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Role lifts Paul McGann from Who? to Doctor Who

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Paul McGann is little-known in America, but being cast as the eighth Doctor in the latest reincarnation of the TV series "Doctor Who" has showed him what fame can be.

"It's like a Marx Brothers film or something," the star of the film "Withnail & I" says from Hollywood, where he's been run through the publicity mill for the TV movie that's airing on Fox tonight.

In Britain, the publicity has been even more intense. While he was filming the show in Canada, his family called him about the flood of articles in the press. "They were moving like royalty stories," he says incredulously. In Britain, the venerable Time Lord practically is royalty. He's been a figure in British pop culture since 1963. That's longer than most royal marriages.

"You could hardly ... miss it in Britain," he says. "I'm not saying it's like the crown jewels ... but it's certainly part of the national fabric."

In North America, he's running into dedicated fans, too. One of them showed him around the World Wide Web on the Internet for the first time, plugging in his name on a search. "Suddenly it was bang bang bang, all around the world!" McGann says.

And he was shocked when a fan recognized his agent: Janet Fielding, who coincidentally played Te-gan, a companion of a previous Doctor.

Besides fans' expectations, McGann faced the challenge of recreating a character who's been played by seven other men (not counting an obscure 1965 movie). "You can't help thinking about it," he says. "Pierce Brosnan [as James Bond] must be thinking the same thing. ... There's a kind of weight of expectation."

Phil Segal, executive producer of the "Doctor Who" movie, thought McGann was perfect for the job, and his enthusiasm won McGann over even though the actor's first response was, "Look, I don't do that."

Segal was a fan from the time the show began and was the force behind its resurrection. "I didn't have a lot of friends growing up ... he was my friend," he says of the Doctor. "He says it's OK to be you. That's the magic of this character."

Of reports a few years ago that Steven Spielberg was going to save the series, which went off the air in 1989, Segal says, "Steven was kind enough to give it back to me" when the producer left Spielberg's Amblin company. Whether the show survives depends on how many people watch tonight.

McGann finds the ratings system cruel, "waiting for the emperor's thumb to go up or down," he jokes.

"Certainly, as a 5-year-old, I never would have imagined when I was 35 they would give me the jacket, they would give me the spaceship," he says. But now he's ready to defend the universe.

"I really do hope it takes off," McGann says. "Now I'm into the adventure, I just want it to continue."

Caption: Who's calling: Paul McGann stars as the new "Doctor Who" on tonight's Fox movie.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Kridler, Chris (1996-05-14). Role lifts Paul McGann from Who? to Doctor Who. The Baltimore Sun p. 8E.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Kridler, Chris. "Role lifts Paul McGann from Who? to Doctor Who." The Baltimore Sun [add city] 1996-05-14, 8E. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Kridler, Chris. "Role lifts Paul McGann from Who? to Doctor Who." The Baltimore Sun, edition, sec., 1996-05-14
  • Turabian: Kridler, Chris. "Role lifts Paul McGann from Who? to Doctor Who." The Baltimore Sun, 1996-05-14, section, 8E edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Role lifts Paul McGann from Who? to Doctor Who | url= | work=The Baltimore Sun | pages=8E | date=1996-05-14 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=25 June 2022 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Role lifts Paul McGann from Who? to Doctor Who | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=25 June 2022}}</ref>