On a crisp, wintry evening in Januarya tube journey home was enlivened by a picture of Paul McGann, sporting a freshly-shorn haircut and wearing a dark, checked scarf in the Evening Standard. For those reading the paper, over their fellow commuters shoulders on the tube that night, the realisation dawned: after six long years, Doctor Who was finally coming back! Attempts to farm out Doctor Who to an independent production company had come to nothing. It seemed, even to the most dedicated Who fan, the series had no hope of revival, at least not in its current guise and certainly not by the BBC.
Paul McGann famously hates having his photograph taken. Loathes and detests it.
So, when at 11pm on a wet and windy evening after Paul had literally just jumped off a plane from Paris, not having slept for 30 hours, I was expecting trouble. To my surprise, he was a real trouper and without complaint traveled to a couple of locations around town to get a good film noir shot. He even chatted about Alien 3 and starring in the Doctor Who TV movie whilst trying desperately not to fall asleep in the back of the car.
During the photo session on a Bristol bridge in Montpelier, we were accosted by a bunch of beered-up chavs. It's a project.
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Paul McGann steps into the Hobgoblin pub in Bath, looks around with bemused interest, and murmurs, "What a weird place…" The Liverpool-born actor has travelled the world from Krakow to Kathmandu, and has played roles that required him to inhabit the personae of everyone from a monocled mutineer to a famous timelord. Hunched conspiratorially over a glass of red wine, McGann starts talking.
The ensuing conversation is eclectic to say the least. He talks about silent movie goddess Louise Brooks. He talks about the fact that you can have a really good time in Poland In person, McGann is open, articulate and hugely enthusiastic.
One moment neatly sums up our Hobgoblin conversation. McGann has been talking about the love-hate relationship of maverick director Werner Herzog and lunatic actor Klaus Kinski, when he suddenly remembers that he has actually met the great Herzog, at a film event in Germany.
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Nope, thought not They really went to town on the security, it was like trying to get into a top football match. Once you were inside it was nice, very mellow this year - not the usual mayhem. But not everybody liked it.
Had it been the scally-fest that it can be, there might have been concern, but it was a bit of a picnic. Maria was interested in finding out about where her family comes from. We ended up basing ourselves in Krakow for two days, and I loved it.
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I love the atmosphere. It struck me as being the real Europe, perhaps the Europe that was recognisable 50 or 60 years ago - a bit slower, a bit more rough and ready.
Living in Northern Europe now you could easily mistake it for North America, so it was lovely. I found the people engaging, friendly and clever. Mind you, Krakow is apparently the hip and happening place to be. I was surprised as well how the younger people we spoke to knew Bristol, or about Bristol. In one of his books, The Natural History Of Destruction, Sebald specifically talks about the non-response of German writers after the war to confront this national catastrophe that was the allied destruction of their cities.
Doctor who: the film careers of paul mcgann & john hurt
There seemed to be this collective amnesia by German writers, a refusal to take this issue on. Apart from Amery, who, as Sebald describes, chose the essay form. And with spooky parallels to Primo Levi, he was later to take his own life. So Sebald led me to Amery, but what led me to Sebald was I was on holiday last year, staying with Nepalese friends near Kathmandu. And when I got home I chased him up. He writes with a kind of?
He can have two or three subjects on the go at the same time, but it just shapes beautifully and re beautifully, like a dream sometimes. The Emigrants is about five or six individuals who for one reason or another were forced to uproot, to go and live there lives elsewhere. But not everybody does.
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There are places in the world where it might or might not take root. It can be a tense place. We went with the kids last year, having been assured by friends that not one tourist had been targeted during the political violence. When I did The Monocled Mutineer, I just tried to get into it and really inhabit the thing, and it stayed with me afterwards. That whole area of Picardy and Pas De Calais must be one of the most fought-over patches of land on Earth. Over the centuries these armies have rolled backwards Paul mcgann naked forwards over this place.
A lot more coach lo, particularly of kids, arriving at the Somme. This time I was determined to find the camera positions that one of the official war cameramen, Geoffery Mallins, had taken. I found a guide who helped me find it. The sunken road is the same as it was, and the trench systems are still there, still visible. On a daily basis, seriously.
A wonderful childhood, all well-adjusted. It goes very deep. There is a sort of paternal thing about it. But the most avid supporter in our family is my sister - an otherwise frighteningly intelligent person gets completely irrationally affected by the fortunes of her team.
It can happen. To just take it on the chin and get on with the rest of their lives. He bought a plane ticket and went to North America and interviewed a lot of the protagonists - directors, technicians, actors.
Bristol Silents is a club devoted to showing and screening and promoting information about silent pictures. We periodically show silent pictures in Bristol and try to simulate the original conditions. You know, on the big screen with real prints and piano accompaniments.
The frame speed was slower then, it was 18 frames, rather than the old talkies which were These films had money lavished on them. Some of the technicians working on them were the greatest geniuses ever in movies. And also some of the actors, it must be said, were fantastic.
Half four. Picc Circus. McGann is sitting alone, wearing an elegantly-crumpled summer suit. He looks as handsome as ever, but not to the extent that his looks would inhibit his slipping into other faces and other characters for the purposes of his work. In the prescribed ritual of the 21st century interview, the mobile phones are disabled and the tape starts rolling and McGann starts talking. On the pavement outside I watch him melt into the Soho street scene, while I try to get my bearings. Mark Berry By: Mark Berry.
What is it good for? Taken on June 3, All rights reserved.