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Watch moves onto Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann ‘Doctor Who’ 50th

Posted Nov 2, 2013 by Mathew Wace Peck
Having already covered the first six Doctors, UKTV Watch continues its “Doctor Who” 50th-anniversary celebrations by looking at the eras of Seventh and Eighth Doctors, as played by Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann, respectively.
Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited
Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited
BBC America / Doctor Who
This weekend’s programming includes, on Saturday, The Doctors Revisited: the Seventh Doctor and the 1989 serial, Battlefield; while, on Sunday, it’s The Doctors Revisited: the Eighth Doctor, together with the 1996 movie, Doctor Who.
McCoy became the Seventh Doctor in 1987, after his predecessor, Colin Baker, was forced out of the series by Michael Grade. As Controller of BBC One, Grade had had it in for Doctor Who ever since taking up his post and made no secret of his loathing for what, today, has become, despite his best efforts, one of the BBC’s flagship programmes.
Back in the mid-to-late 1980s, however, and as hard as it is to believe today, the BBC — under the likes of Grade and the station’s Head of Drama, Jonathan Powell — was desperate to be rid of what they viewed an embarrassment. It’s this attitude that, first, led to the show being put on hiatus (in 1984), second, having its lead actor (Baker) sacked and, then, finally, its cancellation (in 1989), following McCoy’s third season at the helm. It’s the opening four-part serial from that season that has been partnered with Saturday’s instalment of The Doctors Revisited.
Battlefield introduced a new monster — the Haemovores — to the Doctor Who universe and reintroduced the Brigadier to the show after an absence of six years. It’s also notable for two other reasons: the long-serving Radio 4 Just a Minute quiz master, Nicholas Parsons, appears as a vicar in a rare but convincing acting role; and Jean Marsh is cast as the wicked Morgaine. In the 1960s, Marsh — who, incidentally, at one time was married to the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee — Marsh played Sara Kingdom, a short-lived (in every sense) companion to the First Doctor (William Hartnell).
Doctor Who – The TV Movie, unfortunately, was to be McGann’s one-and-only visual outing as the Doctor, the proposed series never getting the go-ahead. In the 90-minute feature, McGann was joined by two companions — Grace (Daphne Ashbrook) and Chang Lee (Yee Jee Tso) — and his old Time Lord adversary, the Master, played by none other than Eric Roberts (Lovelace).
For those who are Eighth Doctor fans, however, since 2001, McGann has appeared in Doctor Who audio adventures, produced under BBC license by Big Finish. His latest, The Light at the End, is in fact, a multi-Doctor anniversary special, released to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who.
It would be another nine years before Doctor Who, under the guidance of Russell T Davies, returned to TV screens, since when it has never looked back. The show’s elevation to its current status and subsequent dominance around the world will be covered next week’s UKTV Watch fare.
In previous instalments, The Doctors Revisited has covered the eras of the First and Second Doctors, William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton; Third and Fourth Doctors, Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker; and Fifth and Sixth Doctors, Peter Davison and Colin Baker.
The 11-part series continues next weekend, with the Ninth and Tenth Doctors, as played by Christopher Eccleston and David Tennnant (who, incidentally, is Davison’s son-in-law). Wrapping up on Saturday, 16 November, the documentary strand culminates with a profile of the current Doctor — Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor — which leads neatly, one week later, into the BBC One broadcast of The Day of the Doctor, a 75-minute feature to celebrate the actual 50th anniversary of the world’s longest-running television science-fiction drama. As well as being aired on UK television, The Day of the Doctor will be broadcast on various TV channels and in selected cinemas around the world all on the same day: Saturday, 23 November 2013.
This new adventure sees three Doctors — played by Smith, Tennant and John Hurt — join forces against the Zygons and the show’s oldest adversaries, the Daleks, exactly 50 years to the day that Doctor Who began, on Saturday 23, November 1963, with An Unearthly Child.
The special will be Smith’s penultimate outing as the Doctor as, at Christmas, a brand-new era for the series begins with the introduction of the Twelfth Doctor, as be played by Peter Capaldi (The Musketeers).