Eccleston explains why he left Doctor Who

In an acting master class at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, Christopher Eccleston was asked why he left a such a high paid job as Doctor Who. He responded:

“I left Doctor Who because I could not get along with the senior people. I left because of politics. I did not see eye-to-eye with them. I didn’t agree with the way things were being run. I didn’t like the culture that had grown up, around the series. So I left, I felt, over a principle.

“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. I didn’t want to do that and it comes to the art of it, in a way. I feel that if you run your career and– we are vulnerable as actors and we are constantly humiliating ourselves auditioning. But if you allow that to go on, on a grand scale you will lose whatever it is about you and it will be present in your work.

“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. You’ve got to keep something back, for yourself, because it’ll be present in your work.  A purity or an idealism is essential or you’ll become– you’ve got to have standards, no matter how hard work that is. So it makes it a hard road, really.

“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. The important thing is that I succeeded. It was a great part. I loved playing him. I loved connecting with that audience. Because I’ve always acted for adults and then suddenly you’re acting for children, who are far more tasteful; they will not be bullshitted. It’s either good, or it’s bad. They don’t schmooze at after-show parties, with cocktails.”

B.W reporter Martyn

222 Responses to Eccleston explains why he left Doctor Who

  1. Jay Baked says:

    I have such an enormous amount of respect for that man. I loved his Doctor. I thought it was brilliant and magical. It brought me into the Who fold. It also did that rarest of rare things…make me feel 10 years old again. Every episode I watched I wanted to truly believe that Christopher Eccleston was REALLY the Doctor and one day I’d see the TARDIS on a street corner or flying through the air.

  2. Sani Evans says:

    Such a nice interview, I respect him for this )

  3. Horace says:

    Interesting stuff, but PLEASE work on your grammar, spelling and punctuation. It makes your sometimes grey reads difficult to read. And yes, it’s important.

  4. Donna Torchwood says:

    I had read that there was tensions on the set and a lot of it came from CE but reading this explanation on why he left, that he felt pressure from the “senior people” puts a different perspective on his situation. I’m hoping that he’ll want to come back a be a part of the 50th Anniversary special with all the previous Doctors if he’s asked.

    • Valeyard12andaHalf says:

      Eccleston has previously said, even if Moffat asked him to return for any episode, he will refuse. He doesn’t want to be a part of it any more. It was his choice to leave, therefore he believes that it is over for him. He will no longer be The Doctor or The 9th Doctor. He enjoyed his time, but he will not be returning for the 50th Anniversary. This link here to an interview with Eccleston outlines that C.E. does not want to take on the role again

  5. bobbie says:

    Spellcheck?! (spelling pedant, I know)

    But with regards to the story, I don’t think he was really suited to the role that well, at least for me- the first series is my least favourite of the re-boot in the tone and the acting.

    • Sylver says:

      I heartily agree. While nice to look at, Eccleston was a dour and sometimes mean-spirited Doctor. I never really liked that Doctor. For me, the draw was Billie Piper and the relationship between the two of them.

      • Morendur says:

        Ill grant you that yes C.E.s Doctor was a bit darker, but lets face it, canonically wise that fits perfectly. This is the Doctor who just wiped out not one, but TWO entire species (or so he thought) and one of those was his own, so yeah it might make him less likable but I think it was what the part called for.

      • Chrisfs says:

        Eccleston’s Dr Who was bitter due to being shell shocked from the Time War that he had immediately come from. I see the whole first season as being one where he goes from being sad, angry, alone and feeling everything is lost to recovering and feeling more hope in his own abilities and the world itself. A pivotal point being the Doctor Dances episode. I think a second season with Eccleston would have show a Doctor in a better light. I think it’s too bad that didn’t happen.

      • Kate says:

        Well, he was a darker Doctor because of the Time War, that was pretty explicit within the first series. And he wasn’t the only one, I think the 3 Doctors from New Who are darker if we take a look at the classic ones. I mean, David Tennant’s Doctor was incredibly bitter, being most obvious in the 2008 – 2010 specials, and Matt’s Doctor has proven to have a very dark and odd side of him with the whole Melody story line. So yeah, the Doctor is more than just a few funny lines and I like it that way. And even though I love both David and Matt, I think Christopher has done the best performance out of the three – even if the stories frome S1 were not that great.

  6. Elaine says:

    Wow… I had always suspected there was a little more to it than had yet been said and sadly, I wasn’t wrong. Fair do’s to Christopher for his honesty and at least he waited until the old production team had moved on before finally making it public. He certainly has manners. It’s very easy to get caught up in the publicity hype and come away thinking everything in the garden is rosy when in most cases where there people you will inevitably get conflict. It’s a testament to the the close-knit community that this has remained quiet until now, which is good for the image of the show. I hope this revelation won’t damage the show.

    There can be no doubt that Christopher Eccleston was absolutely the right choice to bring the Doctor into the 21st century – I will never forget those first magic moments when the theme music and the time vortex swirled back onto our TV screens after such a long gap. It’s thanks to Chris and yes, also to everyone behind the scenes (even the bullies, let it be said) that Dr Who is still going strong today.

    • Chris Alford says:

      Hello Elaine I loved your comment.Look carefully when he said “That director can bully that prop man and I won’t say anything about it” I think that is the most important line. Why? I shall explain.

      Check out this weblink and you’ll understand what he means by the ‘working culture’ in T.V.

      People are bullied in T.V., not just in Doctor Who, the less senior and less famous you are. I hope you like my reply.

      • Chance Wolf says:

        Exactly right. I work in movies and TV here in Canada and I too seized upon that particular line as the most important in the piece. I have seen egotistical directors run rampant over underlings in ways that would not be acceptable anywhere else *except* a film set – and truth be told – it shouldn’t be acceptable there either. That line coupled with Chris’s “culture” comment says everything you need to know. I have worked with incredibly arrogant directors and 1st assistant directors who don’t get called on their behaviour because they’re “just artistic” or “have the creative temperament”. Yeahwell…it’s not a free pass to abrogate the basic laws of civility and I don’t care who you are. Been doing this for 13 years now and I’d sooner walk off set than have to deal with those people. I’ll give them more personality leeway than they probably deserve – even into sheer arrogance territory – but once they cross the line…that’s that, irrespective of how much money’s on the line.

      • Shu says:

        Really interesting thread! Working in TV is like any other business – how much it becomes enjoyable or an awful experience all boils down to the people you are working with. When they respect each other and allow creative debate then chances are you’ll end up with a good result – ie a good show. There are unfortunately bullies in all work places – including TV.
        As a TV producer I find people always work better and deliver more when they are treated well.

        My views on team work in TV – written from years of experience:

      • Hawker says:

        You are so right! Bullying is rife in that particular organisation. So much of management generally seems to have been infiltrated by mediocre ‘passengers’, who lie, b/s and bully anyone whose individuality, talent, popularity, or better managerial skills inadvertently highlights the bullies’ inadequacies.

  7. Adam says:

    I’m sad politics is what took Eccleston away from the Doctor, I liked the story that he’d only agreed to come aboard to help launch it because he didn’t want to become remembered only for that. Don’t get me wrong I’ve loved the performances of Tennant and Smith, but I certainly would have enjoyed a few more years of character development for Eccleston’s doctor.

  8. Kris says:

    The show would not had succeeded being kick started by anyone else.
    Eccleston will forever remain my favorite Doctor of the 21st Century.
    Thank you!

    • Bad Wolf says:

      I completely agree!!!

      I grew up watching reruns of Dr.WHO and Tom Baker is my outright favorite Doctor, but without CE, it would have never made it back.

  9. Flyattractor says:

    If this is true. Chris is now an even cooler Dr.Who.

  10. Mikke says:

    The man sounds more than a bit confrontational. Not cool.

    • James says:

      More than a bit confrontational is not cool? So he should’ve shut up and said nothing about the bad culture in the production…?

  11. Tony Ingram. says:

    This does seem to clarify the circumstances of his departure a bit, and I respect his principles a little more having read it. A shame he wasn’t comfortable speaking out like this earlier.

  12. Clearly this is only Eccleston’s view of it. It is well documented just how stressful, over time and over budget the first block was, in particular. Not a pleasant environment to find yourself thrown into. It’s little wonder that the ‘senior people’ were having trouble coping and that will often translate into short tempers and dictatorial behaviour.

    I suspect that even at the best of times Eccleston isn’t the most easy of people to work with – I hear he’s quite an intense and serious actor. Few people will thrive in that sort of environment, with the immense pressures put on the producers and, in turn, onto the directors and leads actors. Eccleston probably wasn’t equipped to let this wash over him and try to bring any level of calm to such a situation. That’s no slight on him as very few people would be.

    I’m sure the people that Eccleston is talking about look back on those days in horror. It must have been an unbearable pressure cooker for them all.

