30 things you didn’t know about ‘Doctor Who: The TV Movie’

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This month marks 20 years since Paul McGann made his Doctor Who debut as the Eighth Doctor in ‘The TV Movie’.

> Buy ‘The TV Movie’ on DVD on Amazon.

To celebrate the anniversary, here are 30 facts about the 1996 adventure that you might not know…


The TARDIS set reportedly cost a million dollars to construct.

The hospital sets were also used by the makers of The X-Files.

Christopher Eccleston (the Ninth Doctor) was offered the part of the Eighth Doctor but declined an audition, not wanting to be associated with a “brand name”.

Peter Capaldi (the Twelfth Doctor) also declined to audition as he thought it was unlikely he’d get the part.

The Seventh Doctor’s costume in the movie includes the original hat; owned by Sylvester McCoy.

The book that the Doctor is reading at the start and the end is H.G. Wells’ novel The Time Machine.

Sylvester McCoy only has 11 short lines of dialogue.

Fox and Univeral Studios’ top choices for the role of the Doctor were Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford and Jim Carrey – all three turned it down.

Other actors considered for the role of the Doctor included Rowan Atkinson, Chris Barrie, Sean Bean, Jim Broadbent, Pierce Brosnan, Martin Clunes, Robbie Coltrane, Billy Connolly, Russell Crowe, Rupert Everett, Ralph Fiennes, Hugh Grant, Anthony Head, John Hurt, Derek Jacobi, Ian McKellen, Sam Neill, Peter O’Toole and Michael Palin.

‘The TV Movie’ features the first appearance of the sonic screwdriver since 1982’s ‘The Visitation’.

Steve Martin is a big Doctor Who fan and wanted to play the Eighth Doctor.

The wife of Bruce the ambulance driver was played by Eliza Roberts; the wife of Eric Roberts (Bruce/The Master) in real life.

It was the second Doctor Who story to be broadcast in the US before being shown in the UK. ‘The Five Doctors’, the show’s 20th anniversary special, was shown in America two days prior to its UK airing in November 1983.

Following years of fan debate, the canonicity of ‘The TV Movie’ was only confirmed in 2007’s ‘Human Nature’ episode when the image of Paul McGann’s face is included in John Smith’s diary.

The Dalek voices during the opening moments were the director, Geoffrey Sax.

The gunning down of Chang Lee’s friends was cut from the original UK television broadcast as it was shown before the 9pm – so it appeared as if they just suddenly vanished.

Paul McGann’s younger brother, Mark McGann, also auditioned to play the Eighth Doctor.

The movie is the only time the Seventh Doctor is seen using the sonic screwdriver.

Back to the Future star Christopher Lloyd nearly played the Master, but was deemed too expensive. Eric Roberts ended up costing more than Lloyd anyway.

Other actors considered for the role of the Master included Dan Aykroyd, Scott Bakula, James Belushi, David Bowie, Steve Buscemi, Chevy Chase, Tim Curry, Timothy Dalton, Robert Englund, Jeff Goldblum, Rutger Hauer, Dennis Hopper, Mick Jagger, Ben Kingsley, Christopher Lee, Ray Liotta, John Lithgow, Kyle MacLachlan, John Malkovich, Malcolm McDowell, Rick Moranis, Bill Murray, Leonard Nimoy, Tom Selleck, Kevin Spacey, Brent Spiner and Patrick Stewart.

The Master previously tried to use the Eye of Harmony to obtain a new set of regenerations in ‘The Deadly Assassin’.

The Master’s “Life is wasted on the living!” line refers to Doctor Who writer Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy radio series.

In the UK the movie ended with a dedication to Jon Pertwee (the Third Doctor), who had died the previous week.

Paul McGann (the Eighth Doctor) and Sylvester McCoy (the Seventh Doctor) are the only British actors in the production.

The movie features the Doctor’s first kiss.

The gold dust that the Master finds in the TARDIS is a reference to the Cybermen, to whom gold is lethal.

Promotion trailers on Fox in the US featured special effects footage from 1986’s ‘The Trial of a Time Lord’.

Despite its reputation as a flop, the movie attracted over 9 million viewers in the UK in May 1996 and was the highest rated drama that week.

It was the first ever Doctor Who story to be filmed outside Europe.

The movie was renamed in France as Le Seigneur du Temps, meaning “The Lord of Time”.


> Buy ‘The TV Movie’ on DVD on Amazon.

What’s your favourite moment in ‘The TV Movie’? Let us know below…