Why Doctor Who Fandom Is Wrong About Christopher Eccleston

Mr Eccleston poses a problem to the Fandom Hive Mind (FHM from hereon). He is a controversial figure amongst fans even 10 years after he took on the role of the Doctor. At that time no one had any idea whether the show would be successful or not – it was all very uncertain. His Doctor was different to everything that had come before. Gone were the frock coats, big hair and flamboyant dress. Gone too were the trappings of the establishment. He looked and sounded completely different from everything that had gone before and won the hearts of a new audience – all thanks to Eccleston’s performance.

But then he left. And apparently he left under a cloud. Despite looking from one angle like a piece of dedicated hard work in a role he fully embraced, from another it all looked very uncomfortable.

When we hear about him distancing himself from Doctor Who there is a temptation to think (or rather feel), “fine, sod off!”

Back in July 2011 we reported on an interview Eccleston gave during a master class at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket in London. It was perhaps the most revealing account he’d given of his departure from the show. Initially the BBC had announced that he was leaving to avoid being type cast which he had them to retract. It wasn’t true. The real reasons are still unclear though this is what he had to say some six years after leaving…

“I thought to remain, which would have made me a lot of money and given me huge visibility, the price I would have had to pay, was to eat a lot of shit. I’m not being funny about that.… If you allow your desire to be successful and visible and financially secure. If you allow that, to make you throw shades on your parents, on your upbringing, then you’re knackered.”

He went on to say,

“You know, it’s easy to find a job when you’ve got no morals, you’ve got nothing to be compromised, you can go, ‘Yeah, yeah. That doesn’t matter. That director can bully that prop man and I won’t say anything about it’. But then when that director comes to you and says ‘I think you should play it like this’ you’ve surely got to go ‘How can I respect you, when you behave like that?’ So, that’s why I left. My face didn’t fit and I’m sure they were glad to see the back of me.”

Now, a lot has been written about how and why Eccleston left the series – in short it seems there was a disagreement and it brought up issues that Eccleston feels very strongly about. We don’t really know what happened but it seems from that particular interview, where he referred to his parents and upbringing, it may have been issues around social class – again it’s important to be clear where we’re speculating. None of us at Kasterborous were there and we don’t know Mr Eccleston personally, but it sounds as though he felt a kind of class prejudice came up in the production team and that he couldn’t stay without compromising his integrity.

Father's Day - 9th Ninth Doctor

In a recent interview with the Mirror Eccleston talked about this issue in the entertainment industry more generally. He said,

“In my experience, about 33 years in the industry, there has always been a class system. …we have always given precedence to people with an RP accent and those from public schools. That’s always been the way this country has developed and the entertainment industry, particularly at this moment in time, is built to reflect that.”

By way of explanation for those from outside the UK: social class was more or less invented by the Victorians (but don’t quote me – I’m far from being a social historian!) As a system it groups people according to their wealth and power and is codified in dress, behaviour and even accent. RP or “Received Pronunciation” is the Upper Class way of speaking you’ll hear from the Royals, some of the BBC (though less so) and the majority of British actors particularly in the earlier parts of the 20th Century. It’s posh, in short. And there are implicit (not very nice) value judgements often made by those that see themselves as belonging to one social class about those belonging to another.

Eccleston’s portrayal made the character more accessible to people who might have felt excluded by an alien speaking as though he lived in a wealthy part of London.

Something that’s important to note is when Eccleston deliberately played the Doctor with a Northern accent, he changed everything. In the Classic era the Doctor had spoken more-or-less with RP. And it’s not being too *out there* to suggest that the Classic character had some of his origins in the Victorian concept of the Gentleman Scientist. And from the very little social history I do know, the concept of a Gentleman in the UK was linked to social class, wealth and power. Twenty-first century Britain has come a long way since the Victorian era but class prejudice undeniably persists (though probably in a more subtle form). Indeed similar issues around class and power in the military and Britain’s Imperialist past featured in the Series 8 relationship between Danny and the Twelfth Doctor. The Doctor as an Officer…

9thdr2-hp1

When the Ninth Doctor arrived and spoke like a normal person, it was noticed – and was even name-checked in the show by way of acknowledgement: “Lots of planets have a North”. For the first time, the Doctor didn’t sound like the establishment and the most powerful people in British society. Again, while my accent (occasionally “pirate-farmer”, I’m told) isn’t Northern, I don’t think it’s crazy to suggest that Eccleston’s portrayal may have made the character more accessible to people who otherwise might have felt excluded by an alien speaking as though he lived in a wealthy part of London. This is by way of saying that Eccleston is not wrong: there are issues to be addressed, and his views and values reflect something important about British society.