    If things did ease up in later blocks, as has been suggested, then it was probably too little, too late. The bad feeling between Eccleston and the production team was probably too ingrained by that point.

    It’s a real shame. Nonetheless, they should all be proud of what they managed to achieve in such difficult circumstances.

    • Chris Alford says:

      “I hear he’s quite an intense and serious actor.” Nothing wrong with that.
      Often those who are intense and serious a lot are misunderstood and people
      are unwilling to listen. I know this because I am often intense and serious
      but I do have a good sense of humor. I often wonder if people’s favourite Doctor is are those whom personalities they think are closest to their own.
      Well written comment given me much to think about.

  13. Hesperus93 says:

    I loved Ecclestone’s tenure on Dr Who, but it comes as no surprise to learn that there was more to his departure than was at first apparent. He’s always been an actor with a great aura of moral rectitude, and I’m so pleased he refused to let himself become tainted by his dealings with the RTD regime. Much as I’d have loved to see him in the second and third series, I’m kind of glad in a way that he wasn’t involved with many of the lacklustre stories broadcast at that time; the very stories that made David Tennant so popular! It seems to me that even Mr Tennant must have experienced the directorial nonsense that Ecclestone encountered, as his 10th Doctor went from being a cool screen presence to somebody who was just directed to boggle his eyes or frown on demand. I sincerely hope Matt Smith is having a better time on his run. Anyways, good on yer Chris!

    • I thoroughly agree with Hesperus93 and those who indicated that The Doctor wouldn’t have rebooted with great popularity without Chris, whose portrayal wasn’t always dark, if you ask me. I agree with those who say that RTD and Moffat simply doesn’t do the Doctor justice, especially in the departments of scientific/social curiosity and inspiration for young folks to study the sciences themselves, as had been the case with the Doctors Tom Baker (pre-Leela) all the way back to the first Doctor.

      I would agree with Eccleston on the bullshit factor insofar as Doctor stories have more resembled things that would have run in News of the World or Daily Mail. Meh. Moffat may be clever in his intricate plot paths but his stories are nonetheless prurient in nature and hardly enlightening in substance.

  14. Dan Bullock says:

    Not eye-opening but VERY insightful and I’m so glad that Chris did this and got this out. I do wonder what that group was like with the re-launch and I do think he was fantastic.

    I guess as Tennant had such a personal love for Who, it was probably very different when he joined but thanks for the good times Mr Eccleston, top respect.

  15. Jeff says:

    Now that time has passed and the leadership has changed, I hope that he remains open to a possible return for the 50th anniversary special that it certainly being planned for 2013. God willing, there will be at least seven ex-Doctors alive at that point and it would be great if they could all somehow be incorporated into an episode, plus footage of the first three.

  16. Laura says:

    Just when I thought I couldn’t love him more.

    Eccleston brought me back to Who, and for that, sir, I am eternally grateful.

  17. Jim says:

    I agree with Kris. No one, but no one could have been more great to reboot this fantastic series. I have been watching since the late 60s and he is still on of my favorites. He is such an acomplished actor and I enjoy everything he is in. My daughter even has a crush on him and has everything he is on that she can get her hands on!

  18. KB says:

    They did 13 eps for series one, right? You’re telling me that half way through them he decided to quit and they had time to write Parting of the Ways, cast Tennant, put together the the regeneration?

    I had always had the impression that it was always planned he would only do one series. Maybe RTD or someone else dropped that story to make it look like CE didn’t exit on bad terms.

    “..the culture that had grown up around the series…” it was series 1 after 20 years off the air. Very strange comment.

    • kanekofan says:

      Davies was generally pushing the very limits of, or missing, his deadlines, so it’s highly probable that he was writing the conclusion of series 1 mid-way through that year’s production.

  19. Mark Gorman says:

    This is a great article (grammar aside) to shine some much-needed light on the whole First Doctor history. Thanks to Chris for sharing, for putting up with the BS for at least that first year, and for doing such a nice job bringing the Doctor back to life.

  20. CBG says:

    I don’t know what to think. I liked his Doctor, but an actor is like a builder and the director the architect. It’s the director’s “house” and you can make a suggestion as a builder, but the architect doesn’t have to agree. Sounds a bit like an excess of ego to me.

  21. Larry says:

    I liked the roughness of his Doctor. It made the character’s heroism and altruism more believable. He had blood in his veins. He was probably my favorite Doctor. I also loved the chemistry between him and Rose Tyler. The fact that he is no male model also helped. There are too many beautiful actors.

    • Chris Alford says:

      So bloody true. Christopher Eccleston was a bit of northern grit that Doctor Who needed. I like that you said he had “blood in his veins.”
      I believe we all should have fire in our blood.
      I can relate to him being intense as I am often intense myself and I
      get a bit disappointed by people 24/7 happy go lucky attitude from a
      lot of Doctor Who fans who do not want to open their eyes especially
      on politics. Well written comment.

    • AmyScorpio says:

      Any of you too Scorpio? …I am into everything deep and intense, not enough people are bothered about that sort of thing but I think the more powerful the better, Tennant and Ecclestone era was, even like both of these Doctors’ relationship with Rose and still a big fanfic girl of both the pairings because in these times it always was intense and there’s noone who can write it better than the true fans of them who really understand it. Matt Smith’s era isn’t even slightly as powerful, this greatly makes me sad :( ..Where has all the amazing dialogue, intense and emotional powerful storylines gone?! :'( I miss u older cast and crew.. All that family feeling has gone… I miss that big warm hug you get from watching Doctor Who :(

    • Cathy says:

      He was my favourite, and my first. He is no male model but he is beautiful!

    • It’s so weird how people say that. Maybe I’m weird. But I think Christopher is smoking hawt! Hotter than any other doctor hands down. I love him. <3 I know you never forget your first doctor but it's more than that. He was the best actor too IMO. David Tennant was such an over-actor. Matt Smith, I'm sorry, but he is butt freaking ugly. xD Doesn't mean he's not a great person, but if I have to stare at a screen for hours on end why not watch a pretty person? xD The newest doctor is kind of hot too.. like History Teacher hot. Like you know he's too old but you can't help blushing around him. xD

  22. Lolly1192 says:

    It sucks when you have to witness bullying in the workplace. Unfortunately that attitude is present in any industry. Good on him for standing up. Can’t say that I would have left myself…. too much of a DW freak!

  23. Pammy says:

    As an American, let me tell you something and I just want to say this, you are freaking Christopher FREAKING ECCLESTON!!! You do not have to justify why you left! They were lucky to have you as long as they did.

    I have been following you since I first saw (and bought) Shallow Grave. You are a great actor (underused, however, in that 28 Days whatever the hell movie (a damned shame)).

    You gave the Who project everything you had and booted up a series I was afraid was going to tank. I have been a fan of Doctor Who since I watched it while babysitting in US in the 80’s. I always thought Tom Baker was the quintessential Dr. Who and hated that celery sporting guy. So I was doubtful it could be successfully remade. You won me over. Again.

    I look forward to seeing your new work. Whatever that may be.

  24. Leigh-Ann says:

    I was at the acting masterclass yesterday and I am really shocked that someone had the nerve to turn his helpful advice into a piece of tabloid news. I believe he was doing the workshop completely for free to help young aspiring actors like myself, it should not have been turned into a public piece.

    I was astonished by Eccleston’s honesty and passion and found him very inspiring. He is very humble and grounded and that is a rare thing to see in such a successful actor. I hope this reporter’s invasion does not have a negative impact on actor’s helping young people through masterclasses at the fear of being stung.

    • There'll Be Pancakes says:

      Gotta disagree I’m afraid. First, this is not salacious tabloid, he actually said it. In addition, I have also been to several of these including David Morrissey, Penelope Wilton, Brian Cox, Derek Jacobi and Matthew McFadyen just to name a few, and no one in the audience has ever been asked to sign any kind of silence or privacy clause. And finally, did you notice that Masterclass actually tape these things from the back of the auditorium? Not exactly a sting or invasion of privacy here. Sorry!

  25. Terrific actor. I’m sorry it was hard for Eccleston, but the damage did us all good. I thought he was a great transition, the Doctor with a real past, an edge of hidden anger, an arrogance humbled through his encounter with the innocent (and therefore sappy, silly, rather precious) joy embodied by Rose. The big lesson is that cynicism paves no future, and the true heroes are the ones who carry on after pain and loss. Thank you, Dr Who. We carry on.

  26. Iain Hall says:

    Sorry but I think your piece begs the question of just what where the political issues that Ecclestone disagreed with the producers about? With out knowing that this piece really does not provide a fulsome explanation at all.

  27. Derek says:

    Funny how he’s the only guy that’s ever made that kind of claim about the RTD regime…everyone else seems to refer to it as a familial environment. Strange how the guy who LEFT would have a different opinion, isn’t it?

