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Last Updated: Monday, 5 July 2004, 08:59 GMT 09:59 UK
Doctor Who actor wants 'emotion'
Christopher Eccleston
Christopher Eccleston will become the ninth Doctor Who
Actor Christopher Eccleston, who has been chosen to play the new Doctor Who, has said he wants the Time Lord to show more "feelings and emotions".

Eccleston, 40, told Doctor Who Magazine he wanted the show to move away from "spooky escapism".

The actor said he wanted to give the role "weight and ambiguity".

The new series of the veteran sci-fi show will be screened next year, and is being written by Queer as Folk writer Russell T Davies.

Doctor Who, originally played by William Hartnell, began in 1963. Seven actors played the doctor before the show was axed in 1989.

Eccleston, who made his name is shows such as Cracker and Our Friends in the North, said he had been influenced by the doctor's second incarnation, played by Patrick Troughton.


He said he had found Troughton's performance "compelling and a little bit frightening".

He said he wanted to move the role away from his "foppish image and find a more modern hero". The actor said he wanted to concentrate more on the part's "melancholy side".

The actor said the Daleks were "vulnerable" villains

The actor also told the magazine that he had been offered the role of the doctor for a movie eight years ago but had turned it down because he thought it might typecast him.

Paul McGann, one of the stars of the cult film Withnail and I, played the eighth incarnation for the 1996 film.

He told the magazine one of his most important memories of the show as a child was when viewers saw what was inside the casing of the doctor's arch-enemies, the Daleks.

"This great, cold steel instrument of destruction, all that casing, all that armour, is actually to protect this very vulnerable, strange, frightened creature," he said.

Do you agree with Eccleston? Should the new Doctor show more emotion? Tell BBC News Online what you think.

I think it great that Dr Who is coming back next year. I think Bilie Piper is excellent choice to play the assistant.
Alex , Rotherham

I think there should be a combination of the old and modern. It's important that the new doctor show feelings and emotions but to also retain some of the old quintenssential attributes of previous doctors, particularly Pertwee and Baker.
Desmond Rakhaly, Sandwell

I'm absolutely delighted to hear that Dr. Who is coming back, & even more glad Eccleston has cited Patrick Troughton for influence.Despite him being before my time, I saw his episodes on repeats, & he became my favourite! If Eccleston can be half the Doctor Troughton was, he'll be an instant success.
Marcus, Peterborough, UK

I used to sit in front of my TV every night at 6 PM waiting for the latest chapter of Dr. Who on PBS when I was growing up. I never got to see the last few seasons of the first series, but the TV movie was horrid. I like the idea of Eccleston and do like the idea that he'll add another dimension to the Doctor. But there's no reason a little campiness and humour can't be included either - if the writing is good the combination works really well. TV's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" was a great example of socially relevant, yet escapist at the same time, humor with a dark edge.
Andrew Ray, San Diego, CA, USA

Across the pond there is the dream/wish that the Tom Baker era can be recreated. Dr. Baker was able to provide that incongruity of absentmindedness to a humorous level that other Doctors couldn't. We need another physicist who can't keeep his shoes tied.
A Masterton, Tallahassee US

Please BBC, with a great talent like Eccleston on board, please do not skimp on the script or the CGI..... then maybe we will have another Great British export.
Mark Owen, Abergele, Wales

Feelings and emotion are all very well and good, and indeed are a solid basis on which to build any character, but I think one must never forget the essential larger-than-life nature of the Doctor. He is a mythic hero in every sense of the word.
Brad, Iowa City, USA

From what we have seen so far from Eccleston I don't believe we need worry too much about americanisation or the sacrine-sweet sentimentality that later Star Treks were prone to abuse viewers with. Dr. Who still is a fabulous vehicle for the imagination, BBC still knows what it's doing, Eccleston is unarguably immensely talented. I say trust them and look forward to 2005.
Lee Lambert, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

I agree totally. If you take the original concept of Star Trek, for instance and then compare it to its various spin offs, it is the characterisation that improved and in many ways carried the franchise so far - in particular with regards to Patrick Stewart. If the Doctor seeks longevity then he will have to find depth of character to carry it off. Go Chris go.
Al Stevenson, Aberdeen, Scotland

Technology has surpassed what we once thought was frightening. We have all grown much thicker skin in this day and age. Children too have become more desensitised. Today's audience would probably find it hard to relate to a cyber man in cricket pads. It would appear laughable. It would take intuitive writing to create something interesting from the old series, I always thought the show was toungue-in-cheek anyway!
Liam Collins, London

The trusted old formula did not work in 1989 when the programme was canned. If you want the same old Doctor Who then watch the repeats on UK Gold. The programme needs new depth if it is going to get past it's first series. All I can say is good luck to Chris and the new production team.
Simon D, Swindon, UK