The Eccleston Problem

Christopher Eccleston has a bit of a reputation for being serious – if not “prickly” – in interviews. It probably didn’t help that he hung up on the reporter when she asks about Doctor Who (despite being warned not to). This, more than his discussion of class led to something of a Disqus-storm when reported on Kasterborous.

And just to be clear, it is easy to imagine what he is not telling us and what he may have thought and felt on the set of Doctor Who. It’s far too easy – particularly when one is tempted to piece together events from what we do know. But we need to be careful. We of the FHM are all at risk of reading things in a way that serves whatever view we may already have settled on. And despite the way celebrity works and how the media is known to elevate or depose people depending on where they can get or create a story, that isn’t fair.

On a personal level, when we hear about him distancing himself from Doctor Who there is a temptation to think (or rather feel), “fine, sod off!” We love Doctor Who and there’s a temptation as a fan to take the discord between Eccleston and the production team of 2005 to heart. His reluctance to have any official involvement since then, particularly his decision not to appear in the 50th anniversary can potentially leave a bruise on the fan-soul.

Dalek - 9th

However, I do think people’s demands for him to attend conventions, give interviews and jump at the whim of the FHM is, frankly, ridiculous. It doesn’t even bear discussing. Regardless of the fact that the part was *not* a high-profile guarantee of success and exposure in 2005, he’s not obliged to do anything that wasn’t in his contract. While there might be a debate to be had about celebrities who rely on and court press attention, Eccleston has never done that. The industry is driven by profit and people do not lose rights or take on new obligations because they have embarked on a career as an entertainer. It would be *nice* if they did the extra crowd-pleasing stuff but we choose whether we do paid or unpaid overtime on our jobs. Nothing more to say.

Isn’t fandom’s demands for Eccleston to attend conventions, give interviews and jump as high as we say frankly ridiculous?

So he left. And he hasn’t come back (except perhaps in one small and very personal way that I’ll mention later). Since his departure the FHM has speculated vigorously about when and how he might return and hoped with all its heaving, bubbling fan grey matter that he’d put in an appearance in The Day of the Doctor. There aren’t many television programs that can boast five decades of longevity and it can leave a particularly bitter taste in the mouth when someone who brought so many people to the show didn’t want to return.

So the problem for the Fan Hive Mind is this. Unlike Tennant, Smith and Capaldi – he’s neither a Who fan like us, nor is he someone who readily indulges in the behind the scenes crowd-pleasing. So the FHM is left thinking “what are we supposed to think” and, more importantly, “what are we supposed to FEEL about the man behind the Ninth Doctor?!”

This might be all the more pertinent to our fannish dispositions when so many of us could be reliably described as “geeks”. Geeks are used to having their enthusiasm for what others see as escapism (it is, of course, far, far more than that) ridiculed or scoffed at. The FHM might wonder whether Eccleston is distancing himself from the geekiness.

The Eccletson Problem: A Solution?

So, when struggling with The Eccleston Problem, it might be helpful to bear in mind the following. While he’s not turned up at conventions to woo the masses, or donned the leather jacket to further the on-screen adventures of his Doctor, he has engaged with fandom in smaller, impromptu ways.

dw-s1-9thdr-rose-hp1

In an interview with the Guardian back in 2011 he talked about young children who are fans of Doctor Who that meet him in public,

“Usually they don’t say much – it’s quite overwhelming for them to meet Doctor Who. One little boy just burst into tears. His mum said to me: ‘Will you say hello?’ I did, and he burst into tears – and I understand it, that confusion about what’s real. Long may it last.”

That, to me, reveals an actor with a very nuanced view of his craft who completely understands what Doctor Who is and should be, regardless of whether he’s a fan or not. And however “prickly” he may come across in other interviews there’s something remarkably kind there.

