Matt Smith may be at the controls of the Tardis just now, but Scottish comedian and actor Billy Connolly has revealed that he was once considered to take on the role of the legendary Time Lord in hopes of reviving “Doctor Who.”
The Glasweigan funny man confirmed that he was among those being measured for the role of The Doctor in the mid-1990s when BBC and Fox were planning to revive the series for an international audience in the form of a television movie.
Of course, the part eventually went to Paul McGann, but the self-confessed evil Scotsman admits he would have loved the chance to travel through time and space.
“It was brought up in a meeting, apparently, but nobody told me until after they decided against it,” Connolly told The Daily Record. “I would have loved it. I’d have taken it.”
The 1996 movie, which was produced as a backdoor pilot that was never picked up, was originally eyed as a way to jumpstart the series and re-invent without any real commitment to continue beyond a single adventure. It was produced by BBC in collaboration with Universal Televison and Fox.
Despite receiving some criticism for being too Americanized — it took place in San Francisco — the movie was a ratings success in the United Kingdom but failed to attract the audience necessary Stateside. It ultimately was left as a standalone encounter before the series was again revived in 2005 by Russell T. Davies.
Although Connolly is best known as Scotland’s best stand-up comedian (and for his purple beard), he has a string of acting credits to his name including “The Last Samurai” (which starred Tom Cruise), as well as the second big-screen adaptation of “The X-Files” in which he played a psychic priest with questionable appetites.
He will also be part of the upcoming Jack Black comedy, “Gulliver’s Travels.”
“Doctor Who” without Connolly but with Matt Smith, returns to BBC and BBC America Christmas.