Christopher Eccleston

Christopher Eccleston (/ˈɛkəlstən/; born 16 February 1964) is an English actor. The recipient of an Emmy Award and two BAFTA Award nominations, Eccleston is best known for his work on television and in film – in particular for his collaborations with directors Danny Boyle and Michael Winterbottom and writers Peter Flannery, Jimmy McGovern and Russell T. Davies.

Christopher Eccleston
Christopher Eccleston GalaxyCon Minneapolis 2019 (cropped).jpg
Christopher Eccleston in 2019
Born (1964-02-16) 16 February 1964 (age 56)
Years active1989–present
Mischka Eccleston
(m. 2011; div. 2015)

Eccleston trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London and made his professional acting debut onstage in a Bristol Old Vic production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Eccleston garnered attention for his film roles as Derek Bentley in Let Him Have It and David Stevens in Shallow Grave and for his television performances in Cracker and Hillsborough. His BAFTA-nominated performance as Nicky Hutchinson in the BBC miniseries Our Friends in the North (1996) established Eccleston as a household name in the UK; he followed the serial with film roles in Jude, A Price Above Rubies, Elizabeth, eXistenZ, Gone in 60 Seconds, The Invisible Circus, The Others, 24 Hour Party People, and 28 Days Later and television roles including the drama series Clocking Off and a second BAFTA-nominated performance as Messianic figure Stephen Baxter in the ITV drama serial The Second Coming.

Eccleston garnered widespread attention and acclaim for portraying the ninth incarnation of the Doctor in the 2005 revival of the BBC science fiction series Doctor Who, becoming the first to play the role since 1996. He departed the role after a single series, winning a National Television Award and receiving Broadcasting Press Guild Award and BAFTA Cymru Award nominations for his performance. Eccleston has since appeared in the television series Heroes, The Shadow Line, Blackout, Lucan, The Leftovers, Safe House, Fortitude, and The A Word and films including G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Thor: The Dark World, and Legend. He won an International Emmy Award for his performance in an episode of the anthology series Accused. Onstage, Eccleston has played the title roles in productions of Hamlet and Macbeth as well as starring in productions of Miss Julie, A Doll's House, and Antigone. Since 2017, Eccleston has narrated the documentary series Ambulance.

Early lifeEdit

Christopher Eccleston was born into a working-class family in the Langworthy area of Salford, Lancashire, England, the youngest of three sons born to Elsie and Ronnie Eccleston.[1] On his religious upbringing, he has said: "My dad’s family were Catholic. My mum was very Church of England – still is – but it doesn’t work for me."[2] His brothers, Alan and Keith, are twins who are eight years older than him.[3][4] The family lived in a small terraced house on Blodwell Street before moving to Little Hulton when Eccleston was seven months old.[5][6][7] Eccleston attended Joseph Eastham High School, where he became head boy.[8] At the age of 19, he was inspired to enter the acting profession by such television dramas as Boys from the Blackstuff.

Eccleston completed a two-year Performance Foundation Course at Salford Tech[9] before going on to train at the Central School of Speech and Drama.[10] As an actor, he was influenced in his early years by Ken Loach's Kes and Albert Finney's performance in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, but he soon found himself performing the classics, including the works of Shakespeare, Chekhov, and Molière. At the age of 25, Eccleston made his professional stage debut in the Bristol Old Vic's production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Underemployed as an actor for some years after graduating from college, Eccleston took a variety of odd jobs at a supermarket, on building sites, and as an artist's model.[11]


Early work (1991–2005)Edit

Eccleston first came to public attention as Derek Bentley in the film Let Him Have It (1991), and an episode of Inspector Morse "Second Time Around" (1991). In 1992, he played the role of Sean Maddox in the BBC drama miniseries Friday on my Mind.[12] A regular role in the television series Cracker (1993–94) brought him recognition in the UK; and, after he told TV bosses of his desire to leave the series, they killed off his character in October 1994, making him a victim of the serial killer Albie Kinsella (Robert Carlyle). At around the same time, Eccleston appeared in the episode "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe" of the Poirot series adapted from mysteries by Agatha Christie.