When asked yet again in 2012 about his reasons for leaving he, yet again, declined to give any names or specifics, but he did say that, “I’m hugely grateful to the children who to this day come up and talk to me about the show.”

Recently we reported on an American fan’s wedding proposal from a year ago where Eccleston assumed the mantle of Ninth Doctor once more, showing incredible good humour and understanding of how much the show can mean to individuals. The video can be found here if you fancy a re-watch.

The End of the World Phone 9th

And while he didn’t get directly involved with the 50th anniversary, he did send a message to the BFI screening of the Ninth Doctor episode screened as part of their celebratory season. The episode chosen was the finale two-parter Bad Wolf/ The Parting of the Ways, directed by Joe Ahearne. The message read,

“I love the BFI. I love the Doctor and hope you enjoy this presentation. Joe Ahearne directed five of the 13 episodes of the first series. He understood the tone the show needed completely – strong, bold, pacy visuals coupled with wit, warmth and a twinkle in the performances, missus.

If Joe agrees to direct the 100th anniversary special, I will bring my sonic and a stair-lift and – providing the Daleks don’t bring theirs – I, the ninth Doctor, vow to save the universe and all you apes in it.”

So there we are. At least publicly – and in fairness that’s all we are and should be privy to – Eccleston is affectionate and considerate towards Doctor Who.

Regarding The Eccleston Problem and the frustration or even anger some of the FHM has felt towards him… It’s a strange thing, feeling cross with a star for not being or doing who or what you want them to. But that is the nature of celebrity. We always see people through the prism of the media, editing, spin and how various agendas put together a persona for public consumption. And that can be tough. While there are harder, riskier and more morally upstanding jobs than the entertainment industry, it’s still a particularly nasty working environment where you are pressured  to use your face and even personality as a marketable commodity.

9th Doctor 3

At the end of the day we don’t know what went down 10 years ago – and whether it was a truly awful piece of bullying where Eccleston has conducted himself with integrity and refused to name names, or whether he has some kind of chip on his shoulder – we don’t know. And nor should we; it is, frankly, none of our business. What we choose to believe about him is up to us but it should be said that this chap, for all his prickliness and seriousness, has been very kind and has done something increasingly rare in today’s media.

He’s refused to sell a story for the publicity.

At the end of the day, like the Doctor, Eccleston is just a bloke, passing through and helping out. He has a craft and he has values. What we make of him and his distance from Doctor Who is up to us. But it’s important to also recognise it as a distance from the media storm that the press would love to make out of whatever disagreement happened 10 years ago. Whatever the Fan Hive Mind makes of Mr Eccleston, we know he’s been kind and we know he’s got integrity. And for a time back in 2005 he rocked a leather jacket like very few people can.

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  1. redflagwalks says:

    I agree. He did his job as an actor and he did it superbly and then he moved on to other roles. People should accept that and enjoy his current work…

  2. Cryer says:

    If anyone is interested, I know part of the reason why Eccleston left. You would have to take my word for it though as I can’t provide you with evidence.

    My friend’s parents are friends of his family and apparently his mother was in very ill in hospital at the time he was filming Doctor Who. He was not allowed to take time off filming to spend time with her and that is why he left. That is apparently what happened. Believe it or don’t but I know my friend very well and she is a reliable source of information so I believe her completely.
    I’m sure that this, along with other factors, is part of the reason why he left the show and won’t return.

  3. Ranger says:

    Interesting, Cryer as I was thinking as I was reading that I have read that the first series was so behind in shooting that there was major panic – which never brings out the best in anyone, so there might have been tensions that normally would be resolved with time and greater understanding that just escalated under immense pressure – and if on top of that because they were so behind in shooting they couldn’t give him time off to see his ill mum, well, it’s not going to be a great memory.

    But all this is speculation and, James, I want to give you a great big hug for writing such a sane, wise and sensible piece. We don’t owe Christopher anything, just be glad we have the one series with him and I don’t like the bitching about him – he’s done nothing to warrant it. And after all, Tom spent many years being unavailable to fandom – no-one bitched about that, quite rightly. We don’t own them and they have a life and career that does not begin and end with DW.

