On the press circuit for Christopher Eccleston’s recent BBC drama Come Home (which is written by Danny Brocklehurst and well worth a watch), he spoke to the Radio Times about what many consider his premature exit from Doctor Who in 2005.
Having played the Ninth Doctor for just one series, the actor – who has previously chosen to remain fairly tight-lipped about his exit – revealed why he’s not made many comments about it since.
“When I left, I gave my word to [then-showrunner] Russell T Davies that I wouldn’t do anything to damage the show,” he remarked. “But they did things to damage me. I didn’t criticise anybody.”
Eccleston claimed that after he departed the long-running sci-fi series, he was blacklisted by the Beeb.
“My relationship with my three immediate superiors – the showrunner, the producer and co-producer – broke down irreparably during the first block of filming and it never recovered,” Eccleston went on, adding “They lost trust in me, and I lost faith and trust and belief in them.”
But Eccleston also notes that the situation involved a few factors, also blaming his own discomfort with playing less of a dramatic role after a series of more serious outings.
“Some of my anger about the situation came from my own insecurity. They employed somebody [as the Doctor] who was not a natural light comedian. Billie [Piper], who we know was and is brilliant, was very, very nervous and very, very inexperienced. So, you had that, and then you had me. Very, very experienced, possibly the most experienced on it, but out of my comfort zone.”
Ecclestone assured the Radio Times that he “never will have” a working relationship with Davies again, so it’s not all water under the bridge between the pair.
When asked for a response by SFX Magazine, Davies refused to enter into an exchange with his former lead actor via the press, saying that wouldn’t be appropriate. Davies stressed the continuing duty of care any producer should have for their actors, even long after a project has concluded. He told SFX he intended to continue “respecting and listening to [Eccleston] at all times.”
“He will always be my Doctor,” said Davies. The interview is available in the new issue of SFX, out now.