    • Derek, I for one recognized the NuWho as a significant departure from the past storyline, and while it’s usually the case that the director or producer gets their way as to how they want a story played, it’s a fine line between giving a direction and bullying. And there’s the matter of the old Who track record as the story of ONE person rather than multiple personalities that the NuWho people went to lengths to depart from with the Time War excuse…which remains a flimsy excuse at best.

      Count me among those who are fans of Who but don’t think that everything ever done with Who are invariably stellar.

    • LizR says:

      I think you’ll find that rumours abounded about the regime. It wasn’t just Eccles who complained, but most people wanted to keep their jobs and hence didn’t make a fuss. Given that the same person was showrunner, head writer, exec producer and uncle tom cobbley, it seems highly likely that any dissent was kept under wraps. Apparently there is a video of a Torchwood read-through in which someone says “who writes this rubbish?” and then there is an embarrassed silence and it’s turned into a joke. Because it was of course Rusty who wrote it.

      Anyway, you may notice that Rob Shearman’s script was mangled and he was never invited back, so perhaps there was a touch of dissent there? As it said in the Radio Times at the time “Will you weep for the poor little Dalek? RTD says you will!” – *not* Shearman, notice, who has said that he wanted to write a cross between “Power of the Daleks” and “Silence of the Lambs”.

      Then there was the writer who was given a shopping list of useless additions to her script, and the one who had stupid jokes inserted, all by RTD. It’s almost as though, lacking the imagination to do anything decent himself, he has to drag everyone down to his own level.

      “I can’t stand good writers. I waste so much time just wanting to be them” — Russell T Davies

  28. Bob says:

    I did love Chris’s Doctor, but he always seemed a bit too tense or uneasy talking about the role. I thought he had had second thoughts on taking on the role. But if it was the senior execs bullying behaviour that drove him away from the role (and we know the people he must be talking about) and directors disrespecting him. Then that is beyond sad. But I also heard that the first series was a very intense place and time (no pun intended) as they discovered it was afar more difficult programme to make than they first thought it. But I would like to think the bad atmosphere disappeared after that first season. And that’s my thoughts on that. Thank you

  29. Josh says:

    You’ve got to have standards eh, Chris? Is that why you took G.I. Joe: Rise of Coba?

    Don’t get me wrong, I love him as an actor and I loved his Doctor. But come on man. It’s nice to talk about moral standards in an acting career, art over money, etc… but everyone’s gotta work.

  30. Karl says:

    He’s the worst of the three modern day doctors. And now he sounds a pompous jerk. That’s a killer combo he’s got going on there. “Look at me, I don’t want to listen to the director! I have MORALS!” Maybe he should take himself a lot less seriously. He’s an actor, for crying out loud, not a real doctor. He makes a living pretending to be something. Get a real job and see how you do there, Chris.

  31. Salford1 says:

    I was there too at the Masterclass and was somewhat aghast by the obvious question “Why did you leave Doctor Who?” I hope the person who asked that question is smug with themselves what answer Christopher gave you and you’ve got maximum attention. I pity you.

    I too, attended the Masterclass event and found the whole event a relevation for Christopher to bare his soul in front of a large audience with his frankness about his career.

    Ever fancied asking the same question to David Tennant?

  32. MARTY says:

    I respect a man who believes that the way he should act is the way he should stay and be true to. He jump started a very important show with a rich history and for me, I loved the way he played the Doctor. It brought a fresh new look at a person who makes the hard choices that destroyed his own people. I wish he would have stayed for another season but I think things have worked the way they are supposed to. Remember Tom Baker had issue with the runners of the show which is well know to the point he did the five doctors from a alone shot on a boat. He has spoken about over the years and to me he was the most popular doctor at its highest point. People have different ideas and I think the fact that all work so hard to keep a quality of a program that can boast fifty years can sometimes cause issues. In the end, I think one thing can be said, all involved have put together a great product and I think the feelings behind it keeps that product at the top of its game. Keep up the good work, Go Doctor another 50 years!

  33. Sigilhouse says:

    I generally like and respect Eccleston’s work and was (obviously!) inspired and excited by the relaunch series. However I was a bit unsettled by his demeanour when interviewed during the promo interviews while the series was running. When introduced as the Doctor on more than one occasion he replied that he ‘was at the moment’ or somesuch. Unlike Tennant and Smith he displayed no real apparent affection for the Doctor and his universe, and so I wasn’t really too surprised when he left.

  34. Samantha says:

    He was the man who brought me into the world of dr who. It was his decision to leave dr who and he had a very good reason for it as well. That’s why I respect him still and I believe that if these people had treated him more fairly, then maybe, he would’ve stayed slot longer.

  35. Kezza says:

    I found this article quite interesting. I have watched Dr Who since the very first episode aired in New Zealand in 1964 and I have always been a huge fan. I have every episode to date (except the lost ones) and I have watched them all many, many times over the years. I enjoyed Eccleston’s single-season run. I found his portrayal of the Doctor compelling – and that’s all that matters to me. Every man who has played the doctor has made that role his own and Eccleston is now part of the wonderful history we Whovians still talk about endlessly. It’s such a fascinating story and one that I have been immersed in since I was three years old. Each doctor makes his mark and regenerates … that’s the way of it. Long live Dr Who!

    • Well said, Kezza. There was a time when Leonard Nemoy had this “I Am Not Spock” period which lasted years…then he turned around. Here’s hoping that Eccleston goes down that same path, adding that I also hope he doesn’t take as long to traverse it.

  36. Celeste says:

    I only started to watch Doctor Who Christmas Day of 2011, starting with Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor and fell in love with him as this character….and when he left it was so sad to me…I did not like David Tenent at all but have come to like him but to me Christopher Eccleston was THE DOCTOR and always will be my favorite.
    I am proud of the man he is, that he left because he felt the the show was not going where he thought it should go. Kudos to his high standard and morals!!!

  37. Kirlis says:

    What can i say?What can anyone say?This man should be an inspiration for the next generations.I respect him as a man,i admire him as an actor and of course i will never forget the 9th doctor…

  38. CrazyTaraWitch says:

    It’s certainly interesting to hear more about Eccleston’s side of things, but it creates as many questions for me as it answers, and it’s only his viewpoint. It seems unlikely that, as a couple commenters suggested, he would make up such a story when this is the first we’re hearing of it nearly 6 years after the fact; if he was just trying to make himself look like a good guy and dis the higher-ups he would have come out with this a long time ago. I see no reason to think he’d lie about it, and I think it’s disrespectful to him to think so. However just because this was his perspective on the situation doesn’t mean things were the way they seemed to him. Without knowing more details and especially without knowing the other side of the issues, I don’t think anyone has a right to judge the ‘senior people’. Chances are we’ll never know what really happened, but I think Eccleston’s actions have been admirable; if he did feel the show was infringes on his morals it’s admirable that he left, regardless of his reasons for leaving it’s admirable that he waited so long to say anything negative about the director and other execs of the show, and even if (which I doubt) it’s all b.s. it’s still admirable that he would advise other actors to take the high road.
    I think Eccleston’s Doctor was fantastic, and regardless of his personal feelings toward the role or his reasons for leaving it, on screen he was always invested and to me always rang-true in his portrayal. I think that’s all an audience has the right to ask of an actor.

    • USKensington says:

      To be fair, he was under a five-year non-disclosure agreement that expired just before he finally started talking about why he left.

  39. Joe Nazzaro says:

    Just to pick up on something Adam Purcell said much earlier in this thread, I suspect an awful lot of the reasons that Eccleston left the series had to do with the way the production was being run. Bear in mind that it was the first season of a ‘new’ Doctor Who and what they were trying to do was hugely ambitious at the time. The budget wasn’t very huge, the schedule was barely sufficient and it was being shot in South Wales where most of the people involved had never worked on anything like it. This would certainly include a few of the directors, who were largely unfamiliar with the technical demands of the series, which is one of the reasons, as Adam Purcell pointed out earlier, that the first block fell so far behind. And once you fall behind, it’s damn near impossible to catch up. The result is very long hours for the cast and crew, who if they were getting BBC Wales rates were already below BBC London rates, which in turn were below industry standard. I know Eccleston felt very strongly that the crew was often getting a raw deal, and if I recall correctly, he refused to continue working on a day that was going to go into the night. He wasn’t being precious; he just thought if he went home, they would have to release the crew because they couldn’t shoot without him, but I believe they just went ahead and shot with Billie Piper, who didn’t have Eccleston’s clout, plus they basically preyed on her good nature and told her she would be letting everybody down if she didn’t stay. It’s not surprising that Eccleston saw the writing on the wall and (quite wisely) decided to leave. I find it hugely ironic that when the BBC did their big press launch in Cardiff for the new series, Ecccleston had already quit but he had to sit there in front of a packed crowd of journalists and keep it all a secret. I was actually sitting in the front row about three feet in front of him and if he wasn’t happy, you wouldn’t have known it. A class act from beginning to end.

