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October 3, 2015

Billy Connolly as Doctor Who?

by Nick Zaino, posted Apr 21st 2010 9:33AM
Billy Connolly considered for 1996 'Doctor Who' TV movie An odd bit of 'Doctor Who' trivia surfaced this weekend, that comic legend Billy Connolly was nearly tapped to play the Eighth Doctor in the 1996 one-off TV movie. Paul McGann wound up with the role instead. Scottish paper the Daily Record reported that a 'Doctor Who' historian named Alex Westthorp learned that the BBC had him on a "short list" after seeing him opposite Dame Judi Dench in 'Mrs. Brown.'

Apparently, no one at the BBC told Connolly. When TV Squad spoke with The Big Yin Tuesday, he said he had only heard that morning about the possibility he'd be tapped for the role. "That never reached as far as me," he said. "As a matter of fact, my manager told me that this morning. He read it in the newspaper and was amazed. It didn't get as far as him. These were just discussions at BBC I think."

Even if they had asked, it wasn't a slam dunk he'd take it. Connolly said he'd have considered the role, but only if they made changes. He didn't think much of the original incarnation of the show, mostly based on the production value and the villains.

"I used to think it very shabby, with shaky scenery and not credible bad guys," he said. "One of them looked like a caterpillar with horns. And those Daleks, [effects the Daleks' synthetic vibrato] 'Annihilate! Annihilate!' This is an enemy that can't go upstairs! All you've got to do is go upstairs to run away from a Dalek.

Connolly noted he thought the current run, which started in 2005, is better executed. "It's leapt into a different orbit altogether," he said.

Connolly's name came up when David Tennant announced he was leaving the show and former Doctor Sylvester McCoy said he'd like to see Connolly as a Time Lord, but the role of the Eleventh Doctor instead went to Matt Smith, who began his run April 17.

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Much as I love Billy Connolly, there've been a lot of people shortlisted for The Doctor over the years.

As for Eight, Paul McGann definitely deserved more screen time than he got. It'd be nice if they could find a way to cameo him in, like they did with Five in Time Crash.

April 22 2010 at 4:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Professor Zed

The story presented in the 1996 movie could be forgotten, but certainly not Paul McGann's performance. He was great as the Doctor. He really hit the mark immediately. If only they hadn't made it a "regeneration" story. Sylvester McCoy should not have been in the movie. (He's said so himself.) They should have just "jumped in" and let the audience discover who the Doctor is, along with the companion. Someone needs to tell Billy Connolly that Daleks don't give a rat's--- about stairs. (I get the feeling he really wouldn't care anyway!)

April 21 2010 at 11:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree that the movie is best forgotten -- but on the positive side, it probably had some impact on the current series' TARDIS interiors. And the success of Big Finish's Eighth Doctor audio adventures must have played a role in justifying the new TV version's economic viability.

April 21 2010 at 11:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Couldn't agree more. That movie is better off forgotten and Connolly was the smarter one for pasasing on it. I mean, they had Eric Roberts as The Master! What were they thinking?

April 21 2010 at 10:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It was probably smart of them to not totally disavow that movie, but it's somewhat depressing that "we" "wasted" a regeneration on such a terrible movie. I'm sure they can figure out how to get him more regenerations or something, but still.

April 21 2010 at 10:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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