    But I do have one slight bone to pick with you James: don’t think that other countries don’t have a class system (I presume you are referencing the US primarily) they have a class system alright, they just don’t refer to it as “class”. Any watching of US television throws it up – references to trailer trash, rednecks, the east coast vs the west coast, elitism in education, ghettos, political dynasties, etc. There is no absurdity in our system that hasn’t also been replicated everywhere else under a new name.

    • James Lomond says:

      You’re absolutely right of course, Ranger- and I didn’t do a good job of describing what I think the differences might be between e.g. UK and US class structures… and I’ve only been privileged to spend a very brief time in the States so there’s lots I wouldn’t know. My suspicion is, though, that there is a ghost of an idea that there is something fundamental about one’s “class” in Britain that facilitates greater group egoism amongst people that see themselves as belonging to the same strata and sets of rules for how and when they could interact with one another. I completely agree that wealth and power divide up societies into tacitly and explicitly reinforced sets of behaviours and beliefs (the Indian Caste system being a very explicit case) though I think what I had meant were there are specific ideas that still hang around in the UK that will kick up resentment and discord because of a long history of entrenched behaviours and either people somehow still believe that things like accent matter or they suspect that other people do. …Point got away from me a bit there (!) But yes – as ever these absurdities are shared across time and space!

      • Ranger says:

        No, I understand what you was saying James, and I agree – sorry, I suppose I was being a bit sensitive because I feel that Brits on the whole nowadays seem to spend so much time apologising for the class system as if it is a uniquely British thing and the root of all evil, rather than celebrating that it is a system which is in the process of (at least partial) dismantlement, through the efforts of people like, for instance, Mr Eccleston.

  4. FrancoPabloDiablo says:

    The title of the article is a little misleading as it assumes that all fandom has a problem when it is in fact a very selfish and tiny (though vocal) minority. Same with the Moff-haters. Same with the feminists that want a female Doctor. The number of those complaining about such things are seriously insignificant. Chris is a fantastic actor and was a brilliant Doctor for that one series! He doesn’t hate his contribution to the show. He’s moved on so get over it and let him get on with his career.

  5. TheLazyWomble says:

    The class system in the UK goes back way further than the Victorian Era. Srguably the Victorians shaped it into what it is now, but they didn’t invent it.

    Very thougth provoking article though. I may be sheletered but I have to ask where this FHM is. It doesn’t make much of an impact on this site, wghere the contributors are generally speaking rational and intelligent people. (They are people, aren’t they?)

    • Ranger says:

      I’m not…

    • James Lomond says:

      Yep – and the idea of the Gentleman probably has its roots in feudal systems way way back, though I’d agree a great deal of engineering and detail was added to class divides by the Victorians.

      I do secretly hope that some of you are sentient machines. Perhaps radio telescopes scanning the skies for evidence of alien life that long ago developed self-awareness and between sweeps of nearby star systems, surf the interweb for news about Mr Eccleston…

  6. bar says:

    Brilliant article James; as a northener who always thought London was on another planet ‘lot’s of planets have a North’ sold him to our household from the off.
    Like Womble I resist the notion of a gestalt Fandom. What you are such a valued part of here is Fandom too, where there doesn’t seem to be the strange need of the insecure to say, loudly, ‘everyone thinks…’

    And on the subject of thinking: ‘“what are we supposed to think” and, more importantly, “what are we supposed to FEEL…” Eh? Feeling is more important than thinking? when did that happen? I’m all for emotional intelligence, but your article is so rationally thought-through that this sentence jarred a bit!
    I know many people didn’t like Death in Heaven, but ‘Love isn’t an emotion, it’s a promise’ works for me.
    Christopher Eccleston did a great job for Who, and for film and TV audiences thought whatever else he’s playing. He doesn’t have to meet anyone’s emotional needs too.

    • James Lomond says:

      That was largely tongue-in-cheek though the bits that make me chortle might not come across accurately! There was an image of a huge FAN-BRAIN pulsing and fretting over what it should be *feeling* 😉

      I think feeling is more important than thinking (in the Earthshock 5th Doctor speech sense) but feeling without thinking is very dangerous.

