The erstwhile Ninth Doctor, Christopher Eccleston, has told an Australian radio station that he wishes he had stuck with DOCTOR WHO longer than just one series.
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.
DOCTOR WHO show-runner Steven Moffat confirmed to Doctor Who Magazine that the original plan for the 50th anniversary story, “The Day of the Doctor,” had Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor wiping out Time Lords and the Daleks to end the Time War — a job that eventually went to the newly created War Doctor (John Hurt).
But even in the beginning, Moffat knew there was a good chance his plans would have to change due to Eccleston’s famous reluctance to revisit the role:
“I was pretty certain Chris wouldn’t do it, although he did agree to a couple of meetings. So, instead, we had the challenge and excitement of introducing a BBC audience to a brand-new Doctor.”
On Set: Hurt (far right) with David Tennant (left rear) and Matt Smith (center rear)
Well, since we don’t have as many former incarnations of the Doctor as we might have wanted in DOCTOR WHO’s 50th anniversary story, fans need to argue toll obsess over something — and that something is the mysterious character played by science-fiction vet John Hurt.
Word got around that he was playing a “forgotten” Doctor who was lost in the Time War and fits between the Eighth and Ninth Doctors, or even an alternate version of the Ninth — bumping forward the number of incarnations and pushing the existing 11th Doctor into becoming the 12th.
Hurt finally got around to (sort of) addressing the issue, but the quote attributed to him didn’t seem to help: Hurt said he plays “part of the Doctor” in a “kind of trinity” involving David Tennant’s 10th Doctor. This was apparently taken as “proof” that he’s playing a new Doctor.
I don’t buy it. Him saying “part of the Doctor” makes me think of the Valeyard from the “Trial of a Time Lord” season. Recall that the Valeyard was supposed to be some kind of distillation of the Doctor’s bad or sinister parts somewhere between his 12th and 13th incarnations. (At least, that was according to the Master). Well, why can’t Hurt be playing the opposite type of being — the Doctor’s concentrated good? The AntiValeyard, if you will. The Dream Lord from “Amy’s Choice” was also a personification of the dark side of the Doctor. So let’s see his good qualities, as well.
ETA (5/10/13): Better photo of Hurt with Tennant and Smith added.
Apparently there was a secret plan to include Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor in DOCTOR WHO’s 50th anniversary story, but the actor has chosen not to participate after all — perhaps due to his commitments to filming Thor: The Dark World; perhaps for other reasons.
This news is certainly disappointing, but Eccleston has a right to make the call. What I find most intriguing is that a number of DOCTOR WHO-related websites — including Kasterborous.com — have been sitting on the news that Eccleston apparently had agreed to appear “in principle” at some earlier junction. I tip my hat to those websites for keeping the surprise under their hats, leaving open the possibility of genuine fan surprise when the show was broadcast. Good on them, for valuing story integrity over a momentary “scoop.”