Paul McGann (born 14th November 1959) is an English actor who made his name on the BBC serial The Monocled Mutineer, in which he played the lead role. He is also known for his role in Withnail and I, and for portraying the Eighth Doctor in the 1996 Doctor Who TV film and subsequent tie-in media.
Paul was born in Kensington, Liverpool in 1959. His parents encouraged him and his siblings to develop their talents from an early age. McGann's talents were further developed when he attended Cardinal Allen Grammar school. One of McGann's teachers advised him to enter the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and to pursue a career as an actor. Acting on his teacher's advice, McGann enrolled at the Royal Academy and went on to enjoy a successful acting career spanning over two decades.
McGann is the third of six children in the McGann family. All three of his brothers are also actors and the four of them starred together (as four brothers) in the 1995 television TV serial The Hanging Gale about the Irish Famine. The same year he played the role as Grigori Potemkin in the TV film Catherine the Great, with Mark and Stephen too. These brothers also formed the pop quartet the McGanns, releasing the single "Shame About the Boy".
McGann's breakthrough role was Give us a Break devised by Geoff McQueen who also created the long running ITV series, The Bill. McGann played a good snooker player who got into scrapes with Robert Lindsay, who played his wideboy manager. The series was a comedy drama in the vein of the popular ITV series of the time, Minder. The series only lasted one series and it was concluded by a one off special.
McGann's first major dramatic role was the infamous British deserter and criminal Percy Toplis in the 1986 BBC serial The Monocled Mutineer. The film was based on the 1978 book of the same name, which was written by William Alison and John Fairley.
Paul McGann played the eighth incarnation of the Doctor in the Doctor Who 1996 television film. The Doctor Who television film was a joint venture between the BBC, Universal Studios and the Fox Broadcasting Network.
Although McGann played the Doctor on television only once, he gave permission for his likeness to be used on the covers of the BBC's Eighth Doctor novels and he has reprised the role of the Eighth Doctor in an extensive series of audio plays by Big Finish Productions. McGann has appeared again as the eighth Doctor in the BBC Radio 7 series Doctor Who in 2007 - 2013.
McGann is also known for audio book narration having read several Pat Barker and Bernard Cornwell novels. He narrated the abridged audiobook of Jeff Noon's 1993 cyberpunk classic Vurt.
McGann continues to play the Eighth Doctor on audio. McGann's first Big Finish audio play appearance was in 2001 in the story Storm Warning which featured Blake's 7 leading man, Gareth Thomas. McGann's main companions in the audio plays are Charley Pollard (played by India Fisher) and C'rizz (played by Conrad Westmaas). It was through the Big Finish audio plays that McGann's Doctor finally got a chance to face many of the classic Doctor Who villains like the Daleks (The Time of the Daleks) and the Cybermen (Sword of Orion).
Five Eighth Doctor dramas were broadcast in BBC 7's The 7th Dimension slot between August 2005 and January 2006. They were in release order, starting with Storm Warning, although Minuet in Hell was judged unsuitable for the timeslot, and skipped. Two more Eighth Doctor audios, Shada and The Chimes of Midnight were broadcast in December 2005 and January 2006; all six of these stories were rebroadcast on BBC7 beginning in July 2006. As of January 2007, a series of all-new plays starring McGann as the Eighth Doctor and Sheridan Smith as companion Lucie Miller is being broadcast on BBC7.