After the announcement of a new Doctor, we always get a friendly array of faces from Doctor Who‘s past commenting on the casting. The Ninth Doctor, Christopher Eccleston, however, rarely gives his opinion on such things – unless he’s specifically asked.
That’s exactly what happened, on BBC Radio 4’s Loose Ends. Presenter, Sara Cox asked the obvious question about Jodie Whittaker being the Thirteenth Doctor, to which the actor responded:
“She’s working class; she’s northern: what can go wrong?”
It’s worth pointing out that he starred with Whittaker in the National Theatre 2012 play, Antigone.
Eccleston’s remained very non-committal here, perhaps because he apparently doesn’t watch the show anymore. On the surface, his comment acknowledge the links shared between the Thirteenth and the Ninth Doctors. But beyond that, it might be able the social struggles he’s previously talked about.
In 2015, Eccleston said:
“When I told my parents I wanted to be an actor, there were no Billy Elliot clichés of ‘No son of mine is going to do some poncy job’. That’s working-class culture as framed by middle-class people, as far as I can see… If you want to play a classical role in London, you need to be white, you need to be male, and you need to be middle class. There is still this connection somehow between high intelligence and the possession of an Oxbridge education and perfect vowels… Let’s take a long, hard look at the social and educational backgrounds of the people who’ve played Hamlet at the RSC, the National and in the West End in the last 20 years; if they’ve all come off council estates then I’ll keep my mouth shut.”
Christopher, of course, played the Ninth Doctor in 2005, ushering our beloved show back to BBC1 under the showrunning of Russell T. Davies. But he left Doctor Who following just one series – something he apparently regrets – after undisclosed controversies behind-the-scenes.
Fair play to him for sticking by his guns, and giving a positive message about the show he’ll always be part of, even if he no longer watches.
After all: lots of planets have a North.