Doctor Who Profile: The Eighth Doctor

Paul McGann as the Eighth DoctorThe Eighth Doctor

Portrayed by: Paul McGann

Companion(s): Grace Holloway, plus many others in the audio dramas, comics, and novels

Tenure: 1 story, Doctor Who, also called “The Enemy Within” (May, 1996) and 1 minisode, “The Night of the Doctor” (Nov, 2013)

Signature look: The Eighth Doctor has two distinct looks, one for each of his stories. In his first, he wears a white shirt, gray cravat, embroidered waistcoat, and a dark green velvet frock coat. In his second, he wears a dirty, more relaxed white shirt, loose bandana or cloth tie, battered waistcoat, leather belt, dark grey or black frock coat, and high leather lace-up boots

Catchphrase: The Eighth Doctor isn’t around enough to develop a catchphrase, at least in his televised adventures

Personality: The Eighth Doctor is romantic and easy going, one of the most human of his incarnations and certainly an ardent admirer and appreciator of humanity. He finds wonder and joy in the smallest of things and has an undeniable enthusiasm for life, though he’s far more relaxed than his more frenetic and bouncy Tenth and Eleventh counterparts. He has a pleasant demeanor and friendly wit and, despite the horrors he’s seen in the Time War, he tries his best to keep a twinkle in his eye and smile on his face. He’s also tends towards being formal and dignified in his interactions with his Companions and seems very much a proper British gentleman, though without the restraint or detachment that might accompany this.

Best TARDIS team: He doesn’t technically have an onscreen TARDIS team or Companion, just his ally Grace (deemed a Companion mostly because she’s the closest the Eighth Doctor comes to having one). So… her?

Worst TARDIS team: See above.

Signature foe: The Master

Best Stories: “The Night of the Doctor” may only be six and a half minutes, but it’s still far superior to the TV movie, which is an absolute mess

Worst Stories: Doctor Who, the TV movie, is among the worst stories since the show went off the air in the ‘80s

Highlights of tenure: Honestly, the Eighth Doctor’s highlights (and there are many) are in the extended canon. In his two televised stories, his highlights are his quippy reaction to his arrival on Karn and interactions with the Sisterhood and his dramatic death in “The Night of the Doctor” and his joy at remembering his identity in Doctor Who

Lowlights of tenure: Pretty much everything with the Master in Doctor Who, plus the whole “half human” debacle

Regeneration/First Words: The Seventh Doctor dies after being shot in a drive-by shooting, being taken to a hospital, given anesthetic (though he tried to tell Dr. Grace Holloway not to administer it), and then subjected to heart surgery, as Grace tried to save him. The Eighth Doctor’s first words, after waking up mid-regeneration crisis, are, “Who am I? Who am I?”

Death/Final Words: The Eighth Doctor dies after crashing onto the planet Karn. The Sisterhood of Karn resuscitate him and, with only minutes to live, he decides to guide his regeneration with the Sisterhood’s potions to help his chances of ending the Time War. The Eighth Doctor’s final words, after toasting his Companions (from the extended canon), are, “Physician, heal thyself.”

Memorable quotes:

“I love humans. Always seeing patterns in things that aren’t there.”  Doctor Who

“I’m a Doctor, but probably not the one you were expecting.”  “The Night of the Doctor”

Ohila: “We restored you to life, but it’s a temporary measure. You have a little under four minutes.”
The Doctor: “Four minutes? That’s ages! What if I get bored? I need a television, a couple of books. Anyone for chess? Bring me knitting.”  “The Night of the Doctor”

Other notes: The Eighth Doctor is notable for several reasons. He has the shortest run of televised stories but the longest life, including the extended canon. He dies, without his regeneration triggering, as the Seventh Doctor, taking several hours before the process takes effect and he wakes up as the Eighth, and again as the Eighth, the Sisterhood’s potion being necessary to trigger his regeneration into the War Doctor. His appearance in “The Night of the Doctor” has been very warmly received by fans, who are now calling for more filmed adventures (a sentiment certainly not widely held after Doctor Who). Whether anything will come of this remains to be seen.

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By Kate Kulzick

Kate is a violinist by day, TV-aholic by night, and film geek by somewhere around dawn. While attending UIUC, she earned a Masters Degree in Violin Performance and a Schrute Buck in a Pop Culture Trivia Contest; of the two, so far only the latter has hung on her wall. Her favorite movies are The Princess Bride, Casablanca, and The Third Man and her favorite TV shows are Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Wire, and Arrested Development.

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