    • Eccleston’s portrayal of the Doctor was a class act from beginning to end and it’s clear that he was the quintessential professional right up until he was last pressed on the matter. Even if it takes him til he’s 80 years old to get over it, I do hope he’ll throw us, his Who fans, a bone by coming back to us at least some time down the road.

    • You don’t have to suspect, he says it all right there in the interview.

    • Gina Rogers says:

      definitely a class act! :D

    • makapav says:

      Thanks for sharing this so his act did not go unnoticed.

  40. Jack Hamilton says:

    He was a fantastic Doctor, and opened the door for enormous potential for other actors by showing a new way for the part to be not just played, but also perceived.

    Nothing but respect for him walking away from it too. Our loss though. But good on you Mr Eccleston.

  41. João Amaral says:

    i’m happy you left. the show got much better with David and Matt.

    • AmyScorpio says:

      He played a major part in making Doctor Who huge, he gave it a huge lift, he started people watching it that wouldn’t ever have watched it before, it was no longer for sci-fi geeks, people of all tastes were loving it, it became popular, this was before Tennant, he was brilliant too. Matt Smith is nowhere near as popular to the wider audience as the two previous because there just isn’t enough about him, he’s a silly funny-looking child and that’s about it and it gets a little too Sci-Fi or too childish for some people now and again and Moffats era’s dialogue is rubbish, it’s too rushed and messy shoved in such a small time frame for each episode, it’s too try hard.

  42. Em says:

    He was “fantastic”. Still the Doctor in my mind, (as well as Smith and Tennant) and will always be. He played the character so well, I enjoy watching his season on repeat, ^_^

  43. yawmoght says:

    EVERYONE I have tried to introduce to Doctor Who is taken aback by this actor performance. They always say that “this is bullshit” and I have to show them some later episode, by Tennant or even better by Smith, to get them so stay.
    So yeah, maybe you left because of your ethics. But maybe your horrible acting made an impact too.

    • Andy says:

      I cannot believe you are questioning his acting! People love DT’s Doctor because he was funnier, not because of his acting, don’t get me wrong, I do love David, but he is not a marvelous actor, he is average, good average! And Matt has proven to be a better actor than David, to be honest. Christopher’s acting is great. Your friends say “it’s bullshit” because the story lines from S1 were not great, at least the first 5 episodes, it is in Dalek were the writing was getting better. If you have to question their acting, question David.

    • AmyScorpio says:

      He was a brilliant Doctor, perfect for who he needed to be, a lonely broken man, yet he still had that loveable warmth aswell, he was all brooding and dark and sarcastic but mixed with this lovely nice guy with the dry sense of humour whom could be playful when his walls came down and you saw this big softy under all the solid intimidating bravado… How can you not like him?! …Are you crazy?!?!?!

    • AmyScorpio says:

      ….Ecclestone was an awesome Doctor. Tennant was still dark and deep, fun, funny, still very wise, wacky and an eccentric attractive charming geek, he put everything into it fully, he’s a big fan of Doctor Who from when he was little (Unlike Smith) so this role was a big thing for him so he gave it his all and he was amazing, loads better than Matt Smith, also being te perfect age for a suitably cool yet wise Doctor, unlike Matt Smith who is too young to be a Doctor really. Matt Smith’s wardrobe is awful, a child in his grandfathers clothes, he doesn’t work them either, he looks daft, and in comparison to Tennant’s and Ecclestone’s Doctor he’s hollow, he is better behind the scenes than in the actual filming, all we get from Smith’s Doctor is that he’s a clumsy daft idiot who has all of a sudden forgotten who is and what he’s gone through and lost his brain when he regenerated, the Doctor is meant to show wisdom and look separated from everyone else and show age and all the things he’s been through, Matt Smith just looks like he’s been in his grandfather’s closet and stolen his Granny’s sweeties and gone on some hypo sugar rush like he’s lost it, he’s a baby, he’s no Doctor, he’s hit and miss as a Doctor, he’s had a few moments, that’s it, then his age shows up again, he would do better with the old team but with Moffat, no chance, to be anything but old-fashioned baby Doctor.

  44. Shadowgate says:

    Christopher was a great doctor, and to me, he will always be THE DOCTOR. He was so cynical and had such a dry humor, it really fit the show, and made it show up so much more when he was genuinely happy in the role. I really wish he woulda stayed longer than one season, but I gotta respect him for sticking to his principles in such a way

  45. Mike "ex-genius" Kelley says:

    Everyone? Must have a very small (and odd) circle of friends.

    As an American (and Tom Baker fan since that’s basically all that was shown here for years) I introduced my wife to Doctor Who through the reboot and she (along with myself) found Chris’ portrayal charming. I’m not sure if it’s just the Brits are all better trained actors than we have here, but it’s pretty amazing how wonderful all the new Doctors have been (even Smith, whom my wife is just *starting* to enjoy).

    Then again, Who is an acquired taste, and if you have never seen it before it’s not likely you will enjoy it, regardless of who is playing the doc. And regardless of the politics, or why he left, or whatever, I do enjoy the work Chris did for us and am glad we have it.

    (And I would never have commented but found the above comment just so very bizarre that I had to respond. Someone hating CE but not Smith? That’s just so wrong).

  46. ciara says:

    I don’t know why people are so shocked about bullying in the TV industry, bullying happens in every type of career and I’m glad CE spoke out about the real reason he left DW. I respect him a lot and I loved his Doctor, I think these things need to be said. But sadly that’s life, in every career you’ll have the people who think they’re of higher authority and in some cases are, bullying the younger, or older more vulnerable people. Its a fact of life ubnfortunately but the more these are exposed the better. CE did this interview so tastefully, he was decent enough to let the show move on until speaking out. I take my hat off to him.

    • Hawker says:

      I agree, Ciara – bullying of workers by managers is widespread in many industries – but what makes me angry is that this corporation is publicly funded with OUR money, and although I don’t personally have a problem with the Licence Fee, I do resent mine being used to pay workplace bullies.

      The pressures of the job are no excuse. Someone who reacts to stress by demeaning a person who happens to be on a lower salary is not fit to be in a managerial role: trouble is, that’s exactly the type of bullying inadequate currently infesting the so-called ‘higher echelons’ of both public and private sector TV.

  47. demoncat says:

    interesting learning the real reason Chris left doctor who was because he could not get along with the higher ups running the show always thought it was because he did not want to wind up type cast in the role like all his predasessors. i hope some miracle happens and the bbc makes peace and chris does take part in the 50th anniversary of doctor who.

  48. Madame Hardy says:

    Wow. I could not respect the man more. Note that when he says “politics”, he’s talking about bullying one of the most powerless people on the sets, not just about “I can’t get along with RTD.”

    He remains one of my favorite Doctors: bleak but ultimately hopeful. I’ll cherish his face on “Just this once, everyone lives!” as a peak Who moment.

    LeighAnn, you make an excellent point. I’m sorry a private, personal class was turned into fan fodder.

    • Vivi says:

      I agree with what you said, but just to keep people from making the wrong conclusions:

      The problem was not RTD. Eccleston said one of the main reasons he wanted to do the role of the Doctor was that he wanted to work more with RTD, whom he respected a lot after after their previous project “The Second Coming”.
      The people who were bullying the crew were some of the directors and producers, who also left the show soon after Eccleston. So I’m pretty sure Tennant never really had to work under the same circumstances. (Aside from the production as a whole having learned a lot from the chaos of the first season, and therefore having a more relaxed filming schedule and budget from the second season on.)

    • typo says:

      The thing is… and I’m sure Mr E was being scrupulously honest in his talk, but he throws out the claim of bullying with out giving specifics and so no one has the right of reply… which, in itself, could be called bullying… I was not on set so I don’t know what went on, but I would guess that it would be a brave man indeed who bullied Christopher Eccleston.

  49. chanio says:

    I find all the previous posts correct.

    I will never forgive CE for leaving his role as Doctor Who. Although I would have never loved him acting without enjoying his role…

    I know:
    * British professional actors are some sort of aristocratic species that as they are acting in a way they are like partners of the series…
    * CE is quite megalomaniac and intense.
    * Seniors and producers know the complete story of 50 years of DW where many episodes where erased by the BBC and lost without anyone having a copy of those masterpieces. But in those days, as what happened with the original Startrek, they weren’t recognized as a culture series.
    * The series was always produced with a low profile, without expecting a very big audience.

    But in these days of machines working with engines powered by explosions or by atomic energy, one shouldn’t expect to work surrounded by smiles and flowers…

    I imagine CE’s distress and I pity him for leaving that working team.

