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Christopher Eccleston ( ; born 16 February 1964) is an English stage, film and television actor. His films include Shallow Grave, Elizabeth, 28 Days Later, Gone in 60 Seconds and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. In 2005 he became the ninth incarnation of the Doctor in Doctor Who.

Early life

Born into a working-class family in Langworthy, Salfordmarker, Eccleston is the youngest of three boys. His brothers, Alan and Keith, are twins eight years his senior. The family lived in a small terraced house in Blodwell Street until the late 1960s, when they relocated to nearby Little Hultonmarker. Eccleston attended Joseph Eastham's High School, Little Hulton, where he became head boy Growing up with a love of Granada and BBC1 television, his main ambition was to play football for his beloved Manchester United. However, at the age of 19, he found himself to be a much better actor than footballer, being inspired by television dramas such as Boys from the Blackstuff. Eccleston completed a two-year Performance Foundation Course at Salford Tech, before going on to train at the Hampsteadmarker-based Central School of Speech and Drama. As an actor, his early influences had been 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 age 25, Eccleston made his professional stage debut in the Bristol Old Vicmarker'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.



Eccleston first came to public attention as Derek Bentley in the 1991 film Let Him Have It and an episode of Inspector Morse, "Second Time Around", also in 1991. However, it was a regular role in the television series Cracker (1993–94) that made him a recognisable figure in the UK. At around the same time he appeared in Agatha Christie's Poirot.

He appeared in the low-budget Danny Boyle 1994 film Shallow Grave, in which he co-starred with up-and-coming 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 would share the screen in the show with Daniel Craig, the sixth and current actor to play James Bond.

His film career has since taken off with a variety of high-profile but not — except in one or two cases — major roles, including the title role in Jude (1996) (where he shared a scene with David Tennant, his successor as the Doctor in Doctor Who), Elizabeth (1998), eXistenZ (1999), Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000), The Others (2001), 24 Hour Party People (2002) and another Danny Boyle film, the horror movie 28 Days Later (2002). He played a major role as the protagonist of Alex Cox's 2002 Revengers Tragedy, adapted from Thomas Middleton's play of the same name. He has starred alongside two major Hollywood actresses in smaller independent films, appearing opposite Renée Zellweger in A Price Above Rubies (1998) and Cameron Diaz in The Invisible Circus (2001). Despite starring in the car-heist movie Gone in 60 Seconds, he did not actually take his driving test until January 2004, and revealed on BBC's Top Gear that his licence restricts him to vehicles with automatic transmission.

He has appeared in a variety of television roles, racking up credits in British television dramas of recent years. 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 (2002), 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 also finds time for the occasional light-hearted role, however, as his guest appearances in episodes of the comedy drama Linda Green (2001) and macabre sketch show The League of Gentlemen (2002) have shown. Eccleston's most high-profile stage role has been Hamlet in the 2002 production at his favourite theatre, Leedsmarker' West Yorkshire Playhousemarker. 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, the UK's premier television awards ceremony. His first nomination came in 1997 for Our Friends in the North, when he lost out to Nigel Hawthorne (for The Fragile Heart), and he was nominated again in 2004 for The Second Coming, this time being beaten by Bill Nighy (for State of Play). He did, however, triumph in the Best Actor categories at the 1997 Broadcasting Press Guild Awards and the Royal Television Society Awards, winning for Our Friends in the North. He won the RTS Best Actor award for a second time in 2003, this 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)

On 20 March 2004, it was announced that Eccleston was to play the ninth incarnation of the Doctor in the revival of the legendary BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who, which began transmission on 26 March 2005. He was considered by many fans to be well suited to the role and praised for his ability to switch seamlessly between being humorous and playful to deadly serious.

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, 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.

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". Ten days later, Eccleston told The Daily Mirror this was not true, and expressed some irritation at Davies for his comments.

On 7 November 2008, at the National Theatremarker 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.

Eccleston was very touched by the response he received from children for his role as the Ninth Doctor. He said "In all the 20 years I've been acting, I've never enjoyed a response so much as the one I've had from children and I'm carrying that in my heart forever..."

Post-Doctor Who

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.

In December 2005, Eccleston traveled to Indonesiamarker's Acehmarker province for the BBC Breakfast news programme, examining how survivors of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunamimarker were rebuilding their lives.

In May 2006, Eccleston 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 Orleansmarker, it is currently in post-production and scheduled for a 2008 release. Late in 2006 he starred in Perfect Parents, an ITV drama written and directed by Joe Ahearne, who had directed him in Doctor Who.

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.

Eccleston appeared as The Rider in a film adaptation of Susan Cooper's novel The Dark Is Rising, which opened in the U.S. 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. He also appeared as the villainous Destro in the live-action G.I. Joe film: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

Eccleston also appeared in an episode of The Sarah Silverman Program as the title character in a show within the show about a cult favourite science fiction hero, possibly in reference to his stint as The Doctor in Doctor Who. In November 2009, Eccleston was reported to have been cast as John Lennon in a BBC production called John Lennon - Naked

Personal life

Although describing his mother as "very religious, a churchgoer" who would "often encourage me to go… but never forced it upon me", Eccleston is an atheist. A lifelong supporter of Manchester United FC, he is a regular marathon runner and usually enters a number of races each year. Eccleston is 188 cm tall and unmarried, but was in a relationship with the actress Siwan Morris which ended in 2005. In September 2007, as part of their £9.5m build scheme, Salford's Pendleton College named their new 260-seat theatre 'The Eccleston Theatre' after him.

