17 June 2010

Former Doctor Who actor Christopher Ecceleston explains -sort of - why he left after one season

After five years, actor Christopher Eccleston revealed the reason he left the revived Doctor Who after only one season.

Well, somewhat.

In an interview with The Sun Newspaper, Eccleston said that he did not enjoy playing the Doctor. While he did not elaborate too much, some fault seems to lie on the doorstop of the BBC itself. It’s been suggested that the Beeb wanted David Tennant all along, but understood the that if the show was to come back -and sold into a much wider audience - it needed a well know, recognizable actor in the role -Eccleston was known in the UK for numerous television appearances, including The Second Coming miniseries, written by new Doctor Who showrunner Russell T. Davies.

But Eccleston suggests that it was the culture of “Doctor Who” made the work not enjoyable.

“I was open-minded but I decided after my experience on the first series that I didn’t want to do any more," he told The Sun newspaper. "I didn’t enjoy the environment and the culture that we, the cast and crew, had to work in. I wasn’t comfortable. I thought 'If I stay in this job, I’m going to have to blind myself to certain things that I thought were wrong.’ And I think it’s more important to be your own man than be successful, so I left."

Still, the BBC did mishandle is departure. At first, it appeared that the star was doing this because he was afraid of typecasting. This eventually turned out to be red herring on the BBC’s part. The BBC was already aware -even before the first episode of the new series aired - that he was not returning, and it was suppose to be a secret. But as history has proven, all it took was one person to spoil it. And even though it was an honest mistake, the BBC was forced to apologize to Eccleston.

“They handled it very badly but they issued an apology and I dropped it,” Eccleston said. “But the most important thing is that I did [the show], not that I left."

Still, one wonders what the BBC was doing, and going to do, with its most successful franchise. Was the fact that Tennant signed so soon after Ecceleston proof that the BBC always wanted him? Was Davies “gaying” up the show? Was it true that he and Billie Piper did not get along?

Unless Ecceleston writes a tell-all book, we may never get a full, detailed explanation of what he means. Still, without his as the Doctor, I don’t think the show would be as popular as it is today. In give props to Tennant, who really made the revived series an international phenomena, but it was Christopher Ecceleston who lead the way.

And for that, Doctor Who fans should be grateful.

No comments: