Christopher Eccleston Returns To 'Doctor Who' For First Time In 15 Years In Series Of Audio Adventures

Here's some truly fantastic news to lighten up your Monday: Christopher Eccleston, who helped bring Doctor Who to the 21st century with his portrayal of the Ninth Doctor in the modern-day revival of the classic British sci-fi series, is returning to the role after 15 years. Well, in audio form. But regardless of the medium, this is a big deal considering the actor's famous split with the BBC after his short-lived one season run on Doctor Who, and his reluctance to associate with the role of the beloved time-traveling alien in the years since.

Eccleston is set to reprise his role as the Ninth Doctor for the first time in 15 years, in a series of Big Finish Doctor Who audio adventures titled Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor Adventures. Big Finish announced that Eccleston will star as the Doctor in 12 full-cast audio adventures, which will be released across four box sets, starting with volume one in May 2021. Eccleston said in a statement accompanying the announcement:

"After 15 years it will be exciting to revisit the Ninth Doctor's world, bringing back to life a character I love playing."

The audio drama series will reunite Eccleston with the creative director of Big Finish, Nicholas Briggs, with whom the actor worked with in his first and only season on Doctor Who. Briggs gushed about collaborating with Eccleston again, saying, "Working with Chris was a very special time for me. The beginning of my Doctor Who TV career. So, writing for and directing him feels incredibly exciting. He's such a powerful performer and it'll be amazing to work with him again."

This will be the first time Eccleston has returned to the role of the Doctor since he brought the character to life in the first season of the modern-day Doctor Who revival in 2005. The actor, somewhat famously, left the show on bad terms with the BBC over behind-the-scenes disputes with the producers and executives, and has made a concerted effort to distance himself from the role in the years since. He did not return for the 50th anniversary of the series in 2013 either, despite being offered a major part, which led then-showrunner Steven Moffat to rewrite the role intended for the Ninth Doctor.

But Eccleston has softened his stance on Doctor Who recently, speaking positively about his time on the show and even appearing at fan conventions — an experience he said he had always been "wary of because I always wanted to earn my money from acting." It was at one of these fan conventions that Big Finish chairman Jason Haigh-Ellery approached him with the pitch of reprising the role in a series of audio dramas — something that previous actors who played the Doctor, as well as fan-favorite characters, have done in abundance for Big Finish, which is a British audio company officially associated with Doctor Who.

"I first talked to Christopher about returning to the role of the Doctor at a fan convention in February this year," Haigh-Ellery said. "Christopher said he was enjoying meeting the fans and was pleased that his Doctor was remembered so fondly. I am so pleased that Christopher has decided to return to the role with us – and I'm excited to welcome him to the Big Finish family as we discover the new adventures of the Ninth Doctor."

Story details, writers, and additional guest cast members are being kept under wraps, but Big Finish promises that this audio series will be "the trip of a lifetime." Even better, perhaps it's a sign that Eccleston could be open to coming back on screen for the upcoming 60th anniversary in three years? Now that would be fantastic.

Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor Adventures is now available to pre-order at the Big Finish website. The volumes will be available in three formats: collector's edition CD, digital download or limited edition gatefold triple LP vinyl. They will also contain a selection of behind-the-scenes extras.