So Christopher Eccleston has finally come out – sort of – with his reasons for leaving Doctor Who. Well, he did put out a brief statement at the time but it was a bit waffly and, dare I say it, a little on the polite side.
With his latest outpouring on Bad Wilf though it appears that, unsurprisingly, the decision was all about politics and disagreements with the senior team. We all know who senior team means though, right? Wink, wink.
Have a read of what he says then I’ll tell you what I think.
I left Doctor Who because I could not get along with the senior people. I left because of politics. I did not see eye-to-eye with them. I didn’t agree with the way things were being run. I didn’t like the culture that had grown up, around the series. So I left, I felt, over a principle.
I thought to remain, which would have made me a lot of money and given me huge visibility, the price I would have had to pay was to eat a lot of shit. I’m not being funny about that. I didn’t want to do that and it comes to the art of it, in a way. I feel that if you run your career and– we are vulnerable as actors and we are constantly humiliating ourselves auditioning. But if you allow that to go on, on a grand scale you will lose whatever it is about you and it will be present in your work.
If you allow your desire to be successful and visible and financially secure – if you allow that to make you throw shades on your parents, on your upbringing, then you’re knackered. You’ve got to keep something back, for yourself, because it’ll be present in your work. A purity or an idealism is essential or you’ll become– you’ve got to have standards, no matter how hard work that is. So it makes it a hard road, really.
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?’
So, that’s why I left. My face didn’t fit and I’m sure they were glad to see the back of me. 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.
Pretty frank, huh?
Clearly Eccleston, as an actor of some great repute, felt that the process of making Doctor Who and the personalities involved in that process, made his job as an actor, less than fulfilling.
It’s telling that the actor that replaced him, David Tennant, was a virtual unknown at the time but, and this is important, had worked with Russell T Davies previously in the execrable Casanova.
So his status as a willing malleable puppet was assured.
Eccleston, an established actor, would have required from the role a degree of freedom in order to shape the Doctor as he saw fit. As a good actor this is to be expected, nay encouraged. Watch any of Christopher Walken’s performances to see just how effective a policy that can be.
However it’s doubtful that Russell T Davies and his team of highly skilled supplicants would have wanted anything to detract from his grand vision of a regenerated Doctor.
Eccleston’s desire to inhabit the role and actually be allowed to act would have been very much at odds with the one-dimensional, Davies lead, Doctor that we saw Tennant become. For Eccleston’s Doctor there was to be no gurning, brainy specs, over-acting reaction shots or cries of allons-y.
Eccleston’s take on the Doctor focussed on the other-worldly aspects of the character and had little truck with sexual politics or fart gags, and it is probably his resistance to the many, many ideas and ill conceived notions that Davies and his team were foisting upon the character that saw him leave.