Christopher Eccleston

Christopher Eccleston

Eccleston in 2013
Born (1964-02-16) 16 February 1964
Salford, Lancashire, England
Occupation Actor
Years active 1988–present
Spouse(s) Mischka (m. 2011; div. 2015)[1]
Children 2[2]

Christopher Eccleston (/ˈɛkəlstən/; born 16 February 1964) is an English actor. Eccleston played the Ninth Doctor in the British television series Doctor Who and is currently on the American drama 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. Other British television series he has appeared in include Cracker, Fortitude and The Shadow Line.

More recently, Eccleston is starring in the 2016 drama The A Word about a young boy with autism, in which he plays the boy's grandfather.

Early life

Born into a working-class family in Langworthy, Salford, Lancashire, Eccleston is the youngest of three sons of Elsie and Ronnie Eccleston.[3] His brothers, Alan and Keith, are twins, eight years his senior.[4][5] The family lived in a small terraced house in Blodwell Street, before moving to Little Hulton when Eccleston was seven months old.[2][6][7] Eccleston attended Joseph Eastham High School, where he became head boy.[8] 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[9] before going on to train at the Central School of Speech and Drama.[10] 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.[11]


Early work (1991–2005)

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.[12] 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 wedding in March 2009.[13]

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.[14] 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)

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.[15]

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".[16] In a 2010 interview, Eccleston said 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.[17]

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.[18] 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.[19] However, after discussing with executive producer Steven Moffat, Eccleston declined his role.[20]

Recent works (2005–present)

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.[21] 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.[22]

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.[23] 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.[24] 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.[25] 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,[26][27] 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".[28]

In 2013, Eccleston portrayed the villainous Malekith in Thor: The Dark World, the sequel to Thor and the eighth instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.[29] Starting in 2014, he has portrayed the recurring character The Reverend Matt Jamison on the HBO drama series The Leftovers.[30]

Personal life

Eccleston married Mischka in November 2011.[31] They had their first child, Albert, in February 2012.[32][33] Their second child, Esme, was born in 2013.[34] They were divorced in December 2015.[35]

Eccleston formerly identified as an atheist,[36] but in 2016 gave interviews describing his changing attitude towards faith and stated that he no longer considered himself an atheist.[37]

He is a supporter of Manchester United[38] and was a regular marathon runner until 2000.[5][39]

In September 2007, as part of a £9.5m building scheme, Salford's Pendleton College named its new 260-seat auditorium the Eccleston Theatre.[40]

Eccleston is an avid charity worker, becoming a Mencap charity ambassador on 28 April 2005,[41] and is also a supporter of the British Red Cross.[42] He also supports research for Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia; his father, Ronnie, suffered from vascular dementia in his later years, until his death in 2012.[43]



Year Title Role Notes
1991 Let Him Have It Derek Bentley
1992 Death and the Compass Alonso Zunz
1993 Anchoress Priest
1994 Shallow Grave David Stephens
1996 Jude Jude Fawley
1998 Elizabeth Duke of Norfolk
1998 A Price Above Rubies Sender Horowitz
1999 Heart Gary Ellis
1999 eXistenZ Seminar Leader
1999 With or Without You Vincent Boyd
2000 Gone in 60 Seconds Raymond Calitri
2000 The Tyre Salesman Short film
2001 The Others Charles Stewart
2001 The Invisible Circus Wolf
2001 This Little Piggy Cabbie Short film
2001 Strumpet Strayman
2002 24 Hour Party People Boethius
2002 I Am Dina Leo Zhukovsky
2002 Revengers Tragedy Vindici
2002 28 Days Later Major Henry West
2007 The Seeker The Rider
2008 New Orleans, Mon Amour Dr. Henry
2009 G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra James McCullen / Destro
2009 Amelia Fred Noonan
2009 The Happiness Salesman Salesman Short film
2012 Song for Marion James Harris
2013 Thor: The Dark World Malekith
2015 Legend Leonard "Nipper" Read


