Christopher Eccleston: Why my Doctor had to be northern

"We shouldn't make a correlation between intellect and accent" says the former Time Lord, who believes inequality is still prominent in the industry

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“If you’re an alien how comes you sound like you’re from the north?” Billie Piper’s Rose Tyler asked The Doctor ten years ago – now Christopher Eccleston has finally revealed why his Time Lord had a northern accent.

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“Lots of planet have a north” the Doctor told Rose way back then, but Eccleston (who returns to our TV screens in ITV’s new thriller Safe House on Monday April 20th at 9pm) gives a rather different answer in this week’s edition of Radio Times.

“I wanted to move him away from the RP (received pronunciation) for the first time because we shouldn’t make a correlation between intellect and accent” he says, “although that still needs addressing”.

The self-described working-class actor also says that cultural inequality is “much more pronounced” in Britain than it used to be, and that it would be difficult for a young actor with his background to succeed in the industry today.

“You can’t blame Eddie Redmayne or Benedict Cumberbatch but inequality will lead to a milky, anodyne culture. To an extent that’s already happened,” he argues.

Eccleston stresses that it’s not just about the working class though. “There’s not enough writing for women or people of colour” he says. “It frustrates me when they insist on doing all-male Shakespearean productions – a wonderful intellectual exercise, maybe, but it’s outrageous because it’s putting a lot of women out of work.”

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Read the full interview in this week’s Radio Times magazine, on sale from Tuesday 14th April and on Apple newsstand