Exclusive Interview: Paul McGann

March 25th, 2017
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...
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WhovianNet recently caught up with Paul McGann to talk about his new play, Gabriel.

As previously reported, the Eighth Doctor actor is about to embark on a UK tour of the production, which tells the story of a family held captive in Nazi occupied Guernsey in 1943 who encounter a terrifying German officer, Von Pfunz.

Paul chatted to us exclusively about the show, his character and, of course, the conversation inevitably turns to Doctor Who. Well, it would’ve been rude not to!

Q. Hi, Paul! So, without giving too much away, what can you tell us about Gabriel?
A. Its story takes place over four days in 1943 on German occupied Guernsey. A mother, Jeanne, tries to shield both herself and her family from the dangerous attentions of a newly arrived German officer.

Q. And what can you tell us about your character, Commander Von Pfunz?
A. Some recent experience in Poland has affected him deeply and made his behaviour unpredictable. Awkwardly,he takes an instant shine to Jeanne who doesn’t know how best to fend him off without provoking the worst and putting herself and her family in danger.

Q. What was it about the play and your character that attracted you to the project?
A. It’s the first one I’d read set in the wartime Channel Islands. I suspect it captures some of the febrile atmosphere and peculiar traumas the islanders must have experienced. My character, Von Pfunz, like most good ones, is a bit cracked.

Q. What do you think it is about this particular era of history that continues to enthral audiences of all ages across various platforms?
A. Perhaps it’s something to do with it being in living memory, so not quite over. Or how it shapes national myths. There’s a British one where we alone in Europe resist the German invader. In fact, as described in Gabriel, British territory was taken and held for five years.

Q. Stories set during the War have a universal appeal, but would you say Gabriel is aimed at any audience in particular?
A. No, I think it’ll appeal to pretty much everyone. It’s a proper thriller!

Q. Does taking a production on tour present any new challenges, advantages or disadvantages?
A. I’m not really the right person to ask, as I’ve never toured before. I’ll soon find out, though!

Q. What are the main differences between performing on stage and in front of a camera?
A. On stage you’re sort of visible head to foot so you really have to give it all you’ve got, whereas on camera it’s just picking the right face to pull. I really ought to write a book.

Q. The Doctor Who Movie turned twenty years old last year. Does it feel that long ago, or does it feel like no time has passed at all?
A. Oh, it feels like twenty years. The blink of an eye.

Q. Did you ever think that your association with the series would still be growing so strong over two decades later?
A. Certainly not before the series came back in 2005. After that it took on a life of its own.

Q. Big Finish aside, what was it like to reprise the role on screen for the 50th anniversary, and would you be interested in starring in a full-length multi-Doctor TV episode?
A. It was one of the happiest jobs. A guaranteed hit, and working with people who loved it and who knew what they were doing. What’s not to like? And yes, of course I’d be interested in a multi-Doctor episode, for the same reasons.

Q. Who would you pick as Peter Capaldi’s successor?
A. I’m not sure. But whoever it is, I’d hope he or she cherished it like Peter has.

Q. Finally, have you got any other projects coming up that you can tell us about?
A. A film short, Perplexed Music, which my brother Mark and me want to shoot in England in the Summer. He’ll direct and I’ll act. He’s also written the story, based on a Cristina Rossetti poem. As you do.

Gabriel is touring in UK theatres from Tuesday 28th March. Read more about the play, find your nearest venue and buy tickets here. Thanks to Paul for his time!

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