Doctor Who: Steven Moffat on Christopher Eccleston regeneration

News Simon Brew 2 May 2014 - 06:55

Steven Moffat has been talking about the regeneration we didn't quite get to see in Doctor Who: Day Of The Doctor

This article contains a (slight) spoiler for Doctor Who: The Day Of The Doctor

In the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine, which is on sale now, Steven Moffat has revealed a little more about the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who. In Day Of The Doctor, we see John Hurt beginning to regenerate, right up to the point where Christopher Eccleston should appear. But then the episode cut away, and Steven Moffat has been explaining why.

"It was one thing to include [Christopher Eccleston] among all the other archive Doctors, as they flew in to save the day - in fact, it would have been disgraceful to have left anyone out - but placing him in that scene might have given the impression he'd actually turned up for filming, which would have been crossing the line", Moffat said.

He went on to add that "not taking part in the 50th was a difficult decision for Chris, taken after a lot of thought and with great courtesy, and not respecting his wishes would have been grossly unprofessional and disrespectful to a good man and a great Doctor. Number nine may not have turned up for the celebrations, but there would have been no party without him".

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I was disappointed that Eccleston didn't even make a brief appearance. With the millions of dr who fans globally who would have been over joyed with even a few seconds of footage you thought he might have made a slight effort. Ive never seen an interview where he seems to have even enjoyed his role.He did a great job of reviving the series but his clashes with the BBC seem to have left him bitter about it. its a shame as its the fans who suffer. I feel moffet is being generous to him in this interview

I don't think we got to see the Matt Smith - Peter Capaldi regeneration properly but there you go.

It's been established that the war dr role was really a rewrite of the Ninth doctor's role. It's a shame as I think it would have worked better. This is no slight on Hurt, it's just that the ninth was the dr of the revamped series.

I still don't understand exactly why the other Drs all turned up? Who told them what to do? Plus what did they actually do?

Most of us have take jobs we don't enjoy, or end up not enjoying, and would prefer to leave behind us. I suppose even Doctor Who actors are not immune to this. In Eccleston's case, the apparent troubles he had with senior staff, the internal politics and the bullying he witnessed were not worth staying for more than one season, or for coming back now that he's moved on to other TV shows and movies.

With respect, this makes fans sound like whiny babies who put their own wants before others' needs. How do we suffer exactly?
I'm saddened that one of the actors playing the Doctor had such a sour experience in the role, but still it's his priorities that must surely take precedence in this situation.

Whiney baby? Seriously?
Over stating an opinion of disappointment about an actor not returning to a part?
Ive stated I understood why he didnt. I just think it was a shame for the fans.
Who said anything about us suffering? I think you have totally lost the plot

Um... you did say "its a shame as its the fans who suffer". So when you ask who said anything... um... you did.

Your second-to-last sentence - "It's the fans who suffer". Read it for yourself if you don't remember writing it.
It is a shame for the fans, you're right, but "he might have made a slight effort"? That's harsh. We're told he deliberated over it long and hard, and that's effort enough.

I think that's a very courteous and polite interview from the Moff. Very gracious. He certainly seems to have a real respect for what has gone before, and those who contributed along the way. It's a pleasure to see.

It's ok, I forget that I said stuff too.

Maybe Eccleston would have been interested had the script been any good. Adventures in Space & Time was far better.

You're not alone in wondering why the others showed up (dramatic imperative aside of course).
It feels odd that the Doctor, since his first incarnation, would have flown to Gallifrey to that specific point in time once every regeneration to callibrate it disappearing into some other dimension, and only the 9th time understand why he was actually doing it.

So I did. Poor choice of words. Not suffer then but miss out. Just would have been gd if he could of at least played a small role

What's this bad experience with the BBC of which you speak? Seriously - I don't know about this. I just thought he'd left after a year because he was an arse and thought he was too serious for it.

Isn't it more to do with the fact the Doctor called all his previous incarnations to that point? From what I know of previous episodes of doctors meeting up, they all forget about the events, so all incarnations turn up, do what they need to do, but then when they went their separate ways they forgot the events and so continuity is restored.

That makes sense! Thank you so much for that, it always bugs me when things like this get in the way of me just enjoying the show :)

Agreed. I was on the edge of my seat when Hurt started regenerating!
And then when you don't quite see him it's a reminder of why he's not in the show. Bit of a downer there, so I totally see where you're coming from.

Allegedly, Eccleston witnessed a certain respected director bullying a lowly staff member (perhaps a runner) then turning around and attempting to give Billie and himself notes. Having lost all respect for the guy, Eccleston understandably complained. However, he was told the director was too important to the show (probably booked to direct more than one episode) and the execs didn't want to upset him. Eccleston cited this as not enjoying "the production culture" in subsequent reasons for leaving the show.

