The exact circumstances behind Christopher Eccleston’s departure from Doctor Who after just one series remain unknown. From various interviews he’s given over the last decade it seems clear that there was a clash between himself and members of the production team over the working ethos of the programme that left him uncomfortable and not prepared to carry on.
On the one hand fans praise him for his performance as the Ninth Doctor and his key role in reviving the series, and then on the other they lambast him for his short tenure and non-participation in The Day of the Doctor.
The most recent titbit about his departure emerged in this interview on Radio 4’s Loose Ends where he mentions that “myself and three other individuals at the top of the pyramid clashed”. Whether this is a reference to Executive Producers Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner, and Producer Phil Collinson, is unclear and Eccleston quite properly refuses to elaborate as those concerned aren’t present to put their view of events.
Each and every time Eccleston has been quizzed about his departure from Doctor Who he’s behaved in a professional and courteous manner on a subject that he must be tiring of after a decade. Granted he’s on occasion ended an interview when the subject has been raised but this would come after the interviewer had been specifically requested beforehand not to mention Doctor Who. If the agreed rules of the game are broken then Eccleston has every right to walk. As he mentions in this interview (in which he’s very relaxed and lighthearted when the subject of Doctor Who is raised) everyone should concentrate at the fact that he turned up in the first place not that he left. He also reaffirmed that he actively pursued Russell T Davies for the chance to portray the Doctor, and that one of the reasons for this was his desire to play a role that appealed to children.
One day Christopher Eccleston will give an interview that reveals definitively why he only did 13 episodes of Doctor Who and then left the Ninth Doctor firmly in the past. But that will come when he’s ready and when he’s discussed the matter with the other parties concerned. Until that day fans should simply enjoy the era of the Ninth Doctor.
And when the 60th anniversary special of Doctor Who arrives I’d put money on the presence of Christopher Eccleston’s fantastic Ninth Doctor.