Year Title Role Notes
1990 Blood Rights Dick Episode #1.1
1990 Casualty Stephen Hills Episode: " A Reasonable Man"
1991 Inspector Morse Terrence Mitchell Episode: "Second Time Around"
1991 Chancer Radio Episode: "Jo"
1991 Boon Mark Episode: "Cover Up"
1992 Rachel's Dream Man in Dream Television short
1992 Poirot Frank Carter Episode: "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe"
1992 Friday on my Mind Sean Maddox 3 episodes
1992 Business with Friends Angel Morris Television film
1993–1994 Cracker DCI David Bilborough 10 episodes
1995 Hearts and Minds Drew Mackenzie 4 episodes
1996 Our Friends in the North Nicky Hutchinson 9 episodes
1996 Hillsborough Trevor Hicks Television film
1999 Killing Time – The Millennium Poem Millennium Man
2000 Wilderness Men Alexander Von Humboldt 3 episodes
2000 Clocking Off Jim Calvert 2 episodes
2001 Othello Ben Jago Television film
2001 Linda Green Tom Sherry / Neil Sherry Episode: "Twins"
2002 The League of Gentlemen Dougal Siepp Episode: "How the Elephant Got Its Trunk"
2002 Flesh and Blood Joe Broughton Television film
2002 The King and Us Anthony Television film
2002 Sunday General Ford Television film
2003 The Second Coming Stephen Baxter 2 episodes
2005 Doctor Who The Doctor 13 episodes
2006 Perfect Parents Stuart Television film
2007 Heroes Claude 5 episodes
2008 The Sarah Silverman Program Dr. Lazer Rage Episode: "I Thought My Dad Was Dead, But It Turns Out He's Not"
2010 Lennon Naked John Lennon Television film
2010 Accused Willy Houlihan Episode: "Willy's Story"
2011 The Shadow Line Joseph Bede 7 episodes
2011 The Borrowers Pod Clock Television film
2012 Blackout Daniel Demoys 3 episodes
2013 Lucan John Aspinall 2 episodes
2014–present The Leftovers Matt Jamison
2015 Fortitude Professor Stoddart 3 episodes
2015 Safe House Robert 4 episodes
2016 The A Word Maurice Scott 6 episodes, BBC Wales

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2015 Lego Dimensions The Doctor Voice; archive sound


Year Title Role Notes
1988 A Streetcar Named Desire Pablo Gonzalez Bristol Old Vic
1989 Dona Rosita the Spinster Phyllida Lloyd Bristol Old Vic
1990 Bent Royal National Theatre
1990 Abingdon Square Royal National Theatre
1990 Aide-Memoire Royal Court Theatre
1993 Waiting at the Water's Edge Will Bush Theatre
2000 Miss Julie Jean Haymarket Theatre
2002 Hamlet Hamlet West Yorkshire Playhouse
2004 Electricity Jakey West Yorkshire Playhouse
2009 A Doll's House Neil Kelman Donmar Warehouse
2012 Antigone Creon Royal National Theatre

Performances with unknown dates

Music videos

Year Artist Title
2003 I Am Kloot "Proof"
2010 I Am Kloot "Northern Skies"

Radio and narration

Year Title Role
1998 Room of Leaves Frank
1998 Pig Paradise Jack
2001 Some Fantastic Place Narrator
2001 Bayeux Tapestry Harold
2002 The Importance of Being Morrissey Narrator
2002 Iliad Achilles
2003 Cromwell – Warts and All Narrator
2004 Life Half Spent Roger
2005 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
2006 The 1970s: That Was The Decade That Was Narrator
2008 The Devil's Christmas Narrator
2009 Wounded Narrator
2011 The Bomb Squad Narrator
2012 Timeshift: Wrestling's Golden Age: Grapplers, Grunts & Grannies Narrator

Awards and nominations

Year Work Award Category Result
1997 Jude Golden Satellite Award Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama Nominated
Our Friends in the North BAFTA Television Award Best Actor Nominated
Broadcasting Press Guild Award Best Actor Won
2003 Flesh and Blood Royal Television Society Award Best Actor Won
2004 The Second Coming BAFTA Television Award Best Actor Nominated
2005 Doctor Who TV Choice Award Best Actor Won
National Television Awards Most Popular Actor Won
Broadcasting Press Guild Award Best Actor Nominated
2006 BAFTA Cymru Best Actor Nominated
2007 Heroes SyFy Genre Awards Best Special Guest Nominated
2011 Accused International Emmy Award Best Actor Won
2015 The Leftovers Satellite Award Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries, or Television Film Nominated
Critics' Choice Television Award Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
2016 Critics' Choice Television Award Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Nominated


