By 2005, the British science-fiction show had been off the air for 16 years (not including the 1996 made-for-television movie), but under the guidance of Russell T. Davies and with strong performances from Eccleston, whose Ninth Doctor was portrayed as more intellectual than his predecessors, and companion Billie Piper, the new Doctor Who was an immediate hit. So, it came as quite the surprise when the actor left after only 13 episodes.
Eccleston has remained mostly silent on his exit (other than distancing himself from a statement the BBC — whom he claimed “blacklisted” him — released in his name), but the actor finally opened up in an interview with the Radio Times.
“My relationship with my three immediate superiors – the showrunner, the producer, and co-producer – broke down irreparably during the first block of filming and it never recovered,” he said. “They lost trust in me, and I lost faith and trust and belief in them.” Eccleston explained that his anger “came from my own insecurity. They employed somebody who was not a natural light comedian. [Piper], who we know was and is brilliant, was very, very nervous and very, very inexperienced. You had that, and then you had me. Very, very experienced, possibly the most experienced on it, but out of my comfort zone.”
As for why he’s only speaking up now, 13 years after departing, Eccleston revealed a promise he made to Davies. “When I left, I gave my word to Russell T. Davies that I wouldn’t do anything to damage the show,” he said. “But they did things to damage me. I didn’t criticize anybody.” Thankfully, things worked out: Doctor Who found another A+ Time Lord in David Tennant, and Eccleston had a starring role in one of the best dramas of the decade.
(Via Radio Times)