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The Beeb was forced to issue the statement following tabloid press reports that the actor had pulled out of the story just as filming was due to begin, with the corporation stressing that Eccleston was never actually contracted for the story.
“Chris met with Steven Moffat a couple of times to talk about Steven’s plans for the Doctor Who 50th anniversary episode. After careful thought, Chris decided not to be in the episode. He wishes the team all the best.”
Ah, well, shame, but the “The Five Doctors” survived without Tom Baker (well, aside from the stock footage), and while to fans the lack of Eccleston is a real blow, to the general public, a special without David Tennant would have been the real let-down. And there’s always the stock footage route again. And surely there’s a Madame Tussauds waxwork dummy of Doctor Nine somewhere that can be of use!?
Did Eccleston really hate his time on the show that much? Even if he had a beef with the production team at the time, the show is run by an entirely different set of people now. Maybe he just didn’t like the script? Surely it would have been worth appearing, because now he’s just going to get fed up fielding all the questions about his decision not to when the press interviews for Thor: The Dark World swing into action.