Posts Tagged ‘9th Doctor’

Christopher Eccleston (2005)

August 20, 2009

Here’s another interview with Christopher Eccleston, quite light on ‘Doctor Who’ but a fascinating account of his early life and his religious views. It’s a transcript from his appearance on the ‘Heaven and Earth’ show back in 2005, when the new series was about two weeks into its run.

Q: You’ve played Hamlet, you’ve played the Messiah, now the big one.

A: ‘Doctor Who’, it was a very interesting experience. I didn’t really have a life outside filming it because we worked so consistently. It was a big chunk out of my life.

Q: What do you remember of it from your childhood?

A: Very little, I wasn’t a fan of the programme, I was always out playing.

Q: You didn’t like it?

A: No, I didn’t like it, really. I didn’t feel invited into the world, I felt a bit excluded by the posh accent and the stern tone, allied with the police box, the idea of authority. For this eight year old, it didn’t work. I was out playing.

Q: You have decided, though, to step into the TARDIS. What persuaded you?

A: Russell T. Davies. My admiration for the scripts of Russell T. Davies. I thought I would go in a completely different direction, because I’m not known for my charm and I’m not known for comedy, so I thought I’d have a go at it.

Q: None of your family were actors. Your mum did various jobs, your dad worked in a factory –

A: (smiles) There’s plenty of actors in my family, but not professional. No, I don’t come from a theatrical background, in a conventional sense.

Q: So how did the idea come to you?

A: Well I’d wanted to be a footballer like most of the kids from my background and from my area, and I wanted to play at Old Trafford.

Q: Were you any good?

A: Well I played for Salford Boys, and I got myself into the squad by commitment rather than talent. Anybody who’s seen me play football will confirm that. But that died quickly, scouts came and they never wanted to speak to me.

Q: So you experienced rejection early?

A: Yeah, I did actually, because it was a big dream. So then it was looking that what I’d have to do was what my brother’s had done, one was an upholsterer, one was a builder, and I didn’t – I’m not at all handy, it was looking like manual labour for a while.

Q: But you had a time after leaving drama school when you didn’t have any work for a while, that must have been tough.

A: It was tough, but I felt it was justified because I didn’t feel, at the time, confident enough in my own abilities.

Q: So you did what?

A: I did a bit of labouring, I did a lot of laying about, a lot of teenage angst and worrying.

Q: About whether you’d make it?

A: About what I was going to do with my life.

Q: In your approach to acting, it strikes me that you’ve got a hard-working attitude…

A: (smiles) It’s like the football, no talent, bags of hard work.

Q: No, but it strikes me that you’ve got your feet on your ground. It’s a job. Does that come a lot from your background?

A: Yeah, I think everything I do comes from my parents and my brothers. I was very loved as a child, by the four of them. I think when you come from a background where people have done jobs that they’ve not enjoyed, and you get to do a job that you love and that you get very well paid for, if you’ve got anything about you then you’ll kind of not take it for granted.

Q: When you look at the kind of work you’ve done, like ‘Flesh and Blood’, it seems that you like a project that’s going to be a challenge.

A: Yeah, I do. Peter Kirby, who played my father in that drama, had never acted before and has a learning difficulty, so as well as playing the role, I had to be responsible for helping Peter achieve his performance.

Q: You take quite a lot of care in the roles that you choose. What do you hope to communicate with the public?

A: I want to make them feel things, but I want to make them perhaps look at themselves, look at various situations and perhaps change their mind about things.

Q: What did your mum think when you played the son of God, because she’s religious, isn’t she?

A: Yeah, she’s a church-goer, my Mum. I remember that she particularly enjoyed the speech that Stephen Baxter makes, almost the sermon on the mount.

Q: Were you brought up in a religious household?

A: My mum tried to encourage me to go to church, but she didn’t force me, which I think is very broad-minded of her. I’m an athiest –

Q: Really? Have you always been an athiest?

A: No, I don’t think I was. My religious sense was a little bit foisted on me, as I’ve grown older I’ve wished that I hadn’t been given these casual notions of God, I feel that it kind of interrupted my own intellectual development. I can understand if a child says ‘Where’s Grandma?’ and you say ‘Grandma’s gone to heaven’, that’s an easy option and I think to an extent that was offered me, but I think I’d decide on a slightly¬† different explanation.

Q: When did you decide that there was no God for you?

A: It’s just been a growing thing for me, the way I feel about my place in the world, my own personal development, the good things I’ve done, the bad things I’ve done. I always feel that they’re within my own control. What we have is the here and now, what we have is each other so let’s find a way to deal truthfully with each other.

Q: So do you use that to live for the moment, to make the most of every moment?

A: Yes, but not just for myself, which is what the work’s about. I mean I have a spiritual life, and it resides in things like ‘Flesh and Blood’ and ‘Hillsborough’ and ‘Second Coming’, and I get spiritual sustenance from what we grandly call art.

Q: In your career at the moment, some actors would have run off to Hollywood. You’ve gone home to your parents –

A: (smiles, indicates his ears) I won’t be asked!

Q: But why did you go back home?

A: Yeah, I live in Manchester. I just like the people up there, I like to be near my brothers and my parents. I like to be outside what is sometimes seen as the centre of the profession.

