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Christopher Eccleston says Doctor Who relationship 'broke down' with showrunner

Contributed by
Mar 20, 2018

Actor Christopher Eccleston has slowly been opening up about why he left Doctor Who after playing the heroic Time Lord for only one season. Just a week after telling the Guardian that he was supposedly blacklisted by the BBC for leaving Doctor Who so early, Eccleston told Radio Times that he left so abruptly because he had a falling out with his “immediate superiors” on the series, including Doctor Who's then-showrunner Russell T Davies. 

“My relationship with my three immediate superiors – the showrunner, the producer and co-producer – broke down irreparably during the first block of filming and it never recovered,” Eccleston tells Radio Times. “They lost trust in me, and I lost faith and trust and belief in them.” 

The actor also admitted that he felt uncomfortable playing such a lighter, more comedic role, which may have also exacerbated on-set tensions. “Some of my anger about the situation came from my own insecurity,” Eccleston added. “They employed somebody who was not a natural light comedian.”

When Eccleston left, he promised Davies he “wouldn’t do anything to damage the show.” He also said he “never will have” a working relationship with Davies again.

A spokesperson for Davies told SYFY WIRE that he had no comment. 

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Eccleston played the Ninth Doctor in the BBC’s revival of the decades-old sci-fi series in 2005 after it had been off the air since 1989. Davies left Doctor Who as showrunner in 2010.

None of this is particularly surprising — since leaving the series in 2005, Eccleston has suggested that he had a miserable time working on the show, in part because he “didn't enjoy the environment and the culture that [he] … had to work in” and also in part because of clashes with upper management. He’s also expressed no interest in returning (he was invited to co-star in the 50th anniversary episode, “Day of the Doctor” in November 2013, but declined, hence the addition of John Hurt’s “War Doctor”). But this may give us the clearest sense of exactly why he left the show so early. 

It’s a shame that Eccleston’s (short) time playing the Doctor was such an unpleasant one for him, considering he was so instrumental in bringing Doctor Who back to life. But it does seem as though he’s comfortably moved on. As he told Radio Times in an interview in 2015: “I hope I’ll be remembered as one of the Doctors. … I don’t think it’s important why I left, I think it’s important that I did it in the first place. … I’m always there in spirit.” Very well put. 

(Via Radio Times