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article imageChristopher Eccleston turns down a return to Doctor Who

By Mathew Wace Peck     Apr 6, 2013 in Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston has turned down the opportunity to return the role of the Ninth Doctor for the 50th anniversary of the BBC’s flagship science-fiction drama series.
The BBC has confirmed that Eccleston will not be taking part in the Doctor Who anniversary special currently being filmed in Wales.
In a statement, the BBC said: “Chris met with Steven Moffat a couple of times to talk about Steven’s plans for the Doctor Who 50th anniversary episode. After careful thought, Chris decided not to be in the episode. He wishes the team all the best.”
Last weekend, it was announced that David Tennant would be returning to the show, as the Tenth Doctor, for the anniversary story, which is expected to be broadcast on Saturday, 23 November 2013 – exactly 50 years to the day that the first-ever episode was broadcast in the UK.
According to Doctor Who News (DWN), the BBC statement was in response to tabloid reports that Eccleston had pulled out of filming his contribution for the story just as it was due to begin. “However, the BBC makes clear the actor was never contracted for the story which is currently in production,” DWN confirms.
In 2005, when Doctor Who was relaunched, Eccleston played the Doctor for 13 episodes, before handing over to Tennant.
Despite Eccleston’s decision not to take part in the as-yet-untitled special, his Doctor could still feature in the episode. “An appearance from the Ninth Doctor in the story may still be possible using archive footage from the series,” DWN reports.
In 2011, Eccleston told Graham Norton on his BBC Radio programme that he was very pleased to have been a part of Doctor Who, but that he believed that he should "never bathe in the same river twice”.
The Eleven Doctors
To date, a total of eleven actors have portrayed the Doctor – a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey – in the TV series, eight of them during the 20th century. William Hartnell started it all of, playing the First Doctor from 1963 to 1966. He was succeeded by Patrick Troughton, who played the Second Doctor until 1969. The Third Doctor was played by Jon Pertwee until 1974, when he was replaced by Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor. Peter Davison played the Fifth Doctor from 1981 to 1984, when he was replaced by Colin Baker. Sylvester McCoy was the Seventh Doctor from 1987, then Paul McGann played the Eighth Doctor in 1996.
So far, there have been three 21st-century Doctors: Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston (2005), Tenth Doctor David Tennant (2005–10), and the current Time Lord, Matt Smith, who has played the Eleventh Doctor since New Year’s Day 2010.
One of the rumours that has been circulating for months is that Smith will relinquish the role some time during the anniversary episodes, and that the Twelfth Doctor has already been chosen.
Hartnell, Troughton and Pertwee have all since passed away, but the actors who played the Fourth to Eighth Doctors on television continue to do so through the long-running range of Doctor Who audio plays produced by Big Finish Productions under licence from the BBC.
Big Finish will be releasing their own anniversary special – The Light at the End – in November, which will feature the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Doctors, but fans of the science-fiction drama had long hoped that all the Doctors would be represented in a TV anniversary special, with all the surviving actors to have played him appearing in it.
How it all began
The First and Second Doctors, meanwhile, have been recast for a one-off drama, which will tell the story of wow it all began, how the creation of the world’s longest-running television science-fiction drama series came about. An Adventure in Space and Time, by Mark Gatiss, will see David Bradley (Harry Potter) recreate the role first made famous by Hartnell – as well as playing the actor himself – in the 90-minute film. Reece Shearsmith (Psychoville) will do the same for Patrick Troughton and his Second Doctor.
However, as reported by Digital Journal elsewhere today, McCoy has recently stated that none of the actors who played the Doctors before 2005 have been approached by Moffat to take part in Doctor Who’s anniversary.
The Doctor Who 50th-anniverasry special currently in production is being shot in 3D. In it, Smith and Tennant will be joined by Jenna-Louise Coleman – who plays his current companion, Clara Oswald – and Billie Piper – who played Rose Tyler, companion to both the Ninth and Tenth Doctors. As reported by Digital Journal earlier this week, they will be facing an old adversary of the Doctors, the Zygons, last seen way back in 197? in a Fourth Doctor adventure, Terror of the Zygons, by Robert Banks Stewart. Also taking part are a number of guest actors, including John Hurt (Merlin), Joanna Page (Gavin & Stacey) and Ken Bones (Foyle’s War).
The current series of Doctor Who continues this evening, with The Rings of Akhaten, by Neil Cross (Luther).
More about Doctor Who, Christopher eccleston, Matt smith, Sylvester mccoy, David tennant
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