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How The Ninth Doctor Stipped Away “The Rubbish” Of Previous Time Lords Explained By Showrunner

Summary

  • Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper’s portrayal of the Doctor and Rose on Doctor Who shattered the public’s preconceived notion of the Time Lord as pompous and posh.
  • Eccleston’s working-class background and use of his natural northern accent showcased a new, relatable side to the Doctor.
  • Through their performances, Eccleston and Piper helped audiences become invested in the show’s revival, and they remain one of the most important pieces of Doctor Who history.


Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies looks back on how Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper’s first season shifted perceptions of the show. Davies first helped revive the classic sci-fi series with a new 21st-century continuation in 2005, years after its 1989 cancellation brought the classic era to a close. Eccleston was cast as the Ninth Doctor following his work on Davies’ previous series The Second Coming, playing a Doctor scarred by war whose sense of hope and adventure is revived through his new journeys.

As Davies prepares to usher in a new era of Doctor Who led by Ncuti Gatwa, the showrunner reflected on first taking the helm of the series in the early 2000s when looking back on his career in the BBC’s Imagine… Russell T Davies: The Doctor and Me documentary (via RadioTimes). Davies stated that part of his duties in reviving Doctor Who saw him cast off preconceptions of the show, with Eccleston’s working-class background and Piper’s surprising acting debut quickly altering how the public saw it. Check out Davies’ explanation below:

I had to keep all the good iconography but dust off all the rubbish. Part of the rubbish was kind of pompousness around the character. He’s a Time Lord, so in people’s minds, he’s become a lord, someone loquacious and pompous and ostentatious and posh. So Chris singlehandedly, in one moment, shook that off. You forget, 2005, 2004, people were laughing, going, ‘Oh, you’ve cast that pop star. What’s Billie Piper like?’ Like, thinking she’d be dreadful. I can remember all of us on the production having this massive silent smile thinking, ‘You wait. You wait ’til you see her. It’s phenomenal.’


How Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor Shattered How The Public Saw The Time Lord

The Ninth Doctor confronts a Dalek in Doctor Who.

At the time of his Doctor Who tenure, Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor stood out when compared to the incarnations that came before him. Previously, the Doctor could be seen as more of an upper-class hero, not only because of his Time Lord title, but also due to many of the previous actors dressing in fine clothes and speaking with a more posh accent. As such, Eccleston being allowed to use his natural northern accent and donning a more casual ensemble shook off the image that the Doctor was as representative of an upper-class authority figure.

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The Ninth Doctor’s characterization would further distinguish him, as while the Doctor had previously amassed some guilt over losses, Nine was introduced as a deeply wounded hero. Left reeling from the Time War that destroyed his people, the Doctor had to cope with what he had lost across Doctor Who season 1, recovering from the horrors of war and accepting that second chances can happen, and with enough effort, everyone can live. As such, the Doctor is given a deeply personal arc across his entire on-screen lifespan.

Doctor Who‘s revival was a gamble in 2005, needing to shake off the reputation its 16-year absence had brought and prove those who previously ridiculed it wrong. While Davies’ storytelling helped, both Eccleston and Piper’s portrayal of the Doctor and Rose helped audiences become invested in the fates of strange new worlds, and the horrors and wonders dotted across the universe. Because of that, Eccleston’s Doctor Who tenure remains one of the single most important moments in the franchise’s 60-year history.

Eccleston and Piper’s Doctor Who adventures can be streamed on Max for US viewers, and on BBC iPlayer in the UK.

Source: Imagine… Russell T Davies: The Doctor and Me (via RadioTimes)

Doctor Who Poster

Doctor Who

Originally premiered in 1963, Doctor Who is a sci-fi series that follows a powerful being known as a Time Lord, referred to as the Doctor. Using an interdimensional time-traveling ship known as the TARDIS, the Doctor travels time and space with various companions as they solve multiple problems and help avert catastrophe as much as they almost cause it. Though the Doctor is always the same character, they experience regenerations, allowing them to be recast every few seasons as a unique immortal being with new personality traits.

Release Date
November 23, 1963

Seasons
26

Franchise
Doctor Who

Story By
Sydney Newman C. E. Webber Donald Wilson

Writers
Mark Gatiss , Toby Whithouse , Neil Cross , Steven Moffat , Chris Chibnall

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