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Last Updated: Monday, 22 March, 2004, 12:47 GMT
No more props for 'darker' Doctor
Christopher Eccleston
Eccleston is known for gritty acting roles
BBC News Online asks Doctor Who experts whether Christopher Eccleston will shine as the latest incarnation.

The surprise choice of Eccleston as the ninth Doctor has been widely hailed by fans and critics.

They say Eccleston is an accomplished, serious actor who will bring a gravitas to the 40-year-old role and make it relevant for the age we live in.

Enthusiasts think he may portray a darker character than many of the previous doctors, who were often quirky, offbeat and replete with props.

There was Tom Baker with his knitted scarf; Patrick Troughton's Beatle haircut; Sylvester McCoy's umbrella with the question mark-shaped handle...

Christopher Eccleston
Eccleston has gained a film acting pedigree
Antony Wainer, spokesman for the Doctor Who Appreciation Society, said there was nothing in Eccleston's casting to suggest a return to the novelties of past timelords.

"We are going to have to wait and see, but I think the velvet jacket and coats and gloves are a thing of the past," he said.

"Eccleston doesn't necessarily play eccentric characters and roles in the same way as a Sylvester McCoy.

"I think we will have a more serious-minded character, more reflective and inward-looking, slightly edgy and slightly dangerous with a menacing edge to him."

Boyd Hilton, TV editor of Heat magazine, agreed that Eccleston probably signalled an end to the "cheesier" aspects of the Doctor's past.

Christopher Eccleston
Eccleston will bring a touch of menace to the role, some fans believe
"I think it's quite exciting," said Mr Hilton. "He's one of the best actors of our time, and rather than going for a colourful character actor as they've done in the past, they've gone for a brilliant actor.

"Bill Nighy, who had been tipped for the role, would have been brilliant, but a slightly more comical figure. I think with Eccleston it shows they are clearly going for quality over anything else."

Salford-born Eccleston, 40, who trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, has starred in films such as Shallow Grave, The Others and Let Him Have It.

Mr Hilton said his character would be written by some of the best TV writers, led by executive producer Russell T Davies.

Eccleston's selection suggested a sizeable budget and high quality scripts, he said.

The Doctor Who Appreciation Society's Antony Wainer said he expected Eccleston to bring a new dimension to the part.

Christopher Eccleston
Eccleston will become the ninth Doctor Who
"Over 40 years every Doctor has brought something different to the role," he said.

"Doctor Who has reflected the cultural events of the time, and as time moves on the action fits the moment. New storylines are affected by what is going on.

"It's about the quality of the writing and the audience expectation, and things that just catch on."

Mr Wainer said it was difficult to single out any of the previous eight Doctors as being "better" than any other, although fans had their personal favourites.

"The first one you grew up with was always the best," he said.

"Colin Baker - once low down the list - is now highly thought of, while Sylvester McCoy has dipped. These things are reassessed and re-evaluated all the time."


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