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Eccleston - inequality among actors

Published 14/04/2015

Christopher Eccleston believes there are not enough young, working class actors emerging
Christopher Eccleston believes there are not enough young, working class actors emerging

TV star Christopher Eccleston has warned that working-class actors are finding it tougher than ever to make it.

The former Doctor Who and Our Friends In The North actor, 51, was brought up in Salford by working-class parents.

He warned that British culture had become bland because of the dominance of actors from privileged backgrounds in the industry.

"I still feel insecure, like a lot of my working-class contemporaries. I had a sense acting wasn't for me because I'm not educated," he told Radio Times magazine.

Eccleston, who left Doctor Who after one series as the Time Lord in 2005, said: "I was a skinny, awkward-looking bugger with an accent, as I still am.

"British society has always been based on inequality, particularly culturally. I've lived with it, but it's much more pronounced now, and it would be difficult for someone like me to come through."

He added: "You can't blame Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbatch and others taking their opportunities but it will lead to a milky, anodyne culture. To an extent that's already happened."

Eccleston, who now stars in new ITV thriller Safe House, said: "I confess I don't watch much film or television drama but I'm aware of the predominance of white, male roles.

"It's not just about the working class. There's not enough writing for women or people of colour.

"It frustrates me when they insist on doing all-male Shakespearean productions - a wonderful intellectual exercise, maybe, but it's outrageous because it's putting a lot of women out of work."

The star, whose parents supported his ambition to become an actor, said that the "Billy Elliot cliche (a northern coal miner's son whose family discourage him from becoming a ballet dancer) is very offensive".

Earlier this year, TV dramatist Jimmy McGovern revealed that he was struggling to fill working class roles because of a dearth of actors from poorer backgrounds.

Veteran actress Julie Walters, The Walking Dead star David Morrissey and Call The Midwife star Stephen McGann have complained about a shortage of young actors emerging from poorer backgrounds.

Eccleston previously said that he left Doctor Who after one series following its comeback in 2005 because "I didn't agree with the way things were being run, or like the culture that grew up around the series".

Now he has told the magazine that he does not watch the sci-fi show - currently starring Peter Capaldi.

He said of the way he played the Time Lord: "I wanted to move him away from RP (received pronunciation) for the first time because we shouldn't make a correlation between intellect and accent, although that still needs addressing.

"I hope I'll be remembered as one of the Doctors. I have no ill feeling towards the character or the series. I don't watch it and am not keen to discuss it because I want this to be about Safe House. That's my mortgage."

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