Christopher Eccleston

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Christopher Eccleston
Christopher Eccleston Thor 2 cropped.png
Eccleston at the premiere of Thor: The Dark World, October 2013.
Born(1964-02-16) 16 February 1964 (age 50)
Langworthy, Lancashire, England
Years active1988–present
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Christopher Eccleston
Christopher Eccleston Thor 2 cropped.png
Eccleston at the premiere of Thor: The Dark World, October 2013.
Born(1964-02-16) 16 February 1964 (age 50)
Langworthy, Lancashire, England
Years active1988–present

Christopher Eccleston (/ˈɛkəlstən/; born 16 February 1964) is an English actor known for his extensive television work. He played the Ninth Doctor in the British television series Doctor Who, and is currently on the American dramatic series The Leftovers on HBO. He has also appeared on stage and in films such as Let Him Have It, Shallow Grave, Jude, Elizabeth, Gone in 60 Seconds, The Others, 28 Days Later, The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising and Thor: The Dark World.

Early life[edit]

Born into a working class family in Langworthy, Salford, Lancashire, Eccleston is the youngest of three sons of Elsie and Ronnie Eccleston.[1] His brothers, Alan and Keith, are twins, eight years his senior.[2][3] The family lived in a small terraced house in Blodwell Street until the late 1960s, when they moved to Little Hulton.[4][5] Eccleston attended Joseph Eastham High School, where he became head boy.[6] At the age of 19, he was inspired to enter the acting profession by such television dramas as Boys from the Blackstuff.

Eccleston completed a two-year Performance Foundation Course at Salford Tech[7] before going on to train at the Central School of Speech and Drama.[8] As an actor, he was influenced in his early years by Ken Loach's Kes and Albert Finney's performance in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning; but he soon found himself performing the classics, including the works of Shakespeare, Chekhov and Molière. At the age of 25, Eccleston made his professional stage debut in the Bristol Old Vic's production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Underemployed as an actor for some years after graduating school, Eccleston took a variety of odd jobs at a supermarket, on building sites, and as an artist's model.


Early work (1991–2005)[edit]

Eccleston first came to public attention as Derek Bentley in the film Let Him Have It (1991) and an episode of Inspector Morse, "Second Time Around" (1991). In 1992, he played the role of Sean Maddox in the BBC drama miniseries Friday on my Mind.[9] A regular role in the television series Cracker (1993–94) brought him recognition in the UK; and, after he told TV bosses of his desire to leave the series, they killed off his character in October 1994, making him a victim of the serial killer Albie Kinsella (Robert Carlyle). At around the same time, Eccleston appeared in the episode "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe" of the Poirot series adapted from mysteries by Agatha Christie.

He appeared in the low-budget Danny Boyle film Shallow Grave (1994), in which he co-starred with actor Ewan McGregor. The same year, he won the part of Nicky Hutchinson in the epic BBC drama serial Our Friends in the North, whose broadcast on BBC Two in 1996 helped make him a household name in the UK. Eccleston starred in an ensemble cast that included actors Mark Strong and Gina McKee, as well as Daniel Craig. In 1996, he took the part of Trevor Hicks--a man who lost both of his daughters in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster--in the television drama film Hillsborough, penned by Jimmy McGovern. In real life, he was the best man to Trevor Hicks at his marriage in March 2009.[10]

His film career has since taken off with a variety of high-profile roles, including the title role in Jude (1996), Elizabeth (1998), eXistenZ (1999), Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), The Others (2001), 24 Hour Party People (2002), and 28 Days Later (2002). He played a major role as the protagonist of the 2002 Revengers Tragedy, adapted from Thomas Middleton's play of the same name.[11] He starred in the independent films A Price Above Rubies (1998) and The Invisible Circus (2001). He starred in the car-heist film Gone in 60 Seconds, but did not take his driving test until January 2004. He said on BBC's Top Gear that his licence restricts him to vehicles with automatic transmission.

