Christopher Eccleston Turns Down ‘Doctor Who’ 50th Anniversary Role

Published 2 years ago by

doctor who 50th anniversary eccleston Christopher Eccleston Turns Down Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Role

Apparently there is a limit to how much bounty Whovians can expect for the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary. After securing the return of David Tennant and Billie Piper – the 10th Doctor and Rose Tyler – many wondered whether Christopher Eccleston – the 9th Doctor – would also make a return trip to the TARDIS. Now, it looks like that just isn’t going to happen.

Despite meeting with Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat “a couple of times”, Eccleston has officially passed on a chance to return to the show that he helped resurrect when he played the Doctor for one season in 2005.

An official statement from the BBC shoots down a report floated by The Daily Star – a UK tabloid – which had indicated that Eccleston had agreed to reprise his role and re-don his leather jacket before pulling out at the 11th hour. That initial report seems to have vanished from the Daily Star‘s website.

Naturally, Doctor Who fans would have been thrilled to get the somewhat brusk Time Lord back into the fold, but it’s also surprising that it got this close, as Eccleston (who will next be seen in Thor: The Dark World) hasn’t had the most cordial divorce from the series, previously going public with complaints about executives during his time on the show. Here’s what he had to say in July 2011 at a speaking engagement.

“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.”

doctor who 50th anniversary eccleston 2 Christopher Eccleston Turns Down Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Role

Now, the execs that Eccleston didn’t see eye to eye with are long gone from the the Doctor Who production team by now (but not the BBC), so maybe that explains Eccleston’s faded hesitancy.  Still, his almost returning brings about other questions as well -questions about the content of the 50th Anniversary  - which won’t be answered for a long, long time. For instance: how Moffat would reconcile the appearance of a Doctor who doesn’t have a meta-crisis clone living in another universe.

Of course, Moffat could always timey-wimey away the specifics if he brought another Doctor back for the special, and of course the meta-crisis Doctor angle could wind up being a baseless theory – but that’s just one way this could break. One of many.

With the Anniversary Special still 7 1/2 months away, fans will be parsing every scintilla of information down to an atom, in pursuit of facts and information on this thing. In the end, Moffat and company will still have a ton of surprises that won’t leak out from now to then, and that the anticipation that comes with that is part of what makes this all exciting.


The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special airs November 23rd on BBC America

Doctor Who airs on Saturday’s @8PM on BBC America

Source: Digital Spy, The Guardian

Follow Jason Tabrys on Twitter @jtabrys
TAGS: Doctor who
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  1. Well bummer if true, Eccleston is my favorite version of the Doctor.

    • I agree. I thought he was fantastic. I can understand. Thor comes out in the summer.

    • I agree. He was great as the Doctor. He is my Doctor Who.

  2. Eccleston was my fave version of The Doctor but honestly, since he quit after one season to avoid being typecast, I can kinda see why he’d turn down a return.

    • You and the poster above you are clearly crazy. David Tennant is obviously the best Doctor of the new series. Of course, I don’t really think you’re crazy. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I did enjoy him more than Matt Smith’s current run.

      • Haha, yeah. Smith to me is a poor imitation of Tennant without the charm and acting ability.

        • Amen to that. The was I see it, Matt Smith “acts” like the Doctor, Tennant WAS the Doctor

          • +1!

            • You guys are all smacked in the head.

              • +3

            • +2

        • Eccleston #1 Smith #2 Tenant #3 Tenant is a poor actor with no looks. His Character always seemed to have anger issues and needed a lot of counseling. Smith starts with innocent charm and just goes right in. The dynamic between Smith and his companion is almost as awesome as Eccleston and Piper. Love you Christopher, Matt sad to see you go, David you were ok

          • To be fair, Tennant wasn’t that bad. Obviously he wasn’t terrible, as he’s been voted best Doctor of the series. You may not agree with that, but it’s unfair to say he’s a poor actor. Unless it’s mass hysteria, there must be a reason many people love the Tenth Doctor. #1 Tennant, #2 Eccleston, #3 Smith.

    • I agree. He was intense and is a great actor, so typecasting is something associated with the Doctor. Plus, he was great in his short Heroes run, 28 Days Later… and Shallow Grave.

  3. Eccleston isn’t my favorite Doctor, but it would have been nice to see him play off the other characters; it would be amusing to see Doctors of different eras arguing/planning with one another. I can totally understand his not wanting to revisit the proverbial well considering his acrimonious parting. And taking his word at face value, I applaud him for standing by his principles.

  4. The best was and still is Thom Baker. The shame is the spend more on the opening credit effects now, then the budget for the entire original runs. (slight hyperbole).

  5. I hear that this guy wants to be Mister Fantastic in the Fantastic Four reboot. Any truth to that?

    • I try to keep up to date on my superhero/comic book movie news, but I hadn’t heard that one. I didn’t think he was terrible as Destro…

  6. Oh and just to point out…

    The Daily Star isn’t a very credible news source in my view. This is the newspaper that became “the official Big Brother newspaper” when the show returned a few years ago and claimed that Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff were locked into appearing as housemates (both of which never materialised and were firmly denied by both parties).

    It’s also known as the newspaper that shows the most female flesh to garner sales and its sunday version once had a countdown until Linsey Dawn McKenzie’s 16th birthday, when she could legally pose topless for the paper back in 1994.

  7. wouldn’t be surprised if it was because of thor 2

    • Thor 2 finished filming ages ago. Its probably a new project hes got lined up thats preventing him. Plus he said multiple times he was done with doctor who.

  8. He will always be my Doctor Who. He was really fantastic in the part. I just love him, but I do understand.

    • “Be my Doctor Who”

      Lol what?

