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Christopher Eccleston's bad experience with the Doctor Who franchise has been a dark mark for a show that typically has amazing relationships with its former actors. Fans have heard Eccleston speak out on his issues with the show for years, but have never heard the other side of the story from former Doctor Who showrunner and Eccleston's boss at the time Russell T. Davies. Now, Davies has broken his silence and responded to the actor's long-publicized complaints in a surprising way:
What has to be remembered when the show's being discussed in the present tense, now, is that I was his employer -- I was his producer. I have a duty of care towards any lead actor I work with, so I have a duty of care towards Chris in that moment. He's free to say and explore whatever he wants -- that's fine. This duty of care involves respecting him and listening to him at all times. That's my job. And that duty of care towards him will extend for the rest of our lives. He will always be my Doctor, and I will always be his producer.
Christopher Eccleston might still be holding onto some grudges from his time on Doctor Who, but Russell T. Davies had no ill will for the actor based on this quote. Ultimately, Davies doesn't really have a reason to dislike Eccleston, as the actor made it clear he wasn't on board with the series' direction and exited the project. Considering Doctor Who has survived and thrived well beyond Eccleston's one season, it isn't hard to dispute that Davies vision for the series ultimately was successful. Had the actor struggled through and stayed on despite his heart not being in it, who knows if the series would've had the same fate?
Still, Doctor Who fans might not have blamed Russell T. Davies for going a bit low in his criticism of Christopher Eccleston considering statements the actor has made about him in the past. Eccleston has publicly stated his relationship was rough with Davies as early as the first block of filming and added that he would never have a working relationship with the producer ever again. Davies told SFX Magazine (via Radio Times) he didn't wish to get into a "tit for tat," exchanging words with the actor via the press, but noted that he will always listen to and take in Eccleston's criticisms. Davies also complimented Eccleston's bravery for taking the role to begin with as the success of Doctor Who was far from a sure thing at the time he agreed to the role:
The thing I've got to say is that Chris is a magnificent actor and a magnificent man -- he's truly a leader of men -- and he was a magnificent Doctor Who as well. You forget what a brave move it was to take the part on when the press were quoting people like Paul Daniels as the next Doctor. It was a huge leap for Chris to make, and I love what he did. . . . It's a magnificent, never-to-be forgotten Doctor, and it was an honour to work with an actor delivering a performance like that.
Doctor Who is gearing up to air Season 13 on The BBC in the fall of 2018. For a look at other shows headed to television in 2018, check out our midseason and summer premiere guide. For more on The BBC series, read up on how the network was able to keep its casting of Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor a secret from even its staff.