He has appeared in a variety of television roles, especially in British dramas. These have included Hearts and Minds (1995) for Channel 4, Clocking Off (2000) and Flesh and Blood (2002) for the BBC and Hillsborough (1996), a modern version of Othello (2001), playing 'Ben Jago', (the Iago character); and the religious telefantasy epic The Second Coming (2003) for ITV, in which he played Steve Baxter, the son of God. He has made guest appearances in episodes of the comedy drama Linda Green (2001) and macabre sketch show The League of Gentlemen (2002). Eccleston appeared in a stage role in Hamlet in the 2002 production at Leeds's West Yorkshire Playhouse. March–April 2004 saw him return to the venue in a new play, Electricity.

Eccleston has been twice nominated in the Best Actor category at the British Academy Television Awards. His first nomination came in 1997 for Our Friends in the North, but he lost to Nigel Hawthorne (for The Fragile Heart). He was nominated in 2004 for The Second Coming; Bill Nighy won for State of Play. Eccleston won the Best Actor category at the 1997 Broadcasting Press Guild Awards for Our Friends in the North. In 2003 he won the RTS Best Actor award for a second time, for his performance in Flesh and Blood. In July 2004, a poll of industry experts, conducted by Radio Times magazine, voted Eccleston the "19th Most Powerful Person in Television Drama."

Doctor Who (2005)[edit]

On 2 April 2004, it was announced that Eccleston was to play the ninth incarnation of the Doctor in the revival of the BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who, which began transmission on 26 March 2005. Eccleston was the first actor to play the role who was born after the series began, albeit by less than three months. On 30 March 2005, the BBC released a statement, ostensibly from Eccleston, saying that he had decided to leave the role after just one series, because he feared becoming typecast. On 4 April 2005, the BBC revealed that Eccleston's "statement" was falsely attributed and released without his consent. The BBC admitted that they had broken an agreement made in January not to disclose publicly that he only intended to do one series. The statement had been made after journalists made queries to the press office.[12]

On 11 June 2005, during a BBC radio interview, when asked if he had enjoyed working on Doctor Who, Eccleston responded by saying, "Mixed, but that's a long story." Eccleston's reasons for leaving the role continue to be debated in Britain's newspapers: on 4 October 2005 Alan Davies told The Daily Telegraph that Eccleston had been "overworked" by the BBC, and had left the role because he was "exhausted".[13] In a 2010 interview, Eccleston revealed that he left the show because he "didn't enjoy the environment and the culture that the cast and crew had to work in", but that he was proud of having played the role.[14]

Eccleston at the National Theatre, London, May 2012

On 7 November 2008, at the National Theatre to promote his book The Writer's Tale, Russell T. Davies said that Eccleston's contract was for a single year because it was uncertain whether the show would continue beyond a single revival series. In retrospect, he says, it has been an enormous success, but at the time there were doubts within the BBC. Eccleston was voted "Most Popular Actor" at the 2005 National Television Awards for his portrayal of the Doctor.

In July 2012, Eccleston spoke positively of his time on Doctor Who during a talk at the National Theatre.[15] This led to speculation he was considering making a return appearance as the Ninth Doctor for the show's 50th anniversary special, "The Day of the Doctor", in 2013. The 11th Doctor, Matt Smith, stated that he would love Eccleston to return.[16] However, after discussing with executive producer Steven Moffat, Eccleston declined his role.[17]

Recent works (2005–present)[edit]

On 30 October 2005, Eccleston appeared on stage at the Old Vic theatre in London in the one-night play Night Sky alongside Navin Chowdhry, Bruno Langley, David Warner, Saffron Burrows and David Baddiel. Eccleston sat on the 2nd Amazonas International Film Festival Film Jury in November 2005. The director Norman Jewison was chairman of the Jury.[18] In December 2005, Eccleston travelled to Indonesia's Aceh province for the BBC Breakfast news programme, examining how survivors of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami were rebuilding their lives.[19]

In March 2006, Eccleston appeared in the ITV documentary special Best Ever Muppet Moments as a commentator. In May 2006, he appeared as the narrator in a production of Romeo and Juliet at the Lowry theatre in his home city of Salford. The theatre company with which he performed, Celebrity Pig (of which he is patron), is made up of learning disabled actors. In August 2006, Eccleston filmed New Orleans, Mon Amour with Elisabeth Moss. The film was directed by Michael Almereyda and shot in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans. It was released in 2008 to film festivals in America and Italy.

