Hosts Ben McKenzie, John Richards and Petra Elliott discuss the Paul McGann telemovie, and then bring in guest scientists Jack ScanlanAlan Duffy and Allie Ford to talk science in Doctor Who as part of National Science Week! It’s the eighth live Splendid Chaps episode, recorded at Bar Open in Melbourne on August 11, 2013. Plus prizes, Ben’s scrapbook, the secrets of lab coats, audience questions and Hannah Pelka-Caven performs a haunting version of the song shared by the Seventh and Eighth Doctors in the telemovie, “In A Dream”.

Eight/Science guests
Eight/Science scientist guests Allie Ford, Alan Duffy and Jack Scanlan. Photo by Sarah Clarke.

Don’t forget you can go into the draw to win a CD copy of the Big Finish Eighth Doctor audio adventure The Chimes of Midnight by commenting on this episode below! Do you love the telemovie? Are you part of the Paul McGann Estrogen Brigade? What are your favourite – or least favourite – bits of science in Doctor Who? Comment by September 14 to be in the running, and we’ll announce the winner at the recording of Nine/Women on September 15.


  1. Sigh man says:

    Such a brilliant way to spend the first night of my brief holiday back home. Thank you so much.

    On McGann being a stereotypical Doctor – isn’t that something that’s marred the portrayal of all the new series Docs?

    • Matt Utting says:

      I think the new doctors take faceats of some of the old doctors but they have enough quirks to be unique.

      But in thinking about it realised that they’re all pretty broody (the below may be piffle and if not it’s probably done better somewhere else by someone else)….

      The Ninth Doctor is battle scarred and at once running from thoughts of the loss of his people and the time war in general and trying to make amends for it. Taking Rose as a companion with him seems to be a way to distract himself and to make a connection with another intelligent lifeform.

      The Tenth Doctor is over all the broodiness of the time war and becomes very jovial. Until he looses Rose and becomes all broody again… until he gets to jaunt around with his mate Donna. The regeneration of the Tenth to the Eleventh Doctor seems like a catharsis… he’s let go of all the negative emotions… he’s reached some sort of acceptance that “stuff happens” and at that point he realises that he’s personality has become what it should be and that’s why he doesn’t want to go.

      The eleventh is all over the broodiness is the flopsy ragiddy man (partially what the Second was I suppose) and then gets all broody after loosing Amy and Rory and now pretty much used Clara as a distraction (a puzzle that needs solving).

      I think the New Who three have similar arcs to each other, but I’m not sure that they are as stereotypical as the Eighth was… but then it may just be that the Eighth didn’t have time to develop unstereotypical quirks… or maybe it was just poor writing.

  2. Megan Brain says:

    I actually didn’t mind the tele-movie with Paul McGann, but when I watched it I had just been introduced to the new Doctor Who series, so I was very excited to be getting into it and I couldn’t get enough! I’ve since started to collect as many of the new and classic episodes of Doctor Who that I can afford and the library has a good selection of classic ep’s to borrow, which is great! I just wish I had some other friends to watch it with. Maybe if I come to the next Splendid Chaps I could meet some other whovians! And I loved Nine, I wish Christopher Eccleston had more time as the Doctor but I guess he was lucky compared to Paul McGann who only got the movie!

  3. Henrik Hansen says:

    Paul was my Doctor, the first onscreen Doctor after I had become a fan (thanks to the New Adventures books.). I am firmly in the “Great Doctor, pity about the script” camp. His passion and joie de vivre overshadow the difficult bits. I cringe at the whole “human on my Mother’s side”business. And the Big Finish Audios show what an excellent Doctor he is, given half a chance.

    As always, engaging and entertaining. I’m looking forward to the Spoilers, Cliffhangers, etc podcast. Don’t leave me hanging!

  4. Ryan White says:

    I re-watched the TV movie before listening to the 8th Doctor show and one thought ran through my head for most to it; Cheese! And I’m an American who loves American Scifi for crying out loud! I couldn’t help but compare what was in the movie with the classic Doctor Who I love, primarily the 3rd and 4th Doctors, and found it lacking in many areas. The 8th Doctor is really the Doctor I identify with the most because I read all of the BBC New Adventures and really enjoyed them plenty. I was really disappointed in many ways when the new series came to TV, killing my 8th Doctor. I was willing to give it a try, but killing the 8th for one mixed season of the 9th was frustrating.

  5. simbo says:

    I really loved the discussion of Grace, who’s often passed over in thoughts of the TV movie. She’s very much a rarity in companions in that she’s a fully adult woman (the only others I can think of are Barbara and Liz Shaw) and she isn’t there to be parented, patronised or instructed by the Doctor (which both Liz and Barbara were at various times). So therefore, of course, it ends with her being too damn good to need to travel in the TARDIS and walking away, barely appearing in any spinoffs (she shows up very briefly in the comics).

  6. Sarah B says:

    When I was small I wanted to be a scientific adviser on Doctor Who when I grew up. Sadly, I was thwarted by the show’s cancellation before I finished high school, so I became a geneticist instead. It worked out ok, I think.

    The viewing of the telemovie was my one foray into fandom in the wilderness years; I was turned off by the classic “You’re doing Dr Who fandom wrong” line from some idiot, so I stuck with videos and books from then on in. So the movie is always associated for me with pompous boys who love Colin Baker, and the death of Jon Pertwee. Apart from that, it was ok, I think, although it’s hard to make judgements on how “typical” a doctor he would have been in such a short run.

    • Mark Hubbard-Page says:

      As a Colin Baker fanboy, I can assure you, there really isn’t any way to do the Dr Who fandom wrongly. Because COLIN BAKER FANBOY was, by far, the definition of doing it wrong, by so many for so long. Thus the concept of “doing it wrong” has lost much of it’s meaning to me.

  7. Koa Webster says:

    As a biologist I agree with your panellist who said that genetics is always done wrong/badly in TV & movie sci-fi. I would broaden that to say that biology generally is often done badly. Of course, as a biologist I notice when biology is wrong on TV – I’m way less likely to notice when astrophysics or chemistry is done badly…

    My overall feeling is that New Who has a tendency to use more “magic” (e.g. sonic screwdriver as magic wand) than the old series, but that may be a case of nostalgia or poor memory (I haven’t watched very much of the classic series since I was a child). And as a child I knew less actual science, so the technobabble may have seemed more believable. And maybe the increased focus of the new series on personal relationships and emotional content has reduced the amount of screen time available for (pseudo)scientific explanations?

    If I want “hard” science fiction with good scientific foundations, I don’t go to Doctor Who. But for a fun show with a sciencey flavour, set in a universe with lots of interesting aliens, Doctor Who is just right. And I’m all for the increased emotional content of the new series 🙂

    P.S. I do wear a white coat when I’m working in the lab. In official OH&S parlance a lab coat is known as part of your “PPE” (personal protective equipment). Basically this means it is good for keeping yucky stuff off your clothes!

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