Why Paul McGann Is My Favorite Doctor

I came to Doctor Who fairly late in life. I saw some Tom Baker episodes as a kid, but it wasn’t until the reboot in 2005, when I was 32, that I really fell in love with the show.

In 2013, I got a job answering phones in a car dealership. I sat at a counter and had very little to do. My bosses said as long as I answered the phones, greeted the customers, and topped up the coffee pot, I could do whatever else I wanted the rest of the time.

This seemed like a perfect opportunity to watch all of classic Who, and that’s just what I did. I watched every episode, even the shows that are nothing but still photographs with a soundtrack.

Before I finished, the 50th anniversary of the show rolled around, and thus my first exposure to Paul McGann, whose turn as the 8th Doctor in the TV movie I hadn’t reached yet. McGann starred in a short episode call Night Of The Doctor, and he was brilliant. Emotions right on the surface, McGann’s Doctor commanded every second of the episode in a way that left me desperate for more. Eventually I got to the TV movie, and while McGann was certainly good in that, the film as a whole wasn’t as strong as he was.

That’s when I discovered Big Finish.

Big Finish started making fully dramatized Doctor Who audio adventures during the years that the show was off the air. They’re fabulous at it. Smart scripts, great acting (including by many members of the cast of the TV show), and wonderful effects and music.

Big Finish have finally given McGann a canvas worthy of his skills. The Eighth Doctor Adventures, and the shows in Big Finish’s Main Range that preceded them, are completely engaging. McGann’s Doctor is in many ways the epitome of “New Who” — a moral, determined adventurer with a glint of the puckish spirit of many of his classic predecessors.

Whether you’re a fan of the current TV show, a devotee of classic Who, or just a fan of audio drama, you can’t do better than falling in love with the Eighth Doctor. And if you’re a completist, like I am, here’s a post that gives you the complete listening order. Enjoy!

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