He appeared in the low-budget Danny Boyle film Shallow Grave (1994), in which he co-starred with actor Ewan McGregor. The same year, he won the part of Nicky Hutchinson in the epic BBC drama serial Our Friends in the North, whose broadcast on BBC Two in 1996 helped make him a household name in the UK. Eccleston starred in an ensemble cast that included actors Mark Strong and Gina McKee, as well as Daniel Craig. In 1996, he took the part of Trevor Hicks—a man who lost both of his daughters in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster—in the television drama film Hillsborough, penned by Jimmy McGovern. In real life, he was the best man to Trevor Hicks at his wedding in March 2009.[13]

His film career has since taken off with a variety of roles, including Jude (1996), Elizabeth (1998), eXistenZ (1999), Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), The Others (2001), 24 Hour Party People (2002) and 28 Days Later (2002). He played a major role as the protagonist of the 2002 Revengers Tragedy, adapted from Thomas Middleton's play of the same name.[14] He starred in the independent films A Price Above Rubies (1998) and The Invisible Circus (2001). He starred in the car-heist film Gone in 60 Seconds, but did not take his driving test until January 2004. He said on BBC's Top Gear that his licence restricts him to vehicles with automatic transmission.

He has appeared in a variety of television roles, especially in British dramas. These have included Hearts and Minds (1995) for Channel 4, Clocking Off (2000) and Flesh and Blood (2002) for the BBC and Hillsborough (1996), a modern version of Othello (2001), playing 'Ben Jago', (the Iago character); and the religious telefantasy epic The Second Coming (2003) for ITV, in which he played Steve Baxter, the son of God. He has made guest appearances in episodes of the comedy drama Linda Green (2001) and macabre sketch show The League of Gentlemen (2002). Eccleston appeared in a stage role in Hamlet in the 2002 production at Leeds's West Yorkshire Playhouse. March–April 2004 saw him return to the venue in a new play, Electricity.

Eccleston has been twice nominated in the Best Actor category at the British Academy Television Awards. His first nomination came in 1997 for Our Friends in the North, but he lost to Nigel Hawthorne (for The Fragile Heart). He was nominated in 2004 for The Second Coming; Bill Nighy won for State of Play. Eccleston won the Best Actor category at the 1997 Broadcasting Press Guild Awards for Our Friends in the North. In 2003 he won the RTS Best Actor award for a second time, for his performance in Flesh and Blood. In July 2004, a poll of industry experts, conducted by Radio Times magazine, voted Eccleston the "19th Most Powerful Person in Television Drama."

Doctor Who (2005, 2021)Edit

On 2 April 2004, it was announced that Eccleston was to play the ninth incarnation of the Doctor in the revival of the BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who, the first series began transmission on 26 March 2005. Eccleston was the first actor to play the role who was born after the series began. On 30 March 2005, the BBC released a statement, ostensibly from Eccleston, saying that he had decided to leave the role after just one series, because he feared becoming typecast. On 4 April 2005, the BBC revealed that the statement had been falsely attributed and released without Eccleston's consent. The BBC admitted that they had broken an agreement made in January not to disclose publicly that he only intended to do one series. The statement had been made after journalists made queries to the press office.[15]

On 11 June 2005, during a BBC radio interview, when asked if he had enjoyed working on Doctor Who, Eccleston responded by saying, "Mixed, but that's a long story." Eccleston's reasons for leaving the role continue to be debated in Britain's newspapers:[citation needed] on 4 October 2005 Alan Davies told The Daily Telegraph that Eccleston had been "overworked" by the BBC, and had left the role because he was "exhausted".[16] Eccleston would later go on to say that he left the show because he "didn't enjoy the environment and the culture that the cast and crew had to work in", but that he was proud of having played the role.[17] Noting in a subsequent interview that "My relationship with my three immediate superiors – the showrunner, the producer and co-producer – broke down irreparably during the first block of filming and it never recovered."[18]

Eccleston at the National Theatre, London, May 2012

On 7 November 2008, at the National Theatre to promote his book The Writer's Tale, Russell T. Davies said that Eccleston's contract was for a single year because it was uncertain whether the show would continue beyond a single revival series. In retrospect, he says, it has been an enormous success, but at the time there were doubts within the BBC. Eccleston was voted "Most Popular Actor" at the 2005 National Television Awards for his portrayal of the Doctor.

