Christopher Eccleston, the first actor to play the lead role in the regenerated twenty-first-century version of Doctor Who, has broken his silence over why he left the show after only one series.
According to the Sun – the British tabloid published by Rupert Murdoch's embattled News Corp – Eccleston revealed the real reason behind his unexpected departure during an acting masterclass in London earlier this week.
He is reported as having said: "I left because of politics. I did not see eye-to-eye with them. I didn't agree with the way things were being run. I didn't like the culture that had grown up around the series. So I left over a principle."
At the time of his departure, which was announced just two days after the UK television premiere of his first episode – Rose, by Russell T Davies – speculation was rife as to the reasons. The BBC initially claimed that Eccleston had found the recording schedule too demanding; a claim the actor denied and which was then retracted by the corporation.
Subsequently, Eccleston and the BBC have tried to play down any suggestion of a rift. However, speaking to the Radio Times in 2010 – to promote his appearance as John Lennon in BBC 4's Lennon Naked – Eccleston admitted that he had disliked the working environment that surrounded the show.
He said: "I was open-minded but I decided after my experience on the first series that I didn't want to do any more. I didn't enjoy the environment and the culture that we, the cast and crew, had to work in. I thought if I stay in this job, I'm going to have to blind myself to certain things that I thought were wrong."
Shadows and conspiracy
However, in April of this year, during an interview on Graham Norton's BBC Radio 2 programme – to promote Hugo Blick's powerful police-conspiracy thriller, The Shadow Line – the 47-year-old Salford-born actor maintained that he only ever intended doing one series of Doctor Who.
He told Norton: “I’m very proud of what we did over those 13 episodes. My intention was to make the show a success so that the next series could follow, so I’d done what I wanted to do.”
Christopher Eccleston – who appeared as the Doctor in 2005 – was the ninth actor to play the role in the long-running science-fiction television drama series. He was succeeded in 2005 by David Tennant, who remained in the part until the beginning of 2010. Matt Smith, the current Doctor, made his debut on New Year's Day 2010, and will continue in the role until at least 2013, when the show celebrates its 50th anniversary.