Charity work
Eccleston is an avid charity worker and became a Mencap charity ambassador on 28 April 2005. He is also a celebrity supporter of the British Red Cross

Notable roles


Year Title Role
1991 Let Him Have It Derek Bentley
1992 Death and the Compass Alonso Zunz
1993 Anchoress Priest
1994 Shallow Grave David
1996 Jude Jude Fawley
1998 Elizabeth Duke of Norfolk
A Price Above Rubies Sender Horowitz
1999 Heart Gary Ellis
eXistenZ Seminar Leader
With or Without You Vincent Boyd
2000 Gone in Sixty Seconds Raymond Calitri
2001 The Others Charles Stewart
The Invisible Circus Wolf
2002 24 Hour Party People Boethius
I Am Dina Leo Zukowskij
Revengers Tragedy Vindici
28 Days Later Major Henry West
2007 The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising The Rider
2008 New Orleans, Mon Amour Dr. Jekyll
2009 G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra James McCullen/Destro
Amelia Fred Noonan
2011 G.I. Joe 2: The Revenge of Cobra James McCullen/Destro


Year Title Role Notes
1990 Blood Rights Dick
Casualty Stephen Hills
1991 Inspector Morse Terrence Mitchell Written by Danny Boyle
Chancer Radio
Boon Mark
1992 Rachel's Dream Man in Dream
Poirot (One, Two, Buckle My Shoe) Frank Carter
Friday on my Mind Sean Maddox
Business with Friends Angel Morris
1993 Cracker DCI David Bilborough Written by Jimmy McGovern
1995 Hearts and Minds Drew Mackenzie Written by Jimmy McGovern
1996 Our Friends in the North Nicky Hutchinson Written by Peter Flannery
Hillsborough Trevor Hicks Written by Jimmy McGovern
1999 "Killing Time - The Millennium Poem" Millennium Man Poem written by Simon Armitage
2000 The Tyre Salesman Written by Simon Armitage and Brian Hill
Wilderness Men Alexander Von Humboldt
Clocking Off Jim Calvert Written by Paul Abbott
2001 This Little Piggy Cabbie Short by Chris McHallem
Strumpet Stray Man Written by Jim Cartwright
DVD was released in May 2006.
Linda Green Tom Sherry/Neil Sherry Written by Paul Abbott
2002 The League of Gentlemen Dougal Siepp Appeared in "How the Elephant Got Its Trunk", Series 3, Episode 6
Flesh and Blood Joe Broughton Written by Peter Bowker
Othello Ben Jago Written by Andrew Davies, based on the play by William Shakespeare
Sunday General Ford Written by Jimmy McGovern
The King and Us Anthony Written by Peter Bowker
2003 I Am Kloot - "Proof" Music video for band Directed by Krishna Stott
The Second Coming Stephen Baxter Written by Russell T Davies
2005 Doctor Who The Doctor Written by Russell T Davies, Mark Gatiss, Rob Shearman, Paul Cornell and Steven Moffat
2006 Perfect Parents Stuart Written and directed by Joe Ahearne
2007 Heroes Claude Written by Tim Kring
2008 The Sarah Silverman Program Dr. Lazer Rage Written By Jon Schroeder

Radio and narration

  • Room of Leaves (Frank) (1998)
  • Pig Paradise (Jack) (1998)
  • Some Fantastic Place (Narrator) (2001)
  • Bayeux Tapestry (Harold) (2001)
  • The Importance of Being Morrissey (Narrator) (2002)
  • Iliad (Achilles) (2002)
  • Cromwell - Warts and All (Narrator) (2003)
  • Life Half Spent (Roger) (2004)
  • Crossing the Dark Sea (Squaddie) (2005)
  • Sacred Nation (Narrator) (2005)
  • Born to be Different (Narrator) (2005)
  • A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (Brian) (2005)
  • E=mc² (Narrator) (2005)
  • Dubai Dreams (Narrator) (2005)
  • Wanted: New Mum and Dad (Narrator) (2005)
  • Children in Need (Narrator) (2005)
  • This Sceptred Isle (Various Characters) (2005)
  • The 1970s: That Was The Decade That was (Narrator) (2006)
  • The Devil's Christmas (Narrator) (2008)
  • Wounded (Narrator) (2009)


  • A Streetcar Named Desire (Pablo Gonzallez) (1988)- Bristol Old Vic
  • Woyzeck (Woyzeck) - Birmingham Rep
  • The Wonder - Gate Theatre
  • Dona Rosita, The Spinster - Bristol Old Vic
  • Bent (1990) - National Theatre
  • Abingdon Square (1990) - National Theatre/Shared Experience
  • Aide-Memoire (1990) - Royal Court Theatre
  • Encounters - National Theatre Studio
  • Waiting At The Water's Edge (Will) (1993) - Bush Theatre
  • Miss Julie (Jean) (2000) - Haymarket Theatre
  • Hamlet (Hamlet) (2002) - West Yorkshire Playhouse
  • Electricity (Jakey) (2004) - West Yorkshire Playhouse
  • A Doll's House (Neil Kelman) (2009) - Donmar Warehouse


Film & television: awards and nominations

References and notes

External links

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