Following on from an early morning screening of the 'Doctor Who' movie, the film's director Geoffrey Sax was on hand to discuss the eighth Doctor's outing, along with actress Daphne Ashbrook who played Dr Grace Holloway and the Doctor himself Paul McGann.
For this outing, the real pressure was in resurrecting a show which had been dormant for many years. It was hoped that the film might kick start the TV series once more and this all depended on the film's success, which the panel said was treated like a pilot with the hope that it would move on to become a series.
Fortunately, there wasn't a lot of time to dwell on just how much rested on the shoulders of those involved, though McGann said he realised that he was in what he called a 'responsible position'. Director Sax explained that he only signed on to direct the film a couple of months before shooting began. According to Sax, the set was already being built before he was even selected. Ashbrook also explained that the show at that time was simply unknown in the States. 'I didn't know the gravity of the situation,' she explained, adding that she would have 'had a stroke' if she'd known.
During filming, the cast often found themselves both impressed and confused by the script. Sax laughed as he recalled a conversation between himself and McGann over the scene where the Doctor finally remembers who he is. McGann got lost with the lines and asked what it all meant. To which, as Sax recalls, Sax told him 'I don't know but say it fast'. The panel also addressed the controversial kissing between the Doctor and Grace's character, with McGann laughing that 'we were trend setters...they're all doing it now!' In response, Sax joked that they 'cut the bedroom scene'.
Sax also addressed the American elements of the film, explaining that - despite the film's American setting - it remained a very British production. It just so happened to be set in the States. Of course, there were American actors involved in the film besides Ashbrook. Sax dubbed Eric Roberts, who plays the Master in the film, 'eccentric' explaining that Roberts (like Ashbrook) was not familiar with the show but, after seeing a few episodes, really embraced his role.
Though ultimately this would be McGann's only outing as the Doctor on screen, he said that he was looking long term when he finally agreed to take it on. He added that with a pilot like this you had to commit to the possibility of six or seven years in the role. He had even thought of how he might develop it with any future stories and says he envisaged something along the lines of what Christopher Eccleston ultimately did. His hair, during the making of the film, was cut very short and he really wanted to wear a leather jacket. When asked if he would have continued in the role were he approached by Russell T Davies, McGann answered with a resounding 'yes'. 'It was really easy to get into the character of the Doctor,' he said, 'and daunting at the same time.'
Sadly, despite success, the film did not gain the popularity it needed in both the UK and US to spark a new TV series. As McGann speculated, it was a tightrope act to add in references fans of the show would get whilst appealing to new audiences in America. 'There's always the danger it would fall between the two,' he explained.
Seeing McGann's Doctor Who outing on the big screen was quite an experience. It had the humour, the theatricality and the drama fans of the show have come to love. The panel was fascinating and lots of fun, especially as McGann got muddled on some facts and said 'For a Timelord, my memory's shocking'.
Amanda Keats dreams of one day going for a spin in the TARDIS where she would love to meet Queen Elizabeth I, John Keats and Jane Austen - though she could happily live her entire life without coming into contact with a Weeping Angel. Follow Amanda Keats on Twitter and Facebook.
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