When Doctor Who relaunched back in 2005, actor Christopher Eccleston was leading the charge on-screen as the Ninth Doctor. However, Eccleston left the show after only one season, making his Doctor’s tenure one of the shortest throughout the show’s 50+ year history. In the years since the actor has talked about his mixed experiences on the show, but he’s now gone into more detail about the circumstances of his departure.
In an interview with Daily Record, Eccleston boiled down the reasons he left to creative differences and not wanting to be tied down to one project for too long. In his words:
I’d had enough. I wanted to do it my way, they wanted something else. We were never going to compromise so it was best to be straight about it and just go. It’s very easy to stay in one job and make that your comfort zone, and I want to resist that temptation.
Then-showrunner Russell T. Davies has stated that Eccleston was originally only contracted for one year because it was unknown whether the revival would continue past that. Although it proved to be a success that has only grown in the years since, Eccleston, who earned a National TV award for his performance, opted to leave rather than continue with Doctor Who. The actor’s final performance as the Ninth Doctor was in the Series 1 finale “The Parting of the Ways.” After absorbing energy from the time vortex to save his companion Rose Tyler, he regenerated into the Tenth Doctor, played by Broadchurch actor David Tennant. Two regular Doctors have followed since, the current one being the Twelfth Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi.
Eccleston had the chance to return to BBC's Doctor Who during the “Day of the Doctor” 50th anniversary special in 2013. Although he thought about making a small appearance after chatting with current showrunner Steven Moffat, he eventually declined to reprise the role. This prompted Moffat and the Doctor Who team to create the War Doctor, the Doctor that fought in the Time War, a conflict the Ninth Doctor frequently mentioned. However, they did use recycled footage to include the Ninth Doctor among the 12 other Doctors in the special’s climax, and a digital copy of Eccleston’s face was overlapped on John Hurt’s War Doctor during his regeneration.
While it doesn’t look like we’ll ever see Eccleston on Doctor Who again, fans can still get new adventures featuring the Ninth Doctor. Titan Comics is currently publishing a five-issue miniseries starring the leather jacket-wearing Time Lord titled New Adventures With The Ninth Doctor, which you can find online or at your local comic book store.