Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

The Man Who Said 'No'

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2013-11-23 Radio Times p46.jpg



For the return of the Daleks in 2005, RT's award-winning cover put a fresh spin on the classic 1964 scene on Westminster Bridge


Years 2005 Episodes 13

Who is he? Born in Salford,1964. Eccleston clocked up an impressive CV in the 90s with Cracker and Hillsborough (ITV), Danny Boyle's film Shallow Grave and Our Friends in the North (BBC). As well as the Doctor, he's played John Lennon, and the Son of God in Russell T Davies's The Second Coming. He's currently in cinemas in Thor: the Dark World.

Doctor profile The last of the Time Lords was cool and swaggering in his leather jacket and the first to speak with a northern accent.

Key companion Rose (Billie Piper), a shop assistant who blossomed in the Doctor's company. "He loves her, simple as that. And she loves him," Eccleston told RT in 2005.

Ultimate foe The eerie "empty child" and gas-mask zombies who roamed war-torn London, asking, "Are you my mummy?"

Age now 49

I wasn't comfortable

WHEN HE WAS announced as the new Doctor, the public said YES, but even before his episodes aired, Christopher Eccleston was saying a big NO to a second series. On its 2005 return Doctor Who was a soaring success as viewers lapped up Russell T Davies's pacey, emotional revival. He told RT: "Chris has a reputation as a bit of a miserable northerner. In real life, he's funny and quick. His being in the show gave out the signal this was going to be proper drama." In the same RT issue, Eccleston said "I've loved the responsibility of having to lead a series," yet he found working 11-day fortnights, 14 hours a day "mentally and physically punishing".

The cause of his departure remains unclear. He rebutted a BBC statement: "It said I was tired and scared of being typecast. I challenged that, so they issued an apology." In 2010, he told RT: "I didn't enjoy the environment and the culture that we, the cast and crew, had to work in. I wasn't comfortable. I thought, 'If I stay in this job, I'm going to have to blind myself to certain things I thought were wrong.' So I left." But he stressed his pride in having played the Doctor: "It kind of broke the mould and it helped to reinvent it."

He was offered a lead role in the 50th anniversary but meetings with Steven Moffat led to another big NO and another, more carefully worded BBC statement. But his refusals have led to positives. Had Eccleston said YES, we'd have had no Tennant in 2005 and no Hurt in 2013.


Christopher Eccleston as a leather-jacketed Doctor with streetwise companion Rose (Billy Piper)

Must-see moment

BAD WOLF (2005)

In a powerhouse performance from Christopher Eccleston, the Doctor says "No!" to the Daleks - not only will he rescue Rose from their clutches, he'll then "wipe every last stinking Dalek out of the sky". Unnerved, they point out he has no weapons, no defences. "And doesn't that scare you to death! Rose... I'm coming to get you."


Russell T Davies (right) held the Tardis keys for the 2005 revival, then handed them to Steven Moffat (below) for the 2010 season

Revived, refreshed, improved

Pre-2005, Doctor Who's reputation was somewhat tarnished. It had been left behind by TV and was the perennial butt of jokes about cardboard sets and rubbery monsters. Then along came Queer as Folk and Bob & Rose creator Russell T Davies (also, incidentally, responsible for a Corrie special that saw Jack and Vera fly to Las Vegas and meet Joan Collins), who took on showrunner duties for the revived Who.

Understanding soap opera's tug on an audience's loyalties, Davies's scripts added heart to sci-fi and featured credible female characters that viewers could root for. He also exploded preconceptions about the show's past by casting the edgy Christopher Eccleston, giving the episodes an air of seriousness and grounding the adventures in the recognisably everyday.

Also, for his very first series he drew on the writing talents of a certain Steven Moffat, who penned the memorable two-parter The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances and to whom the torch was passed after four years.

Who knew?

Are you my mummy?

Not since "Exterminate!" has a Doctor Who catchphrase really taken off, but Steven Moffat's creepy "Are you my mummy?" - from a young lad whose face is fused to a gas mask in The Empty Child - did the business.

Going once, twice...

This Dalek prop, given a blue spray after its appearance on screen, went on display at Madame Tussauds in 1980 along with a wax figure of Tom Baker's Doctor. It appeared on the back cover of RT's Doctor Who 20th Anniversary Special in 1983 - and, in 2005, was sold at auction by Bonhams for £36,000.

Who & Me

CHARLIE HIGSON, author, actor comedian

What I find fascinating about science fiction is how much it can be used as a satire on what is going on now, by taking it to fantastic extremes. That's why the reboot was such a success, because there was the science stuff for the nerds, there was the social satire to give it a bit of bite and there was the soap opera stuff, with Rose and her family, which got the mass audience - the female audience that's vital for a popular drama. I think Russell T Davies was very clever. From Behind the Sofa: see p25

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  • APA 6th ed.: Brown, David (2013-11-23). The Man Who Said 'No'. Radio Times p. 46.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Brown, David. "The Man Who Said 'No'." Radio Times [add city] 2013-11-23, 46. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Brown, David. "The Man Who Said 'No'." Radio Times, edition, sec., 2013-11-23
  • Turabian: Brown, David. "The Man Who Said 'No'." Radio Times, 2013-11-23, section, 46 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=The Man Who Said 'No' | url= | work=Radio Times | pages=46 | date=2013-11-23 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=17 June 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=The Man Who Said 'No' | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=17 June 2024}}</ref>