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.
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!