Over a decade later and questions still linger about why Christopher Eccleston left the role of the Ninth Doctor after just one series. For his vast amount of fans – myself included – it’s such a massive shame Eccleston only appeared in 13 episodes of Doctor Who. Now, the actor has admitted that he regrets not staying on for a second series.
Speaking on 774 ABC Melbourne’s Drive show, Eccleston said:
“There’s always regret when you play a role like that because what you do is you… I watched it back and I thought, ‘Okay, next time, don’t do this; do that’, y’know, calibrate the performance. It was kind of tragic for me, that I didn’t play him for longer. He’s a beautiful character and I have a great deal of professional pride and had I done a second season, there would have been a marked improvement in my performance. I was learning new skills, in terms of playing light comedy. I was not known for light comedy and, again, production did not allow for that.”
Personally, I thought his portrayal was perfect anyway, but the idea of another series with the Ninth Doctor is certainly an appealing one.
This does hint at why he left the part too; in the past, we’ve only heard of some sort of disagreement between himself and members of the production crew. He previously said:
“Myself and three other individuals at the top of the pyramid clashed.”
He elaborates about the choice of directors in particular:
“It’s very important on a first series that you make a very informed and intelligent choice, even if it means breaking the budget, about getting the first director who is going to set the tone for the season, for the way the actors relate and that did not happen.”
Again, I thought the direction was great on all his episodes, but I had heard that he’d return provided a certain director came back too. Still, as he also previously said:
“What’s interesting in this country is whenever a story like this is emerging, they concentrate on the negative. I don’t think it’s important that I left, I think it’s important that I did it in the first place.”
Yep, that is the important part. It would’ve been brilliant to have more time with Eccleston’s Time Lord, but we owe him a debt. He brought it back, made it popular, and gave us another exceptional incarnation of the Doctor.
Listen to the complete interview (fuelled by Eccleston’s great role in The A Word) in which he also talks about former Doctor Who showrunner, Russell T. Davies:
(Thanks to Doctor Who Worldwide.)