Q: You’ve described yourself as a gargoyle, but people think you’re a sex symbol!

A: Well great, nothing wrong with that. I’ll have some of that.

Q: What kind of things have you had said to you?

A: Oh, a girl in Manchester once, I was in a bar and she came up to me and said ‘Excuse me, mate, are you that bloke out of ‘Cracker’?’, I said ‘Yeah’, she said ‘It’s really weird ’cause on the telly you’re good-looking – oh, I’m sorry’. That was the best.

Christopher Eccleston (2005)

August 6, 2009

This is a transcript of an interview with Christopher Eccleston on Jonathan Ross’s chat show in March 2005, a few days before the new series premiered. You can see the original here, and as always I’ve cut out the um’s and er’s etc. Eccleston talks about his favourite Doctors when he was younger, and is clearly keen for the new series to be popular with children as well as adults.

A few days, or perhaps a week or so, after this interview was aired, Eccleston announced that he wouldn’t be returning for the second series.

JR: I was so excited when I heard they were bringing back ‘Doctor Who’, because I have very fond memories of it as a kid. So how did you come to get the part? Was it something you actively wanted, or did they come to you first?

CE: It was written by Russell T. Davies, who I did a thing called ‘Second Coming’ with.

JR: Which was brilliant. It was essentially you playing the saviour…

CE: The second incarnation of Christ on this Earth, and he also wrote ‘Queer as Folk’, ‘Bob and Rose’, fantastic writer, and I heard that he was writing it which I thought was quite strange for his career.

JR: An unusual choice.

CE: Yeah. But he’s a massive fan. He’s got a Dalek in his house, at home. He’s been a fan since he was a little boy in Swansea, he used to wander round hoping that the TARDIS would appear and he could be the Doctor’s assistant. He didn’t want to be the Doctor, he wanted to be the assistant.

JR: Why did he want to be the assistant?

CE: I don’t know.

JR: That’s a peculiar thing.

CE: He didn’t want to be the Doctor, he wanted to be his assistant.

JR: You could probably define someone’s psychology by working out if they want to be the Doctor or the assistant. I wanted to meet the Doctor but I wanted it to be a lady Doctor, who would take me in the TARDIS and teach me things. And I still sometimes hope that might happen. So you were attracted by the writing, I mean you know if he’s behind it, it’s going to be quality writing.

CE: Yeah, I thought it was a chance to… you know, its reputation kind of dipped in the 80’s and you get mentions of it over the series, in ‘Queer as Folk’ and stuff and there’s a real passion in him for it, he really believes in it as a vehicle for Saturday night television, because it is a fantastic idea, an alien who can travel backwards and forward in time. It gives the thing scale, for instance in episode eight, Rose played by Billie Piper gets to meet the father that she never met.

JR: So she goes back and meets her father.

CE: It’s an 80’s episode, and it’s frightening, there’s some terrifying aliens in it, but it’s also really emotional and it’s dealing with loss and things, so without getting soapboxy there’s some powerful stuff in there.

JR: I’ve seen the first episode, I watched it with my children and they loved it –

CE: Good

JR: I was worried because they’ve got no knowledge of ‘Doctor Who’, I once tried to make them watch an old episode of ‘Doctor Who’ and they had no time for it.

CE: Which was it?

JR: I can’t remember which one it was, I think it might have been one of the Jon Pertwee ones, who was my favourite. Did you have a favourite Doctor?

CE: Erm… the first one I remember is Patrick Troughton. For some reason when people say ‘Doctor Who’ I have this black and white image of his face, his fantastic face, but the ones I grew up with were Baker and Pertwee.

JR: Yeah, well Tom Baker, I think everyone loved Tom Baker, but I liked Jon Pertwee because of the velvet jacket.

CE: The whole –

JR: He was quite the dandy. That’s why when they were looking for a Doctor I thought they might have considered someone who liked clothes. I mean the acting’s quite important, but I would have thought the clothes wearing would’ve been above that.

CE: It occurred to me that you dress like a Doctor.

JR: I’d have been a much better Doctor than you, we both agree on that.

CE: Yeah, absolutely.

JR: Maybe it’s not too late?

CE: Get that cockometer on the table.

JR: It’s not a cockometer!… I watched it with my kids, and they found it scary but not too scary that she wouldn’t watch again.

CE: Interesting. I mean we’ll have to see with later episodes because it gets scary. I mean that’s for parents and children to decide.

JR: But he’s super-confident, super-inquisitive, always going forward, wants to talk to, wants to engage with the aliens.

CE: And I think that takes some of the fear out for children. If I’m being chased down a corridor by aliens and just before I slam the door I give them a flash of my grin, I think that invites kids into it.

JR: But not in a Michael Jackson kind of way. Although a strange Doctor turns up, he takes a young woman away into a phonebox.

CE: And I must be, what, twenty-five years older than her?

JR: Although Billie Piper’s got a history of that kind of relationship. Well you’re 900 years older than her, aren’t you?

CE: Exactly.

JR: We’ve got a montage of some of the creatures that appear in the later episodes, and it looks like it gets better and better.

CE: Yeah, we do get stronger as we go, I think.