Most of these comments seem to be harping on about the programme remaining the same - it has to develop, change and move on. It was entrenched attutudes like your previous correspondents that led to the programme's demise in the first place. Personally, I think Eccleston is a hugely brave and intelligent choice - The Doctor should always be played by someone who is an actor first and "personality" second, unlike some of his predecessors.
Andy Johnston, Scotland

I'm surprised at the balance of negative comments so far. As the brainchild of the prophet of "agitational contemporaneity" on British television, Sydney Newman, it shouldn't be surprising that Doctor Who for much of its history always had a social conscience and an awareness of the society which gave birth to it - Christopher Eccleston could be said to be returning the character to its roots.
Matthew, Woodstock, UK

I am very much looking forward to the new series but am also concerned that a misguided attempt to make the characters "21st Century" or "relevant" will render the result unwatchable - as has been said before there is actually nothing wrong with escapism provided it is done with rock solid scripting. Doctor Who has attempted to be "relevant" before, providing supposedly streetwise teenage characters etc - normally with very embarrassing results.
Damian M, London

I can't wait for the new series. Doctor Who for a new generation. I disagree with people saying it should stay the same - that's why it was cancelled in the first place. The series needs to move forward. Chris, Russell and the team deserve all our support. I await every day with baited breath for more news of the series - I wish they would make an announcement regarding the casting of Rose.
Richard Collins, Ringmer, England

Christopher Eccleston has proven himself over the years to be a truly outstanding actor, and I feel he will do the Dr Who character proud. I think he will inject some personality and charisma into the series and I for one can't wait to see what this talented man will do for Dr Who.
Dee Goodliffe, Newry, Northern Ireland

Yes and no. Until we see his interpretation of the Doctor, it's impossible to make a sensible evaluation. If by "showing more feelings and emotions" he means he's going to lift Doctor Who out of the realms of Christmas pantomime acting that it was in it's last years, and he wants to give it more gravitas, yes. If, instead, he ends up giving it the Star Trek disease, and turns it into a soap opera, emphatically no. For today's audience I believe the show will have to be played straight, sometimes with some whimsy, but any campiness will lead to a swift descent, soon followed by cancellation.
Ron Demkiw, Sydney Australia

I agree with Christopher Eccleston. The Doctor's alienness is best shown by stressing his humanity. The new series needs humour but it would be a mistake playing it for laughs. Good luck to all the team, I am really looking forward to it.
Colin Lewisohn, Leeds

In a nutshell, no. Why change a trusted formula when it has worked for so many years. Sure enough, the programme needs a much larger budget to continue in the 21st Century, but if Mr Eccleston wants to add "weight and ambiguity" to a character, I wish he would choose another role to do so.
Steven Hudson, Clacton Essex

I'm very worried about this new Doctor. As a lifelong fan I would not like to see his past incarnations and history totally trashed to make him more 'relevant'. What ever happened to simple escapism and 'hide behind the sofa' scares? Do we always have to let the revisionists loose on programmes like Doctor Who?

I thought the film with Paul McGann was a disaster - I only managed to sit through about 3/4 of it and that only with gritted teeth. Paul McGann was a good choice but it could have been any sort of americanised drama/cop shop. Doctor Who, like a lot of cult TV is unique and shouldn't be messed about with I hope Christopher Eccleston respects the fans who campaigned so long and hard to rescue the Doctor from Programme Controller Hell. It doesn't sound much like it though.
Nikki D Peterborough

Fair play to Eccleston. Some of the Doctors were downright corny. Give him the old rejuvenation therapy and we may have something we can bring into the 21st Century, and then still watch without cringing 40 years on.
Xavier G Elestes, Hamertown

Each Doctor since William Hartnall has added a new element to the character. So adding a new side to the new Doctor Who will make the new Doctor Who a great series.
Andrew Bird, Bedford

I've never seen any problem with the level of emotion that the doctor shows. But you have to sit back and think - you can't really make him that emotional. He is, after all, a man of science and very logical. You look in real life, most logical people don't show much emotion at all. That's not escapism, that's just reality.
Chris, Canberra, Australia

Only time will tell if Eccleston will make a good Doctor, but his comments so far show his commitment to delivering a decent performance and perhaps making Dr Who a more credible show than it was during the horror miscasting of Sylvestor McCoy, the worst Doctor ever. If "Dr E" doesn't wish to make himself a ridiculous caricature, it can only be a good thing, and taking inspiration from superb performances such as Patrick Troughton (arguably the best Doctor) surely bodes well for The Time Lord's latest incarnation?
MAC, Glasgow


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