‘Doctor Who’ 50th Anniversary and Why Christopher Eccleston Wasn’t In It

The 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who, “The Day of The Doctor” was a very special event for fans. Many are probably wondering, however, why Christopher Eccleston wasn’t in the episode. Fans would have probably loved to see him return as the Ninth Doctor.

He was offered to play the role again for the 50th Anniversary episode, but ultimately he declined. Why? Well, you’re about to find out.

Why did Christopher Eccleston leave ‘Doctor Who’?

Christopher Eccleston of Doctor Who
Christopher Eccleston signs autographs at New York Comic Con | Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for ReedPOP

We’ve gone into the reasons why before so we won’t spend much time on it here. It’s just important to know that his experience on the show wasn’t as pleasant as fans would want it to be. He suffered a lot while filming the show, which many fans would be surprised by.

Doctor Who should be a welcoming show for everyone, yet that wasn’t Eccleston’s experience. Though we want to make clear that this is not the fans’ fault. This specifically has to do with what went on during the filming of the first season.

Why wasn’t Eccleston in the ‘Doctor Who’ 50th Anniversary?

He was offered the role again but said no. However, he does love Doctor Who. So why’d he refuse? Well, we’ll let you read it from the actor himself.

According to Eccleston, “when [he] read [the script, he] felt that it was basically [him], Matt [Smith] and Dave [David Tennant] riffing off the fact that we used to be the Doctors.” Though that may sound somewhat fun for some fans, others might understand where the actor is coming from. He might have wanted some more from the script, creatively.

The actor goes on to say that “[he] personally didn’t feel like the narrative was strong enough, particularly for the Ninth Doctor.” That’s an understandable reason to say no. As an actor, you want the character you’re playing to be fully respected.

What did the show do instead?

The showrunner at the time, Steven Moffat, must have wondered what to do. With Eccleston saying no, there would have to be some other way to do the episode. Fortunately, the show found one in John Hurt.

Hurt portrays another, secret incarnation of the Doctor known as the War Doctor. This incarnation of the Doctor has to make hard choices to end the Time War. He decides to destroy both the Daleks and the Time Lords in order to end the war. However, at the last second, the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors change his mind and hide the planet of Gallifrey in time, rather than destroying it.

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It’s hard to believe that Doctor Who has been on for over 50 years. Who knows? One day we may celebrate the show’s 100th anniversary. That would really be something.

It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds, because the show has gone on this long. Even if it did have another long hiatus, the show would probably eventually return in some form. Fans love Doctor Who and would love to see another 50 years. Perhaps Christopher Eccleston will return then.

You never know. Stranger things have happened, including Doctor Who almost being an entirely different show. Fans all love Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor and hope that perhaps one day he will return to the role.