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Christopher Eccleston Craps on the "Senior People" Behind "Doctor Who"

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | July 21, 2011 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | July 21, 2011 |

Like many of our readers here at Pajiba, I watch “Doctor Who” fairly religiously, at least since the reboot, but I don’t follow the politics of it very much. Most of what I know about “Doctor Who” besides what’s on the screen is what I see on “Graham Norton.” It always seemed to me that, at the very least, David Tennant had a very good relationship with the show and the people working on it. There has always seemed to be a certain reverence for Steven Moffat and Russell T. Davies.

That doesn’t seem to be the case for Christopher Eccleston. My limited understanding of his situation was that he’d signed on for one season only, agreed to do it to help reboot the series, and never had any intention from the outset to move beyond that first season. Apparently, it was more complicated than that. The comments below are new, but they apparently echo statements he’s made in the past (of which I wasn’t aware).

I left Doctor Who because I could not get along with the senior people. I left because of politics. I did not see eye to eye with them. I didn’t agree with the way things were being run. I didn’t like the culture that had grown up around the series….

I thought to remain, which would have made me a lot of money and given me huge visibility. The price I would have had to pay was to eat a lot of sh*t. I’m not being funny about that. I didn’t want to do that and, it comes to the art of it, in a way…. We are vulnerable as actors and we are constantly humiliating ourselves auditioning. But if you allow that to go on on a grand scale., you will lose whatever it is about you, and it will be present in your work….

You’ve got to have standards, no matter how hard work that is…. It’s easy to find a job when you’ve got no morals, you’ve got nothing to be compromised….

I’m sure they were glad to see the back of me. The important thing is that I succeeded. It was a great part. I loved playing [the Doctor]. I loved connecting with that audience. Because I’ve always acted for adults and then suddenly, you’re acting for children. Who are far more tasteful, they will not be bullshitted ….

All of this is news to me. I’ve always had a fondness for Eccleston, but the idea that he couldn’t get along with — presumably — Davies and the gang is a little unsettling as a fan of the show, although it could be that Eccleston was the pain in the ass. I mean, he is suggesting that he was “acting for children.” That doesn’t seem very respectful of the grown-up audience; in fact, it seems condescending.

He did have an interesting quote conceding the shittiness of the American movies he’s made, however. Do check out The Flick Filosopher for that quote, and Bad Wilf for the complete transcript from which the above quote was taken.

Mostly, though, I’m interested in hearing for the “Who” fans. Is this new to you? Something you’ve known all along? And has it affected your impressions of Eccleston? After all, the suggestion that he didn’t like the direction and culture of the show kind of hints at a dislike for what came after him? Is there a soft jab at the Tennant era in the subtext?

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.