The Ninth Doctor is back! Big Finish has announced the surprise return of Christopher Eccleston, who will be reprising his role in a 12-part audio series entitled The Ninth Doctor Adventures.
“After 15 years it will be exciting to revisit the Ninth Doctor’s world, bringing back to life a character I love playing,” the actor said in the press release.
While the announcement didn’t reveal any storylines or other cast details for the series, it did shed some light on how Eccleston’s return to the franchise came to be. Apparently, the talks began at the Gallifrey One convention in February, where Big Finish chairman Jason Haigh-Ellery said he first approached the actor about resurrecting the role.
“Christopher said he was enjoying meeting the fans and was pleased that his Doctor was remembered so fondly,” Haigh-Ellery said in the press release.
The production company has also yet to unveil the series’ full line-up of writers, but it appears as though frequent Who collaborator Nicholas Briggs, who is now the creative director of Big Finish, will be one of them.
“Working with Chris was a very special time for me. The beginning of my Doctor Who TV career,” Briggs said in the press release. “So, writing for and directing him feels incredibly exciting. He’s such a powerful performer and it’ll be amazing to work with him again.”
Eccleston famously departed the Doctor Who revival after playing the Doctor’s ninth incarnation for just one season. While his reason for leaving remained a secret for quite some time, the actor revealed during an acting masterclass in 2011, according to Bad Wilf, per The Guardian, that he left “because of politics” and over a disagreement with the show’s culture and “the way things were being run.”
In the years since, Eccleston has opened up about the circumstances surrounding his short-lived but much-beloved tenure on the show.
“What happened around Doctor Who almost destroyed my career,” the actor told The Guardian in 2018. “I gave them a hit show and I left with dignity and then they put me on a blacklist. I was carrying my own insecurities as it was something I had never done before and then I was abandoned, vilified in the tabloid press and blacklisted. I was told by my agent at the time: ‘The BBC regime is against you. You’re going to have to get out of the country and wait for regime change.’”
The Big Finish series is the actor’s first return to Doctor Who, but he came pretty close in 2013, during the show’s 50th anniversary. During New York Comic-Con 2019, he said that originally the special would have seen the return of himself, David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor, and Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor. However, he “personally didn’t feel the narrative was strong enough,” ultimately agreeing that the new version, which replaced him with John Hurt’s War Doctor, was better.
In the same panel, he also talked about his favorite episodes to shoot and his characterization for the role, revealing that role of the Doctor taught him the most about being an actor.
“If someone asks me to kiss their ass, I bite it, that’s what I learned about myself,” he said at the time, adding, “The thing is, if you lose your confidence, once you get it back you know you’ll never lose it again.”