As part of a panel earlier today at London Film and Comic Con, Sylvester McCoy sat down to talk all things Who!
Sylvester McCoy played the seventh incarnation of The Doctor. He took over the role from Sixth Doctor Colin Baker, fulfilling leading man duties right up until the classic series end in the late 80’s. However, his connection with the show didn’t end there. The convention circuit gave fans the chance to sit down with a Time Lord, and in classic Who style, many revelations were revealed from under McCoy’s sleeve.
Anyone who has met or even shared a room with McCoy knows of his energetic antics. He is certainly a character in and of himself, and he knows how to command a room. Just like The Doctor himself, McCoy can speak with seriousness and gravitas before switching it up entirely and landing the comedy. This talk was no exception.
It did not take long for the discussion to arrive at Doctor Who and his departure from the role. While he stated his need for versatility as an actor, he then went on to state with half-humor that he would have stayed in the role forever, had the show not been cancelled. He referred back to Second Doctor Patrick Troughton, who “told Peter [Davison] only do three years, and I in my head ‘yeah, that’s a message to me as well, the great Patrick Troughton, I’ll only do three years.’ So in my second year, it all started to bottle up and get interesting, and the producer came to me. He said ‘listen, we want you to do a fourth year!'” If the convention circuits and Big Finish audios were not clues enough, it is clear McCoy felt and still feels that he could give more to the role and fans. He confirmed such:
“I went ‘hmm’, and he said ‘if you won’t do a fourth year we won’t do a third year.’ So I thought I’d do a fourth year […] the fourth year was going to be a whole ten or eleven months of Doctor Who so I will have to give my full life for a year to Doctor Who. I was a bit worried. How would it work out? Will I go a bit potty? Will I end up like Tom Baker and think I am The Doctor? That kind of thing. Little worries I had, but then I thought, I am going to do it. I am going to really do it. I got my head around it, I would support it and do it and commit myself to it. Then suddenly, I get a phone call after the third season in the middle of the holidays from the producers saying I have sent you a letter […] I was really annoyed because they sort of twisted my arm to do it and then you know, left me over there.”
Despite this unfortunate setback, it is a testament to McCoy’s character that he still actively engages with the Whoniverse. He is fully on board with the show, and his relationship with the program is going from strength to strength with the casting of Jodie Whittaker. He admits that, before the announcement, he “wasn’t very keen really” on there being a casting of a female Doctor. Instead, McCoy favoured the approach of having a Time Lord like “Superman and Supergirl, that still might kinda be the way to go”, with separate adventures with a female Time Lord who can match The Doctor. The logic makes sense, with Gallifrey newly returned, a female Time Lord can still make for a compelling equal to The Doctor. However, he did go on to elaborate that “when it was announced, I suddenly thought this is actually quite exciting. This is really interesting. I am intrigued to see what would happen! The important thing with Doctor Who is the writing, they’re good writers – she is a great actress and she will do a wonderful job. I’m sure we’ll take to her really quickly.” McCoy speaks as a fan would, and its reassuring to see the classic figures give their blessing to the new Who all these years on.
Before closing out the talk, McCoy briefly considered Billy Connolly serving as his replacement. McCoy inevitably dived deep into an impersonation of Connolly spouting curse words to Daleks from the phone box. He also considered The Doctor as a Welsh person, following Russell T Davies moving of the production for the 2005 revamp. He made sure to entertain the room while providing intriguing snippets of inside information, and that, of course, is part of McCoy’s charm.
London Film and Comic Con returns for a final day tomorrow from 9:00 – 18:00. Tickets are still available.