Christopher Eccleston Reveals Why He Didn’t Return For Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary

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Doctor Who celebrated its 50th birthday in style back in 2013. The feature-length special “The Day of the Doctor” was everything fans could have asked for, with David Tennant returning to team up with Matt Smith and the introduction of John Hurt to the mythos. Even Tom Baker showed up for a cameo. Noticeable by his absence, though, was Christopher Eccleston, the Ninth Doctor and original leading man of the modern series.

The actor hasn’t spoken publicly about his reasons for not doing the special much but he recently spilled the beans during a panel at Rose City Comic Con, where he revealed that he considered it but his lingering feelings of being betrayed by the BBC from eight years before convinced him otherwise.

 “I liked [then showrunner] Steven Moffat a lot. I considered it. But it had an enormous emotional impact on me, what happened with Doctor Who. As the series was going out, as the series was being celebrated I was being vilified in the press in the UK because of the statement that the BBC issued. And it caused quite a depression in me that year. While everybody was going ‘Doctor Who’s great – he’s great and he’s gone’. Because they [the BBC] kind of smeared me and told lies about me.”

Eccleston has previously opened up about his falling-out with the BBC. When he quit the role after a single season, the corporation said he was scared of being typecast. The actor has since explained though this was far from the truth and this false story led to him struggling to find roles in the UK. Instead, the star moved to the US for a few years in an attempt to restart his career.

As much as there’s some bad blood between himself and the BBC though, Eccleston seems to be a fan of the special and went on to comment that it’s probably for the best that he said no, otherwise we wouldn’t have had John Hurt turn up as the War Doctor – the newly-created incarnation who slots in between the Eighth and Ninth Doctors.

“The virtue of that is that we then get the War Doctor. Because if I’d have come back you wouldn’t have got the War Doctor – the War Doctor was there precisely because the Ninth Doctor wasn’t. And John Hurt’s a far better actor than me, and that opened up a whole new dimension. So it was a positive thing really.”

Eccleston recently opened up about his lifelong struggle with anorexia for the first time as well, admitting that his struggles with his body image and his mental health were particularly bad around his tenure on Doctor WhoConsidering all that, it’s understandable he hasn’t been back to the show since. If he’s ever willing to return later down the line, though, that’d be fantastic.