Actor Christopher Eccleston arrives for the world premiere of "Thor : The Dark World" at Leicester Square in London October 22, 2013.
Actor Christopher Eccleston arrives for the world premiere of "Thor : The Dark World" at Leicester Square in London October 22, 2013. Reuters/Luke MacGregor

“Doctor Who” star Christopher Eccleston has admitted his regret on leaving the UK show early. The 52-year-old English actor played the Ninth Doctor for just one season when the series was re-launched in 2005.

In an interview with 774 ABC Melbourne’s “Drive” last week, Eccleston called his leaving of the show “tragic.” He added he would have been prouder of being in “Doctor Who” had he stayed on for another season.

“It was kind of tragic for me that I didn’t play him for longer. He’s a beautiful character and I have a great deal of professional pride. And had I done a second season, there would have been a marked improvement in my performance,” he told host Raf Epstein. “I was learning new skills in terms of playing light comedy. I was not known for light comedy and, again, production did not allow for that.”

Prior to playing the Gallifreyan Time Lord, Eccleston played dramatic roles in TV series and films. He played the title role in the 1996 period drama “Jude,” the main villain in the Angelina Jolie and Nicholas Cage-starrer “Gone in 60 Seconds,” and had a brief role in “The Others,” a horror film starring Nicole Kidman.

He was also nominated twice for Best Actor for playing Dominic “Nicky” Hutchinson in the BBC drama series “Our Friends in the North.”

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As for why he left the show after just one season, Eccleston previously said he clashed with “upper management.” In his interview with “Drive,” he was a little more specific but still refused to name the person.

“It’s very important on a first series that you make a very informed and intelligent choice, even if it means breaking the budget,” he said, referring to the director of the first episode. “About getting the first director who is going to set the tone for the season, for the way the actors relate and that did not happen. Disaster.”

As Bleeding Cool notes, Eccleston was probably referring to Keith Boak, who directed the first production block in 2003. He was the director of the re-launched series’ first episode, “Rose.”

He has since never looked back at the show, not even when he was asked to return for the 50th anniversary, “The Day of the Doctor,” in 2013. His successor, David Tennant, and his show companion Billie Piper both returned. His refusal to reprise his role led showrunner Steven Moffat to create the War Doctor, played by John Hurt.

Eccleston now stars in the drama “The A Word. It airs in Australia on BBC First on Sundays.

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