The new Doctor Who will bring stage and screen pedigree to the time travelling Tardis.
British-born Christopher Eccleston, 40, shot to fame in Let Him Have It as Derek Bentley, who was wrongly hanged in the 1950s for murder.
Eccleston will become the ninth Doctor Who
He will be the ninth Time Lord to take to the Tardis when the cult sci-fi series returns to television screens in 2005.
Eccleston is now a respected film actor, starring in the highly successful Shallow Grave, in Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett, and in Jude opposite Kate Winslet.
He also starred in David Cronenberg's eXistenZ with Jude Law, The Others with Nicole Kidman and Gone in Sixty Seconds with Nicolas Cage, as well as TV dramas Our Friends in the North, Hearts and Minds and Linda Green.
Eccleston is an accomplished film actor
He appeared in The League of Gentleman, Flesh and Blood, part of BBC Two's disability season, and the ITV crime drama, Cracker.
Eccleston's character in Cracker was murdered by a psychopath (played by Trainspotting's Robert Carlyle), who held the police to blame for the tragedy at the Hillsborough football ground.
Eccleston went on to appear in the TV drama Hillsborough, which was about the inquest into the tragedy.
On stage he starred in Miss Julie at London's Haymarket Theatre in 2000.
He trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, but often returns to his hometown of Salford where he is a patron of the arts.
Doctor Who's executive producer and writer Russell T Davies said he was looking forward to working with Eccleston immensely.
"It signals our intention to take Doctor Who into the 21st Century, while remaining edgy and eccentric," he said.
The new 13-part series will be filmed in Cardiff later this year.