After leaving Doctor Who in 2005, Christopher Eccleston was keen to put his time as the Doctor behind him – but the production team on his next role apparently had other ideas.
Writing in his new memoir I Love the Bones of You: My Father And The Making Of Me, Eccleston reveals that when joining US sci-fi series Heroes as Claude Rains (a man with the power of invisibility), the higher-ups were keen for him to dress in a similar way to iconic Fourth Doctor actor Tom Baker, which he refused to do.
But despite his efforts, according to Eccleston they managed to sneak a Who reference in there anyway…
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“I attended the costume fitting only to find the show’s writers and execs waiting for me,” Eccleston writes in his new autobiography, in a short section mentioning his work in America post-Doctor Who.
“They said they wanted me to wear a scarf. I knew exactly why – Doctor Who. I wasn’t going to do that, I didn’t appreciate the self-referencing element. How was that going to help me create a new character?
“My objection made them sit up a little – ‘This guy has got a mind of his own.’ And one of the worst things you can have as an actor is a mind of your own. If you really want to climb the ladder, leave your brain at the studio door.”
By contrast, Eccleston was determined to stand firm, so the scarf idea was scrapped. But unbeknown to him, the writers and executive producers decided to see if they could pay tribute to Doctor Who more sneakily by including his catchphrase in the Heroes script.
“‘I’m not doing it,” I told them. But you can’t win with these people,” Eccleston writes.
“They inserted the line ‘Fantastic!’ into the script. I didn’t realise until too late that it was a trope from Doctor Who.”
Clearly, Doctor Who was a little harder to leave behind than he’d thought…
I Love the Bones of You: My Father And The Making Of Me by Christopher Eccleston is out now in hardback from Simon & Schuster