While Doctor Who is one of the most enduring icons in British popular culture, the character’s cinematic record has been patchy. A good case in point is the 1996 film which starred Paul McGann in his short-lived tenure as the Doctor. However, you might not have known that…
10 amazing facts about the 1996 Doctor Who movie
This TV movie aired in Canada before the UK
The film’s TV debut was in Canada on 12 May. The US broadcast came two days later, while the film wasn’t shown on UK television screens until 27 May, says the official Doctor Who website.
It wasn’t filmed in the UK, either
Unlike every other episode of the TV series both before and since, the movie didn’t include even a second of footage captured on British soil. Instead, the coastal city of Vancouver in western Canada was chosen as the shooting location.
It could have ushered in a US reboot of the series
WIRED reports that this movie was meant to be a “backdoor pilot”. Had the film been better received on US shores, one result would have been a full series restarting the Doctor Who narrative from scratch.
The movie’s official title was just “Doctor Who”
In this respect, it differs from the two 1960s Who films starring Peter Cushing. However, this stripped-down title may have reflected the McGann adventure’s status as a disguised pilot.
McGann has since reprised his role as the Doctor
McGann slipped back into the role for a 2013 mini-episode where he opted to join the Time War. That decision led to another Doctor: the War Doctor, played by John Hurt, as Business Insider recalls.
The film features an early regeneration
In Doctor Who history, actors have usually traded places as the Doctor at the end of an episode. However, the regeneration of Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor into McGann’s happened about 21 minutes into this film.
The Doctor kisses his companion for the first time
The Doctor has had many sidekicks but didn’t lock lips with any of them until this movie. In this instance, it was the character of Dr. Grace Holloway who got the kiss.
Peter Capaldi could have taken the lead role instead
Capaldi has admitted that he passed up an opportunity to audition for this role. It wouldn’t be until 2013, nearly two decades later, that he became the Doctor – the Twelfth Doctor.
This movie is actually outlasted by a series episode
Though often dubbed a movie, its running time is shorter than that of the 1983 feature-length Who episode The Five Doctors. That episode lasts about 89 minutes, while the duration of the “movie” is closer to 85 minutes.
The film was released on the defunct video format of VHS
You might start feeling old if you recall video tapes, especially as one was used for this film on its UK release. Today, you can watch the film on the much more modern Blu-ray format – and you can buy a Blu-ray copy of it from the range of Doctor Who merchandise stocked at The Who Shop.