Wasn't meant to be shockingly quick for dramatic effect, after the Eleventh's long years in the same place?

out the new ones so far he was my fav! we all but got a brief glimpse of what could have been the best doctor that none could have surpassed! but alis it did not happen

He didn't really need to make any effort at all. He just needed to allow the producers to make a few seconds of cgi resembling him regenerating from John Hurt! Why was that too much to ask, when he wouldn't have needed to do a thing?! He's like a baby who has thrown his toys from the pram! And Moffat is no better for pretending that it was no big deal!

that's the opposite of a one trick pony

Great clip, just watched it. His answering style is very much that of a politician!

Surely pretty much everyone involved in that incident has long since left the series though?

It's a shame (if true) that his experience of Doctor Who has been tarnished by a couple of idiots who no longer even have a hand in its production.

Eccleston should have been the third Dr instead of the War Doctor. Shame he didn't come back.

This is honestly the fullest version of the story I've ever read, and I've looked. I think there'd be greater understanding of his non-involvement if this was more widely known.

I wonder why Eccleston even took the role sometimes. Good actor yes, good Doctor yes but not brilliant in my view.(I think they are all good really but CE is bottom of my list) The Doctor is a role you have to embrace and I never felt he actually did or wanted to

I'm still wonder why 12 turned up but not 13 onwards.

Apart from the fact they haven't been cast yet and I should stop wondering about such things.

Tom Baker refused to appear in the 5 doctors special back in the day and he was bigger than Eccleston ever was. He regretted it years later but at the time didn't want anything to do with Who. Give Eccleston a break. I'm sure he's got his reasons

Wow did everyone just come to an agreement after an argument ..................... on the internet? .................... well that's just weird. I'm sure it's the first sign of the apocalypse!

That's pretty much what I've read, that it was a director and one of the execs who were supporting each other in unpleasantness. If true, I think that's even worse of Eccleston than quitting over typecasting. After all, who's in a better position to call attention to these things than the person playing the Doctor?

It bugs me too. Why not call on ten more Eleventh Doctors at points several minutes apart in his timeline (ala The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang), so the current incarnation in-the-know could just keep returning and provide all the required power for... whatever it was. He's crossing his own time stream anyway.

If the calculations would take 'centuries,' wouldn't that mean the early Doctors hadn't worked through them all the way? Or did they just transmit the whole thing to them when they summoned them off-screen? I may have misunderstood it. I know I've misunderstood something.

Answer: It was great to see all those old Doctors, wasn't it?

Very true. Jon Pertwee and many subsequent Doctors used to pride themselves on being the "father" of the company and would ensure a very good working atmosphere. Pertwee used to joke with many of the guest actors and had a run in with Barry Letts, when the latter accused him of not taking the work seriously. Actually, it was just Pertwee's way of making the company feel comfortable and the filming went really well as a consequence.

13 did pop up for a second

Moron hunt thyself.

he explains exactly why he didnt do it in the interview.

Just finished a yearlong "binge" of the last 7 seasons of Dr Who and absolutely loved it.
not having seen any of the old seasons, I have question about the War Doctor.
If the War Doctor is the 9th Doctor, does that mean the Time Wars were still going on in the era of the old seasons? I always assumed the series began after the events of the Time War.

dramatic effect.

suspend your disbelief and simply enjoy the feelgood moment.

no it didnt make sense, but its TV scifi, its not going to most of the time.

No, I moron hunt you! I'm not interested in sycophantic bullshit that these people spout in interviews. They are clearly stating safe and prepared answers over the actual truth for 'P.R.' reasons!

Always been curious, on a technical note, if they photoshopped Eccleston's eyes into that final frame of Hart's regeneration. For a second, there's a morph effect, which I appreciate on a pure continuity level. Without moaning, I do feel it's a shame he didn't return for just three seconds to completely wrap up all regenerations, in such a worldwide event and anniversary. If he spent so much time mulling it, a quick train journey to Cardiff for 5 seconds of filming would have brought so much delight. But that's judgement without knowledge of the ins and outs so I can't condemn his decision.
Still, such a widely loved show which, thanks to Moffat, has really become one complete story. For a days time it was worth it to pay tribute to the thousands who had came before over 50 years.

Thats because people on den of geek can debate rather than troll

The regeneration was spot on, you saw his eyes come through, that was plenty for me and I was very happy with it.

Good point ........... but its still weird.

No - the Time War begin during 8's unseen time as The Doctor.

