Christopher Eccleston Will Change TV

The Ninth Doctor, Christopher Eccleston, has spoken out a number of times about his departure from the show. Recently, in talking to the Guardian, he explained that the show almost destroyed his career.

“What happened around Doctor Who almost destroyed my career. I gave them a hit show and I left with dignity and then they put me on a blacklist. I was carrying my own insecurities as it was something I had never done before and then I was abandoned, vilified in the tabloid press and blacklisted. ‘The BBC regime is against you.’  I was told by my agent at the time, ‘You’re going to have to get out of the country and wait for regime change.’”

In previous interviews Eccleston has talked about his discomfort with how staff were treated at the BBC. During his time on Doctor Who, Eccleston made a point of objecting to the harassment of lower paid staff.

“You know, it’s easy to find a job when you’ve got no morals, you’ve got nothing to be compromised, you can go, ‘Yeah, yeah. That doesn’t matter. That director can bully that prop man and I won’t say anything about it’. But then when that director comes to you and says ‘I think you should play it like this’ you’ve surely got to go ‘How can I respect you, when you behave like that?’”

These issues are massively important and Eccleston has never backed away from pointing this out. With a big role like Doctor Who, one always has a big platform and making sure you will be listened to, or at least heard.

Speaking Out

With a new play – MacBeth at the RSC – coming out, Eccleston has taken the opportunity to talk about not just this but more political issues. Just last week he went on Sky News to discuss how class and gender affect the acting world.

Similarly, Peter Davison, who played the Fifth Doctor, has spoken about similar issues. In an interview I did with him in 2015, Davison talked about how the industry is stagnating. With only people from wealthier, middle class families able to afford to go to drama school, the industry will suffer. Watch here.

Those of us who grew up watching Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor, and now see him speaking out, will be key. The old boys club he talks about are deeply entrenched in the industry and getting them to budge will always be difficult for one voice to speak out against. But as new generations come up and replace the old guard, change can come.

Of all the actors to portray the role, Eccleston, perhaps, most embodies the Doctor’s sense of fairness and justice. Though fans of the show may lament the lack of Ninth Doctor material, there is something deeper and more important going on.

Will this Change TV?

The more Eccleston speaks out, the better the chances are. While the world is still slow to wake up to a lot of these issues, there is still hope for the future. The current political landscape may be difficult and traterous, but that is all the more reason to stand up and speak out.

Eccleston has a big platform. He was, and is, the Doctor. Fans of the show who loved and supported him need to hear him out. The industry that profited from his work needs to hear him out. Things desperately need to change for the better. And it is people like Christopher Eccleston who will, I believe, change TV.

The important thing is that I succeeded. It was a great part. I loved playing him.

I loved connecting with that audience. Because I’ve always acted for adults and then suddenly you’re acting for children, who are far more tasteful; they will not be bullshitted.

It’s either good, or it’s bad. They don’t schmooze at after-show parties, with cocktails.

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Joel Cornah
Joel Cornah is an author, journalist, and blogger. He is the author of a number of novels and novellas including; The Sea-Stone Sword, The Spire of Frozen Fire and The Silent Helm, with the upcoming novel The Sky Slayer, expected some time in 2016. He is an editor for The Science-Fiction and Fantasy Network, head of the Doctor Who department, and member of the Tolkien Society. He is a frequent blogger for the Pack of Aces blog, focussing on issues of Asexuality in media, specialising in sci-fi and fantasy.