    In those days, I thought the TARDIS was just one big room…

    But I believe that today’s successful series must thank a lot to CE’s job. Even Rose’s successful character should thank a lot to CE’s casting period.

    Today I know that most people fall in love with the first DW that they watch. And for me this is the case with CE…

  50. SCM says:

    Oh- that’s too bad. I loved the Ninth Doctor. It took me until the end of Series 5 to replace him, now Eleven is my favorite. But there will always be a special place in my heart for Nine, and I wish we’d get to see him as part of the special.

  51. Harry S. says:

    Truth is, if it really was the directors and producers that made Eccleston leave, then in theory he should be open to coming back now. I mean with Moffat and an entirely new crew behind the scenes, the environment he protested should no longer be there.

    • DorsetGirl says:

      I can’t recall exact details but I think I’m right in saying that Moffat has recently said something along the lines of “We were still learning how to make this programme”, referring to Eleven’s early days of filming. This suggests to me that the lessons Russell/Julie/Phil/Chris/Billie worked so hard to learn have not been taken on board by the new team, and therefore the problems caused by over-budget and running out of time quite likely occurred all over again under the new setup.

  52. sean says:

    I like Chris as an actor – though he wasn’t my favorite Doctor – but I feel like his answers on this subject are wildly inconsistent. One day it’s ‘Oh, I always intended on just one series’ and the next it’s ‘I didn’t get along with the production staff so I left’. He worked with RTD before Who and after, as I understand it, so whoever the ‘senior people’ were they apparently did not include RTD.

    Then again, this article cites no sources for this statement, so who knows if he even made it.

  53. […] CHRIS SLIPS QUITS QUIPS Well, if you hadn’t already read the extended tweet, it appears the next best thing to verification is now available as to the public reasons the Ninth Doctor had such a short tenure. Odd. I thought […]

  54. Ben Dawson says:

    While I respect the decision and I would probably do the same thing, I wouldn’t be so dismissive of coming back for the 50th Anniversary. The fans want him to do it, and the fans are who he did the role for. I don’t see the harm in him doing a special episode for Children in Need were himself, Tennant and Smith all end up together.

  55. Ness says:

    I think you’re full of shit

  56. […] his latest outpouring on Bad Wilf though it appears that, unsurprisingly, the decision was all about to politics and disagreements […]

  57. maggie says:

    Firstly my personal opinion regarding 1st season. To be brutally honest, I did not like the first season all that much: the visual, the effects, the supporting characters, the little plots and stories. I liked the main story, the concept, the dialogues. All the rest, at least for me, improved only after years, in later seasons. But I loved Eccleston’s Doctor. I have nothing against his successors, sometimes i like them, sometimes not. While I like the show in general better now then in the early years, I can’t say the same about The Doctor. And this is what should not happen. See, it does not really matter why Eccleston left. What matters, that he did and it was his decission. No matter how honorable or petty his reasons truly were, which mind you, we can never know, leaving the show was not the right thing to do. No matter how uncomfortable he felt. It’s tough, but it’s how it is. What matters is the art, not the genesis. We all love great movies and series good enough not to age in time. We do not care if there was a hair pulling in between the takes back then. Truth is we all feel Eccleston needed to stay, at least for another year or two, despite any discomfort of anybody, no matter that it does not sound good morally. And that is, where he failed. Perhaps he never wanted to be The Doctor enough. Eccleston let us down. The show, the audience, The Doctor Who. It is up to us now, whether we forgive him or not:)

    • Yolanda says:

      I understand your feelings of wishing he would have stayed, but I have to side with anybody who puts his morals before his art. 

  58. Knabjian says:

    I was just curious if you’d had a rebuttal from Eccleston, or his people?

  59. Buccino says:

    This is an interesting post. But, it doesn’t matter his reason for leaving. He did a fantastic job and should be remembered as the man who made Doctor Who cool, you needed that serious, modern day dress/style. I don’t think you could have come straight back with Smith’s Doctor

  60. Cullin Fillhart says:

    I hope that one day we get a book, by Eccleston about his time on Doctor Who

  61. Pietila says:


    • AmyScorpio says:

      Sure yh, he was a completely real and down-to-earth nice guy with a dry sense of humour and yet at the same time very dark and deep… Just terrible isn’t he… NOT!

  62. Sally says:

    I would welcome Eccleston back, surely we’ll get him on a big finish at some point in the future

  63. Anonymous says:

    I’d welcome him back with open arms

  64. garrymoore says:

    hi to all this is my first post and thought i would say hello to you all –
    thank yous speak soon
    g moore

  65. Josh says:

    He needs to come back

  66. mariah yeater says:

    Your article is as astounding. As the saying goes “haters gonna hate”.

  67. Freddie says:

    A lot of hostility in these comments. A lesser man would think they were jealous digs, from 40-year old’s that still live with their parents.

    • Faija says:

      I don’t know why the Doctor’s clithong style has to change so much each time he gets a new body. I liked Tennant’s trench coat and converses. The bow tie and suspenders look silly.

  68. Rupert says:

    People have been overly cruel to this blogger. Jealousy rears its ugly head

  69. Keylon says:

    Hello there, Eccleston performed an excellent job. I’ll definitely dig out the DVD and individually suggest to my friends. I’m sure they will be benefited from seeing it

  70. Simon says:

    I don’t believe this is true

  71. […] BBC have issued more promotional pictures of Christopher Eccleston in the upcoming BBC One Christmas drama, The […]

  72. maggie says:

    I might add that having to feature in DW Confidential made out every episode could also have a certain impact on his final decission. Trying to do good acting whilst being uncomfortable is one thing. Trying to look all politely cheerful all the time behind the scenes as well for the documentaries sake presents double pressure if one is unhappy with the working environment.

  73. Gerald says:

    I’m an americain fan since childhood, where I was introduced to the Doctor with Tom Baker via cable television. I was immensely excited about a new Who and literally was brought to tears in the first five minutes of the new show. CE did a marvelous job of exhibiting that unique intangible it takes to be a great Doctor and I personally enjoyed him immensely, although the scripting of season one left some to be desired.
    I think it should be noted though that CE made this statement at an actors workshop. It was not meant to be a statement to the press, rather he was being honest in a discourse with young acting students. He carried himself beyond professionally in the media, never once disparaging the show or failing to promote it. I challenge anyone to cite an example of another actor who, when unhappy with a project, did a better job of keeping their feelings under wraps for the benefit of the work. An extreme professional, he has garnered profound respect from me in light of this revelation.

  74. Sally Ann Price says:

    CE was really good as the Doctor. I live in America, but I know he does not have morals at all. He will be good in the Borrowers.

  75. tbaoo says:

    Didn’t C.E demand or I’ll leave, if he didn’t become a major character ? Well he chucked himself out of Cracker and they apparently convinced him to return so he could be killed off. Acting is prostitution, it’s just the act and the fee that’s different. His career has really taken off since taking this defiant stand hasn’t it.

    Note. plumbers can’t complain about the shit.

  76. My Homepage says:

    … [Trackback]…

    […] Read More Infos here: […]…

  77. […] year Bad Wilf broke the news as to why Chris left the role, check it out Posted in: […]

  78. Ann Croft says:

    I thought Chris had left Doctor Who to go to Hollywood and go after the part of Silas the albino monk in “The Da Vinci Code”, which he didn’t get. I also recall him saying at the time that he didn’t want to be typecast. But hey, he got to kiss Billie Piper AND John Barrowman, so I wouldn’t have complained.

    • One of the reasons he left is because of the kiss with John, was one of the things that affected his morals & eye-to-eye with senior staff

      • Amandadsouzabhat says:

        i respect him for that. When i saw the kissing thing i was just like…wth little kids watch this stuff…so yeh. im glad he stood up for his morals but i also really want him back

        • Elaina says:

          Since when is seeing two men share a 2 second kid so indecent it should be censored based on age viewership. This is the 21st century and your “kids” are probably more okay with being gay than you are.

          • Martin Browne says:

            Seeing two men share a kid is pretty indecent. This is the 21st century and that sort of stuff should be censored to everyone.

        • LOL wow I feel sorry for your kids if you think A KISS is a problem!

        • Bunny says:

          Little kids generally don’t have a problem with hugs and kisses. They probably see their parents kiss. If you’re problem is simply that the little peck on the lips came from a man to another man… well, that’s more your problems than it is a problem for kids. I’ve been kissed like that from my Aunt. xD It was extremely innocent. It wasn’t like the full on passionate kiss that he gave Rose later. To be honest, it didn’t even register with my daughter. She hardly noticed it. A child’s mind is thinking. “Okay, he kissed his friends goodbye.” Not “Oh my GOD! A gay kiss! Think of the moral and sociological implications!” Unless they are some kind of genius child. And even then they’re probably more busy trying to work out the physical likelihood of time/space travel and how effects of time travel might effect other points in time. And honestly, I think it’s about time that people start becoming desensitized to gay/bisexual interactions. It’s simply taboo. Not wrong… taboo. There’s a huge difference. Personally I can’t wait for people to get over this ridiculous homophobic era in human history. It’s embarrassing. Seeing people get their undies in a wad over it is embarrassing to all humans as a whole. -end rant

      • Vivi says:

         Care to bring up some sources when you slander someone as homophobic like that?