  1. Shahid, Sharnaz (16 December 2015). "Christopher Eccleston is granted a 'quickie' divorce from his wife of four years over her 'unreasonable behaviour'". Daily Mail. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  2. 1 2 Donnelly, Claire (17 April 2015). "Christopher Eccleston: My family values". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  3. Kelly, Laura (21 June 2010). "Christopher Eccleston". The Big Issue. Archived from the original on 27 October 2010. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  4. Alan, one of Eccleston's brothers, appears in the party scene in the film Heart. ('Doctor in the house',, 20 March 2005.)
  5. 1 2 Fanshawe, Simon, Home truths: Christopher Eccleston,, 15 January 2000.
  6. "At home with Christopher Eccleston". 11 August 2006. Retrieved 12 December 2008.
  7. Cranna, Ailsa (22 December 2005). "Tsunami victims' spirit of Salford". Retrieved 22 December 2008.
  8. "Dr Who star Christopher Eccleston: 'Reading books should be for everyone'". This Is Lancashire. 13 September 2013. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
  9. Jackson, Nick, "Little Hulton's reluctant film star",, 4 October 1996
  10. "Some of Our Famous Alumni…" Archived 16 July 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. "Christopher Eccleston: I hope I'll be remembered for Doctor Who - but I don't watch it".
  12. "The Changing Face of Doctor Who | How to regenerate a Time Lord". BBC. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  13. 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.
  14. Dalton, Stephen, "A one-man awkward squad", 3 February 2003
  15. "BBC admits Dr Who actor blunder". BBC News. BBC. 4 April 2005.
  16. Leonard, Tom (4 October 2005). "Hamlet? Maybe not, but I'm not rubbish". The Daily Telegraph. London: Sun-Times Media Group.
  17. "Christopher Eccleston talks about Doctor Who exit". BBC News. BBC. 15 June 2010. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
  18. "Christopher Eccleston in conversation". National Theatre. July 2012. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
  19. "Matt Smith: 'Eccleston Could Return to Doctor Who'". 3 August 2012. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  20. Jeffery, Morgan (5 April 2013). "'Doctor Who' 50th: BBC denies Christopher Eccleston 'quitting' rumors – Doctor Who News – Cult". Digital Spy. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
  21. Bourne, Dianne, Eccleston lends a hand, 2 November 2005.
  22. "Christopher's Tsunami journey". BBC News. BBC. 14 December 2005.
  23. Thomas, Liz (7 April 2006). "Eccleston swaps time for crime in first post-Doctor drama". The Stage. The Stage Newspaper Limited.
  24. Ausiello, Michael (15 November 2006). "Ask Ausiello". TV Guide Magazine.
  25. "Eccleston suits up for 'G.I. Joe'". The Hollywood Reporter. 12 February 2008.
  26. "Dr Who to play Lennon in new TV drama". 15 November 2009. Retrieved 28 December 2009.
  27. "Press Office – Network TV Programme Information BBC Week 25 Wednesday 23 June 2010". BBC. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  28. "BBC News – Antigone: Four star reviews for Christopher Eccleston". 1 June 2012. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  29. 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.
  30. "HBO: The Leftovers: Matt Jamison: Bio". HBO. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  31. Duncan, Andrew (20 April 2015). "Christopher Eccleston: I hope I'll be remembered for Doctor Who – but I don't watch it". The Radio Times.
  32. Odell, Michael (24 December 2011). "Christopher Eccleston tells Michael Odell what makes him angry and why he said no to Hollywood". The Times. London.
  33. "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.
  34. Donnelly, Claire (17 April 2015). "Christopher Eccleston: My family values". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
  35. Finnigan, Lexi (16 December 2015). "Christopher Eccleston granted quickie divorce from wife Mischka in just two minutes". The Telegraph. London.
  36. "Press Office – Accused: Christopher Eccleston plays Willy Houlihan". BBC. 26 October 2010. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
  37. Gross, Terry (11 July 2016). "Christopher Eccleston On 'The A Word,' And Rethinking His Faith After 'The Leftovers'". Fresh Air.
  38. My team: Christopher Eccleston on Manchester United, 7 April 2002
  39. Five Minutes With: Christopher Eccleston,, 24 March 2012.
  40. Pendleton College: Pendleton Theatres,
  41. Celebrity Ambassadors: Christopher Eccleston,
  42. Entertainment and Artists Supporters Network: Christopher Eccleston,
  43. Christopher Eccleston: 'Dementia dismantled my father's personality' The Guardian, 31 May 2015

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