Wonder if he'll regret it in a couple decades, or just grow more and more bitter about "The Doctor" being the thing that gets the most attention on his resume. Sad.

The sad truth is that Eccleston will probably regret it in a decade or so, in the same way that Tom Baker went into his great denial of anything Who in the 80s and then realised his mistake.

I don't get this. Moffat says he didn't want to be disrespectful but The War Doctor remarks "Hope the ears aren't too big this time!" as he regenerates into The unless Eccleston doesn't mind a comment like that!

In Eccleston's very first episode he makes fun of his own ears though...It was a callback to that moment.

Another asshole actor who refuses to acknowledge that fanboys are the core of any thesp's popularity. That aside, 'Doctor Who' is a UK television legend; Ecclescake should have accorded the programme - not the fans - the respect which its status deserved. A few well-paid hours for a couple of inserts and the pompous sphincter couldn't even do that. He needs to get over himself.

Ah yes, one of the "never look back" thespians - unless you're getting paid fifty-quid a pop to sign autographs at fan conventions.

'No, I moron hunt you'? That wasnt a grammatically correct sentence and you sounded like a tit.

'I'm not interested in sycophantic bullshit'??? Youre just being a whiney b*tch on a nerd forum!!! This isnt high art! Theyre not going to tell you the truth, if you think he would come out and say it.... then youre an idiot!

Oh the evil moffat didnt tell us the truth... oh Ecclestone didnt put his morals aside and take part in a show he left with good reason... oh how you must be suffering from the web of lies and deception.... they should disclose everything obviously... just for you!

if it hits 75 years we shall see then.

for now i really wont lose sleep over it.

Quite probably, but you never know.

Im sure Moffat raised that issue, but Ecclestone obviously has his principles and he said he was done.

He's a thespian, the guy takes his career and craft seriously, no shame in that. Easy to judge people when youve never walked a mile in their shoes.

I dont think we've quite reached the point where we can slag somebody off for not having a great experience in a job...

dramatic effect, suspension of disbelief

the fact they didnt want to spoil the fact Smith was the last of his run?

The fact 26 doctors wouldve been a bit silly?

Its just TV, no need to over analyse

a sh*tload of money probably played a big part

I blinked and missed it.


That was all that was needed and it honoured the wishes of all parties.

The BBC people brought it all full circle with the regenerations

Ecclestone WASNT in it for any new footage.

Everybody went home happy

hahaha oh look, another entitled @sshole fanboy

Everyone missed the YANA reference here/!

He quit over a matter of principle. That is something to be admired not scorned. He made his feelings known and it appears nothing was done, so he made the decision to leave,
No one bought typecasting as his reason for leaving, did they? I always thought he was a one year deal anyway, given his highly successful career. I was very surprised that he had any plan to continue in the role.
This is Christopher Eccleston, already a highly respected stage and screen actor in 2005. His casting was a coup for the show, not the other way around. He was brilliant in the role and we Whovians should all be grateful to him for making the revival a success. I would have loved to see him in "The Day of The Doctor", just as I would like to have seen that other strongwilled, opinionated former Doctor, Tom Baker, in "The Five Doctors".

To my knowledge Jon Pertwee never intervened in a labour dispute. It is on record that he was very welcoming to guest artists and supportive of the regular cast. Like Eccleston, he was an employee of the BBC. Barry Letts was his direct line manager as Julie Gardener was to Eccleston. Davies and Moffat are the creative heads they defer to their fellow E.P.s in regards to the day to day running of the programme.

He should have stayed and forced the change. Hell, spoken out about it, brought it to more people's attention, not just walked out on it. He was playing the f***ing Doctor, he, of all people, had that power. Instead, he left, and the people doing the bullying were left in place. (assuming it's all true. Many sources, but none from the man himself, so we'll likely never know for certain)

If your principles lead you to walk away from an injustice rather than stay and fight it, your principles don't mean squat.

And he referred to himself in a RT interview as "Plug from the Bash Street Kids."

I thought this "War Doctor" was created because Eccleston didn't want to do the anniversary special...

Eccleston's Doctor was pretty solid - many of the stories he was in were pretty bad, though.

It's a shame these companies choose to bully and drive talent away. And what can an actor do when seeing the bullying? An actor has no power...

I wholly agree.

Has he worked on BBC Wales TV productions since? That might suggest the extent he was supposedly disgusted with what he had seen.


I always loved Barry Letts' views, but I hope he and Pertwee had made up after the accusation.

Given that most Doctor actors say 3 years is the limit, and how soon it was revealed Eccleston bowed out, nobody would buy into the typecasting claim.

