Actor Christopher Eccleston is returning to the role he once swore never to play again. This week it was announced that Eccleston would once more play the Doctor. But don’t expect to see him onscreen anytime soon. Instead, Eccleston will star in a series of new Doctor Who audio adventures. Due for release in May of 2021, there will be 12 stories that will be released in four box sets. Let’s see what we know about this development and what it means for Doctor Who.
Christopher Eccleston Returns To Doctor Who
Image via BBC
There is little information on what these new audio adventures for the 9th Doctor will entail. But Big Finish and the BBC promise the following: “The Ninth Doctor Adventures will be released as a 4-disc collector’s edition box set or download containing three brand-new full cast audio adventures, plus a selection of behind-the-scenes extras.” No word yet on what other cast members might appear alongside Eccleston in these audio adventures. But maybe we will see Billie Piper return to her role as Rose, the 9th Doctor’s only companion?
“I first talked to Christopher about returning to the role of the Doctor at a fan convention in February this year. Christopher said he was enjoying meeting the fans and was pleased that his Doctor was remembered so fondly. I am so pleased that Christopher has decided to return to the role with us – and I’m excited to welcome him to the Big Finish family as we discover the new adventures of the Ninth Doctor.”
Why Did Eccleston Leave Doctor Who In The First Place?
Image via BBC
Christopher Eccleston played the 9th Doctor in the revival of the Doctor Who series in 2005. He only stayed in the role for one season. Fans were shocked when the BBC announced his departure from the series immediately after airing the first episode of the series revival.
Eccleston once famously swore never to return to Doctor Who. As a result he was not involved in large multi-Doctor episodes like the 50th anniversary The Day of the Doctor special. One of the reasons for his departure was the fact that Eccleston was struggling with mental health issues during his tenure as the Doctor. In a recent autobiography, the actor revealed that he has long struggled with body dysmorphia and anorexia. The illness was at its height in 2005 when he played the Doctor.
He also had conflicts with former showrunner Russell T. Davies, and the BBC. In an interview with the Radio Times back in 2018, Eccleston said the following: “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. They lost trust in me, and I lost faith and trust and belief in them.”
Eccleston Remains A Popular And Formative Doctor
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But over a decade has passed since the drama that led to Eccleston’s departure from the popular sci-fi show. Doctor Who has gone through multiple showrunners since then. And it appears that the BBC is ready to welcome Eccleston back into the fold. (Eccleston also claims that the BBC blacklisted him for years due to the Doctor Who debacle.) Despite the fact that Eccleston struggled with the ‘light comedy’ required of the role, he says that he also loved playing the Doctor.
In a statement regarding the new audio adventures, Eccleston says that “After 15 years it will be exciting to revisit the Ninth Doctor’s world, bringing back to life a character I love playing.”
Even so many years after playing the role, Eccleston’s 9th Doctor remains a beloved and popular Doctor for the franchise. Although he does not have as distinctive a costume as other Doctors, fans still dress up as him at conventions. He is still listed as the ‘favorite’ Doctor for many fans of the series.
Will Eccleston’s Audio Adventures Be Part Of The ‘Time Lord Victorious’ Project?
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During this year’s Comic-Con at Home there was a Doctor Who panel about a new project: “Time Lord Victorious.” This expansive multimedia event will include new comics and audio adventures starring multiple Doctors. The project will contain approximately 30 products across at least 10 different platforms. The official description includes the 9th Doctor as part of the crossover event.
“Time Lord Victorious will tell a new and untold story, set within the Dark Times at the start of the universe, when even the Eternals were young,” according to a press release from the BBC. It will follow “several Doctors across space and time as they defend their home planet from a terrible race.” It seems possible that the new audio adventure stories starring Eccleston could be part of Time Lord Victorious. If so, we might see him meet up with other Doctors. Such as David Tennant’s 10th Doctor, who followed him in the role.
The first issue of the “Time Lord Victorious” comics is due for release in September. So we will have to wait and see what the project has in store for Eccleston’s 9th Doctor. It seems very likely that these stories will either lead up to or include Eccleston’s Doctor Who audio adventure series.
As for seeing Eccleston back on screen in the role of the Doctor, that might not happen anytime soon. But it is good to know that if there is another multi-Doctor episode, odds are high that Eccleston would reprise his role in the future.
Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.