Late in 2006 he starred in Perfect Parents, an ITV drama written and directed by Joe Ahearne, who had directed him in Doctor Who.[20] Eccleston joined the cast of the NBC TV series Heroes in the episode "Godsend", which was broadcast on 22 January 2007. Eccleston played a character named Claude who has the power of invisibility, and helps Peter Petrelli with his powers.[21] Eccleston appeared as the Rider in a film adaptation of Susan Cooper's novel The Dark Is Rising, which opened in the USA on 5 October 2007.

Eccleston appeared on the BBC Four World Cinema Award show in February 2008, arguing the merits of five international hits such as The Lives of Others and Pan's Labyrinth with Jonathan Ross and Archie Panjabi. In 2009, Eccleston starred opposite Archie Panjabi in a short film called The Happiness Salesman. Eccleston agreed to do the film because of Panjabi and the fact that it was a winner of the British Short Screenplay Competition. He also appeared as the villainous Destro in the G.I. Joe film, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.[22] Eccleston also appeared in an episode of The Sarah Silverman Program as the titular cult favourite science fiction hero in a show-within-the-show called "Dr. Laser Rage", possibly in reference to his stint in Doctor Who.

Eccleston was cast as John Lennon in a BBC production called Lennon Naked which aired in the UK on 23 June 2010,[23][24] with Eccleston playing the title role, and Naoko Mori, who had previously appeared with him in Doctor Who, as Yoko Ono. In November 2010, Eccleston starred in the first episode of BBC One anthology drama Accused. He won an International Emmy Award for his role. In May 2011, he starred as Joseph Bede in The Shadow Line, a seven-part television drama serial for BBC Two.

On 31 December 2011, Eccleston played the role of Pod Clock in an adaptation of Mary Norton's children's novel The Borrowers on BBC One. In July 2012, he starred in the political thriller Blackout on BBC One. In the same month, he starred as Creon in an adaptation of Antigone at the Royal National Theatre; his performance in the play was called "charismatic" and "intense".[25]

In 2013, Eccleston portrayed the villainous Malekith in Thor: The Dark World, the sequel to Thor and the eighth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.[26] In 2014, he portrayed Reverend Matt Jamison on the HBO drama series The Leftovers.[27]

Personal life[edit]

Eccleston is married and became a father to his first child, Albert, in February 2012.[28][29] He is an atheist.[30][31] He is a supporter of Manchester United,[32] and was a regular marathon runner until 2000.[3][33] In September 2007, as part of a £9.5m building scheme, Salford's Pendleton College named its new 260-seat auditorium the Eccleston Theatre.[34] Eccleston is an avid charity worker, becoming a Mencap charity ambassador on 28 April 2005,[35] and is also a supporter of the British Red Cross.[36]



1991Let Him Have ItDerek Bentley
1992Death and the CompassAlonso Zunz
1994Shallow GraveDavid Stephens
1996JudeJude Fawley
1996HillsboroughTrevor HicksTelevision film
1998ElizabethDuke of Norfolk
1998A Price Above RubiesSender Horowitz
1999HeartGary Ellis
1999eXistenZSeminar Leader
1999With or Without YouVincent Boyd
2000Gone in 60 SecondsRaymond Calitri
2000The TyreSalesmanShort film
2001The OthersCharles Stewart
2001The Invisible CircusWolf
2001This Little PiggyCabbieShort film
2001OthelloBen JagoTelevision film
200224 Hour Party PeopleBoethius
2002I Am DinaLeo Zhukovsky
2002Revengers TragedyVindici
200228 Days LaterMajor Henry West
2002SundayGeneral FordTelevision film
2006Perfect ParentsStuartTelevision film
2007The SeekerThe Rider
2008New Orleans, Mon AmourDr. Henry
2009G.I. Joe: The Rise of CobraJames McCullen / Destro
2009AmeliaFred Noonan
2009The Happiness SalesmanSalesmanShort film
2011The BorrowersPod ClockTelevision film
2012Song for MarionJames Harris
2013Thor: The Dark WorldMalekith
2015LegendLeonard "Nipper" Read