Eccleston did the work put in front of him. It was a job, nothing more. That's typically how actors work. He's not saving society or doing anything important (especially since a lot of people were involved that deserve some gratitude for bringing back the show in the form it took - well, gratitude or whatever you want to describe it... the revived show is more like "Buffy + Eastenders" and the producer's well-known ageism put a new light on the 9th Doctor's useless persona as well (because he doesn't look like he's less than 40 years old...)

It is indeed respectable that Eccleston would use his clout in speaking up against a corporate culture (and with a knighted showrunner, that's very telling that Eccleston would leave and say only so much in turn.)

He did what he thought was best for his career. That's all he's got power over. From the outside in, it's easy to conjure up big ideas that may or may not be fully realistic or true.

He was an employee - he played a role in a TV show, which had been revived and rebooted after 16 years as an attempt to get money and ratings - a cash-in on old property and old product. Nothing more. Even the producer was on record saying he wasn't sure people would go for it. So, no, Eccleston had nothing approaching the "king of the universe" power you're trying to attribute. It's like a janitor hearing nefarious issues in a bathroom. The janitor does good work, even a gold star for being a good worker. That does not mean he has any real influence in how his employer does things.

An actor is not hired to work in the Administration department, board of directors, whatever.

Eccleston did best for Eccleston. Most people do things to better themselves, not to better all of us in society - that's why we elect people, in a representative republic.

You're right, he did what he thought was best for his career. He was selfish. He was proud. Yes, most of us are both of those things, but we can also be judged accordingly for those things. Selfishness is certainly not something to be lauded as you initially suggested.

And I wasn't suggesting he had 'king of the universe' powers, I was suggesting that the lead of a television series with 10 million viewers courts enough clout with the media and the public to expose injustice and make it stick. It came out that he was leaving: why did he lie? Everyone wanted to know why, it was the perfect time to shed light on something he felt was wrong. Instead he lied about it and covered it up. While I would have loved to have seen him stay on for several more seasons, I understand his reluctance to work with people he disagreed with, but covering up bullying when he's the most watched person on British television? That's not right.

You have completely missed the point. He did not have the power. He is a subcontractor performing the job he was hired to do. He saw unacceptable behaviour, spoke up about it and in his opinion his complaint was ignored by senior management. He is not a union leader, it's not his job to negotiate working conditions. The Doctor is fictional character. The actor who plays him has little in the way of industrial power. He is hired to do the job by the shows producers. They are the people in charge not the actors. It is the same for all the actors that have played the Doctor. If the show's producer wants them gone, they go. Christopher Eccleston is a great actor and I and many other Whovians will always be grateful to him for making the show's relaunch a stunning success. Thankyou Sir and all the best to you.

If by 'entitled' you mean 'entitled to an opinion', then I most certainly agree with the epithet (yes, even the 'at' symbol bit).

And if you want to hunt anyone, come fight me.

They did! This was quite early on. Pertwee was one of the best Doctors and Letts one of the best Producers, both are sorely missed.

Not saying Pertwee intervened in a labour dispute. It was just a misunderstanding that Barry Letts mentioned in an off the cuff way on a couple of the DVDs.

Again, he was watched by 10 million viewers. He had media power. Instead of telling the truth, he lied to the public about an injustice. He helped to cover it up. Good day.

I'm starting to lose my respect for Eccleston. A shame,he was one of my favorite doctors. He disappointed all his fans.

haha queer.....

Hahahahahahahaha, you faggy little tosspot!

Yeah, whatever

Logic and reason just doesn't work with some people. You might want to change your name. Another victory for Confirmation Bias I think.
All the best.

You're quite right, it doesn't work with some people. I, for example, have laid out my argument thoroughly and consistently. You, on the other hand, have changed your argument from one lauding his nobility to one defending his selfishness to one denying his position within the media of 2005. I'm glad you can see your stupidity and are conceding the debate so graciously. Good day.

He and Russell T Davies were friends and he is and remains a huge fan of his writing. However, he really didn't like the work schedule and the pressure of being The Doctor and decided to depart after one season.


Sorry, just for the sake of accuracy - Phil Collinson would have been who Eccleston went to before Gardner, Young or Davies. And certainly, by all account, Collinson and Eccleston did have a falling out.

Quite right, Thanks for that. I don't know how to feel about Eccleston leaving. We get a brilliant turn from David Tennant and Matt Smith. Who would have been cast in the role if Mr Eccleston had stayed on for one or two more seasons? Mr Tennant was hot off Casanova, there was a buzz around him so the sidestep across to Doctor Who was perfectly timed. Would he have been in the public or more importantly in the producer's mind if Eccleston left after three seasons?


Thanks :)

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