      • TheLazyWomble says:

        This huge, pulsing FAN-BRAIN: is it trying to find the formula for loyhargil, by any chance?

        • Dr Moo says:

          HOW DARE YOU mention ” Time & The Rani ” !!!

          • TheLazyWomble says:

            What is “Time & The Rani”?

          • Dr Moo says:

            I neither know nor care, nor do I wish to find out…

            …is what I wish I could say. But sadly I’d be lying if I did!

          • TheLazyWomble says:

            Yes but who would know? Well, all of us now, but if you hadn’t just told us…

          • Dr Moo says:

            It’s one of those things that… You watch it once…

          • James Lomond says:

            I’m in the strangely isolated position of having read it as a child almost a decade before seeing the televised version. Somehow in my childhood mind’s eye, along with stunning visuals and a somber measured performance from sylv (remenuscfnt if his later seasons), the Rani dressing as Mel was somehow plausible and didn’t derail the entire narrative. I still manage to let the novel dominate the broadcast version in my memory.

          • TheLazyWomble says:

            Actually, Time & The Rani isn’t too bad. If you overlook the script. And most of the acting. Sylvester is good. Donald Pickering is good. The rest are… there.

          • Dr Moo says:

            I’ve seen it a couple of times just to see if it’s really as bad as people say it is. It’s not as bad as that because there are two worse stories in Doctor Who than it, namely ‘The Twin Dilemma’ and ‘Love & Monsters’. But if the best we can say of it is that it’s better than those two stories then there’s a problem! Suffice to say, it begins as it means to go on…

          • Ian Dack says:

            Sylvester is good? Sorry, have to disagree. With Time and the Rani we have a show where the male and female leads simply cannot act. Later series are an improvement but this is a shambolic pantomime. I’m not a hater – he’s done some good audio, and I enjoyed Radagast.

          • Ranger says:

            T&TR is possible not Sylv’s best, but certainly in the next series with Ghostlight, Fenric, Survival etc, he totally comes into his own.

          • TheLazyWomble says:

            Fair enough. We all like different things. There is a lot that is wrong with Time & the Rani. And I agree that Sylvester improved as he settled into the role. But he is in my top 5 favourite Doctors.

          • Ian Dack says:

            He definitely improved. I think he was dumped in at the deep end with little acting experience. Yes, Fenric is a good one, the show was definitely on the up.

          • TheLazyWomble says:

            He hadn’t had masses of “acting” experience, but he had had some. He had had a part in the 1979 Dracula and he was playing the Pied Piper on stage when JNT was looking to cast the Doctor.

          • Dr Moo says:

            My top five too, coming in at number three behind Smith and Capaldi.

          • TheLazyWomble says:

            My top two are Troughton and Davison. The rest of my top five are McCoy, Eccleston and Tennant. Not sure what order I would place those three.

          • Dr Moo says:

            My List:
            1- Smith
            2- Capaldi
            3- McCoy
            4- Baker C
            5- Hurt
            6- Pertwee
            7- Eccleston
            8- Troughton
            9- Baker T
            10- McGann
            11- Davison
            12- Hartnell
            13- Tennant
            Keep in mind that all of them are actually the same character!!!

          • Dr Moo says:

            Sylvester McCoy was given a bad script, not his fault that his tremendous level of acting skills don’t come across as they did later. We need to remember that “Time & the Rani” was produced when the show all but lay in ruins and the fact that anything was made at all after Colin got fired is an impressive feat. Sylvester didn’t get come into his own until the next serial “Paradise Towers” and didn’t get a properly decent script until “Remembrance of the Daleks”. Later he gave us “Ghost Light”, “The Curse of Fenric” and “Survival” which are all great, even in his weaker stories (i.e. his first season) he makes it watchable.

            So let’s not try to call him a bad actor, okay? It’s not his fault that he got given “Time & the Rani”, “Delta & the Bannermen”, “Dragonfire”, “Silver Nemesis”, “The Greatest Show in the Galaxy” and “Battlefield”.

          • Ian Dack says:

            We will have to agree to disagree. I enjoyed his pre-Who runs on Vision-on and Jigsaw!