        Eccleston has stated that he’d love to do a role as a female character. Also, making the major he played in “28 Days Later” gay was entirely his idea, according to the writer of that movie. So I highly doubt he had any problem kissing Barrowman for the job. All that I’ve heard about that scene is that in one take they ended up snogging until they fell to the floor laughing.

      • I don’t know about that, but an interview with John later on stated that Chris was very gruff and rough to work with. Perhaps it wasn’t the kiss, but perhaps the producers didn’t like his attitude anymore than he liked theirs, and it just built up going back and forth.

      • Chi says:

        Crane did not say which end of the conflict CE was on re: kiss with Barrowman. Perhaps the senior staff didn’t want to do it or wanted it to be glossed over or even cut. Without any cited reference, it’s really hard to say.

        • CREW says:

          HAVE ANY OF YOU HEARD OF THE DVD “WHO NEEDS SLEEP?” by Wexler? I applaud Mr E for standing his ground. Too bad there are not enough of us to make a difference in slave labour.

          • guest says:

            I think “Who needs sleep” is available on you tube.
            I am a hugh fan of the WHONIVERSE. But I know where of IMr E speaks……. personally. Many actors including Hugh Grant dislike the politics. ( BTW Mr. Grant had also been a choice for the Dr. )

    • Vivi says:

      Bullshit. He has stated repeatedly in the recent decade that he doesn’t like Hollywood and only does the occasional Hollywood movie for the money, knowing full well that the scripts are bad and that his performance in them isn’t great either.  He does this so he can afford continue working for (badly paid) British theatre and his favorite medium, British TV drama.

      And the statement about him not wanting to be typecast was a lie the BBC press officials told behind his back when they were asked for his reasons. They had to offically recant that later, because he was pissed that they were ruining his reputation, but of course nobody remembers that.

      • He’s playing the villain in the upcoming Thor movie.

      • chris says:

        So he occasionally only does the hollywood movie here and there for the money? and he phones it in at that? Just for the money? And you dont see anything wrong with that? I would call bullshit as the type of person who does that doesnt leave doctor who just because a director is an ass. So either he is lying about why he left doctor who. Or you dont know what the eff you are talking about. im guessing the latter.

        • alienlovesong says:

          Have you seen the Avengers or Thor? They’re not just crap Hollywood movies, they have some substance and great stories, so get off your judgy high horse.

        • Sy Gulli says:

          I don’t see the connection. Do you do work for free? I’m a capitalist

        • Jen says:

          a) We need money to survive.
          b) That doesn’t mean we can’t stand up to, or at least refuse to work, in an environment that allows bullying.

          Those are very different kinds of principles to me, so I don’t see why they have to go together.

    • Alex Galster says:

      I have also read that he didn’t like the direction the love story between The Doctor and Rose was going. If that had been the reason he left I’d give him props too. I’d never say ‘got to kiss’ Forced to is more like it

      • Emma23 says:

        Your source please? From what I’ve read Chris was 100% behind the love story:

        “They love each other. They’re best friends and they kind of finish off each other’s sentences, understand each other’s mood swings and reasoning but, as in all good relationships, they have lessons to teach other.”
        “Traditionally over the last 40 years, the Doctor has been the hero and the companion is a bit vulnerable. But here we’ve got an equal – we’ve got a hero and a heroine. She saves his life later in the series. She’s as brave and courageous and intelligent as he is.”

        He also said “It’s a love story…it’s like love at first sight, in a way.” in the Doctor Who confidential and went onto outline all the ways that Rose is the Doctor’s equal (he says the Doctor has more “scientific knowledge” and has lived longer but that they are equals in every way).

        Yeah, that really sounds like a guy who left because of the love story. *rolling my eyes at you*

  79. 100gerbils says:

    I would give anything to have him back as The Doctor!! T^T

  80. Peindremoi says:

    I know it’s selfish, but I wish C.E. would come back to Dr. Who.  He is the greatest actor to portray the Doctore. in such a human way that it’s deserving of his fans for him to rejoin the series for the 50th anniversary.  What an amazing actor/person/Dr. Who.

  81. […] my two favs. Rockin' show. I had to separate them for that very reason. Forced choice. Eccleston explains why he left Doctor Who | Bad Wilf __________________ Fuel Rod in ICU Please pray. […]

  82. Amandadsouzabhat says:

    i really want Chris to come for the 50th anniversary!!! In my opinion he was the best doctor ever outshone only by Tom Baker. He brought Doctor Who back to life!!! NO other doctor did that! So definitely he should join for the 50th anniversary! that would be… FANTASTIC! :)  miss you C.E…

  83. Kwilson says:

    He was a good actor even with rose if you dont see eye to eye with a director then either you become a solo director or leave knowing the other director has to do his job

  84. Naomi Says: says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the new doctors; however, I loved CE so much. He portrayed him perfectly, his mercurial self is such a particular character that having anyone else play him is ludacris. The way he could go from smiling to serious and back again was perfection, not many people can do that. Watching it now, I still msis the first doctor who of this series, I miss him and Rosey.

    • Alex Galster says:

      I disliked Rose. I still find her needy and irritating. And her smile is off putting also. But I love the 9th doctor, I would have loved to see him stick around. You could keep rose too.. Just lose the ‘love story’ part. It’s distracting. I do not like it one bit.

      • Emma23 says:

        Meh, you just didn’t get her. She wasn’t needy and irritating at all, and when people say that, I have to wonder if they watched the same show that I did. She was humble, clever, selfish in a very human way, giving, heroic, observant, funny, compassionate. She also wasn’t afraid to challenge the Doctor. She was many things (including the Bad Wolf), but rarely was she needy (I can think of two times where she came off that way and they were warranted both times). Finding her irritating is subjective obviously and I never did. I love all of the companions, but she will always be my favorite. And that “love story” that you dismiss so easily is what saved the Doctor. He was a broken solider, ready to give up on life because of the time war. Then he met Rose. She saved him (and he saved her). The love story is primarily in the subtext until later in the series so I don’t know why anyone would find it to be “distracting.” It gives the characters depth and makes them more relatable. And really, you find her smile off putting??? Billie Piper has THE BEST SMILE EVER. Seriously, it is probably her best feature.

        I adore Christopher Eccleston and really respect that he stands by his principles. I understand that working conditions did improve drastically as the series went on though.

        • Nicholas Cobraetti says:

          Billie Piper’s smile looks like The Man Who Laughs. Creepy.

        • Jane Poole says:

          Was never really a fan of Billie Piper until I saw her in Doctor Who. I didn’t really like her at first. But she grew on me. She’s one of the best developed characters in the series and the best part about her is she can be any of us. And I agree, the most attractive about her physically is her smile and laugh. It’s just so genuine and so bright. The way she smiles like that for the Doctor. The love just shines through, it’s heartbreaking.

          • makapav says:

            I couldn’t ever stand Martha Jones though. I didn’t like Billie Piper either but she grew on me and I think she’s the best so far. I just started the Season 5 on Netflix yesterday. This show has been an exhilirating ride so far. I am amazed that it beats most big budget Hollywood movies (e.g. Ironman 2, 3, Transformers 2, 3, Thor, Avengers) in depth of plot and grippiness, INMHO.

    • Gina Rogers says:

      Me too! I loved the way they played off of each other!

    • Guest says:

      Ludacris is a rapper. Ludicrous is the word you’re looking for. :)

  85. I liked Eccelston as the Doctor, but I think in the long run him leaving after one season worked out just fine

  86. WALLACE says:

    I know what we’re all wondering, will he turn up in the anniversary…

  87. […] recently, I found out the real reason behind his departure via Bad Wilf which shared the following Eccleston quote from an acting master class at the Theatre Royal […]

  88. Jason Litzau says:

    Artistic integrity. Don’t ever lose that, Mr. Eccleston.
    It’s so very rare these days.

  89. […] …Bad Wilf, a UK site that, like TVWriter™, is pretty much crushing on The Doctor, has a transcript of comments he made recently to “an acting master class at the Theatre Royal Haymarket”: Our Boss’s favorite Doctor I left Doctor Who because I could not get along with the senior people. I left because of politics. I did not see eye-to-eye with them. I didn’t agree with the way things were being run. I didn’t like the culture that had grown up, around the series. So I left, I felt, over a principle. […]

  90. jazmine says:

    I respect him for this, and I’ll always love him as the Doctor.

