After years of silence, former Doctor Who star Christopher Eccleston recently opened up about why exactly he left the sci-fi series after only a single season back in 2005. The former Ninth Doctor revealed that he clashed with the producers, including then showrunner Russell T. Davies, to the extent that a working relationship was no longer sustainable. As Eccleston put it, both parties lost “faith” and “trust” in one another.
In a recent interview with SFX Magazine, Davies was asked for his feelings on what Eccleston had said. Somewhat surprisingly, the writer took full responsibility for any problems that the star might have had about how the show was run, explaining that he had “a duty of care” for his lead actor.
“What has to be remembered when the show’s being discussed in the present tense, now, is that I was his employer — I was his producer. I have a duty of care towards any lead actor I work with, so I have a duty of care towards Chris in that moment. He’s free to say and explore whatever he wants — that’s fine. This duty of care involves respecting him and listening to him at all times. That’s my job. And that duty of care towards him will extend for the rest of our lives. He will always be my Doctor, and I will always be his producer.”
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Though we can only speculate as to what exactly happened behind the scenes, it’s sad that Eccleston doesn’t seem to have gotten over what happened 13 years ago when Davies has nothing but respect for the actor and is willing to admit his mistakes. Davies, who was the head honcho of Doctor Who from 2005-2010, went on to say just how much he loves Eccleston’s “magnificent” interpretation of the Time Lord and called it an “honour” to have worked with him.
“The thing I’ve got to say is that Chris is a magnificent actor and a magnificent man — he’s truly a leader of men — and he was a magnificent Doctor Who as well. You forget what a brave move it was to take the part on when the press were quoting people like [TV musician] Paul Daniels as the next Doctor. It was a huge leap for Chris to make, and I love what he did. . . . It’s a magnificent, never-to-be forgotten Doctor, and it was an honour to work with an actor delivering a performance like that.”
We suppose that one reason Davies is perhaps more forgiving about the situation than Eccleston is because it all worked out in the end for his tenure on the show. The actor’s exit opened the door for David Tennant to take over, ushering in one of the most successful and popular eras of the series ever. Eccleston, meanwhile, was allegedly “blacklisted” from working at the BBC, something that’s only lifted in the past few years.
While we obviously can’t change what happened in the past, we hope that the relationship between new Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall and Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker proves to be a lot longer lasting than Davies and Eccleston’s.
Source: SFX Magazine (via Radio Times)