Christopher Eccleston's return to the Doctor Who franchise is nearly here and, while it's only a series of audio dramas, it's a step in a positive direction after the actor spent so long separated from the franchise. While the actor hasn't said much in the way of whether he'd reprise his role as the Ninth Doctor, he has shared some thoughts on the survival of the show and universe in the long term.
Eccleston spoke to Den of Geek about his Big Finish series The Ninth Doctor Adventures and, as the conversation went from his work on the drama, it transitioned to his portrayal of the Doctor after so long away. The conversation ultimately led to what Doctor Who as a franchise needs to do long term if it wants to survive long past the era of Jodie Whittaker:
I’m not a slave to the canon...I think if the show wants to survive going forward, it needs to explode the canon. That rigid adherence to, ‘There can only be this number of incarnations,’ et cetera, it’s nonsense. It’s nonsense. The imagination is limitless.
Current Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall must've felt the same way as Christopher Eccleston, given the show's current status with the Doctor's origin and regeneration. The Doctor's current regeneration cap has been proven far beyond what was originally thought possible and, apparently, she's not even from Gallifrey. The move was a major break from lore and canon but, as Eccleston would argue on Chibnall's behalf, perhaps it's necessary to keep the show alive.
With that being said, Doctor Who fans do enjoy lore and the various stories and characters the franchise has introduced over the years. A lot has happened in the series since Christopher Eccleston left the show, so the actor was asked exactly how he tackled that when recording episodes:
I just ignore it...And he does. We’ve just recorded an episode for instance where the Brigadier is saying to him, ‘You remember, you came to my retirement party and then we ended up on Gallifrey,’ and he said, ‘No, I don’t remember.’ An essential quality of him is he’s entirely in the moment… He can become Peter Capaldi, he can become Jodie Whittaker, he can become Jon Pertwee. Hopefully, he can’t become Boris Johnson. I don’t refer to any of that [canon]. My Doctor is very much in the moment.
Christopher Eccleston may have unintentionally created the easiest way for the Ninth Doctor to be re-introduced within the Doctor Who series. The Doctor's personality has never been entirely consistent across regenerations, so it perfectly tracks that the Ninth Doctor wouldn't care or wish to acknowledge all the changes that happened since Season 1. Again though, there's been no talk of Eccleston appearing in Doctor Who the series, so fans can only cross their fingers and toes that it may happen eventually.
Those eager to jump into Doctor Who can currently stream the series on HBO Max. Those who remember Christopher Eccleston and may want to read up on what other former castmembers of the series are doing now can check in on all of that right here.