          • Dr Moo says:

            I can go with that, his Doctor is one of my favourites but that’s not true for everyone. He was something of an acquired taste that’s for sure! He was a lot better later on in his run, sadly it was already too late by then. 🙂

  7. Planet of the Deaf says:

    Chris is perfectly entitled to do as much or as little as he likes concerning the show, he didn’t sign a 20 year contract to talk about it!

    I do find his attitude slightly chippy though about the establishment. David, Matt and Peter who followed him are hardly “posh”, David’s Doctor spoke with an estuary accent while Peter has kept his Scottish accent, and not a “posh” one either. Steven Moffat is hardly a public school posh boy either.

    And the comment “You know, it’s easy to find a job when you’ve got no morals” makes it sounds like he’d been asked to be an arms dealer or drug smuggler rather an actor in a popular TV show. If there was a Director or Producer who he couldn’t stand, then surely removing that person would have eased the problem.

    • Linnea says:

      To be fair, he has never commented on the poshness, or lack thereof, of anyone associated with New Who. His comments were about how, as a child, he felt excluded from Classic Who because of the accents.

      And in his full statement from 2011 (linked in the article above), he talks about not getting along with senior *people*, plural, and about the “culture” and “way things were run” on the set. So it sounds like the problem was not a single director or producer. This is speculation on my part, but it could be that he tried to raise the issue of how a particular person treated their underlings with other higher-ups, and got no support, because there was a culture of not questioning authority. And in any case, Eccleston himself couldn’t get rid of a problematic director or producer. Only someone above him could do that.

      • Ranger says:

        Good point, Linnea. Though to be fair, we haven’t heard the other side of the story from the “authorities”. We are all assuming they are in the wrong, without hearing their point of view. And I doubt that is going to happen, so we’ll never hear the whole story.

        • Dr Moo says:

          I almost don’t want to know the exact details. Everyone involved has been extremely respectful by not revealing the details, something that is a rarity in this day and age. Good for them!

  8. Dr Moo says:

    I liked his Doctor a lot but he was let down by having to inflict Rose upon us. It appears that RTD got better at writing companions and worse at writing Doctors! Even so, it wouldn’t work to put the best of each (from his tenure) together…

  9. Pete Walsh says:

    Excellent article.

  10. Roderick T. long says:

    “social class was more or less invented by the Victorian” — Really, no.

  11. Namnoot says:

    This is a very good article that should be shown next time someone goes off half-cocked about Eccleston or anyone else. This is just a TV show, not a political party or religious movement. No one involved in DW is under any obligation to remain tied to it forever beyond the fan recognition, which Eccleston clearly has a good handle on. Tom Baker tried to distance himself for years, Leonard Nimoy tried very hard to cut ties with Trek on several occasions … that does not mean they dislike the work they did or the fans or whatever. Patrick Troughton might never have bothered to speak of Doctor Who again after he was coaxed back for The Three Doctors and then conventions started up. It was a job, and he left it so he could take other jobs. So Eccleston didn’t come back for the 50th – who cares? If he had, we wouldn’t have had the terrific John Hurt as the War Doctor (and just think – the anniversary gave us two, or possibly even 3 brand-new Doctors. Why is anyone complaining about that?). Eccleston should not be criticized for wanting to move on. One quote this article misses is the fact he stated more than once that he accomplished what he set out to do with Doctor Who and saw no need to go back. I think that’s a fair statement. And the fact Eccleston left after one season resulted in a near-perfectly contained arc. Series 1 was its own miniseries, really, and I really think that his leaving early was perfectly handled, storywise, by RTD and gave the revival a huge start.

  12. Sally Ann Price says:

    This is a great article. I can understand Christopher Eccleston. He is a brilliant actor.

  13. Rick714 says:

    As an American, the whole UK class system has always saddened me and I can understand Eccleston having a chip on his shoulder regarding stuff like that. Mind you, we have plenty of our own problems but yet we get looked down on too from our former landlords. 🙂

    All that being said, I think the Ecc just plays along with the DW fan base on his terms and that’s fine, but he’s not evil, just a bit prickly at times–which isn’t helped by sections of the media and fan base being, well, fanatical.

