Wednesday 4 February 2015

More Musings on Chris Eccleston.. An apologetic update.

In a previous blog post, I took issue with Chris Eccleston and how he handles his time as The Doctor. In particular, I found his hanging up on a reporter, during a telephone interview, particularly twattish.

Chances are, by now, you've seen the excellent Kasterborous article, "Eccleston hates Doctor Who so much he helped a Whovian with a wedding proposal". The article includes an extraordinarily heartwarming video, with Eccleston surprising a fan alongside her boyfriend In my previous post, I went so far as to call Chris "an arse". I think, with hindsight, the "arse" on this occasion is yours truly! Eccleston is notoriously guarded about his tenure as the Doctor, and his public appearances seem scant. Perhaps, on my part, and the part of many fans, it is a desire to see more of him in the public eye, at conventions and so forth, because we have such high regard for his portrayal of the Doctor. We may never know the reasons why he is so elusive, but it's clear from the video it isn't out of a lack of respect for us, the fans.

Whilst, personally, I wouldn't have terminated the interview in the way Chris did, again, perhaps this is somewhat judgemental, not to mention hypocritical, particularly given that I hang up on telemarketers for a pastime. Eccleston clearly did not wish to discuss Doctor Who with the reporter. Perhaps the reporter in question did cross a line by asking, despite three requests not to. Certainly, it is the job of a reporter to ask probative questions; questions which the interviewee doesn't necessarily want to be asked. But, perhaps, there is a time and a place..

What is abundantly clear is that I've badly misjudged Eccleston. Whilst he will never read this blog post, I offer him my sincere apologies for doing so. Anyone who takes the time to aid a fan in the way he demonstrates in the video clearly doesn't lack respect for either the fans, or for his time spent in the titular role.

I've always been a big fan of the Eccleston series, and, in a broader sense, of much of his other work. If you haven't seen the magnificent 'Let Him Have It', you should. It's an early work by Eccleston, and it's a superb film. Similarly, his role as Stephen Baxter in Russel T. Davies' unique 'The Second Coming' is a magnificent testament to his skill as an actor. For me, he has always been a fine actor. I've also regarded him, for the most part, as egotistical, aloof and dismissive of his time as The Doctor. I hold my hands firmly UP. Got it wrong. There are times when being proven wrong sucks. On other occasions, being proven wrong is a positive joy. I was wrong when I assumed Bille Piper would be a lousy companion. Likewise, Catherine Tate. And I'm glad I was. Equally, I was wrong in my assessment of Chris Eccleston. And I'm glad about that as well.

I do believe if Mr Eccleston were a little more candid about his body of work, including Doctor Who, it may make it easier for people, like me, to understand him better as an actor and as a human being. That he chooses not to is a pty, but, ultimately, it is his decision, one which we must respect. Perhaps, one day, he will elaborate on his decision to remain largely out of the public eye, certainly in regard to Doctor Who, and why he chose only to play the role for a single season. I hope so, as I'm sure we could learn a great deal about him.

So there we are. I got him completely wrong. I daresay there are times when he IS an arse. There are certainly times when I am. My previous blog post on Eccleston bears testament to THAT! Likewise, there are time when he is clearly extraordinarily generous, kind and giving. Something we should all aspire to be.

What is clear is that Chris Eccleston is complex, professional, and certainly misunderstood. This leads arseholes like me to be quick to judge. For that, Mr Eccleston, you have my profound apologies.

I hope he's proud of his time as the Ninth Doctor. He has every reason to be. He was, as Nine said himself, "fantastic"!





LinneaLurks said...

Hi there. I don't follow your blog, but I read your earlier post because I track Eccleston hashtags on Twitter. I was very tempted to write a long comment about how mistaken you were, but I figured that would be presumptuous. I'm delighted to see that you're willing to change your opinion based on new evidence.

Eccleston has had occasional run-ins with the press since long before Doctor Who. He guards his privacy very fiercely and won't tell polite lies, so sometimes his only choice is to clam up.

It seems to me that the interviewer he hung up on was deliberately trying to set him off. First she tried to get him to badmouth other people in his business, then she asked him about (apparently non-existent) rumors of his death, and the DW question was just the last straw, as far as I can tell. There are other interviews where he does talk about DW, or is at least gracious in refusing to do so. "Eccleston politely declines to discuss Who, talks instead about current project" just doesn't make headlines on DW sites.

One thing I wanted to say about your first post is that there are a couple of widely circulated quotes where he talks about not liking the "culture" of Doctor Who. If you look at the quotes in context, he's clearly talking about the workplace culture - power relations and personal interactions on the set - not fan culture. That often gets lost in transmission.

Also, I think the reason he doesn't do conventions, etc., is that he doesn't like the whole business of being a "celebrity". He'd rather just get on with acting. As you can see from the video, he's happy to engage with individual fans. He just doesn't want to spend days of his life being paid to let people fawn over him. (He's never said that in so many words, but that's my impression, from reading a lot of interviews and articles about him.)

Anyway, I salute you for being able to say "I was wrong". A lot of people have trouble doing that. Cheers.

MetalOllie said...

