Matt Smith may be the latest incarnation of the infamous Time Lord of Gallifrey, but there always will be some debate over who was the most entertaining in the role.
To some, that title is reserved for Christopher Eccleston, the man who starred in the newly revived series in 2005 and went on to regenerate into 2010 Portal Award nominee David Tennant after only 13 episodes. When the announcement originally went out that a regeneration was on the way at the end of the first season of the new series, the Internet was a flurry of speculation, rumors and reports on why the series would be looking for a new leading character so soon.
Among the more commonly accepted reports was the belief that Eccleston did not want to be typecast as The Doctor and so left to pursue other opportunities, including a short spell on NBC’s then super-series, “Heroes.” Other theories alleged that the BBC wanted Tennant onboard from Day One, but the Beeb needed a recognisable face to give the series the credibility necessary for its revival … a face like Eccleston’s.
However, according to Eccleston, the reason he really left was that the “Doctor Who” culture simply was not an enjoyable experience.
I was open-minded but I decided after my experience on the first series that I didnt want to do any more,” he told The Sun newspaper. “I didnt enjoy the environment and the culture that we, the cast and crew, had to work in. I wasnt comfortable. I thought ‘If I stay in this job, Im going to have to blind myself to certain things that I thought were wrong.And I think its more important to be your own man than be successful, so I left.”
Even though his “Doctor Who” experience was less than he expected, Eccleston was able to come out with an element of pride for the 13 episodes he appeared in. Not only did he revive the character after over a decade off the air, but he was also part in re-inventing the role for a whole new generation.
I really feel that, because it kind of broke the mould and it helped to reinvent it, Im very proud of it, he said.
So why was there so much confusion over why he departed the show? Well, apparently the BBC gets the blame.
They handled it very badly but they issued an apology and I dropped it, Eccleston said. But the most important thing is that I did [the show], not that I left.”
Before appearing in “Doctor Who,” Eccleston was known in the United Kingdom for numerous television appearances, including “The Second Coming” miniseries which also was written by “Doctor Who” showrunner Russell T. Davies. He has since found some success in the United States, including “Heroes” and in the big screen adaptation of “G.I. Joe.”