Cosplaying the Eighth Doctor

Ohayocon 2012 AIn January 2012, sixteen years after the airing of Doctor Who – the Movie, staring Paul McGann and Eric Roberts, I finally debuted my full on attempt at cosplaying this George Lazenby of Who. Unlike the 1996 Doctor, the hair is actually mine, although if you watch McGann’s audition video for the role of the Doctor you will see that McGann actually had the hair already, but somewhere between the audition and the filming he had it all cut off and was required to wear the infamous wig that he grew to hate . . . but back to me. Why is this such a big deal that I feel compelled the write an article on the subject? Because this was essentially my first genuine cosplay.

My costuming background comes from my involvement with the Steampunk community. I’ve always dressed in a neo-Victorian, quasi-Edwardian fashion, so transitioning into steampunk was a natural evolution of my nerdom. For the past four years I cultivated my steampunk wardrobe, and like many steampunks I was not trying to reproduce a certain preexisting character, I didn’t even have some sort of backstory, I was not LARPing; I was simply dressing in clothing that I adored. Within steampunk specific events my outfits were recognized as such, but as I gradually glided down the slippery slopes of attending more and more cons it increasingly became the case that I was not recognized as being steampunk; perhaps because I seldom ever wear the iconic goggles, nor do I carry 50 pounds of brass on my shoulder. Cincinnati, Columbus, Indianapolis, and even New York, whenever I walk around a con, people have given me a quizzical look and a wry smile before asking, “Paul McGann?”

McGann Who 96Admittedly, McGann is my favorite Doctor; his Victorian look and the absolute steampunk interior to the TARDIS in the movie appeal to my sense of aesthetics, even if the plot of the movie appeals to my sense of dissatisfaction. There is little coincidence that my steampunk look is inspired by the same 19th century dandy image that is also the model for the Eighth Doctor; Oscar Wilde is another of my heroes and if anything my initial steampunk clothing was almost cosplaying the infamously gay Irish playwright. However, after being repeatedly mistaken for the Eighth Doctor and having to explain about steampunk to a disappointed con-goer, I finally gave in to my inner-Doctor and decided to go full cosplay!

My research had indicated that the Eighth Doctor’s velvet frock coat was actually black, rather than the popular green of various graphic novels and cartoons (although this is still a contested issue today), so I made the financial commitment and commissioned my seamstress friend, Angie Carter of Festooned Butterfly, to make my fabulous jacket. The rest of the outfit was store bought, or ordered online; the Gentleman’s Emporium is a great site for 19th century period clothing. Piece by piece the whole outfit grew and on January 28, 2012 it made its maiden voyage at the Ohayocon anime convention. Despite my earlier reservations about cosplaying a specific character, it was a lot of fun to walk around the convention center and be intentionally recognized as the Eighth Doctor.

If you have a Doctor Who cosplay of which you are proud, please show it to us by entering the Who North America Doctor Who Cosplay Contest.

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2 Responses to “Cosplaying the Eighth Doctor

  • You were the 8th Doctor!??? Man, I must have missed you! He’s one of my favorites, and I love that movie! I wish more had been done with it. I hope you’ll cosplay as him again, I’d love to see it!

  • I came across this article by accident: looking for source material for making my own 8th Doctor cosplay. Your article has helped me immensely, at least now I know where I can really find the stuff I need to finish it. Thank you!

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