Christopher Eccleston has said that he sacrificed “some professional pride” by leaving Doctor Who when he did, suggesting that an actor needs “to do two seasons” to nail the lead part.
Eccleston took to the stage at New York Comic Con yesterday (3rd October) and spoke frankly about why he quit the BBC sci-fi show after a single series, detailing clashes with members of the production team.
“I left because my relationship with the showrunner [Russell T Davies] and the producers broke down – [it was] the politics of the show,” he sad. “I left only because of those three individuals, and the way they were running the show. I loved playing the character and I loved the world.
“That’s one of the reasons I’ve started doing these conventions, to make that clear – I loved playing the Doctor.”
He continued: “I felt, ‘I’m gonna play the Doctor my way and I’m not gonna get involved in these politics’… and that wasn’t workable, so off I went.”
Eccleston went on to detail instances where he felt the crew on Doctor Who were not being treated with respect, revealing that this led to a “difficult” situation on set.
“Because of my background, when I go onto a set it’s very important to me that everybody’s treated with respect, and that’s because I come from a class of people who traditionally are not treated with respect,” he said.
“I always look to the director and the producer… and if the director, for instance, treats a member of the crew badly and then comes to speak to me about my performance, I have no respect for them and I don’t listen to them and that’s difficult.
“There were certain things that went on. As an actor, you’re working with a crew and you get very close to that crew, so there were things that I saw that I didn’t like. The crew, I felt, could’ve been treated better. But I often feel that – it’s a ruthless business.”
Billie Piper, Christopher Eccleston and John Barrowman in Doctor Who (BBC, HF)
The actor previously detailed last year how his his departure from Doctor Who “almost destroyed” his career, telling The Guardian that he was “blacklisted” by the BBC as a result.
At NYCC, he explained, “I lost all my confidence as an actor and as a person as a result of what happened with Doctor Who,” saying that “the gutter press” wrote “lies… about me betraying Doctor Who, and all that s**t.”
Taking on the role of John Lennon in BBC Four’s 2010 biographical film Lennon Naked helped restore his confidence, Eccleston explained. Looking back now on his performance as the Doctor, he says there are aspects of his performance that he would have tweaked if he’d carried on for a second series.
“If you really want to get your performance as the Doctor right, you need to do two seasons,” he said. “Because you need to watch the first season and calibrate, and go, ‘OK, that works, that works, that doesn’t work, tone that down…’ and I never got a chance to do that, so some professional pride was sacrificed with not doing a second season.”