  91. Jen-tamaria says:

    i completely understand. what’s the point of staying on a job that doesn’t let you be you and goes against your morals? if i went against my morals at my job, i would quit within a heartbeat.
    Chris was my first doctor and yeah it was sad to see him go. but i also understand why he felt he needed to leave.

  92. […] his role as the Ninth Doctor for Dr. Who‘s 50th Anniversary special next year. According to this podcast, he went beyond that, and talked in an unfortunately candid manner about why he left the show in […]

  93. Becky says:

    I suppose when you feel you have to leave like that, it is such a bad reason. I am not blaming Christopher Eccleston, I’m talking about the crew. I think that what he said about the director bullying the props man, was something that some actors I can imagine not care about because “hey, it’s the props guy, he won’t take it personally”. Eccleston is someone who I have liked as the Doctor, he is a great actor, and I miss him (not that I don’t like David Tennant or Matt Smith). I had a respect for him before I read this, and I feel as if I respect him more after reading this. I think, as someone who cares about people of all professions and all positions in their jobs in their treatment by others should make the crew that bully these people (not all of them, I am not talking about the crew as a whole) think about people who are in those positions and how much they should be valued for their work. I like that he is someone who hates the treatment of some people in their jobs.

  94. […] Eccleston explains why he left Doctor Who | Bad WilfJul 20, 2011 … In an acting master class at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, Christopher Eccleston was asked why he left a such a high paid job as Doctor Who. […]

  95. Valithor Obsidion says:

    Anyone else notice the “Bad Wilf” and “Bad Wolf” irony here?

  96. I totally respect him for his work and his choices. I admit though it was Matt Smith’s Doctor that pulled me in. When the show aired with CE I just couldn’t get into it, until I’d fallen in love with Matt Smith and then David Tennant. Once I had learned to love the Doctor through them I went back and watched the first season and I love him too now, so just stop with the hating.

  97. Oileanach says:

    Okay, probably will never be read because this forum topic is so old, but…

    Firstly: love the name “Bad Wilf” combining one of the creepiest story arcs and one of the kindest, most comforting near-companions is brilliant. Would love to see Wilf and Rory’s dad meet in a pub accidentally and realize the link they have in common. Of course it would be cool for the OTHER Brian Williams to meet Wilf and….oh,, nevermind.

    As for CE, whyever he left does not matter. He brought our Doctor back and for that he should get a medal. I was introduced to The Good Doctor (not Asimov. never met him, sadly) through Tom Baker on PBS in the afternoons. When I found the re-launch on BBC America, we were well into David Tennant, so it was not so much of a shock. (I did tear up to hear the revamped but still recognizable theme).

    BBCA started the series repeats, I did not care for CE. Previous Doctors were more er, um, how to put it… To be fair, it seemed like they solved problems with brains rather than brawn because brawn was never really an option; while I think that if CE punched you in the face, you’d remember.

    However, after watching the entire first season and learning more about CE, I have to say he is a first-rate Doctor and a first-rate human being.

    Do wish BBCA could work out the legal issues to show all 50 years of DW. Not at once, of course, because I have to eat, sleep, and go to work and stuff; but I still feel that I have missed out by only knowing the Doctor through the recent series(es?) and Doctor 4 (the previous Doctor 4, not the next….oh… nevermind)

    • Demdike says:

      As someone who has watched Dr Who from the very first episode with William Hartnell. Do you know that the actor who played Wilf was one of the companions once! CE brought a grittiness and suppressed anger to the role which as the first episode after being responsible for the death of his entire race and the race of Daleks, it would be expected that he would be ‘dark’. Being a fellow Northerner didn’t hurt lol.

    • Umm, Netflix has.”classic” episodes available, going back to WH. Over acted, cheesy effects, dated clothing, everything you fell in love with. Nothing like resurrecting old threads!

  98. Nobody says:

    I’m sad to see him go but I honor that he did not allow himself to turn into do thing he was not for money

  99. Louis Ben says:

    You guys are so cool. Do you still see Matt?

  100. Paul says:

    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?’

    Exactly. Sounds like the director was Completely incompetent like most of them. If a director is telling an actor how to act, he doesn’t know what he’s doing and has no business doing it because it’s about trust, about believing in your actors, about knowing their character and pulling a performance out of them with just a word or two. I REALLY love Mr. Eccleston’s performances. He did some real magic in light of the circumstances.

    Here is an account of a real director Elia Kazan at work:

    Orson Welles Paris Interview:


  101. Chris says:

    I totally respect CE for leaving for the reasons stated above. But I just cant reconcile what he says with David Tennant staying for 4 seasons. I mean, I cant see David putting up with an asshole director. Or sacrificing himself or his integrity for Doctor who. Totally the opposite, in fact. To me it seemed like they gave Tennant ALOT of leeway in how he portrayed the Doctor and if I had to guess he was involved in almost every facet of making the eps. He just seems like a huge fan and the type of guy that would want to get his hands dirty and really be involved in the process.

    I cant see David Tennant sticking around for long if everything was as bad as CE says it was. Or maybe they changed things up. The strange thing about CE’s statement is that on shows like the director changes for almost every episode. So CE had issues with ALL the directors? That right there brings up red flags. Like CE is the one that is hard to work with.

  102. The Question says:

    Chris Ecclestone was excellent as The Doctor. David Tennant did not have the same issues so it can’t all be as this interview suggests and he has not struggled with the TYPCAST Curse. I for one would have preferred that Paul McGann had been given a season and then hand over to someone who was interested for the long haul which taking nothing away from Chris’s performance, he clearly wasn’t.

  103. […] “I left Doctor Who because I could not get along with the senior people. I left because of politics. I did not see eye-to-eye with them. I didn’t agree with the way things were being run. I didn’t like the culture that had grown up around the series. So I left, I felt, over a principle.”  He concluded, saying “My face didn’t fit and I’m sure they were glad to see the back of me. The important thing is that I succeeded. It was a great part. I loved playing him. I loved connecting with that audience. Because I’ve always acted for adults and then suddenly you’re acting for children, who are far more tasteful; they will not be bullshitted. It’s either good, or it’s bad. They don’t schmooze at after-show parties, with cocktails.” [] […]

  104. to bad , next to Tom baker he was the best ,David tennant was a close third .

  105. […] his latest outpouring on Bad Wilf though it appears that, unsurprisingly, the decision was all about to politics and disagreements […]

  106. The show is terrible, Chris, and you were right to leave. There were only two good stories they handed you during your reign – Empty Child/Doctor Dances, and Dalek (why was it not the last Dalek story ever??) – and the rest were dross. Such a shame, I really liked your Doc, certainly a lot more than that annoying mumbling little scotts git!

  107. Mulanwulf says:

    I used to be angry at him for leaving Doctor Who, as he was (is) my favorite doctor. This makes it a little better, but I still REALLY wish he had agreed to the 50th Anniversary special! I mean, I get that you want to be ethical, but you’re letting millions of fans (or at least me, and that is NOT okay) down! Of course, saves me the tears of seeing him leave again.

  108. CC says:

    Makes me respect him even more. He was and will remain my favorite Doctor. Way to go this fan is proud of you.

  109. Granny Carnation says:

    I am an American “Grandma” who just discovered Doctor Who this past month. Costco had the series for sale and my husband and I decided to watch it. I fell in love with the character Chris Eccleston played! Much to our amazement we found out there were 8 other Doctor Whos. So we have watched a couple other Doctor Whos since. No one else even come close to doing as good a job as Chris does. You instantly like his grin and his can’t loose attitude. It is sad he didn’t do anymore but if he wasn’t happy I do understand. Too bad, it is definitely all our loss.

  110. smb says:

    I did not like Dr. Who until Eccleston played him. While the others are fine and quite entertaining, there is a subtle difference–between very good actors and great actors. And for me, I needed that extra push to get drawn into the stories.

    Now that he’s gone, I again find the stories too convoluted and heavy-handed to watch. Not bad-mouthing Tennant and Smith (they are notable and good actors), it’s just that Eccleston could take it one bit further by being both alien AND human, both distant and approachable, and both platonic and in love with Piper. Nicely done.

  111. Toby says:

    In my opinion Eccleston was by far the best Doctor. Tennant and Smith although great could not have rebooted the show like him and I think he shows great integrity in leaving over a principle like this. Lets not forget the raw material for an actor is the actor themselves and the fact the man is sticking to these princliples stands in very good stead.

