Doctor Who’s Chris Eccleston ‘My conscience is clear’

When Doctor Who returned to the small screen, it was with some surprise that accomplished actor of stage and screen Christopher Eccleston was chosen to play the Time Lord. Beating out the competition of Sir Derek Jacobi (who is rumored to have attended a publicity shoot) and Bill Nighy (who was actually announced as the Doctor by mistake), Eccleston brought a level of credibility to the program, demanding that viewers recognize the importance of Doctor Who and the part that it plays with young people.

Leading up to the premier, Eccleston spoke at length about the importance of communicating to the younger generation using good solid storytelling and had great hopes in Russell T Davies in pulling this off. He also spoke about how as a child he could not relate to the RADA-style Doctors as they were of a different social background that he could not relate to. He cited that his Doctor would be more ‘street level’ rather than a high society and his roughed up leather jacket and black trousers backed this notion up.

A deeply scarred version of the Doctor, Eccleston’s incarnation was tired and worn from events that had occurred off-screen and on, developing a modern view of the Doctor as a man who had fought monsters and tyranny for generations, leaving him alone and shattered. A short period into the new series, there was some friction on the set due to several complications, leading to the announcement of his departure.

Despite all that, Eccleston is still proud of his achievement as the Doctor and he is more than comfortable with his decision to leave in 2005.

Ninth Doctor Who – Christopher Eccleston


Via STV:

Christopher Eccleston feels ”hugely grateful” to kids who like talk to him about his ‘Doctor Who’ career.

The 48-year-old actor left the BBC One show in controversial circumstances in 2005 after just one series of portraying the ninth Time Lord, but Christopher insists his ”conscience is completely clear” following his departure from the sci-fi programme.

He said: ”My conscience is completely clear. I’ve lived my life, particularly my working life, on the basis that I have to be able to look at myself in the mirror about the way I behave. It wasn’t a bold move, it was an entirely natural one.

”I’m hugely grateful to the children who to this day come up and talk to me about the show.”

There are some contradictory theories about why Eccleston left. Some say that the quality dropped off severely (witness the farting aliens in Alien of London and the rushed shoddy production of fill-in stories such as Boomtown). Other stories say that Eccleston felt that the program was going in a direction that he did not agree with, prompting him to leave early.

Most confusing of all is the story in RTD’s ‘A Writer’s Tale’ Eccleston had only planned to film one series anyway and the BBC published the story to drum up interest in a new actor taking on the part.

We’ll likely never know the truth, but Eccleston remains a fan favorite incarnation who was just as instrumental as RTD in the BBC Wales’ program’s success. The fact that children still come up to him to talk about Doctor Who is heartening… so long as no members of the media broach the taboo subject!

5 thoughts on “Doctor Who’s Chris Eccleston ‘My conscience is clear’

  1. Hm, he couldn’t relate to the “RADA-trained” Doctors of the past because he was of “a different social background”? Pretty pathetic. Several of the actors *weren’t* RADA-trained and *didn’t* come from privileged backgrounds, and anyway the Doctor is a fricking ALIEN! Eccleston is a first- class prig, boor, and a Professional Northerner – I come from a similar background and have no such problem “relating” and I’ve got Asperger’s! How sad that he had such little imagination, he must have been a boring child. Ha. I remember people like him from *my* childhood, they were often the ones who looked askance upon you if you liked to read or you spoke differently to them, because *apparently* if you are supposedly “working class” you can only be one way. I have no time for people who define themselves as either working-class *or* middle-class, those labels are so worthless. It’s this kind of unimaginative attitude that’s led to so many characters in both British and American t.v. acting and talking in the same non-individual way, things haven’t become more varied, but less so if one bothers to notice. Ah, Eccleston, you tiresome pompous “working class hero” how is it you can speak with your head up your ass? Oh, and playing Destro was a brave move, wasn’t it? Snigger. RANT ENDS.


    • Ha! I was wondering what had happened to you, Hal! It always struck me as publicity-speak that he ‘couldn’t relate to the RADA Doctors’ rather than a genuine experience. The notion that the Doctor was ‘just like us’ (read: just like Davies) rather than some strange alien formed the backbone of the new program. I maintain that the BBC Wales series works much better as its own series rather than a continuation on the 1963-89 one for various reasons and this is just one of them.

      In my opinion, Eccleston is one of the strongest actors to play the Doctor… and the one who got the most dross to work with.

      And if I were him, I’d deny that I ever played Destro and just imply that it’s a CGi model using his likeness.


  2. I have been ill (still am) and I had been coming late to various posts so my comments weren’t going to get replies which bummed me out (I like to engage in conversation and give the benefit of my “Vast Wisdom” ahahaha) but, like General Macarthur, I Have Returned!
    I know what you mean about the way New Who was spun (and still is – and the thing is people like it, urgh – People, they’re the Worst!) but Eccleston says things like that in every interview no matter the subject so in this case it chimed with his chip-on-the-shoulder narrowmindedness. I didn’t think he was Bad as the Doctor but the “street” aspect was something I disliked/loathed and I felt he sometimes played the part too broadly as if he didn’t have respect for it (and this sometimes occurred with the better material). Man, that Eccleston just gets on my nerves, “my conscience is clear”? Pompous Ass!
    As for playing Destro, I don’t think the CGI exists that could mimic his distinctively gargoyle-esque features – that’s right, Chris, we know it was you… What were the “serious” qualities that attracted you to THAT role? Ha.
    I thought he was very good as Claude the Invisible Man in Heroes though, he didn’t irritate me for once and put his acting abilities to good use comedically and dramatically.


  3. ” Some say that the quality dropped off severely (witness the farting aliens in Alien of London)”
    Sorry but that statement makes little to no sense. Aliens of London/WW3 and Rose are the first recording block of that season, and some of the very first things shot for all of New Who was in Aliens of London. The “the quality dropped off severely” and citing that as an example makes no sense whatsoever. That was where they started filming.


    • It’s just something that I have heard at the time. When the series was filming, I was following the press like a bloodhound and remember hearing some problems early on that got worse toward the end (esp when you realize that Boomtown was a last minute replacement for a story that would have revealed Rose to be a construct created by the Doctor).

      You can see some of what I am talking about here, too:

      “When we got to episode two, and we suddenly transported into the future, I realised that was another element. And then episode three, with Dickens, we went to the past, and by then I was getting to know the territory. Part of the fun of the series is that each time you turn on at seven o’clock, you just don’t know where you’re going to be – past, present or future. But the thing with aliens in ‘Doctor Who’ is, there’s a danger of relying on them visually, to just think ‘If we roll ‘em in with three heads, that’s enough’. It isn’t.” is an amazing resource, by the way.


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