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Christopher Eccleston: Doctor Who exit ‘almost destroyed’ career

Christopher Eccleston has claimed in a new interview that the circumstances surrounding his departure from Doctor Who ‘almost destroyed’ his career.

Eccleston, who was speaking to The Guardian ahead of his upcoming RSC debut as Macbeth, criticised the way the BBC handled his decision to leave the show following the first series of its revival in 2005:

“What happened around Doctor Who almost destroyed my career. I gave them a hit show and I left with dignity and then they put me on a blacklist.

“I was carrying my own insecurities as it was something I had never done before and then I was abandoned, vilified in the tabloid press and blacklisted. I was told by my agent at the time: ‘The BBC regime is against you. You’re going to have to get out of the country and wait for regime change.’

“So I went away to America and I kept on working because that’s what my parents instilled in me. My dad always said to me: ‘I don’t care what you do – sweeping the floor or whatever you’re doing – just do the best job you can.’ I know it’s cliched and northern and all that bollocks, but it applies.”

Although Eccleston’s most recent comments are in line with similar grievances he has previously aired about his time on Doctor Who, he has nevertheless been careful to stress that his dissatisfaction surrounding the show’s production did not extend to the show itself, as in this interview from 2016:

“The man you have to thank [for Doctor Who‘s return] is Russell T Davies. He wrote it and I always feel that the showrunners and the writers are the people that deserve and who own the kudos.

“The first series of any show is always very difficult to sell to the audience and I’m very proud that through what was a really badly organised – and certainly badly produced first series… I’m very proud that I managed to find a way through the chaos they imposed and get us picked up.

“[The BBC] certainly didn’t acknowledge it at the time and I wish they would’ve done because then things would’ve worked out very differently.”

Eccleston, who has previously praised the performances of his successors – David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi – as being ‘just brilliant‘, has also recently approved of Jodie Whittaker as the show’s first female Doctor, saying the role had been played by ‘too many skinny white men like me‘:

“She will be the best Doctor. I mean why did they have to wait so long? …I absolutely loved playing the character and I’m so glad it’s being reinvented.”

Eccleston will star as Macbeth at the RSC, Stratford-upon-Avon, from 13th March 2018.

The eleventh series of Doctor Who is currently filming and is set to air on the BBC this autumn.

[Source: Radio Times]