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Paul McGann on Susan and the Doctor

I found this interesting discussion between Paul McGann and one of the Big finish team (not good at recognising voices and he doesn't introduce himself) in the bonus track to "An Earthly Child", the new Big Finish play with him as the Eighth Doctor and Carole Ann Ford reprising Susan. (download extract here):
McGann: And I didn't know either that it's an old character, or at least that the idea that the Doctor had a family goes right back to the beginning, doesn't it, right back to the early 60s, during Bill Hartnell's reign.
Interviewer: It does. I mean, the very first episode of Doctor Who was William Hartnell as the Doctor with his granddaughter Susan, played by Carole Ann Ford, and that -
McGann: Of course - Carole Ann who's in this now!
Interviewer: Yes!
McGann gasps.
Interviewer: She's the same character.
McGann: Now that, I didn't realise.
Interviewer: Yeah!
McGann: So there's all this, sort of, symmetry...
Interviewer: Yeah!
McGann: God, how fantastic! It's the next generation of where she left off.
Interviewer: Yeah! It picks up from exactly the same place where she left the series in 1965.
McGann: That's... just too spooky. But kind of great as well, isn't it!?
Interviewer: Marc [Platt]'s done a pretty seamless job in carrying on the story from where it finished.
McGann: But tell me why, em - let me interview you for a minute - why did we... I mean, I've played Doctor Who, why didn't I know that Doctor Who had ever had kids, that there was a family involved? Is it something that people are coy about, is it something that's not spoken of, is it a bit of a taboo subject?
Interviewer: I don't know, actually. I suppose it's a bit of an area of the show that some producers have chosen not to go in.
McGann laughs.
Interviewer: I have to say Russell T Davies and the team at Cardiff were very supportive of us doing this story, I mean they were very helpful. So it is -
McGann: Initially I felt, well, is it because somehow the Doctor over the years has become a kind of ascetic figure, you know, there's something... we can't imagine the Doctor having, we can't imagine the Doctor having sex, or something. There's something el- you know what I'm saying, so, is that the reason? I'm just trying to figure out why, why don't people talk about this kind of thing?
Interviewer: I suppose what it could be is, if the Doctor has a family, it domesticizes him...
McGann: Perhaps.
Interviewer: ...in a way, so it gives him roots and ties him down, whereas he's always portrayed as this wanderer, and quite an isolated figure at times.
McGann: Right.
Interviewer: So...
McGann: It's me that's sex-obsessed, then.
Interviewer laughs.
McGann: But that's a good point, then isn't it - that it perhaps somehow goes against the grain, and also it kind of rings true, you can see, you know, even, presumably as Bill Hartnell's character developed and then later on into the other actors that played him, it was more impotant that the Doctor, as you say, remains a kind of wanderer, you know, someone who -
Interviewer: A drifter.
McGann: A drifter, yeah. Somebody essentially quite rootless.
Funny that McGann, though obviously very aware of Hartnell's Doctor, had never before heard the Susan parts of the back story. But I think he and the other guy successfully identify why the Doctor has never since been portrayed as having a family.

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
pigeonhed
Dec. 13th, 2009 12:06 pm (UTC)
I'm not that familiar with pre-pertwee who, so can you tell me is it generally assumed that Susan actually is the doctor's granddaughter rather than that being a euphemism to avoid moral questions cropping up?
nwhyte
Dec. 13th, 2009 12:53 pm (UTC)
She always refers to him as "grandfather", and they both make it clear that they come from the same planet, which is not Earth. So it's fairly explicit that this is a family relationship right at the start. (If you haven't seen it, I do suggest you watch the first ever episode, which lays a lot of the groundwork and is also a rather good piece in its own right.)

When Susan reappears in The Five Doctors, she is not terribly surprised to be on Gallifrey and recognises Cybermen without being told what they are (and still calls the First Doctor "grandfather" even though he is no longer played by Hartnell).

Big Finish have done a couple of alternate-history audio plays where the Doctor (played by Geoffrey "Catweazle" Bayldon) never left Gallifrey and Susan, still played by Carole Ann Ford, has become President of the Time Lords. I liked them both.

All of this is still compatible with an adoptive relationship, or even (per the novel Lungbarrow) with an asexual method of reproduction. The latest Big Finish play, however, features Paul McGann's son Jake playing Susan's son Alex, therefore the Doctor's great-grandson; though there are a couple of very ambiguous hints that he may not be Susan's biological child.

(Further material to consider in the question of Gallifreyan / human compatibility is provided by the Leela / Andred relationship, which in Lungbarrow generates a pregnancy, but in the Big Finish series of Gallifrey plays has ended in a peculiar manner.)
nwhyte
Dec. 13th, 2009 12:54 pm (UTC)
(Not to mention The Curse of Fatal Death!)
parrot_knight
Dec. 13th, 2009 01:43 pm (UTC)
Terrance Dicks's account of the origins of the Doctor in The Doctor Who Monster Book, reprinted with revisions in the second edition of The Making of Doctor Who, indicated that it was his view that the grandfather/granddaughter relationship was an adoptive one, a term of affection between the Doctor and Susan; this is in keeping with the 1970s depiction of the third and fourth Doctor as both assertively masculine figures and at the same time asexual.
akashasheiress
Dec. 14th, 2009 02:17 am (UTC)
I don't believe for a second that Four was asexual.;)
parrot_knight
Dec. 14th, 2009 02:57 am (UTC)
I think there were times where he tried very hard. ;)
andrewducker
Dec. 13th, 2009 12:54 pm (UTC)
It's my understanding that Susan was taken literally as the The Doctor's granddaughter until the 90s, when The Cartmel Masterplan started dropping hints that something else was going on.
nwhyte
Dec. 13th, 2009 12:55 pm (UTC)
...which may or may not have been revealed in Lungbarrow!
andrewducker
Dec. 13th, 2009 12:57 pm (UTC)
The only New Adventures I've read was The Also People (which I thoroughly enjoyed). Is it worth picking up all the stuff leading up to Lungbarrow? It looks like an awful lot of second-hand books to go trawling for :->
nwhyte
Dec. 13th, 2009 01:01 pm (UTC)
I don't know, to be honest. I read Lungbarrow rather early in my series of reading Who books, and it certainly lost me in places because I didn't know the back story. I plan to start working through the New Adventures (and Eighth Doctor Adventures) systematically in the New Year.

On the other hand they are not generally difficult to track down on eBay and quite a lot of them are available electronically one way or another.
dweo
Dec. 14th, 2009 08:20 am (UTC)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/ebooks/lungbarrow/index.shtml

I don't know If you mind reading e-books, but the BBC has put Lungbarrow up.
andrewducker
Dec. 14th, 2009 08:27 am (UTC)
I'm fine with ebooks (I have a Sony ereader) - but my collectors nature won't let me read that without reading all the ones that lead up to it.
steve_mollmann
Dec. 13th, 2009 05:24 pm (UTC)
That's David Richardson talking. :)
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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