McGann fronts Sky Atlantic's new four-part documentary series The Petrol Age - an exploration of Britain's fascination with automobiles and classic car culture! Digital Spy caught up with Paul to discuss his latest project and also quizzed him about a possible return to a certain sci-fi drama...
What is The Petrol Age all about?
"I suppose you could say it's my personal voyage of discovery into the history of British motoring - we go back right to the beginning to the 1890s, and we end up in 2012 with present-day Formula 1."
How did you become involved in the project?
"I was approached about it, actually with very little time to go - I agreed to do it and seemed to be shooting almost immediately. I drive an old British car - maybe they'd heard, maybe that's how it came about...
"In fact, in the film, you see me in this old car - it's the first car I ever bought and I've still got it 25 years later, this old Rover P5. It's a link, it's a tenuous link!
"I drive these old vehicles - classics and race cars - and also get to meet designers, test drivers and race drivers, really to examine what it is about the Brits and their peculiar love of cars. [It explores] the British style, and the British passion and flair for engineering and design. It's a fascinating story.
"We talked to some fantastic people - they all shared this passion for motoring and I realised it made me passionate. I don't suppose I'm what you'd call a 'petrol-head' - well, I wasn't before anyway!
"Perhaps that's the strength of it - I'm no sports journalist or car expert, so the voyage of discovery was genuine. I didn't know this stuff and was able to talk to these people and find this stuff out."
"Sometimes they were so old, they had a tiller - not a steering wheel, that's how old we're talking here! Some of them were literally modified horse vehicles.
"I drove a car from the 1890s that you had to set fire to before it would even start! Then I was getting in these old vintage cars from the '20s, Edwardian vehicles.
"I'd driven a few of those things before in First World War dramas and the like, while kissing the girl, that kind of thing! But this was different - they'd put me out on a track, in a fast car, and I'm not a fast driver!
"So it's kind of interesting... to see a man make a fool of himself! It was great, it was a hoot - I actually got to drive the first Mini, and the first [Jaguar] E-Type. I drove a '60s Formula 1 car around a race track, cos one of the episodes is about speed. Sometimes it was a little bit hairy - I was definitely out of my comfort zone, but all the better for it."
Do you think people who aren't necessarily car enthusiasts can enjoy The Petrol Age?
"Absolutely, because you can get it and enjoy it at the speed that I did!"
You've worked on a few different documentaries - are you keen to make more in the future?
"I've never presented one. I did a couple of short things up in Liverpool and got a taste for it, but I've got to say, professional presenters make it look easy - I've developed a respect for them in the last six weeks that perhaps i didn't have before!
"It was new for me and I really, really enjoyed it, because you have to try and personalise the thing - that was the joy of it for me. And if that's the way it's going to be, I'd love to do more.
"I think you can make perfectly good television just from people who are genuinely interested talking to people who genuinely know - simple as it sounds, it can be riveting. And then you cut away to a man making a fool of himself in a fast car and it works!"
In terms of your acting work, Luther is coming back for a third series - will you be involved?
"That's news to me - I'm happy to hear that. I thought we'd lost Idris [Elba] to super-stardom! I know he won a Golden Globe, and I read somewhere the other day that he was going to play Nelson Mandela. Imagine that, watch this space!
"So I was thinking, 'We'll never get him back'. But no, I'd like to make more Luther - that was fun, we enjoyed that."
And what about Doctor Who - do fans still ask you about a comeback?
"I'm still in the Doctor Who loop, believe me! I was over in California a few weeks ago, talking to fans. Although I was [in] Doctor Who for six weeks, sixteen years ago, it never goes away - it only ever seems to get stronger.
"I'd love to do that again, but that's not up to me, is it? Being Doctor Who, there's always anniversaries looming large - celebration programmes and episodes. So I'm often asked, 'If they get the five Doctors together, would you do it?' and of course, I'd do it. They've just got to ring me up!"
The Petrol Age begins tonight at 8pm on Sky Atlantic.