Another day, another Doctor Who rumour, but this one at least is gaining some traction: that Paul McGann is set to return as the Eighth Doctor in a new spin-off series.
The report comes from The Mirror, which, before we poo-poo the idea, we have to note has got a number of things spot-on in the past decade; we’re inferring that the BBC has a leak who goes to a Mirror journalist at least. So yes, this might actually have some basis. Further evidence to support this is McGann’s recent quotes around being particularly eager to return after his cameo in The Power of the Doctor, Jodie Whittaker’s swansong as the Thirteenth Doctor and the first time McGann has filmed new scenes for the show itself (his previous appearances being The TV Movie, i.e. not strictly an episode; a minisode, The Night of the Doctor, which again isn’t part of the series, per se; and repeated clips for The Day of the Doctor).
Plus, of course, showrunner Russell T Davies has said there will be spin-offs, the first of which is arguably behind-the-scenes show, Doctor Who Unleashed. An Eighth Doctor show seems an obvious and much welcome idea: it would mean the current iteration of Doctor Who wouldn’t feel the need to lean on continuity too much as fans would surely be sated with a McGann-led programme set during the franchise’s past (ho ho, fans being happy; I’m such a joker), and we’d get more adventures with the Doctor without committing Ncuti Gatwa to 403 episodes a year.
Going against the rumour is the notion that another Doctor knocking around at the same time risks devaluing the Fifteenth Doctor’s tenure.
So yes, this all sounds great and we’d be very much up for it. Of course we would: Paul is brilliant and deserves so much more.
But this is still just a rumour and right now, it has as much validity as anything we could make up at the DWC. For instance: Disney+ is keen on making a spin-off featuring Drax from The Armageddon Factor, with the Time Lord taking on a Del Boy-esque role in saving the universe. Look, we can even make up a quote. Garry Barlow (no relation), director of Profiteering at Bad Wolf, says:
“Disney wants to profit further from Guardians of the Galaxy by tricking Marvel fans into thinking this new show is about one of its leads. Drax the Undestroyer is set to premiere in late 2025, with Dwayne Johnson set to star as the ducking-n-diving Time Lord. Showrunner, Alan Bennett is reportedly opening the 12-part programme by explaining why Drax initially looked like Ascaris in The Romans.”
What does the future hold? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.