It’s fair to say that Billie Piper’s Doctor Who performance as Rose Tyler (companion to the Ninth and Tenth Doctors) was a hit with fans and critics alike, with the character still often named as one of the BBC sci-fi series’ greatest additions.
But now former co-star Christopher Eccleston (who played the Ninth Doctor alongside Piper’s Rose in Doctor Who’s 2005 series) has gone even further, suggesting that he now believes that Piper should have taken the series’ main role as the first female Doctor many years before current star Jodie Whittaker gained the TARDIS keys.
“Billie was magnificent as Rose,” Eccleston writes in his new autobiography I Love the Bones of You: My Father And The Making Of Me. “I knew she was good at the time but looking back now I can see her absolute brilliance.
“Rose arrives on screen fully formed, one of the strongest female characters of any show of any year, painting a solid line leading directly to Jodie Whittaker,” he continues later.
“If you think about it, the relaunch in 2005 was actually the chance to create the first female Doctor. Why not do it then?
“Perhaps, really, we should be looking back on Billie Piper not as Rose but as the Doctor,” he adds, doubling down on comments he recently made suggesting the 2005 series should have introduced a female incarnation of the Time Lord.
Billie Piper, Christopher Eccleston and John Barrowman in Doctor Who (BBC, HF)
And generally speaking, Eccleston has nothing but kind words to say about his former companion’s performance.
“What truly amazes me is I know how nervous Billie was at the start,” he writes.
“She thought I was some big serious performer and she didn’t have the belief in herself as an actor. She proved herself, of course, to be way better than any of the rest of us.
“Her luminosity on screen comes from herself, not those around her, and instinctively she made Rose exactly the person she should be.
“It was admirable in her that she had zero arrogance that she could do it. The work she has done since has shown her to be worthy of every accolade that comes her way.”
I Love the Bones of You: My Father And The Making Of Me by Christopher Eccleston is out now in hardback from Simon & Schuster