sarahvma (sarahvma) wrote in ohnotheydidnt,

Digital Spy Series Asks: Was Eccleston the Greatest Doctor of All?


The 50th anniversary of Doctor Who is right around the corner and, with mere months to go before the celebrations kick off in earnest, Digital Spy wants to know the answer to a very important question - who is your favorite Doctor?

Join us every day from August 28 to September 6 as we take a look back at a half-century of Who and - in a new daily blog - weigh up the merits of each Doctor, from William Hartnell to Matt Smith, before finally revealing DS readers' favorite Doctor of all time on Monday, September 9.

We've reached Doctor Who's modern era now and the man who brought the series storming back to our screens in 2005, only to depart after 13 weeks... It's Christopher Eccleston!

Shane Richie, David Hasselhoff, Paul Daniels... the kind of names being touted by the tabloids for the role of the ninth Doctor once the news broke in 2003 that the BBC was preparing to bring back Doctor Who - somehow, in between the show first departing our screens in 1989 and then, our favorite sci-fi drama had - in the eyes of many - become a bit of a joke.

This whimsical attitude to the casting of the Doctor seemed to extend into people's attitudes towards Doctor Who in general - it was a silly show chock-full of hammy acting, rubber monsters, wobbly sets... etc, etc, etc.

Never mind becoming a hit - if Doctor Who was ever to be taken even remotely seriously in the eyes of critics and casual viewers again, then it needed two things - a strong guiding hand behind-the-scenes and a powerful, charismatic and respected leading man front-and-center.

We were incredibly lucky to get both - Russell T Davies approached the show in 2005 with an unflinching creative vision and whether you loved or loathed his tenure as showrunner, there's no denying that he had a clear idea of what he wanted to do with Doctor Who and that his revamped version of an old favorite proved enormously popular.

A man who doesn't always get, but is absolutely deserving of, equal credit for the success of the show's revival is Christopher Eccleston - news of his casting in 2004 came as a genuine surprise. Here was one of Britain's most talented, most acclaimed performers - and *he* was going to be our new Doctor.

The fact that Eccleston was the star of Doctor Who for just 13 weeks - and worse, that news of his imminent departure leaked just days after his first episode had gone out - has inevitably colored his time on the show for some.

But go back now and watch those 13 episodes and what you'll find is a - no pun intended - fantastic central performance. Whether or not Eccleston was entirely satisfied with the way his Doctor Who experience was playing out is almost a moot point - there's nothing about the magnetic, charming and energetic performances we see from 'Rose' to 'The Parting of the Ways' that suggests an actor who's bored by the material or not giving his all.

Eccleston absolutely gave his all - and he gave us a truly memorable ninth Doctor. Some have argued that his close-cropped, leather-jacket-sporting Time Lord lacked humor or eccentricity - and while that's not entirely fair, I'd also argue that a more straight-down-the-line Doctor was exactly what the show needed in 2005.

When so many thought Doctor Who was a joke, a steely-eyed, battle-scarred Eccleston proved that it very much wasn't. It's easy to forget that the public then wasn't as comfortable as they are now with the idea of a big and bold science-fiction drama on Saturday nights.

David Tennant's cheeky chappie and Matt Smith's awkward fop - terrific as they both are - arguably wouldn't have been the right Doctors for the job at the time. Christopher Eccleston was the perfect man to lead the show out of the tabloid funny pages and back into serious critical consideration.

Succeeding where others might have failed and helping to transform a long-dead relic into a thriving television property... is Christopher Eccleston the greatest Doctor of them all?


This caused a lot of confusion last time, so I feel it's necessary to say that they're doing one of these pieces for EACH actor.
Tags: british celebrities, doctor who (bbc), television - british

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