Christopher Eccleston

From Academic Kids

Christopher Eccleston (born on 16 February 1964 in Salford, Lancashire) is a British stage, television and film actor, best known for his roles in several high profile "prestige" films and television series. As a child his ambition was to play football for his beloved Manchester United, but he found himself to be a much better actor than he was a footballer, and inspired by television dramas such as Boys from the Blackstuff, he took to acting as his profession.

Missing image
Christopher Eccleston on set in London during filming for Doctor Who in 2004.

He trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama and first came to public attention as Derek Bentley in the 1991 film Let Him Have It, based on true events. However, it was a regular role in the TV series Cracker (199394) — culminating in his character's dramatic death in the second series — that made him a recognisable figure in the UK.

He appeared in the low-budget Danny Boyle film Shallow Grave in 1994, in which he co-starred with another up-and-coming young British actor by the name of Ewan McGregor. The same year, he won the part of Nicky Hutchinson in the epic BBC drama serial Our Friends in the North, and it was the transmission of this production on BBC Two in 1996 that perhaps really made him into a household name in the UK.

His film career has since taken off with a variety of high-profile but never quite — except in one or two cases — really mainstream roles, including parts in Elizabeth (1998), eXistenZ (1999), Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000), The Others (2001), 24 Hour Party People (2002) and another Danny Boyle film, the horror movie 28 Days Later (2002). He has starred alongside two major Hollywood actresses in smaller independent movies, playing opposite Renée Zellweger in A Price Above Rubies (1998) and Cameron Diaz in The Invisible Circus (2001). Despite starring in the car-heist movie Gone in 60 Seconds, he did not actually take his driving test until January 2004 and is only licenced to drive automatic transmission cars.

Despite his successful film career, he has continued to appear in a variety of meaty television roles, racking up credits in some of the most challenging and thought-provoking British television dramas of recent years. These have included Clocking Off (2000) and Flesh and Blood (2002) for the BBC and Hillsborough (1997), a modern version of Othello (2002, playing 'Ben Jago', the Iago character) and the religious telefantasy epic The Second Coming (2003) for ITV. He also finds time for the occasional light-hearted role, however, as his guest appearances in episodes of the comedy drama Linda Green (2001) and macabre sketch show The League of Gentlemen (2002) have shown.

On stage, his highest-profile production has been his starring role in Hamlet at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds in 2002. The West Yorkshire Playhouse is a favourite venue of his, and he most recently returned there in the new play Electricity, which ran in March and April 2004.

A very highly-regarded actor, he has twice been nominated in the Best Actor category at the BAFTA Television Awards, the UK's premier TV awards ceremony. His first nomination came in 1997 for Our Friends in the North, when he lost out to Nigel Hawthorne (for The Fragile Heart), and he was nominated again in 2004 for The Second Coming, this time being beaten by Bill Nighy (for State of Play). He did, however, triumph in the Best Actor categories at the 1997 Broadcasting Press Guild Awards and the Royal Television Society Awards, winning for Our Friends in the North. He won the RTS Best Actor award for a second time in 2003, this time for his performance in Flesh and Blood.

In March 2004, it was announced that Eccleston was to play the ninth incarnation of the Doctor in the revival of the legendary BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who, which started airing in March 2005. The series executive producer and writer Russell T. Davies has said that Eccleston was the first choice for the part. Despite this, the British tabloid press ran reports that Bill Nighy had been offered the role first, but declined.

On March 30, 2005, the BBC released a statement, ostensibly from Eccleston, saying that he had decided to leave the role after just one series, owing to fears that he would become typecast. On April 4, the BBC revealed that Eccleston's "statement" had been falsely attributed and released without his consent. The BBC admitted that they had broken an agreement made in January not to disclose publicly the fact that he only intended to do one season. The statement had been made after journalists made queries to the press office.[1] ( Eccleston's one-year tenure makes him either the shortest or second shortest-serving Doctor to date, depending on how one counts the tenure of Paul McGann, who, while the "official" doctor for approximately nine years, only appeared in the 1996 Doctor Who television movie. Eccleston's role as the Doctor was taken over by David Tennant in the last episode of the 2005 series, entitled The Parting of the Ways.

In July 2004 a poll of industry experts, conducted by Radio Times magazine, voted Eccleston the 19th Most Powerful Person in Television Drama.

In June 2005 it was announced at the Cannes Film Festival that he had signed to appear in a British-made sci-fi romantic comedy called Double Life, about a man who thinks he loves twin sisters.It has been billed as a tale of love and obsession" and will be set in Budapest.

The film will be directed by Joe Ahearne (who directed Eccleston in Doctor Who) and is being produced by author Lynda La Plante's company Cougar Films.

Preceded by:
Paul McGann
The Doctor
Succeeded by:
David Tennant

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