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.
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 title character in the 2005 revival of the BBC science fiction series Doctor Who, becoming the first actor 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.
Eccleston in October 2013
16 February 1964|
Langworthy, Salford, Lancashire, England
(m. 2011; div. 2015)
Christopher Eccleston was born into a working-class family in Langworthy, Salford, Lancashire, England, the youngest of three sons born to Elsie and Ronnie Eccleston. His brothers, Alan and Keith, are twins who are eight years older than him. The family lived in a small terraced house on Blodwell Street before moving to Little Hulton when Eccleston was seven months old. Eccleston attended Joseph Eastham High School, where he became head boy. 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 before going on to train at the Central School of Speech and Drama. 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 school, Eccleston took a variety of odd jobs at a supermarket, on building sites, and as an artist's model.
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. 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.
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. 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."
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, which began transmission on 26 March 2005. Eccleston was the first actor to play the role who was born after the series began, albeit by less than three months. 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 Eccleston's "statement" was falsely attributed and released without his 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.
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: 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". In a 2010 interview, Eccleston said 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.
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. 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.  However, in a 2018 interview Eccleston claimed that the BBC had "blacklist[ed]" him when he left.
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 director Norman Jewison was chairman of the Jury. 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.
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. 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. 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. 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, 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".
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. Starting in 2014, he portrayed the regular character The Reverend Matt Jamison on the HBO drama series The Leftovers.
Eccleston began appearing in 2016 as Maurice Scott in the BBC drama The A Word. Maurice is the eccentric but lovable granddad to a pair of sons, one of whom, with his wife, are struggling to do their very best for their young, 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 has not yet been confirmed, however, cast member Lee Ingleby quoted “We’ve always planned on doing it every two years”.
Eccleston married Mischka in November 2011. They had their first child, Albert, in February 2012. Their second child, Esme, was born in 2013. They were divorced in December 2015.
Eccleston formerly identified as an atheist, but in 2016 gave interviews describing his changing attitude towards faith and stated that he no longer considered himself an atheist, but agnostic.
Eccleston is an avid charity worker, becoming a Mencap charity ambassador on 28 April 2005, and is also a supporter of the British Red Cross. He also supports research for Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia; his father, Ronnie, suffered from vascular dementia in his later years, until his death in 2012.
Politically, Eccleston has criticized 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."
|1991||Let Him Have It||Derek Bentley|
|1992||Death and the Compass||Alonso Zunz|
|1994||Shallow Grave||David Stephens|
|1998||Elizabeth||Duke of Norfolk|
|1998||A Price Above Rubies||Sender Horowitz|
|1999||With or Without You||Vincent Boyd|
|2000||Gone in 60 Seconds||Raymond Calitri|
|2000||The Tyre||Salesman||Short film|
|2001||The Others||Charles Stewart|
|2001||The Invisible Circus||Wolf|
|2001||This Little Piggy||Cabbie||Short film|
|2002||24 Hour Party People||Boethius|
|2002||I Am Dina||Leo Zhukovsky|
|2002||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|
|2009||The Happiness Salesman||Salesman||Short film|
|2012||Song for Marion||James Harris|
|2013||Thor: The Dark World||Malekith|
|2015||Legend||Leonard "Nipper" Read|
|2018||Where Hands Touch||Post-production|
|1990||Blood Rights||Dick||Episode #1.1|
|Casualty||Stephen Hills||Episode: " A Reasonable Man"|
|1991||Inspector Morse||Terrence Mitchell||Episode: "Second Time Around"|
|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|
|2005-2007||Kings and Pharaohs||Pharaoh Rameses||Lead role|
|2006||Perfect Parents||Stuart||Television film|
|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||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||12 episodes|
|2016||The Life of Rock with Brian Pern||Luke Dunmore||2 episodes|
|2017–present||Ambulance||Narrator (voice)||16 episodes|
|2017||Manchester: 100 Days After the Attack||Narrator (voice)||Television special|
|2018||Come Home||Greg||3 episodes|
|King Lear||Oswald||Television film|
|1988||A Streetcar Named Desire||Pablo Gonzalez||Bristol Old Vic|
|1989||Dona Rosita the Spinster||Phyllida Lloyd||Bristol Old Vic|
|1990||Bent||Royal National Theatre|
|1990||Abingdon Square||Royal National Theatre|
|1990||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||West Yorkshire Playhouse|
|2009||A Doll's House||Neil Kelman||Donmar Warehouse|
|2012||Antigone||Creon||Royal National Theatre|
|2018||Macbeth||Macbeth||Royal Shakespeare Theatre|
|Barbican Theatre, London|
|2003||I Am Kloot||"Proof"|
|2010||I Am Kloot||"Northern Skies"|
|1998||Room of Leaves||Frank|
|2001||Some Fantastic Place||Narrator|
|2002||The Importance of Being Morrissey||Narrator|
|2003||Cromwell – Warts and All||Narrator|
|2004||Life Half Spent||Roger|
|2005||Crossing the Dark Sea||Squaddie|
|2005||Born to be Different||Narrator|
|2005||A Day in the Death of Joe Egg||Brian|
|2005||Wanted: New Mum and Dad||Narrator|
|2005||Children in Need||Narrator|
|2005||This Sceptred Isle||Various Characters|
|2006||The 1970s: That Was The Decade That Was||Narrator|
|2008||The Devil's Christmas||Narrator|
|2011||The Bomb Squad||Narrator|
|2012||Timeshift: Wrestling's Golden Age: Grapplers, Grunts & Grannies||Narrator|
|1997||Jude||Golden Satellite Award||Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama||Nominated|
|Our Friends in the North||BAFTA Television Award||Best Actor||Nominated|
|Broadcasting Press Guild Award||Best Actor||Won|
|2003||Flesh and Blood||Royal Television Society Award||Best Actor||Won|
|2004||The Second Coming||BAFTA Television Award||Best Actor||Nominated|
|2005||Doctor Who||TV Choice Award||Best Actor||Won|
|National Television Awards||Most Popular Actor||Won|
|Broadcasting Press Guild Award||Best Actor||Nominated|
|2006||BAFTA Cymru||Best Actor||Nominated|
|2007||Heroes||SyFy Genre Awards||Best Special Guest||Nominated|
|2011||Accused||International Emmy Award||Best Actor||Won|
|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|
I was blacklisted… I was told by my agent at the time: 'The BBC regime is against you. You’re going to have to get out of the country'.
Question: Who had the most profound effect on your life, and what advice would you give to your son Albert? Eccleston: My mother and father, definitely, I had an incredibly happy childhood and loving and supportive parents, everything I've achieved in life is down to – getting a bit emotional here! – the start they gave me in life, without a doubt. My advice to Albert would be to try and get himself parents like I had. He's done it, he's got a mum like my mum.