When people were first telling me about the show and that I should watch it, very few people said anything great about Eccelston in the role. Oh, just get through the first season, and then the show gets great. Well, on that I agree. But then again, it's the show itself that becomes better, as both writers and directors were getting the feet underneath them and understanding what this new incarnation of the Doctor would be. I thought Eccleston's Doctor was spirited and in command, adding just enough of the manic energy and drive that would characterize Tennant's run while adding his own flavor that still stands out. In a way, Eccelston was the baseline the others have followed. I think he was much better than Matt Smith's weedy, weak-willed version. I don't like him much at all, sorry. The less said about Rory and Amy Pond the better. Ugh.
Though initially Eccelston said he left so as not to be typecast, he recently sated this:
I left Doctor Who because I could not get along with the senior people. I left because of politics. I did not see eye-to-eye with them. I didn't agree with the way things were being run. I didn’t like the culture that had grown up around the series. So I left, I felt, over a principle. I thought to remain, which would have made me a lot of money and given me huge visibility, the price I would have had to pay was to eat a lot of shit. I'm not being funny about that. I didn’t want to do that and it comes to the art of it, in a way. I feel that if you run your career and... we are vulnerable as actors and we are constantly humiliating ourselves auditioning. But if you allow that to go on, on a grand scale you will lose whatever it is about you and it will be present in your work.
Ouch. I think it's gutsy for him to say this. It's surprising because the show seemed to pick up steam after his departure; it doesn't feel like there were production/creative issues going on. Of course, I wasn't there during any of it so who knows? The number of actors that have "sold out" creatively is long and disreputable. I respect that he was able to step away and do what he thought was right. A lot of actors landing a role like this would not be able to do that.
So was he right to take a bow after only 13 episodes? Is the show better without him? Could the producers/powers-that-be have pushed him out? Sound off below.