Eccleston said to Melbourne, Australia’s 774 ABC: “It was kind of tragic for me, that I didn’t play him for longer. He’s a beautiful character, and I have a great deal of professional pride and had I done a second season, there would have been a marked improvement in my performance. I was learning new skills, in terms of playing light comedy. I was not known for light comedy and, again, production did not allow for that.”
The Ninth Doctor gave way to the 10th (David Tennant) after just 13 episodes in the 2005 revival. The parting of the ways was attributed to “creative differences,” and in the years since, both Eccleston and his executive producer, Russell T Davies, had declined to elaborate — until last year, when the actor began dropping cryptic little comments that, when assembled, gave some insight into the reasoning that led to his early departure.
He told Britain’s Daily Record: “I’d had enough. I wanted to do it my way, they wanted something else. We were never going to compromise so it was best to be straight about it and just go […] It’s very easy to stay in one job and make that your comfort zone, and I want to resist that temptation.”
It would appear that one of the ways Eccleston wanted to do it “my way” involved using his native Birmingham (or “Northern”) accent rather than the so-called Received Pronunciation used by most actors in most British TV and film projects. RP is intended to make a character sound like he’s from London. (One of Eccleston’s predecessors, Sylvester McCoy, and his successor, Tennant, are Scotsmen who employed RP when playing the Doctor.)
Eccleston was quoted in Radio Times as saying: “I wanted to move him away from the RP for the first time because we shouldn’t make a correlation between intellect and accent – although that still needs addressing.”
Not that those statements make everything crystal clear. There’s still a lot of elliptical thinking here.
According to BBC Radio 4’s Loose Ends, Eccleston said: “I approached Russell T Davies and said ‘I know you are going to do this and I think you should think about me.’ I wanted to do something for children, I wanted to learn a lighter way of being.
“I think I over pitched the comedy. If I had my time again I would do the comedy very differently. But I think, where I possibly succeeded was in the tortured stuff.
“What’s interesting in this country is that wherever a story like this emerges they concentrate on the negative. I dont think it’s important why I left, I think it’s important that I did it in the first place.
“I’m still there in spirit. Myself and three individuals at the very top of the pyramid clashed, so off I went.”
Eccleston’s latest comments appear to back up one of his earlier statements to Radio Times: “I hope I’ll be remembered as one of the Doctors. I have no ill feeling toward the character or the series.”
Peter Capaldi‘s third series as the 12th Doctor is filming now, for a projected spring 2017 premiere.