The line we’ve always been given on Christopher Eccleston’s short tenure on Doctor Who (he only stuck around for one season) is that he only signed on for one season so that he could help reboot the series but that he never really had any intention of staying on beyond that because he didn’t want to be typecast.
Since leaving, Eccleston always diplomatic about the reasons he left, although in a Bad Wolf podcast in 2011, he did offer up the real reason he left Doctor Who (via Den of Geek):
“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. So I left, I felt, over a principle.”
In a recent interview with the Radio Times, he expanded on that, and his falling out with then showrunner Russell T. Davies. It was apparently about his accent:
“I wanted to move him away from RP [received pronunciation] for the first time because we shouldn’t make a correlation between intellect and accent, although that still needs addressing,” he said, adding “‘I hope I’ll be remembered as one of the Doctors. I have no ill feeling towards the character or the series.”
That issue is important to Eccleston, who grew up working class in Britain:
‘I still feel insecure, like a lot of my working-class contemporaries. I had a sense acting wasn’t for me because I’m not educated. I was a skinny, awkward-looking bugger with an accent, as I still am.
‘British society has always been based on inequality, particularly culturally. I’ve lived with it, but it’s much more pronounced now, and it would be difficult for someone like me to come through.
‘You can’t blame Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbatch and others taking their opportunities but it will lead to a milky, anodyne culture. To an extent that’s already happened.
‘I confess I don’t watch much film or television drama but I’m aware of the predominance of white, male roles. It’s not just about the working class. There’ s not enough writing for women or people of colour.’
As he added in the Bad Wolf podcast, “My face didn’t fit and 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 him. 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. It’s either good, or it’s bad. They don’t schmooze at after-show parties, with cocktails.”
That’s interesting. Obviously in America we struggle with race and class, but I never considered accent to be a priority, but then again, all of our intellectual characters are British. I don’t suppose that giving Captain America or Iron Man a deep southern accent would ruffle anyone’s feathers. In fact, the idea of Iron Man with a Harlan, Kentucky accent is mighty damn appealing. But then again, in the States, it’s the Harvard or Brahmin accents that are more ripe for ridicule, because in America, we hate intellectualism.
via The Daily Mail