    As for the 50th, well, if he did join in, we wouldn’t have gotten the War Doctor, so I think we came out ahead, and there is a tradition after all, of one Doctor not making it to the party.

    My one real criticism though would be for less talk of integrity, considering the Ecc was featured in the first GI Joe movie. For shame! 🙂

    • FrancoPabloDiablo says:

      Films include Let Him Have It, Shallow Grave, Jude, Hillsborough, Elizabeth, 24 Hour Party People, 28 Days Later. TV includes Cracker, Our Friends In The North, The Second Coming, Fortitude. Surely you can forgive even Chris for GI Joe after all these other productions! Nobody is perfect you know 🙂

      • Rick714 says:

        Too true! I was just giving him a little jab. I first saw Eccleston in Second Coming–excellent story and performance, and RTD wrote that show. I think it was a factor in him getting offered the role of the Doctor, since he respected RTD’s writing so much…..

    • Linnea says:

      I know you’re joking, but there is a distinction he makes, that a lot of casual fans aren’t aware of. He freely admits that there are American movies he’s made for the sake of the money. But with British tv, he maintains a high standard, and doesn’t take a part unless he really believes in it.

      (Also, for all we know, the crew may have been treated very well on the GI Joe set, thus not requiring him to compromise his working-class principles.)

  14. Sally Ann Price says:

    I love to hear Christopher talk. I think he is a fantastic actor. I have seen him act in other things. I did not know of him before Doctor Who.

    • Ranger says:

      I agree Sally Ann. That’s the great thing about discovering an actor in one thing and it leading you on to other programmes. I hadn’t paid much attention to Chris before, but I was sufficiently impressed to search out other programmes – which lead to me finding RTD’s take on the Second Coming, which, regardless of religious views, was a fantastic piece of writing and acting.

      • Sally Ann Price says:

        I live in the states. I am a Christian. I heard he was great in that show. I have just seen a few parts on Youtube.

  15. Joe Siegler says:

    Loved this. As much as I want to see Chris participate again, it’s up to him whether or not to do that. It’s not up to us.

    It doesn’t diminish the work that he did do, so the “sod off” I don’t understand. His unwillingness to participate in future events should not diminish the work that he did do, which was I thought brilliant.

  16. mabtycoon says:

    Who’d have thought it! An ACTUAL article on this website! Thoughtful, focused, evidenced and written brilliantly well. Please go forth and teach the entire Kasterborous team that these are the things the FHM would like to read more of.
    Opinion + intelligence = awesome. There’s just not enough of it from the writers on this site (plenty of the first one actually, it’s the other two that we need).
    **APPLAUSE**

    • TheLazyWomble says:

      This FHM for which you claim to speak: what and where is it? And has it been reading the same Kasterborous site?
      We have plenty of all three (opinion, intelligence and awesomeness). The writing on this site is of a high calibre, and the comment also.
      This IS an excellet, thoughtful, focused, evidenced and brilliantly well-written article. It stands on its own and does not need disparaging references to the writing team of Kasterborous to make it so.

      • Ranger says:

        Um, I can only think that mabtycoon is new to the site. Hello! I suggest that you read Bar’s excellent article on commercialism in DW or… well hell, absolutely everything that is written on the site. All things are, of course, by their definition, opinion, and I think that the intelligence is self-evident.

  17. Wally One says:

    I think you’ll find that Eccleston is a product of a particular time and place in British history, starting work as he did in the early nineties, he would have been through the Thatcherite era in the North during his teenage years where indifference to the plight of working class families and their culture was seen as rampant under the Tory elite. Where in the acting profession at the time, he would of felt his career was intimately controlled by producers down South, who the perception was that they could have got their job purely through family connections, rather than hard work and/or skill. And further that shows like Boys From The Blackstuff, and latterly Chris’ own show Our Friends In The North fought for the grim contemporary Northern experience to be told, and to assert general Northern pride. Compared to many of his Northern contemporaries, he hasn’t been without work over his long career, but I’d imagine on some level, solidarity with these values he still holds very dear. I’d dare to suggest that the general level of chaos experience during early shooting on NuWho might have been interpreted by Eccleston as signs of an amateurish production crew, rather than merely a competent production team coping with developing the necessary skill sets to deal with modern sci-fi television, absent from British TV production for neigh on decades at this point. All it would take is for a RP speaking senior production staff member to do something untoward for prejudices to be awakened during such heightened tensions. Add to this the rather unexpectant nature of the media buzz surroundng the show during production and eventual phenomena status it achieved, and all that entails for a very private actor, I’d say that was a perfect storm likely to lead to discordand sorrow in the end. To Eccleston’s credit, his kept his mouth shut and moved on, that’s what (smart) actors do. Besides, watch some of the shows he has done since, would you really want him doing the same performance over and over again, and have missed out on them? 🙂

