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Why Did Christopher Eccleston Leave Doctor Who?

Updated on February 18, 2019
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Christopher Eccleston as the 9th Doctor.
Christopher Eccleston as the 9th Doctor. | Source

He was well-liked and superb in the role. There hardly seems a decent reason he was cut. Well, he wasn't cut.

Doctor Who will soon be celebrating its 50th Anniversary, this year 2013. The popular British science fiction television series is long-lasting. Probably one reason this show never gets old, and so stays popular, is because its star and protagonist never gets old and always remains loved. He regenerates. One of them only lasted a season, though.

Christopher Eccleston, the 9th Doctor, only starred in the lead role for one season. This is unusual for The Doctor. An incarnation usually lasts, at least, a few years; or, in the case of Tom Baker, the longest-lasting Doctor, 7 years.

Makes a person wonder why Eccleston's stay was so brief, comparatively. He was well-liked and superb in the role. There hardly seems a decent reason he was cut. Well, he wasn't cut. We'll get to that in a minute.

First, let's talk about Doctor Who a bit.

Doctor Who?

Who's Doctor Who? He's a Time Lord, from the planet Gallifrey, the last of the Time Lords; a wanderer, through time and space in his time machine called the TARDIS, which looks like an old English police box, and is vastly more expansive on the inside than it looks on the outside; he's a hero, saving the Universe with the help of his charming and attractive companions whom he manages to pick up along the way. He's a genius, with knowledge of all time, of deep technology, and clever as they get. He can trick a whole army and defeat them, without a weapon, using only his grand intelligence.

He's frenetic, hopping from one spot to another, only stopping when he has epiphanies on how to save the day, or to form a wild smile, flashed your way, to let you know he's still thinking about you. He's a nerd, and a well-loved nerd; each companion falls for him and he falls for them.

When his body dies, and if it is ready, he regenerates into a new body. The Doctor is still there, but in new form. So far this regeneration has happened 11 times.

Chrisotpher Eccleston was the 9th incarnation of The Doctor. He was a departure of sorts, a bit of a different Doctor than the audience was accustomed. But not less of a Doctor, at any rate.

The Doctor's time machine, the TARDIS. TARDIS stands for Time And Relative Dimension In Space.
The Doctor's time machine, the TARDIS. TARDIS stands for Time And Relative Dimension In Space. | Source
Doctor Who: The Complete First Series
Doctor Who: The Complete First Series
Watch the exciting return of Doctor Who, with Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor and Billie Piper as his companion.

Christopher Eccleston: The Ninth Doctor

Christopher Eccleston came in as The Doctor in 2005, when the series hadn't been broadcasted since 1989. The show was making a come-back with a brand-new Doctor.

Eccelston as the Doctor, as I said before, seemed to me a departure from former Doctors. Most Doctors had a clown quality, although some were quite serious. But Eccleston was different than both conceptions.

He wore a leather jacket, he had close-cropped short hair, a rugged face, he had the look of an action star; sometimes the look in his eyes seemed like he could, in all seriousness, punch a hole through somebody. And then smile. Not that he ever did punch a hole through somebody, but that was the air about him. A bit of angry, a bit of desperation, and still that deep intelligence and regard for life. He still had the frenetic energy, still the shocking insights, and would, like many Doctors, flash that huge, silly grin.

I must say, he's one of my favorite Doctors: Unique, rough around the edges, but still smart.

And I know I'm not the only one. Some people were saddened when he left. Some of us wondered why he was only around for one season. He packed into that season The Doctor's flash and flair, with the usual heart-wrenching, festive, and psychological roller-coaster episodes that the series is now known for.

The succeeding Doctors were equally as good. David Tenant, as the 10th Doctor, hyped on adventure, athletic, punky lite and the usual nerdy kind of Doctor. Matt Smith, the 11th Doctor, is phenomenal, with a range of emotion, incredible drama, great movement and expressions.

Yet, we can't help but wonder, still, why Eccleston only stayed for one season.

Eccleston As The Ninth Doctor

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The Reason Eccleston Left Doctor Who

The reason Eccleston left Doctor Who boils down to one thing: Integrity.

In a recent interview, Eccleston confided that he simply did not agree with the politics being played by the senior people running the show. It went against his heart and soul to continue on the show in that environment and he quit.

It's like he really is The Doctor. He does the right thing, no matter what. It went against his deepest feeling and he would forgo fame and fortune to follow his heart. Bravo, Christopher.

Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor.
Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor. | Source

Most Recent Doctors

Christopher Eccleston, The 9th Doctor
Rose Tyler played by Billie Piper, Mickey played by Noel Clarke, Captain Jack Harkness played by John Barrowman
David Tenant, The 10th Doctor
Rose Tyler and Mickey, Martha Jones played by Freema Agyeman, Donna Noble played by Catherine Tate, Captain Jack Harkness
Matt Smith, The 11th Doctor
Amy (Amelia) Pond played by Karen Gillan, Rory Williams played by Arthur Darvill, Clara Oswin Oswald played by Jenna Louise Coleman
Amelia Pond, The Girl Who Waited.
Amelia Pond, The Girl Who Waited. | Source

But Is This Possible? Warning: Spoiler

It occurred to me that the whole business of Eccleston refusing to come back is a Red Herring. Stephan Moffat, head writer and executive producer of the show, and the rest of the Doctor Who crew, have been known to mislead people or hide things from the public so that no one knows what's going to happen next. When Matt Smith was chosen as the 11th Doctor, no one was allowed to know or talk about it until the last minute when Matt stepped on to the scene. The claim is Eccleston will not return for the 50th anniversary, though he had been in talks with those running the show. The claim is there will be a recording of Christopher at some point in the special, but no personal appearance by the actor.

But is it so? It's been said that Eccleston was not really the 9th Doctor, which will be revealed in the anniversary special. Something goes awry along the way and there is a Doctor prior to Eccleston's incarnation that is a blemish on the Time Lord's record. Maybe it is crucial that Eccleston is part of this plot, since it has to do with the incarnation before him. Is this the big surprise? Will Eccleston be there for the special after all?

Is it a ruse? Stephen Moffat has been very shrewd so far in how he runs the show, getting the best actors, celebrity guests, and hiding what's next. Is this another trick? Will we see Chris Eccleston after all in the 50th anniversary?

Probably not. But we can hope.

Eccleston Evading A Question About the 50th Anniversary Special

Clara, The Impossible Girl. RYCBAR.
Clara, The Impossible Girl. RYCBAR. | Source


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