Why Christopher Eccleston Left Doctor Who

Christopher Eccleston says he’ll only return as the Ninth Doctor if Russell T Davies is “sacked” from Doctor Who. Here’s why.

Christopher Eccleston
Photo: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for WFTV Awards

Christopher Eccleston, who left Doctor Who after one season as The Doctor in 2005, has become much more vocal about his decision to leave the fan-favorite show in the decades since the end of his brief (but beloved) tenure. Speaking to a crowd of Doctor Who fans gathered at the For the Love of Sci-Fi convention in Manchester, England earlier this month, Eccleston was brutally honest about what it would take for him to return as the Doctor: “Sack Russell T Davies, sack Jane Tranter, sack Phil Collinson, sack Julie Gardner, and I’ll come back. Can you arrange that?” All four creatives are of course back at the helm of the show, with Davies once again serving as showrunner and working with Bad Wolf, the production company founded by Gardner and Tranter.

The actor’s blunt answer to the big question shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. After all, this echoes comments he’s made about his tumultuous time on the show to many news outlets over the years, including The Guardian and to RadioTimes. During an NYCC panel in 2019 attended by Den of Geek, Eccleston was particularly candid about his time on Doctor Who, his departure, and the period that immediately followed.

“I left because my relationship with the showrunner and the producer broke down,” Eccleston said. “[I left because of] the politics of the show. I left only because of those three individuals and the way they were running the show. I loved playing the character, and I loved the world … I felt, ‘I’m gonna play the Doctor my way and I’m not gonna get involved in these politics,’ and that wasn’t workable, so off I went… and became the invisible man.”

At the time, Russell T. Davies was acting as showrunner, with Julie Gardner and Phil Collinson serving as executive producers and Jane Tranter in place as the BBC executive who oversaw the show’s resurrection in 2005. This creative team would stay on the reboot of the show through its first four seasons, leaving when Matt Smith took over as Doctor in 2010.


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