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Paul McGann (1959)

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  Summary  

Paul McGann is an English actor who made his name on the BBC serial The Monocled Mutineer, in which he played the lead role. He is also known for his role in Withnail and I, and for portraying the Eighth Doctor in the 1996 Doctor Who television movie and subsequent tie-in media.

  Biography  

 early life
McGann was born in Kensington, Liverpool, England in 1959 into a Roman Catholic family. His mother, Claire, was a teacher, and his father was a metallurgist. His parents encouraged him and his siblings to develop their talents from an early age. McGann's talents were further developed when he attended Cardinal Allen Grammar school in West Derby, Liverpool. One of McGann's teachers advised him to enter the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and to pursue a career as an actor. Acting on his teacher's advice, McGann enrolled at the Royal Academy and went on to enjoy a successful acting career spanning over two decades.

McGann is the third of six children in the McGann family. His mother had twin boys, Joseph and John, who were born in 1958, but John died shortly after birth. McGann has three younger siblings: Mark , Stephen and Clare McGann . All three of his brothers are also actors and the four of them starred together in the 1995 television TV serial The Hanging Gale about the Irish Famine. The same year he played the role as Grigori Potemkin in TV film Catherine The Great, with Mark and Stephen too. These brothers also formed the pop quartet The McGanns, releasing the single "Shame About the Boy". McGann's sister, Clare, is a programme finance manager for Five.

 career
 Early appearances
Give us a Break
McGann's breakthrough role was Give us a Break devised by Geoff McQueen who also created the long running ITV series, The Bill. McGann played a good snooker player who got into scrapes with Robert Lindsay, who played his wideboy manager. The series was a comedy drama in the vein of the popular ITV series of the time, Minder. The series only lasted one series and it was concluded by a one off special.

The Monocled Mutineer
McGann's first major dramatic role was the infamous British deserter and criminal Percy Toplis in the 1986 BBC serial The Monocled Mutineer. The film was based on the 1978 book of the same name, which was written by William Alison and John Fairley.

Although McGann received praises for his dramatic performance, the drama was never re-broadcast on the BBC. This is because the BBC came under fire from the Conservative Government due to the sensitivity of the subject matter of the Étaples Mutiny in 1919 at "The Bull Ring", a harsh British Army training ground in Étaples, France. The events that transpired at the Bull Ring remain debated, and documents concerning the occurrences there will remain sealed until 2017. They claimed that the film was inaccurate and displayed a "Left-wing bias". Toplis was a mysterious figure and the film, as well as the book, depicted him as an active participant of the Etaples Mutiny, before he was tracked down and killed some years after the end of World War I. As a result, a minor political crisis in Britain was launched which prompted the BBC to remove all planned repeat screenings of the film. Despite the banning controversy, The Monocled Mutineer was released by the BBC on video in the early 1990s, and on DVD in 2007.

 Film career
Following on from that part of Percy Toplis, McGann sought a less controversial and more comedic role for his next project. In 1986, he was cast as the eponymous "I" in Bruce Robinson's cult film comedy, Withnail and I. He also starred as Anton Skrebensky in Ken Russell's 1989 adaptation of D. H. Lawrence's The Rainbow. McGann's other early film appearances include The Monk, Dealers, Tree of Hands and the epic war film Empire of the Sun. McGann and other young British actors who were becoming established film actors such as Tim Roth, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Bruce Payne were dubbed the 'Brit Pack'.

Since 1989, McGann has concentrated primarily on television work, including Nice Town and Nature Boy for the BBC, and The One That Got Away and the second series of Hornblower for ITV. However, he has had small roles in a number of high-profile American films like The Three Musketeers and Alien 3. His role in Alien 3 was originally larger, but much of it was edited out of the final print. The cut footage can be seen in the extended version of the film.

In 1993, he was cast as Richard Sharpe, the lead character in the Sharpe series of made-for-tv movies based on Bernard Cornwell's novels, however he injured his knee while playing football just days into filming Sharpe's Rifles in the Ukraine. He was replaced by Sean Bean and the role effectively kick-started Bean's career and is the one that he is most closely identified with. McGann's injury led to what was at the time the largest insurance settlement in British television history, a sum of £2,128,172.

 Doctor Who
Paul McGann played the eighth incarnation of the Doctor in the Doctor Who 1996 television movie. The television movie also starred Eric Roberts, Daphne Ashbrook, and the outgoing Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy. McGann's brother, Mark McGann, also auditioned for the title role.