  112. Alex Woodard says:

    Well, personally I thought Eccleston was an amazing Doctor. It was/is(I guess it depends on whether or not the politics are still going on) sad that even in such a show there are still politics to ruin what goes on behind the scenes but, I am glad that Eccleston was able to be the Doctor and I’m glad that he keeps his principles. Too few people can do that nowadays. True, it means there will most likely never be a multi-Doctor special featuring Eccleston, but I would rather he keeps his conscience and his integrity than do something he doesn’t want to just to keep the fans happy.

  113. Lagartha Nick says:

    Well that explains the current Americanization and the current direction of talentless “assistants” and terrible scripts… The marketing jerkoffs and aristocrats at the BBC smell money and they are too stupid to see that the rusted on fans have all gotten older and that they are the ones who let their children watch the show…

  114. Bunny says:

    Thats a ridiculous comparison. A dog is not a human. It is not able to choose for its self or understand and therefore that would be rape. No one is saying rape is okay. However, when two consenting (human, since you obviously need the clarification) adults who are capable of making informed decisions between themselves when those decisions don’t hurt anyone else do choose to marry someone they love, then yes. We must accept it and not push our narrow views on them or try to stand in their way or say hateful disparaging things about them or their choices yes, that -is- bigotry .

    Here is the Miriam-Webster definition of a bigot in case you need clarification of why one would conciser you a bigot.

    Definition of BIGOT

    : a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

    • Segev says:

      So, then, you’re biggotted against people who don’t share your opinion and prejudices regarding morality? That is, you’re bigotted against Christians for not wanting to watch homosexuality?

      Note that nobody has called out for any adverse action, but somebody here has already implied that, if Eccleston was at all uncomfortable with the kiss, it is a black mark against his character. (That is, at least, the converse of the implication that suggesting he might have been uncomfortable with it is besmirching his character: only a bad person would be uncomfortable with it, or it wouldn’t be insulting to his character to imply he might be.)

      I’m not saying he was or wasn’t; that’s his business. But I find it ironic that you’re bigotted against people who hold a moral value system other than the one you like.

      • bloodyneptune says:

        “Moral value system other than the one you like” that Moral System being ‘only people I approve of should be able to have romantic relationships’. Its sad when people call standing up to bigotry as bigotry itself.

        If you stand up to bullying, is that bullying the bully? Disproving of misogyny is misandry?

        If he was, say, against kissing a person of a different race should we respect the racists point of view on the matter?

        If certain Christians (as you say) don’t want to watch it, then they shouldn’t. No show should ban the portrayal of basic human rights because one group of people disprove.

  115. Gavin Chaudry says:

    Gutted he won’t appear in the fiftieth. He’ll be too old to be passable in the 60th :(

  116. ';lkn says:


  117. Sage says:

    Im sure he’ll never read this but Eccleston is my favorite Doctor and hearing what he had to go through makes me love him all the more. I’ll respect his choice even though I hated to see him go. Oh and Mr. Eccleston if this ever makes it over to you…You are missed.

  118. Gina Rogers says:

    Reading this makes me hold Christopher Eccleston in even higher regard than I did before I read it! To have morals in a business like show business is above and beyond expectations. He is to me a true Doctor, standing up for his beliefs.

  119. Bekah says:

    Christoper brought something to this series that will never be duplicated. I wish #9 had been there for more than one season, but not at the cost of Mr. Eccleston’s feeling of morality.

    Side note – I always wonder about comments made regarding the dislike of certain companions. Rose, Martha, Donna – all strong women w/ flaws and very wonderful qualities. Just like a real person. The Doctor is full of great and terrible qualities as well, yet we love him regardless. So lets cut these humans some slack, eh? These are fighting for the Dr and the Universe, as well as themselves w/ the only life they have.

  120. dalek moore says:

    No guts no glory ! one season pretty slack !

  121. alienlovesong says:

    Ungh, please. Spare us your pathetic comparisons and scramble to justify your bigotry.

  122. Anthony Jackson says:

    I am pleased about this clarification. I had always thought that CE left Dr Who due to not being comfortable working within a gay environment. I was saddened by that and then found it hard to watch him. I did read his comments about being ‘uncomfortable’ with the direction and the Captain Jack character. He is an amazing actor though but looks quite tense all the time.

  123. […] little clearer in 2011, during an acting workshop at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. According to the BadWilf blog, when asked why he left the role Eccleston replied: ‘I left Doctor Who because I could not […]

  124. […] little clearer in 2011, during an acting workshop at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. According to the BadWilf blog, when asked why he left the role Eccleston replied: ‘I left Doctor Who because I could not […]

  125. […] little clearer in 2011, during an acting workshop at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. According to the BadWilf blog, when asked why he left the role Eccleston replied: ‘I left Doctor Who because I could not […]

  126. […] little clearer in 2011, during an acting workshop at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. According to the BadWilf blog, when asked why he left the role Eccleston replied: ‘I left Doctor Who because I could not […]

  127. […] little clearer in 2011, during an acting workshop at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. According to the BadWilf blog, when asked why he left the role Eccleston replied: ‘I left Doctor Who because I could not […]

  128. […] little clearer in 2011, during an acting workshop at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. According to the BadWilf blog, when asked why he left the role Eccleston replied: ‘I left Doctor Who because I could not […]

  129. Madmaninatextbox says:

    This is all well and good – very Donna Noble and all that – but it doesn’t answer the fundamental question, namely why, with the show now in the hands of a completely different set of writers, producers and directors, would he not return to film one fan pleasing scene for the anniversary of a show that’s reached this rare milestone? If he cares about the audience, only some of whom are children Chris, why not honour them with a cameo? Are we really supposed to respect a man who cares more about his pride than the show? It’s bad enough he endangered its future by quitting so soon, before it had re-established itself, but to not even give an afternoon to film the other half of the Hurt regeneration – that’s ugly self-importance.

    When it’s the 50th anniversary of a show that’s something of an institution and you’ve been fortunate enough to play the lead in it, and everyone else ever involved in the fucking thing, including the robot dog, shows up to do their bit and it’s only you that’s conspicuous by your absence, then I think the audience is entitled to ask why you didn’t deign to take part. Eccleston only hurts his fans by staying away – the director he didn’t care for won’t give a fuck. The crew he hated were probably relieved.

    I expect it’s got nothing whatsoever to do with high principles, it’s that he thought the material was beneath him and contrived to get out of it before he was too closely associated with the part. Even now he’s probably pissed off it’s been such a continued modern success without him. Staying away is Eccleston’s way of reminding everyone involved that he’s a cut above. I think it’s disgraceful. Were I the show runner I’d retcon him out of it.

    • Jon Stone says:

      I really don’t see why he should be expected to lend his face, even briefly, to an ‘anniversary special’ that itself did so little to honour the show’s history, especially if (as he hints) the culture behind the scenes is so toxic. To suggest that he was somehow honour-bound to do so pure entitlement on your part. He doesn’t owe anyone anything.

  130. Nick says:

    I’ve never really rated Eccleston as an actor. He was dire in Thor 2.

  131. Milagro Beanfeldt says:

    Sometimes… people make a war.
    Don’t know what it’s for
    Won’t you stop… the war…

  132. Ignas Bednarczyk says:

    He was not Dr. Who, but an imposter.

  133. Dee says:

    He was loads better than Tennant and Smith. I think that the immature portrayal by Smith was ridiculous. Hopefully they [producers, writers, directors] won’t drive Capaldi around the bend

  134. Martin Browne says:

    Sure. If enough people want to marry their dogs that people are talking about reforming the definition of marriage again to include it then why not? It doesnt affect me in any way so why not just let people marry their dogs?

  135. Rech says:

    I really wish he’d been in the 50th

  136. Eccleston explains why he left Doctor Who | Bad Wilf

    I consider something really special in this web site.

  137. Cameron Skirving says:

    Ha. Its Tom Baker all over again. This is exactly what he was life, clashing with directors who had meticulously how they want the show to be and then the lead comes in like a knowall and insists he will play it like this and then sulks and moans if he doesn’t get his own way. That schmaks of arrogance and disrespect to others on the team. I do not like it when lead roles show that type of arrogance so they need their head deflated, which Eccleston did and he didn’t like it so he left in a huff, POOR BABY !!!!! Peter Davison was an easy actor to work with because he always took interest in others on the team and listened to everyone . He has got a lot more top roles as a result. Says it all really……

    • Linnea says:

      He did not have conflicts over how to play the role. Did you read what he said? The conflicts were about how the people on top treated the people working underneath them. He didn’t want to work in an environment where “that director can bully that prop man” and he got in trouble for speaking out about it.

  138. Louis Gossai says:

    I hope he’ll one day do Big Finish.

  139. Chris Fury says:

    I haven’t seen any new-Who.

  140. Kazza says:

    Eccleston is such an arrogant ass-hat.

  141. Katherine says:

    I wish he had done the 50th, but at least we got Sir John Hurt

  142. Sarika says:

    I’m just curious, did Eccleston ever get back to you about this?

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