While you may recognise Christopher Eccleston from his various acting roles, whether it be as the Ninth Doctor in Doctor Who or as Derek Bentley in Let Him Have It, viewers will see a slightly different side to the actor in his first ever presenting role in documentary series The Guilty Innocent.


In the two-part Sky History show, Eccleston examines two controversial cases, that of the arrest of George Davis for the armed payroll robbery of the London Electricity Board, and that of James Hanratty's death, which sparked a campaign to end capital punishment in the UK.

During the series, Eccleston meets with those closest to both Davis and Hanratty, and this has since sparked enthusiasm within Eccleston to create more documentaries and more episodes of The Guilty Innocent, focusing on different cases of injustice.

In an exclusive interview with RadioTimes.com, Eccleston explained that he loves to interview people, finding the concept fascinating.

George Davis sat down on a chair, smiling. He is wearing a black blazer, a blue shirt and grey trousers.
George Davis. Sky

"What I want to do is, I want to make more documentaries, and it's interesting because I have a level of recognition," he said.

More like this

"Often, when I get into an Uber or a taxi, or I'm walking down the street, people want to talk to me about me and acting. And that's the last thing I want to do, is talk about me.

"So, down the years I've developed this skill, if you like, for turning the tables and asking people about them.

"I've done a number of interviews on [BBC] Radio 4, for Loose Ends. And that's what I love, I love interviewing people, I love listening to people. I don't love talking about myself."

Read more:

He continued: "It's like a doctor going to a party, you know, it's the same thing. If you're any worth as an actor, you don't like talking about yourself. My job is to understand other individuals.

"So, to a certain extent, when I'm talking to George [Davis], I'm thinking, 'Can I play him? Or can I play members of the Hanratty family? Can I empathise with their feeling of injustice and anger and stuff?'

"My job was to draw out their stories, and to become a conduit for the viewers."

As for what documentaries he has up his sleeve, Eccleston told RadioTimes.com which major cases he would like to take a look at, noting three in particular that "need" re-examining.

"The Stephen Lawrence case needs examining," he said. "I did a drama documentary about the Hillsborough disaster – I think there is still injustice there. That case is still not fully resolved, not that it ever will be because of the loss of 97 lives.

"Also, the Derek Bentley case, which, of course, I made a film about – Let Him Have It. There are so many, you know, it's such a rich area for us to explore."

As for what audiences will take from The Guilty Innocent? Eccleston hopes people become more aware about miscarriages of justice and just how much people's voices can make a difference, as was recently seen following ITV's Mr Bates vs The Post Office.

Eccleston told RadioTimes.com that those working on The Guilty Innocent want viewers "to be engaged with the narrative and the story".

He added: "I think, particularly for a younger generation, we want them to be aware of inconsistencies within the legal system, and that to raise consciousness we need to be vigilant about miscarriages of justice. We've just had a very recent one with the Post Office scandal, and this is not a new thing.

"It's also an opportunity for my generation and younger generations to look at the country through a different lens, and also for them to be aware that individuals can change things by starting up grassroots campaigns."

The Guilty Innocent with Christopher Eccleston premieres on Sky History in May 2024.


Check out more of our Documentaries coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to The Radio Times Podcast.