In July 2012, Eccleston spoke positively of his time on Doctor Who during a talk at the National Theatre.[19] This led to speculation he was considering making a return appearance as the Ninth Doctor for the show's 50th anniversary special, "The Day of the Doctor", in 2013. The Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, stated that he would have loved Eccleston to return but after discussing with executive producer Steven Moffat, Eccleston declined his role.[20][21] However, in a 2018 interview Eccleston claimed that the BBC had "put [him] on a blacklist" when he left.[22]

On 9 August 2020, it was announced that Eccleston would be reprising his role of the Ninth Doctor in audio dramas for Big Finish Productions, across four boxsets to be released between May 2021 and February 2022. This would be the first time he had portrayed the role in 15 years.[23]

Later work (2005–present)Edit

On 30 October 2005, Eccleston appeared on stage at the Old Vic theatre in London in the one-night play Night Sky alongside Navin Chowdhry, Bruno Langley, David Warner, Saffron Burrows and David Baddiel. Eccleston sat on the 2nd Amazonas International Film Festival Film Jury in November 2005. The Canadian born director Norman Jewison was chairman of the Jury.[24] In December 2005, Eccleston travelled to Indonesia's Aceh province for the BBC Breakfast news programme, examining how survivors of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami were rebuilding their lives.[25]

In March 2006, Eccleston appeared in the ITV documentary special Best Ever Muppet Moments as a commentator. In May 2006, he appeared as the narrator in a production of Romeo and Juliet at the Lowry theatre in his home city of Salford. The theatre company with which he performed, Celebrity Pig (of which he is patron), is made up of learning disabled actors. In August 2006, Eccleston filmed New Orleans, Mon Amour with Elisabeth Moss. The film was directed by Michael Almereyda and shot in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans. It was released in 2008 to film festivals in America and Italy.

Late in 2006 he starred in Perfect Parents, an ITV drama written and directed by Joe Ahearne, who had directed him in Doctor Who.[26] Eccleston joined the cast of the NBC TV series Heroes in the episode "Godsend", which was broadcast on 22 January 2007. Eccleston played a character named Claude who has the power of invisibility, and helps Peter Petrelli with his powers.[27] Eccleston appeared as the Rider in a film adaptation of Susan Cooper's novel The Dark Is Rising, which opened in the USA on 5 October 2007.

Eccleston appeared on the BBC Four World Cinema Award show in February 2008, arguing the merits of five international hits such as The Lives of Others and Pan's Labyrinth with Jonathan Ross and Archie Panjabi. In 2009, Eccleston starred opposite Archie Panjabi in a short film called The Happiness Salesman. Eccleston agreed to do the film because of Panjabi and the fact that it was a winner of the British Short Screenplay Competition. He also appeared as the villainous Destro in the G.I. Joe film, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.[28] Eccleston also appeared in an episode of The Sarah Silverman Program as the titular cult favourite science fiction hero in a show-within-the-show called "Dr. Laser Rage", possibly in reference to his stint in Doctor Who.

Eccleston was cast as John Lennon in a BBC production called Lennon Naked which aired in the UK on 23 June 2010,[29][30] with Eccleston playing the title role, and Naoko Mori, who had previously appeared with him in Doctor Who, as Yoko Ono. In November 2010, Eccleston starred in the first episode of BBC One anthology drama Accused. He won an International Emmy Award for his role. In May 2011, he starred as Joseph Bede in The Shadow Line, a seven-part television drama serial for BBC Two.

On 31 December 2011, Eccleston played the role of Pod Clock in an adaptation of Mary Norton's children's novel The Borrowers on BBC One. In July 2012, he starred in the political thriller Blackout on BBC One. In the same month, he starred as Creon in an adaptation of Antigone at the Royal National Theatre; his performance in the play was called "charismatic" and "intense".[31]

In 2013, Eccleston portrayed the villainous Malekith in Thor: The Dark World, the sequel to Thor and the eighth instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.[32] Starting in 2014, he portrayed the regular character The Reverend Matt Jamison on the HBO drama series The Leftovers.[33]

Eccleston began appearing in 2016 as Maurice Scott in the BBC drama The A Word. Maurice is the eccentric but lovable dad to his daughter who, with her husband, has an autistic son. The second series began airing in November 2017 both in the UK and the US, where The A Word airs on SundanceTV. A third series was confirmed during his chat with the audience following a showing of Shallow Grave at the Norwich Film Festival. Cast member Lee Ingleby was quoted as saying, "We’ve always planned on doing it every two years." Series 3 of The A Word is set to air in the spring of 2020.[34][35]

Eccleston has played the lead role in the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Macbeth in 2018.[36] Later that year he also starred opposite Tom Wilkinson as Harvey, head of the Guild of Assassins in hitman comedy Dead In A Week (or your money back)[37] .

Personal lifeEdit

Eccleston married copywriter Mischka, 20 years his junior, in November 2011.[38] They had their first child, Albert, in February 2012.[39][40] Their second child, Esme, was born in 2013.[5][41] They were divorced in December 2015.