1990Blood RightsDick
1990CasualtyStephen Hills
1991Inspector MorseTerrence Mitchell
1992Rachel's DreamMan in Dream
1992PoirotFrank CarterEpisode: "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe"
1992Friday on my MindSean Maddox
1992Business with FriendsAngel Morris
1993–1994CrackerDCI David Bilborough
1995Hearts and MindsDrew Mackenzie
1996Our Friends in the NorthNicky Hutchinson
1999Killing Time – The Millennium PoemMillennium Man
2000Wilderness MenAlexander Von Humboldt
2000Clocking OffJim Calvert
2001Linda GreenTom Sherry / Neil Sherry
2002The League of GentlemenDougal SieppEpisode: "How the Elephant Got Its Trunk"
2002Flesh and BloodJoe Broughton
2002The King and UsAnthony
2003The Second ComingStephen Baxter
2005Doctor WhoThe Doctor13 episodes
2005Top GearHimselfSeries 6, Episode 3
2008The Sarah Silverman ProgramDr. Lazer Rage
2010Lennon NakedJohn Lennon
2010AccusedWilly HoulihanSeries 1, Episode 1
2011The Shadow LineJoseph Bede
2012BlackoutDaniel Demoys
2013LucanJohn Aspinall
2014The LeftoversMatt Jamison
2015FortitudeProfessor Stoddart


1988A Streetcar Named DesirePablo GonzalezBristol Old Vic
1989Dona Rosita the SpinsterPhyllida LloydBristol Old Vic
1990BentRoyal National Theatre
1990Abingdon SquareRoyal National Theatre
1990Aide-MemoireRoyal Court Theatre
1993Waiting at the Water's EdgeWillBush Theatre
2000Miss JulieJeanHaymarket Theatre
2002HamletHamletWest Yorkshire Playhouse
2004ElectricityJakeyWest Yorkshire Playhouse
2009A Doll's HouseNeil KelmanDonmar Warehouse
2012AntigoneCreonRoyal National Theatre

Performances with unknown dates[edit]

Music videos[edit]

2003I Am Kloot"Proof"
2010I Am Kloot"Northern Skies"

Radio and narration[edit]

1998Room of LeavesFrank
1998Pig ParadiseJack
2001Some Fantastic PlaceNarrator
2001Bayeux TapestryHarold
2002The Importance of Being MorrisseyNarrator
2003Cromwell – Warts and AllNarrator
2004Life Half SpentRoger
2005Crossing the Dark SeaSquaddie
2005Sacred NationNarrator
2005Born to be DifferentNarrator
2005A Day in the Death of Joe EggBrian
2005Dubai DreamsNarrator
2005Wanted: New Mum and DadNarrator
2005Children in NeedNarrator
2005This Sceptred IsleVarious Characters
2006The 1970s: That Was The Decade That WasNarrator
2008The Devil's ChristmasNarrator
2011The Bomb SquadNarrator
2012Timeshift: Wrestling's Golden Age: Grapplers, Grunts & GranniesNarrator

Awards and nominations[edit]


1997JudeGolden Satellite AwardBest Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – DramaNominated
1997Our Friends in the NorthBroadcasting Press Guild AwardBest ActorWon
1997Our Friends in the NorthBAFTA Television AwardBest ActorNominated
2003Flesh and BloodRoyal Television Society AwardBest ActorWon
2004The Second ComingBAFTA Television AwardBest ActorNominated
2005Doctor WhoTV Choice AwardBest ActorWon
2005Doctor WhoNational Television AwardsMost Popular ActorWon
2005Doctor WhoBroadcasting Press Guild AwardBest ActorNominated
2006Doctor WhoBAFTA CymruBest ActorNominated
2007HeroesSyFy Genre AwardsBest Special GuestNominated
2011AccusedInternational Emmy AwardBest ActorWon.
2015The LeftoversSatellite AwardsBest Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or TV FilmPending.