The Doctor Who television movie was a joint venture between the BBC, Universal Studios and the Fox Broadcasting Network. McGann had signed a contract to appear as the Eighth Doctor in a new Doctor Who series, if Fox or Universal exercised their option. Thus, the television movie was supposed to be a "back door pilot" in that, if it obtained respectable ratings, the new series would continue to be produced. The film was shown on 14 May 1996 in the US and on 27 May 1996 in the UK. Although it earned 9.08 million viewers and was very successful in the UK, ratings were very low in the United States. As a consequence, Fox did not exercise its option to pick up the series and Universal could not find another network interested in airing a new Doctor Who series. Thus no new series was produced until 2005, after all the contractual rights had returned to the BBC, and the movie became McGann's only televised appearance as the Eighth Doctor.

Although McGann played the Doctor on television only once, he gave permission for his likeness to be used on the covers of the BBC's Eighth Doctor novels and he has reprised the role of the Eighth Doctor in an extensive series of audio plays by Big Finish Productions.

Rumours abounded that Paul McGann would reprise the role of the eighth Doctor in a new series of television films, alongside the current television series. McGann has denied these rumours on the grounds of not having been asked back to play the part but if he were to be asked would be interested as long as he "didn't have to wear a wig". McGann has appeared again as the eighth Doctor in the BBC Radio 7 series Doctor Who in 2007 - 2010.

 After Doctor Who
In the years following his appearance as the Doctor, Paul McGann continued to diversify his acting portfolio with the television and movie roles he accepted. In 1997 he appeared as a concerned father in the film FairyTale: A True Story and later that same year as Rob in Downtime, then in 1998 he appeared as Capt. Greville in The Dance of Shiva.

In the 2000s McGann's film appearances began to increase with films like My Kingdom , Listening and Gypo . Perhaps his most iconic role, since Doctor Who, came in 2002, when McGann appeared in the film adaptation of the third story from Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles, Queen of the Damned. McGann played the part of David Talbot, a member of the secret organisation The Talamasca, which researches and investigates the supernatural. Talbot has appeared in many of Rice's novels and has become a central character over the years. The film also starred Stuart Townsend, Marguerite Moreau and pop star Aaliyah, in her final role before her death. McGann has also been in demand for voice-over work in Britain in recent years, particularly on television documentaries and commercials.

In 2006, he appeared in the television drama Tripping Over. In 2007, McGann starred alongside Dervla Kirwan, Lorraine Ashbourne and David Bradley in BBC One drama True Dare Kiss, written by Debbie Horsfield. In 2010, McGann played a major role in a feature-length episode of long-running BBC mystery series Jonathan Creek, as well as appearing as a regular in the crime drama Luther. In 2011, McGann played a major role as an Assistant Commissioner with something to hide in the final episode of Waking The Dead. It was also announced that he will be featured in Simon Gray's Butley alongside Dominic West at the Duchess Theatre.

 Audio books and voice work
McGann is also known for audio book narration having read several Pat Barker and Bernard Cornwell novels. He narrated the abridged audiobook of Jeff Noon's 1993 cyberpunk classic Vurt.

McGann continues to play the Eighth Doctor on audio. McGann's first Big Finish audio play appearance was in 2001 in the story Storm Warning which featured Blake's 7 leading man, Gareth Thomas. McGann's main companions in the audio plays are Charley Pollard and C'rizz . It was through the Big Finish audio plays that McGann's Doctor finally got a chance to face many of the classic Doctor Who villains like the Daleks and the Cybermen .

Five Eighth Doctor dramas were broadcast in BBC 7's The 7th Dimension slot between August 2005 and January 2006. They were in release order, starting with Storm Warning, although Minuet in Hell was judged unsuitable for the timeslot, and skipped. Two more Eighth Doctor audios, Shada and The Chimes of Midnight were broadcast in December 2005 and January 2006; all six of these stories were rebroadcast on BBC7 beginning in July 2006. As of January 2007, a series of all-new plays starring McGann as the Eighth Doctor and Sheridan Smith as companion Lucie Miller is being broadcast on BBC7.

His voice also featured in the 1997 video game Ceremony of Innocence together with those of Isabella Rossellini and Ben Kingsley.

After hearing him sing in The Monocled Mutineer, composer Bernard J. Taylor invited McGann to create the role of Benedict in the concept studio recording of Much Ado, a musical based on of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. The recording also included top West End singers Claire Moore and Peter Karrie.

 personal life
In 1992, McGann married Annie Milner, with whom he has two sons, Joe McGann and Jake McGann .

He had a relationship with the actress Susannah Harker beginning in 2006. They parted company at the end of 2008.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Paul McGann", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.