Eccleston identifies as an atheist. He reaffirmed that he was an atheist in a 2019 interview.[42]

He is a supporter of Manchester United[43] and was a regular marathon runner until 2000.[4][44]

In September 2007, as part of a £9.5m building project, Salford's Pendleton College named its new 260-seat auditorium the Eccleston Theatre.[45]

Eccleston became a Mencap charity ambassador on 28 April 2005,[46] and is also a supporter of the British Red Cross.[47] He also supports research for Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia; his father, Ronnie, suffered from vascular dementia in his later years, from 1998 until his death in 2012.[48][49]

Politically, Eccleston has criticised the Conservative Party and expressed concern at opportunities for actors from his background to achieve his level of success in the future. He was quoted in July 2017 as saying, "It's always been a policy of the Conservative government and party to destroy working class identity. If you prevent them from having a cultural voice, which is what's happening, they achieve that. They hate us, they want to destroy us, so we're being ruled out of having a voice."[50]

In his autobiography, Eccleston would describe chronic eating disorders and depression, and said that he had considered suicide. Speaking about his poor mental health, he wrote that he was "a lifelong body hater".[51]



Year Title Role Notes
1991 Let Him Have It Derek Bentley
1992 Death and the Compass Alonso Zunz
1993 Anchoress Priest
1994 Shallow Grave David Stephens
1996 Jude Jude Fawley
1998 Elizabeth Duke of Norfolk
A Price Above Rubies Sender Horowitz
1999 Heart Gary Ellis
Existenz Seminar Leader
With or Without You Vincent Boyd
2000 Gone in 60 Seconds Raymond Calitri
The Tyre Salesman Short film
2001 The Others Charles Stewart
The Invisible Circus Wolf
This Little Piggy Cabbie Short film
Strumpet Strayman
2002 24 Hour Party People Boethius
I Am Dina Leo Zhukovsky
Revengers Tragedy Vindici
28 Days Later Major Henry West
2007 The Seeker The Rider
2008 New Orleans, Mon Amour Dr. Henry
2009 G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra James McCullen / Destro
Amelia Fred Noonan
2010 The Happiness Salesman Salesman Short film
2012 Song for Marion James Harris
2013 Thor: The Dark World Malekith
2015 Legend Leonard "Nipper" Read
2018 Dead In A Week (Or Your Money Back) Harvey
Where Hands Touch Heinz


Year Title Role Notes
1990 Blood Rights Dick Episode #1.1
Casualty Stephen Hills Episode: " A Reasonable Man"
1991 Inspector Morse Terrence Mitchell Episode: "Second Time Around"
Chancer Radio Episode: "Jo"
Boon Mark Episode: "Cover Up"
1992 Rachel's Dream Man in Dream Television short
Poirot Frank Carter Episode: "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe"
Friday on my Mind Sean Maddox 3 episodes
Business with Friends Angel Morris Television film
1993–1994 Cracker DCI David Bilborough 10 episodes
1995 Hearts and Minds Drew Mackenzie 4 episodes
1996 Our Friends in the North Nicky Hutchinson 9 episodes
Hillsborough Trevor Hicks Television film
1999 Killing Time – The Millennium Poem Millennium Man
2000 Wilderness Men Alexander Von Humboldt 3 episodes
Clocking Off Jim Calvert 2 episodes
2001 Othello Ben Jago Television film
Linda Green Tom Sherry / Neil Sherry Episode: "Twins"
2002 The League of Gentlemen Dougal Siepp Episode: "How the Elephant Got Its Trunk"
Flesh and Blood Joe Broughton Television film
The King and Us Anthony Television film
Sunday General Ford Television film
2003 The Second Coming Stephen Baxter 2 episodes
2005 Doctor Who Ninth Doctor Series 1; 13 episodes
2005–2007 Kings and Pharaohs Pharaoh Rameses Lead role
2006 Perfect Parents Stuart Television film
2007 Heroes Claude 5 episodes
2008 The Sarah Silverman Program Dr. Lazer Rage Episode: "I Thought My Dad Was Dead, But It Turns Out He's Not"
2010 Lennon Naked John Lennon Television film
Accused Willy Houlihan Episode: "Willy's Story"
2011 The Shadow Line Joseph Bede 7 episodes
The Borrowers Pod Clock Television film
2012 Blackout Daniel Demoys 3 episodes
2013 The Day of the Doctor Ninth Doctor Television special (archival footage)
2013 Lucan John Aspinall 2 episodes
2014–2017 The Leftovers Matt Jamison 23 episodes
2015 Fortitude Professor Stoddart 3 episodes
Safe House Robert 4 episodes
2016–present The A Word Maurice Scott 18 episodes
2016 The Life of Rock with Brian Pern Luke Dunmore 2 episodes
2017–present Ambulance Narrator (voice) 44 episodes
2017 Manchester: 100 Days After the Attack Narrator (voice) Television special
2018 Come Home Greg All 3 episodes
King Lear Oswald Television film
Danger Mouse J. Woolington Sham (voice) Episode: "No More Mr Ice Guy"
2019 2019: A Year in the Life of a Year Christopher Eccleston Television film
2020 The Kemps: All True Christopher Eccleston Television film