Firstly, hello! Secondly, to have commented on my first post wouldn't have been at all presumptuous. I'm happy to hear all comments, especially those disagreeing with me. It makes for lively, interesting debate. You, and anyone else, are more than welcome to post dissenting opinions.. I would never consider it rude or presumptious. That anyone should be kind enough to take the time to read my blog at all is immensely satisfying, even when I'm talking out of my backside!

With regard to Chris, I firmly believe if someone, in the case, me, judges someone so wrongly, they have a duty to put that right. It would have been easier to have deleted the original post before anyone else read it. I've elected to leave it in place, largely so the newer post makes sense, and also because I don't believe in hiding my mistakes. Much better to leave them in pla e, hold my hands up and admit to getting it wrong.

I'm glad I was wrong about Chris, as I said in the blog.. He's an extraordinarily talented actor, and to have a preconceived (wrong) opinion about him isn't nice. To have that corrected, particularly with something so heartwarming as his gesture toward the couple in the video restores my faith in him, and gives me a salutary kick up the arse in the process!

Thanks again for taking the time comment, both about my post and about Chris.

Best wishes!


Unknown said...

I wanted to give my opinion as an interviewer, I've done many interviews for Bad Wilf, a few of them were just general interviews that I had set up with the person of interest, for example I approached them via Twitter and we arranged it ourselves. But, most of them have been arranged via a publicist.
The publicist works for the film/TV/theatre company and is there to steer the conversation to be relevant to the project that needs promoting. Normally, you get given 5-15 minutes, you very rarely get longer than that. These are called "phoner days" the person being interviewed spends the entire day speaking to interviewers on the phone.
You don't call the interviewee directly, you call the film/tv/theatre companies publicist that puts you through to the person you're going to be interviewing, if the publicist isn't in the room with the interviewee, they will stay on the line like an over protective parent secretly monitoring their kids phone calls.

Before you can speak to the interviewee, you get given a list of ground rules and a general break down of what the project is. Now, these ground rules aren't necessarily set by the person you're interviewing, they're set by the film company. For example, Marvel wouldn't want an interviewer spending 15mins talking to Anthony Hopkins about silence of the lambs and never mentioning the new Thor movie. If you cross the line, the publicist will cut in and remind you.
When I interviewed David Zayas about the movie '13' I was told not to ask about Dexter. I did, sure enough, the publicist cut straight in. Now, it wasn't David that didn't want to talk about Dexter, it's the distributors for 13, that don't want him talking about Dexter.

Now, Mr.Eccleston was doing a "phoner" to promote the new Sky series 'Fortitude'. So, do you really think the Murdoch owned entertainment network really want a journalist asking the star of their show, about a BBC series he did ten years ago?
As for Eccleston hanging up, what probably happened is that the publicist cut Eccleston's line, connected him to his next interview and told the journalist that Chris had hung up.


MetalOllie said...

Interesting.. Didn't know that, so to hear from someone who has experience of it is fascinating. It's a shame that newspapers distort those facts, into 'Eccleston hung up', so arseholes like me can form or add to a completely unfair judgement of the man. I'm glad that video surfaced today. It made me completely rethink my attitude toward Chris. That pleases me, as I like to think of all of the Doctors as 'the good guys', on and off screen.

DASP said...

I agree with what you said earlier, that actors need to understand what they are getting into. I feel the same way, but this is mitigated by the fact that Chris was the first assume the role of the Doctor in the new series and perhaps didn't realize the scope of it.

I have to say that I respect Chris and his decisions, but I sometimes wish he had a Doctor Who public relations agent, because the missteps and negative fan reaction has snowballed undeservedly to some extent. I confess that I have also vented about said missteps in the past.

Anyhow, I hope that one day, should the BBC allow Big Finish to produce new series audio adventures, Chris will give the role another chance. I know that I am certainly not alone in this.

MetalOllie said...

I do stand by, to a degree, some of my initial thoughts. Perhaps Chris was somewhat naive when he undertook the role, or perhaps he never realised just how big the series would become. I suspect the enormity of the part wasn't fully realised until the programme had started to air,

I can understand his desire not to be recognised as simply 'The Doctor', but to have his broader range of work recognised, I have a friend who was in a television show which is still airing. He still, constantly, recieves comments expressing a desire for his character to return, and I know he gets, understandably, fed up with them. He handles them very professionally, but I can see how tiresome it could become, particularly when much of his other work is, in my opinion, far superior, both in terms of his acting and in the scripting he was given.

Chris' role as Doctor Who is somewhat different. It is, arguably the most iconic character to be played by multiple actors, perhaps with the exception of James Bond. I wonder if he realised how engrained the show is in the public consciousness. It is certainly clear that there were difficulties between himself and some of the 'powers that be' at the BBC.

Perhaps, and hopefully, later down the line, he will choose to reprise the role courtesy of Big Finish. As with Colin Baker, who, equally, was treated terribly by the Beeb, he may find Big Finish much less political. I hope so. He could, as Baker and McGann gave shown, produce some outstanding stories. As an actor he certainly has the capability, I hope, one day, he elects to share it with us once again, as The Doctor.