  1. ^ Kelly, Laura (21 June 2010). "Christopher Eccleston". The Big Issue. Retrieved 22 November 2010. 
  2. ^ Alan, one of Eccleston's brothers, appears in the party scene in the film Heart. ('Doctor in the house',, 20 March 2005.)
  3. ^ a b Fanshawe, Simon, Home truths: Christopher Eccleston,, 15 January 2000.
  4. ^ "At home with Christopher Eccleston". 11 August 2006. Retrieved 12 December 2008. 
  5. ^ Cranna, Ailsa (22 December 2005). "Tsunami victims’ spirit of Salford". Retrieved 22 December 2008. 
  6. ^ "Dr Who star Christopher Eccleston: 'Reading books should be for everyone'". This Is Lancashire. 13 September 2013. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  7. ^ Jackson, Nick, "Little Hulton's reluctant film star",, 4 October 1996
  8. ^ "Some of Our Famous Alumni…"
  9. ^ "The Changing Face of Doctor Who | How to regenerate a Time Lord". BBC. Retrieved 9 January 2014. 
  10. ^ Paddy Shennan (30 November 2010). "Christopher Eccleston says Jimmy McGovern’s Hillsborough is most important work he's ever done". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 20 July 2013. 
  11. ^ Dalton, Stephen, "A one-man awkward squad", 3 February 2003
  12. ^ "BBC admits Dr Who actor blunder". BBC News (BBC). 4 April 2005. 
  13. ^ Leonard, Tom (4 October 2005). "Hamlet? Maybe not, but I'm not rubbish". The Daily Telegraph (London: Sun-Times Media Group). 
  14. ^ "Christopher Eccleston talks about Doctor Who exit". BBC News (BBC). 15 June 2010. Retrieved 15 June 2010. 
  15. ^ "Christopher Eccleston in conversation". National Theatre. July 2012. Retrieved 5 April 2013. 
  16. ^ "Matt Smith: 'Eccleston Could Return to Doctor Who'". 3 August 2012. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  17. ^ Jeffery, Morgan (5 April 2013). "'Doctor Who' 50th: BBC denies Christopher Eccleston 'quitting' rumors - Doctor Who News - Cult". Digital Spy. Retrieved 5 April 2013. 
  18. ^ Bourne, Dianne, Eccleston lends a hand, 2 November 2005.
  19. ^ "Christopher's Tsunami journey". BBC News (BBC). 14 December 2005. 
  20. ^ Thomas, Liz (7 April 2006). "Eccleston swaps time for crime in first post-Doctor drama". The Stage (The Stage Newspaper Limited). 
  21. ^ Ausiello, Michael (15 November 2006). November 2006 "Ask Ausiello". TV Guide Magazine. 
  22. ^ "Eccleston suits up for 'G.I. Joe'". The Hollywood Reporter. 12 February 2008. [dead link]
  23. ^ "Dr Who to play Lennon in new TV drama". 15 November 2009. Retrieved 28 December 2009. 
  24. ^ "Press Office - Network TV Programme Information BBC Week 25 Wednesday 23 June 2010". BBC. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  25. ^ "BBC News - Antigone: Four star reviews for Christopher Eccleston". 1 June 2012. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  26. ^ Fleming, Mike (1 August 2012). "We Have A ‘Thor 2′ Villain: Christopher Eccleston To Play Malekith The Accursed". Archived from the original on 1 August 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  27. ^ "HBO: The Leftovers: Matt Jamison: Bio". HBO. Retrieved August 1, 2014. 
  28. ^ Odell, Michael (24 December 2011). "Christopher Eccleston tells Michael Odell what makes him angry and why he said no to Hollywood". The Times (London). 
  29. ^ "Christopher Eccleston in conversation". National Theatre. 2012. Retrieved 8 December 2012. Question: Who had the most profound effect on your life, and what advice would you give to your son Albert? Eccleston: My mother and father, definitely, I had an incredibly happy childhood and loving and supportive parents, everything I've achieved in life is down to - getting a bit emotional here! - the start they gave me in life, without a doubt. My advice to Albert would be to try and get himself parents like I had. He's done it, he's got a mum like my mum. 
  30. ^ "Press Office - Accused: Christopher Eccleston plays Willy Houlihan". BBC. 26 October 2010. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  31. ^ "I'm an atheist", Heaven and Earth Show, 4 April 2005
  32. ^ My team: Christopher Eccleston on Manchester United, 7 April 2002
  33. ^ Five Minutes With: Christopher Eccleston,, 24 March 2012.
  34. ^ Pendleton College: Pendleton Theatres,
  35. ^ Celebrity Ambassadors: Christopher Eccleston,
  36. ^ Entertainment and Artists Supporters Network: Christopher Eccleston,

External links[edit]