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article imageWatch ‘Doctor Who’ at 50: Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant

By Mathew Wace Peck     Nov 10, 2013 in Entertainment
With just three Doctors to go, UKTV Watch enters the era of “NuWho” this weekend for the latest instalments of its series looking at each of the actors to have played the Doctor in the BBC’s 50-year-old sci-fi series, “Doctor Who.”

Christopher Eccleston materialised on Saturday, in The Doctors Revisited: the Ninth Doctor and 2005’s drama, Dalek. Today, Sunday, it's David Tennant’s turn, with The Doctors Revisited: the Tenth Doctor and the two-part serial, Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead.
Dalek reintroduced audiences to the Doctor’s oldest and most deadly enemies, dismissing long-voiced criticisms of them along the way (you’ll have to watch it to find out!). While disappointing some viewers at the time — as it featured just one Dalek — the adventure itself set the stage for what was to come at the climax of the season (hint: lots more Daleks!).
Doctor Who: the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston)
Doctor Who: the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston)
Eccleston was a surprise choice as the Doctor, when his casting was announced in 2004; but he ensured that the drama series — which, in some quarters, was considered a joke — was taken seriously. From being relegated as an old unloved sci-fi TV series, kept alive only by sad fanboys and nerdy geeks, just eight short years later Doctor Who has become, (hyperbole excused!) something everybody loves. As the Ninth Doctor himself would say: “Fantastic!”
The Doctor Vanishes
No sooner had the Ninth Doctor arrived than he’d gone. In fact, just two days after the first episode aired in the UK, newspaper front-page headlines declared, “Eccleston quits Universe.” However, the Ninth Doctor remained for the entire 13-episode season, regenerating in spectacularly fire-y fashion into Tennant’s Tenth Doctor in the closing moments of The Parting of the Ways.
Within fan circles, there has been debate ever since as to whether it was always intended that Eccleston would do just one season, and the actor himself has hinted in the past that he was less than happy while filming the show. Since leaving, unlike his successor, Tennant, Eccleston has kept a safe distance from the programme (for instance, he didn’t attend the 2005 National Television Awards to collect his Best Actor prize) and turned down the invitation to return to the show for this month’s 50th-anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor.
True to form, Eccleston doesn’t take part in The Doctors Revisited: the Ninth Doctor and didn’t appear at the BFI in September for the Ninth Doctor retrospective. On that occasion, however, he did send a message to the assembled guests and fans in general, in which he praise the show, said he was proud to be a part of its heritage and even joking that he’d take part in Doctor Who ’s 100th anniversary in 2063!
Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead is a two-part serial from 2008. Written by Steven Moffat, before he became series showrunner, Tennant’s Tenth Doctor was by now paired with Donna Noble, as played by Catherine Tate (The Office) as his TARDIS travelling companion. The story also saw the introduction of Professor River Song (Alex Kingston), a character who has since become a pivotal presence in the show during Matt Smith’s tenure as the Eleventh Doctor.
Since leaving Doctor Who at the very beginning of 2010, Tennant’s thespian stock has climbed inexorably, the actor being in demand on TV and in the theatre particularly. Having recently received much praise for his performance as Richard II at the Royal Shakespeare Company, it was announced last month that he would be joining the US version of Broadchurch, which is based on the award-winning British thriller of the same name. Tennant will play an American version of the same character, DI Alex Hardy, he played in the original ITV series. In 2014, Tennant will also return as that character in Season 2 of the British-based Broadchurch.
Doctor Who: the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant)
Doctor Who: the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant)
More recently, he has been seen playing a defence barrister, Will Burton, in David Wolstonecroft’s three-part BBC thriller, The Escape Artist; and, later this month, will be returning to Doctor Who — in the role that made him a household name — alongside Smith’s Eleventh Doctor and John Hurt’s “Other” Doctor, a character created by Moffat in place of Eccleston’s absent Ninth Doctor.
The Eleventh Hour
On Watch, the 11-part documentary series wraps up next weekend, with The Doctors Revisited: the Eleventh Doctor — just one week ahead of the world-wide screening of the official 50th-anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor, which also marks Smith’s penultimate outing as the Doctor.
Smith’s final appearance will be in this year’s Christmas special. The as-yet-unnamed adventure also sees the introduction of the Twelfth Doctor, to be played by Peter Capaldi (Getting On).
Meanwhile, this evening (Sunday, 9 November), the BBC will broadcast its second official trailer for The Day of the Doctor, which is already available online. The first trailer, originally intended to premiere on TV yesterday evening, was released online by the corporation ahead of its television broadcast after a 13-second segment of it was leaked on the Internet on Friday night.
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