  9. Christopher was approached but he never said yes according to a recent BBC spokesperson. They said he had a couple of chats with Moffat but in the end declined to take part so he never pulled out of the special. I really hate it when stupid tabloids try to malign someone. Especially one as talented as Christopher Eccleston. Yes I’m sad he won’t be in it but I give him ten out of ten for his principles.

  10. Well, this sucks. But at least Tennant is returning. But, at least this news isn’t as painful than the news for Days of Future Past. Don’t worry Ecceleston, I still love your performance.

  11. With both Christopher Eccleston and John Barrowman not taking part in the 50th (even after Barrowman saying for years he wanted a return) it doesn’t give me an awful lot of faith in the script. Both Eccleston and Barrowman (in Torchwood) both played darker characters, so I think they might have a ‘Matt Smith’ script- fun, happy, jolly… Which (I don’t think) is what Doctor Who should be; it should be scary, dark, natural humour (unlike Smith). Not written so Moffat’s children (both around the age of 10) can watch it, know what their father does and still get to sleep as per normal at night.
    I hope I’m wrong, and Eccleston isn’t in it because he has agreed to comeback in 2015, for the re-boots (and his) 10th anniversary. And most of al I hope the 50th doesn’t disappoint, although I fear it will!

  12. As far as how he’d have a Doctor who doesn’t have a double in another universe, look at the old episodes: The 3 Doctors, The 5 Doctors, and The 2 Doctors. They aren’t supposed to exist at the same time, but times of serious urgency can bring them together. Also see the short where 10 and 5 end up in the TARDIS together. It can always happen.

  13. I don’t care Matt Smith as the Doctor, but you have to take in account that he is just saying and doing what the director and writer or whoever tell him to. Yes it sucks that Eccleston won’t be coming back he was my favorite Doctor but Tenneson was a close second, so I’m excited to see him again.

  14. He will always be my Doctor Who, but I can understand him. He is going to be in a pilot for an American tv series. People should just leave him alone.

  15. Out of the three new Doctors, Chris is my favourite. There are some qualities of Matt that I like but I much preferred the dark but childish take on the Doctor. Matt tries to do dark and threatening but I just find it a bit laughable.
    Such a shame that Moffat is writing it. John Barrowman and Russell were very keen on bringing Jack back to the 50th (Torchwood comic con) but it’s not happening now. I might be happy as long as he refrains by including the abomination that is River.

    *sigh* I can just picture the 3 new-era Doctors together on the Tardis and I think it would’ve been fantastic. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’s just keeping it quiet but my hopes aren’t high.

  16. The 9th doctor used to be my favorite, now it just seem like he’s a winny little c*nt. He played the doctor over 6 years ago. I am sure the old crew is pretty much gone. So stop being a nancy about playing the stupid doctor role.

  17. This might be the last time for “any” of the Doctors to reprise their role. The classic Docs have all been ruled out on the basis of the surviving actors advanced age making them unsuitable. In just anothter ten years, the new era Doctor eras will be, sadly, equally unsuitable, despite the fact that none of them will be close to being as “old” as the classic Doc actors are now. Eccleston is just about there now, being that he’s almost 50. Won’t be long before Tennant (who’s over 40 now) and Smith (just over 30 now) are. Docs 10 and 11 just don’t work when played by clearly middle aged actors. That’s what the producers get for building up so much of the new era Doctors around how young and hot looking hunks they are to tweeny and teeny bopper girls.

    • If I recall correctly, they brought back Peter Davidson for a short during Tennant’s run and explained his older appearance with timey wimey gibberish.

    • And speaking of Peter Davidson, he was younger when he played the Doctor than Tennant was.

      • Yes, but the point is, Davison’s Doctor could work even when played by an older Davison. His young, hot appearance wasn’t the central aspect of his character. Tennant and Smith, however, were “marketed” as young, hot, and geeky sex symbols. This will look ridiculous in ten years or so when Tennant is in his 50s and Smith is in his 40s.

    • They could bring back McGann again. I think he looked pretty good considering the 1996 movie was 15 years ago. Officially reprising him as older gives them a bit of room considering his age.

  18. While I’ve seen most of the classic episodes, I can’t say I was really a fan of the show back then. I didn’t exactly hate it…I could just take it or leave it. Doctor Who just didn’t do it for me.

    Christopher Eccleston changed all that for me when they revived the series, and I haven’t missed an episode yet. I’ve even watched most of them more than once. While I truly enjoyed Tennant and Smith as the Doctor, Eccleston will always be my favorite, because he was the one who made me love it.

    So I find this a bit…tragic.

  19. In our opinion, all the recent incarnations of the doctor are fantastic in different ways. It’s really too bad Eccleston didn’t return, it would have been great too see four of them arguing… But the movie was still fantastic!

  20. Really wish he had taken up the role for the anniversary special. It really felt like there was a small void in the movie without him there. The idea of him being in it really ate at me at the final button press scene where having him there would have filled the open side.

    And having Tom Baker just confused the hell out of everyone I know because they didn’t get why he was portrayed so old.

    But it was Chris’s choice and I respect that he made a choice. Even if it wasn’t what I hoped for. Tennant may be my favorite Doctor, but I still love every doctor. They were all… Fantastic.

  21. Christopher didn’t quit because he was afraid of typecast, just as he didn’t quit because they asked too much of him till they tired him! Those were two statements released without Chris’s consent on behalf of the BBC. OF COURSE THE POOR BLOKE WOULD BE ANNOYED. I love Chris, and I would love for him to come back more than anything! I hate the fact that they’re printing tees without him on them, or calendars. He revived the show, you can’t just pretend that his run never happened.

    • I know what you mean. I got a tee shirt of him being Doctor Who. He was fantastic in the part. I agree with you. I got the tee shirt from teefury. It is great of him.