“What happened around Doctor Who almost destroyed my career,” the 54-year-old told The Guardian. “I gave them a hit show and I left with dignity and then they put me on a blacklist. I was carrying my own insecurities as it was something I had never done before and then I was abandoned, vilified in the tabloid press and blacklisted.
“I was told by my agent at the time: ‘The BBC regime is against you. You’re going to have to get out of the country and wait for regime change.’ So I went away to America and I kept on working because that’s what my parents instilled in me.
“My dad always said to me: ‘I don’t care what you do – sweeping the floor or whatever you’re doing – just do the best job you can.’ I know it’s cliched and northern and all that bollocks, but it applies.”
In the US he found roles in big-budget films like Thor: The Dark World and GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
“Working on something like GI Joe was horrendous,” said Eccleston. “I just wanted to cut my throat every day. And Thor? Just a gun in your mouth.
“Gone in 60 Seconds was a good experience. Nic Cage is a gentleman and fantastic actor. But GI Joe and Thor were… I really paid for being a whore those times.”
Back in the UK, Eccleston has more recently starred in TV dramas including Safe House, The A Word and comedy The Life of Rock with Brian Pern, although his next step will be taking on Macbeth at the RSC.