Most of us will recall the day when Christopher Eccleston was announced as the new star of the newly revived Doctor Who back in 2004. I personally thought he was a great choice, having followed his work for years, through Let Him Have It and Cracker, among others.
While very different to any Doctor before or since, Eccleston’s portrayal of the war-weary Time Lord was a key element of the series returning with renewed vigour, able to cast star names in guest roles.
Chatting to Graham Norton on BBC Radio 2 on Saturday, the former Ninth Doctor recalled the events leading up to his casting in what would be a successful resurrection of Doctor Who. You might recall that Eccleston was interested in the part becuase Russell T Davies – with whom he had previously worked – was in charge of the show.
“I heard Russell was going to do Doctor Who and I thought, ‘That’s quite strange’. When I heard he was writing it, I emailed him and said I’d like to play the part. I went after the part.”
“I’d done a lot of television for adults. I actually think the most intelligent and the most difficult audience are children. They will be not patronised… I wanted to front a big series like [Doctor Who], which I felt was going to be intelligent.”
“The thing about The Doctor is, he’s very inclusive. He doesn’t see the alien in aliens and I loved that about him,” he added. “Also the fact that he’s never at home. He’s a Time Lord and he’s always, always falling though the universe. When I thought about that, I thought I could play that.”
It’s a fascinating interpretation of the Doctor, something that David Tennant and Matt Smith have only touched upon. In many ways, Eccleston’s Doctor, while embracing the alien, was the most alien incarnation yet, certainly since Tom Baker and possibly as far back as William Hartnell.
Like Tom Baker, however, Christopher Eccleston has no plans to take part in any forthcoming mult-Doctor get togethers, observing:
“No, I never bathe in the same river twice.”
While many will be disappointed by this, I think we all owe him a massive debt for helping to make the greatest show in the galaxy respectable once again.