Billy Connolly: How I was almost Doctor Who

BILLY Connolly has revealed he was devastated when he lost out on playing Doctor Who.

• Regeneration: How Billy Connolly might have looked in the 1996 Doctor Who TV film that starred Paul McGann

The Scots comedian has confirmed rumours that he was considered by producers to play the Time Lord in a 1996 television movie, a role that eventually went to Paul McGann.

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The Big Yin said he was a huge fan of the show and would have loved to portray the time-travelling Doctor. He said in an interview: "It was brought up in a meeting, apparently, but nobody told me until after they decided against it. If I had done it, he would have been angrier, a much angrier Doctor Who. I would have loved it. I'd have taken it."

The world's top Doctor Who historian, Alex Westthorp, revealed earlier this year that the BBC had Connolly on its shortlist. He said: "Billy was seriously considered for the eighth Doctor. Everyone was talking about him as a serious actor.

"I think he would have brought his own sense of comedy to the character, and would have made an incredibly special Doctor. Connolly could easily have made that role his own and taken it to another level."

The Scottish comedian has forged a reputation as a serious straight actor, in particular for playing ghillie John Brown opposite Dame Judi Dench in the film Mrs Brown.

The Doctor role has been held by fellow Scots Sylvester McCoy and David Tennant. Fulton Mackay almost became the fourth Doctor a year before he made his name as prison officer Mr Mackay in Porridge.

Connolly, who is on tour in Canada, also said he was not bothered about recently being dumped as the face of Australian bank ING for a talking orangutan.

He said: "It's hard to get your heart and soul into pensions. But it's good to do it, and it's good to do it well because it's acting. And when you're acting, you have to say things you disapprove of, but you take pride in doing it well.

"I think comics make rulebooks for themselves that they don't really need.

"If you start saying, 'I'm a rebel', are you going to turn down a movie where you play a nice guy?

"Image is bulls***. When you start making decisions based on your image, you're in deep s***."

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