Year Title Role Notes
1988 A Streetcar Named Desire Pablo Gonzalez Bristol Old Vic
1989 Dona Rosita the Spinster Phyllida Lloyd
1990 Bent Royal National Theatre
Abingdon Square
Aide-Memoire Royal Court Theatre
1993 Waiting at the Water's Edge Will Bush Theatre
2000 Miss Julie Jean Haymarket Theatre
2002 Hamlet Hamlet West Yorkshire Playhouse
2004 Electricity Jakey
2009 A Doll's House Neil Kelman Donmar Warehouse
2012 Antigone Creon Royal National Theatre
2018 Macbeth Macbeth Royal Shakespeare Theatre
Barbican Theatre, London

Performances with unknown datesEdit

Music videosEdit

Year Artist Title
2003 I Am Kloot "Proof"
2010 I Am Kloot "Northern Skies"

Radio and narrationEdit

Year Title Role
1998 Room of Leaves Frank
Pig Paradise Jack
2001 Some Fantastic Place Narrator
Bayeux Tapestry Harold
2002 The Importance of Being Morrissey Narrator
Iliad Achilles
2003 Cromwell – Warts and All Narrator
2004 Life Half Spent Roger
2005 Crossing the Dark Sea Squaddie
Sacred Nation Narrator
Born to be Different Narrator
A Day in the Death of Joe Egg Brian
E=mc² (Einstein's Big Idea) Narrator
Dubai Dreams Narrator
Wanted: New Mum and Dad Narrator
Children in Need Narrator
This Sceptred Isle Various Characters
2006 The 1970s: That Was The Decade That Was Narrator
2008 The Devil's Christmas Narrator
2009 Wounded Narrator
2011 The Bomb Squad Narrator
2012 Timeshift: Wrestling's Golden Age: Grapplers, Grunts & Grannies Narrator
2013 Nineteen Eighty-Four Protagonist
2016 Ambulance Narrator
2019 Cold Bath Street a Lancashire ghost story by A.J. Hartley Narrator
I Love the Bones of You: My Father And The Making Of Me Narrador
2020 Schreber in Radio Three's dramatization by Anthony Burgess of the Memoir of Daniel Schreber Protagonist

Audio dramasEdit

Year Title Role
2021 Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor Adventures – Volume One[23] Ninth Doctor
Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor Adventures – Volume Two[23] Ninth Doctor
Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor Adventures – Volume Three[23] Ninth Doctor
2022 Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor Adventures – Volume Four[23] Ninth Doctor


Year Title Type
2019 I Love the Bones of You: My Father And The Making Of Me Autobiography

Awards and nominationsEdit

BAFTA AwardsEdit

BAFTA TV AwardsEdit

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
1997 Best Actor Our Friends in the North Nominated
2004 The Second Coming Nominated

BAFTA Cymru AwardsEdit

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2005 Best Actor Doctor Who Nominated

Emmy AwardsEdit

International Emmy AwardsEdit

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2011 Best Actor Accused Won
2019 Come Home Nominated


Year Work Award Category Result
1997 Jude Golden Satellite Award Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama Nominated
Our Friends in the North Broadcasting Press Guild Award Best Actor Won
2003 Flesh and Blood Royal Television Society Award Best Actor Won
2005 Doctor Who TV Choice Award Best Actor Won
National Television Awards Most Popular Actor Won
Broadcasting Press Guild Award Best Actor Nominated
2007 Heroes SyFy Genre Awards Best Special Guest Nominated
2015 The Leftovers Satellite Award Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries, or Television Film Nominated
Critics' Choice Television Award Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
2016 Critics' Choice Television Award Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Nominated


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External linksEdit