Christopher Eccleston: ‘Jodie Whittaker will be the best Doctor – why did they have to wait so long?’

The former Doctor Who star says the role has been played in the past by "too many skinny white men like me”

Jodie Whittaker and Christopher Eccleston as the Thirteenth and Ninth Doctors in Doctor Who (BBC, HF)

After previously showing his support for new Doctor Jodie Whittaker due to their shared northern, working class heritage, former Time Lord Christopher Eccleston now says he believes she’ll be the best version of the character so far.

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“She will be the best Doctor. I mean why did they have to wait so long?” Eccleston told the BBC, adding that the role had been played by “too many skinny white men like me.

“I absolutely loved playing the character and I’m so glad it’s being reinvented,” the actor concluded.

Eccleston is currently rehearsing to play Macbeth in a new Royal Shakespeare Company adaptation opposite Niamh Cusack. The actor, who portrayed the Ninth incarnation of Doctor Who’s lead character when the series was brought back to TV in 2005, has been a friend of Whittaker’s for years, and made the comments about her future as part of a wider discussion about discrimination in the theatre industry.

“I think the people who run some of the big established theatres, particularly in London, they associate Shakespeare with white, middle-class men,” he said. “It’s discrimination and I loathe it.”

“I should have been offered more but I didn’t go the right university or the public schools. It needs to change,” he went on, adding that it was “a lot more difficult for women.

“The fact that there are women who will one day play Macbeth and play Hamlet, with no second thought, is the most wonderful thing,” he says.

“But women still struggle. The roles are not there. There is still a long, long way to go.”

At least when it comes to ONE male-dominated role, things have started to change.

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Doctor Who returns to BBC1 this autumn