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.
When Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred marched the Seventh Doctor and Ace off into the proverbial Perivale sunset at the end of “Survival” back in 1989, fans had no way of knowing that DOCTOR WHO would be off the air for the next seven years before popping up again in America as, of all things, a TV-movie on the Fox channel. And then it went away again. And then it came back again in 2005.
The series’ current showrunner, Steven Moffat reflected on the long hiatus and its effect on the legacy of DOCTOR WHO with Radio Times.
“That gap is important. It confers something very special on this most special of all shows: immortality. Doctor Who, for once and for all, is the show that comes back. Axe it at your peril, someone like me is going to call you a fool, and lots of people like you are going to read along and nod.
“Moffat also remarked that the audience “just said no” in way that had never happened in British television before, meaning that the programme “just kept on going.”
“While the BBC folded its arms and shook its head, there were books by the likes of Russell T Davies, Mark Gatiss and Paul Cornell. There were audio adventures, starring all the old Doctors. There was an action-packed American telefilm, and endless rumours of Hollywood movies. Doctor Who Magazine, whose purpose was to document the making of the TV show, carried on perfectly happily without the TV show being made.”
I would hardly say we fans were “perfectly happy” with no show being produced during the wilderness years, but we did get by during the production hiatus.
Moffat’s point, however — and I agree with him — is that fandom did not need a steady flow of new stories in order to continue loving what we already had. In fact, it probably deepened our nostalgia for what we once had. I also believe the fallow years were responsible for the reassessment and rehabilitation of the maligned McCoy and Colin Baker years.
It’s like that old song lyric: “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.”
Pretty much everything you need to know to start watching DOCTOR WHO, you can glean from this infographic created by artist Bob Canada. Sure, it’s simplified, but the point is to get noobs up to speed ASAP. Plus, it’s a nice piece of artwork.
Of course there are small points of contention in this distillation (The First Doctor, the one who started it all, got short shrift, and did the Seventh Doctor truly clash with the Rani “often”?), but most of the information looks otherwise accurate to me – with the exception of the assertion that the Second Doctor played the flute. It was actually a recorder, which is not the same thing. Oh, and that bit about frequently battling the Rani is just plain wrong. (Once is not really “often.”)
But enjoy the piece, and get psyched for Matt Smith starring in series six, coming this spring…
Tennant as 10
I wanted to take a few moments to talk about what I really enjoyed about the DOCTOR WHO finale, “The End of Time.” I fear my last piece might have looked a bit too negative, since it focused a lot on…well, the negative. But there was plenty to enjoy about David Tennant‘s swan song – especially the star himself.
It is impossible to underestimate the value of Tennant to the franchise. He is an enormously charismatic actor. When you think about it, the 10th Doctor could be seen as an overgrown, hyperactive child – constantly in motion and chattering. Tennant never settled for merely reciting a line when he could shout it while breathlessly running in circles. And I was totally fine with that, because Tennant made it charming rather than annoying. He is a very capable actor. Whenever the scripts gave Tennant a chance, he always sank his teeth into the quieter moments, and imbued his character with a melancholy almost as powerful as his mania. It is largely due to his performances that the image of the Doctor as a lonely god is so firmly etched in the public’s mind. True, Sylvester McCoy‘s brilliant personification of the Seventh Doctor was largely responsible this character element, but the loneliness was not played up nearly as much in seasons 25 and 26 as it was in this year’s 10th Doctor specials.