Doctor Who fans have long wished that Christopher Eccleston stayed on as the Ninth Doctor for longer than the single season of 13 episodes that he did back in 2005. The actor has always been sketchy about exactly why he decided to leave, but evidence points to it being to do with a clash between him and some BBC execs. It turns out that the feud was so strong, in fact, that the decision to split from the show nearly cost Eccleston his career.
In an eye-opening interview with The Guardian, the actor claimed that the BBC “blacklisted” him after he angered the corporation by leaving them to find a replacement for him on Doctor Who. According to Eccleston, this precipitated his move to the US to find alternate work.
“What happened around Doctor Who almost destroyed my career. I gave them a hit show and I left with dignity and then they put me on a blacklist. I was carrying my own insecurities as it was something I had never done before and then I was abandoned, vilified in the tabloid press and blacklisted. I was told by my agent at the time: ‘The BBC regime is against you. You’re going to have to get out of the country and wait for regime change.’ So I went away to America and I kept on working because that’s what my parents instilled in me.”
Going by his career trajectory, it looks like Eccleston heeded his agent’s advice. He’s returned to the BBC in recent years to star in autism drama The A Word, so it seems like the top brass have forgiven him for their feud. After all, Eccleston’s exit from Doctor Who worked out in the end. David Tennant was brought in to replace him, ushering in one of the most successful eras of the show.
Of course, no doubt some will claim that the actor is just making excuses for his spotty success in Hollywood. However, we don’t know the full story of what went on behind the scenes, so let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. That said, it does sound like he’s no stranger to on-set conflict. In the same interview, he revealed his unpleasant experiences working on Thor: The Dark World and G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra.
Doctor Who returns to the BBC this October, with Jodie Whittaker in the leading role. And from the sounds of it, Christopher Eccleston is fully behind her casting.