  18. Doc Whom says:

    Very well said, James. I can clearly remember that the announcement of CE’s casting was the moment that the media and the country started taking the revival seriously.

    One thing I disagree with though is that kids thought the Doctor spoke like he was from a wealthy part of London. At that time, everyone on TV spoke with an RP accent. It didn’t stand out because the Doctor was on TV so of course he spoke like that. At the very most, it was what your Mum would call “well-spoken”. We didn’t think the Doctor’s voice was “posh”, we thought it was authoritative. I reckon people who say the Doctor’s accent was a barrier to them when they were kids (living in the ghetto) are rewriting the past to fit an adult sensibility. Plus, if someone says (as CE has occasionally when doing his professional Northerner schtick) “the Doctor didn’t talk like my friends and me therefore I couldn’t identify with him”, who exactly was the one displaying class prejudice?

    Compared with today’s supposedly more inclusive riot of regional accents, at least it was audible back then Bring back TVRP, I say!

    • Planet of the Deaf says:

      Yes, the Doctor is alien from another galaxy, you identify with him due to what he does and how he behaves, not because he is like you!
      Did Tom Baker’s Doctor really sound like a London “posh person” anyway? To me he sounds unique and unworldly 🙂

  19. farsighted says:

    Great article. I think the problem with Eccleston is that since he only did one year on the show, a lot of fans (including myself) wish he had done a bit more, and have been hoping he’d come back for something more, even if it was just a cameo. The fact that he seems annoyed about any questions regarding Doctor Who makes fandom think he dislikes the show and doesn’t even want to acknowledge he was part of the show’s history. Instead of hanging up on a reporter, it would have been better if he just said he didn’t want to discuss it… I understand it could be annoying and repetitive for him, but he’s an actor, and many actors have this problem (or should I say most actors would love to have this problem). He was a very popular Doctor, and was well liked. He can do whatever he likes, but it’s a shame that he washed his hands of it all. He’s an excellent actor, though I can’t say he’s done anything really great since he left the show: Heroes, Thor, GI Joe, the Leftovers **cough, cough** Which may be another reason why he doesn’t like to talk about DW…

    As far as the accent goes, I dunno. He doesn’t seem to object to using an American accent. 😀
    Though I did like his natural Northern one for the Doctor. I’m American, so it doesn’t really mean anything to me what UK accent he uses, as long as I can understand him. 😀

  20. Sally Ann Price says:

    I think Christopher Eccleston was great in the role. I thought he was the best. He is a great actor, and has done plenty afterwards. He has a great smile

  21. B W says:

    He is and will always be my first Doctor and my favorite <3

  22. Jude I⚡caяiot says:

    The only real issue I found with this is that RP was done away with when Sylvester McCoy took over. Up until that point, the BBC pretty much required it of many shows. Sylvester McCoy was allowed to use a pretty close version of his own Scottish accent. Paul McGann took the series back to RP again, though.

  23. Jude I⚡caяiot says:

    Is it a coincidence that Joe Ahearne directed the best episodes of that series (aside from The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances)?

  24. Mihaela Pestritu says:

    If anything,I would give Eccleston extra points for giving no less than his very best efforts to to this show,even if it doesn´t break his favorites list.Far from me to belittle his performance because of that,and even less because he doesn´t endulge the fandom with appearances in conventions and such.He did his job brilliantly,and that´s all I would ever ask from an actor,any actor.I hold nothing but respect for Mr. Eccleston,for his vital part in breathing life back into Doctor Who,and whatever his reason for an early departure was,I don´t need to kow.It was a well done job,so thank you for that

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