctor Who in The Night Of The Doctor is one of the most incredible things I’ve ever experienced. The only tragedy is, I want more…

The Doctor Who 50th anniversary special will air on 23 November 2013. Pick up the Doctor Who Series 7 box set  on DVD for £34.50 or Blu-ray for £36.33 from