phone mail2 facebook twitter play
The Tardis meets ‘The Time Machine’ -  An Interview with Christopher Eccleston
The Tardis meets ‘The Time Machine’ -  An Interview with Christopher Eccleston

The Tardis meets ‘The Time Machine’ -  An Interview with Christopher Eccleston

28 September 2016 Stephanie Brandhuber  | Interviews

The 10th London Literature Festival is taking place from the 5th-10th October at Southbank Centre. The Festival will be featuring a host of incredible events, including a live reading of HG Wells’ visionary work 'The Time Machine' by Nikki Amuka-Bird, Emma Hamilton, and the ninth Doctor Who himself, Christopher Eccleston. We sit down with the former Doctor and overall brilliant actor to talk about his love of literature, his favourite roles, and the fun of ageing.

London Calling: How are you feeling about being one of the three people to take part in the reading of H.G Well’s The Time Machine for the opening of the 10th London Literature Festival?
 
Christopher Eccleston: Well it’s a great honour, I’m very excited about it.
 
LC: What made you want to take part in the Literature Festival?
 
CE: Well, as a child I fell in love with the film with Rod Taylor. Then as an adult, I studied H.G Wells’ short stories as part of my A-Level and it was my favourite part of those studies. I’m fascinated by Wells. I mean, we’re living in the future that was, to a certain extent, predicted by him. And it’s the 150th anniversary of his birth so it’s a double celebration.
 
LC: The Literature Festival is taking on a sci-fi theme this year. Was the sci-fi aspect of the Festival appealing to you considering your past roles in the sci-fi and fantasy genres?
 
CE: I’m not a particular fan of science fiction just for the sake of it. I was attracted to it because of HG Wells. And, any Festival that celebrates literature is going to be attractive to me because I’ve always been a voracious and very passionate reader. I was a remedial reader at school and then I was given concentrated teaching and I ended up leading my school with the best reading age. I went from remedial to top of the class, so in a sense I found a lot of my confidence as an individual through literature.
 
LC: That’s amazing and certainly shows how powerful literature can be.
 
CE: I had an extraordinary teacher who was American. I was being taught on almost late-Victorian English literature and she gave me Dr. Seuss. The education of children in America was a very progressive movement at that time. In the 1970s you had Dr. Seuss, you had Sesame Street, and that had a huge impact on my development. It appealed to me in a way that some of the Victoriana I was being fed just didn’t.
 
LC: Considering the broad range of roles and characters you’ve played over the years, what do you look for in a script when choosing roles to play?
 
CE: Quality. I grew up watching British television of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, which by and large was writer-led, meaning the writer was the most important person in the process. Consequently, the programmes you watched were extremely well written. And I don’t care how good an actor you are, if you don’t have the words, you can’t do it. So I look for strong writers with a very individual voice. I think dialogue is a huge factor for me when deciding whether to take a role.
 
LC: Despite such a variety of roles over the years, it doesn’t seem like you’ve done much comedy. Is that something that you might want to do?
 
CE: Yeah, I mean Maurice in The A Word was my most recent thing on British television, and he certainly had a comedic element. I really enjoyed that and I would like to do more of that, very much.
 
LC: Speaking of The A Word, which is such a wonderful BBC drama about a young autistic boy, what made you want to take on the role of Maurice, the young boy’s grandfather?
 
CE: Well, I have small children myself and fortunately they are not on the spectrum. But they have friends who are on the spectrum and I have friends whose children are too. It’s increasingly a concern for parents and a huge social issue in the way that dementia on the other end of the spectrum is. So in terms of The A word, I liked the way the programme forgrounded a social issue without soapboxing it.  Also, it was very attractive playing the role of Maurice because it’s not necessarily a role I’d normally be associated with.
 
LC: Did it bother you being cast as the grandfather?
 
CE: Not at all! I mean I’m 53, so I can’t play Romeo anymore. Although Maurice is Romeo - that was one of the appeals of the role. Maurice is in his fifties but has an active sex life. We can’t leave it all to the kids.
 
LC: I think it’s great that more TV shows are shining a light on the active life of the older generation.
 
CE: Exactly! I think it gets better as you get older personally.
 
LC: Well that’s good to know!
 
CE: You’ve got a lot to look forward to.
 
LC: I’m glad to hear that! You also star in the HBO show The Leftovers, and it’s having its final season. How do you feel about that coming to a close?
 
CE: Well, we wrapped this past Friday. We’re all very, very sad. We’re very proud of the show. The fact is, the first season was not brilliantly reviewed and then we got a second season and we got the best reviews you’ve ever seen. And yet, still we struggled for viewers. But HBO have been true to their word and let us finish it, and I think we’ve made a series that’s as strong as the second. I’m very excited for it to reach its audience.
 
LC: Of all the roles you’ve played, is there one that stands out as your favourite or that you’d like to revisit?
 
CE: Two really. On stage it was Hamlet at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and the television role that I’m most proud of is playing Trevor Hicks in the drama-documentary Hillsborough because as we now know, everything said in that programme has been proven to be true. We made that programme in 1996, the tragedy happened in 1989, and it’s taken until 2016 for the Government, the police, the FA and everybody else to come clean. So, playing Trevor was a great challenge and a huge honour.
 
LC: Do you have a favourite place in London?
 
CE: Hampstead Heath – I run there, I take my children there, I spend as much time as I possibly can on Hampstead Heath. Long may it prosper!
 
The 10th London Literature Festival will be taking place from October 5th-10th at Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, London SE1 8XX. The live reading of The Time Machine featuring Christopher Eccleston will take place on October 5th in the Royal Festival Hall of Southbank Centre. Tickets for this and all of the Literature Festival events can be booked online.

Tell us what you think

You may also like

‘Being haunted by the past is something I’m creatively turned on by’ - An Interview with Brian J Smith

‘Being haunted by the past is something I’m creatively turned on by’ - An Interview with Brian J Smith

Science fiction fans may be particularly familiar with Texas born Brian J Smith. He got his big break playing Lieutenant Matthew Scott in military science…

Free Fire - An Interview with Ben Wheatley

Free Fire - An Interview with Ben Wheatley

Ben Wheatley’s films are sick and twisted in the best way possible. With Free Fire, the genre experimenter goes for pure fun, delivering a 70s-set action-comedy…

This Week 27 March - 2 April

This Week 27 March - 2 April

The days are getting longer and (very gradually) getting warmer, so it’s time to go outside! Follow along the path of nature to discover Moomins and…

The Best Places to Watch the Boat Race in London

The Best Places to Watch the Boat Race in London

The Boat Race – a contest between two of the Britain’s most elite and exclusive universities in a sport watched approximately twice a year that incomprehensibly…

Walk of Shame – An Interview with Eleanor Conway

Walk of Shame – An Interview with Eleanor Conway

Eleanor Conway began her career as a music journalist, travelling the world and interviewing some of the music industry’s biggest names. A ferocious clubber and party…

Top 5: Mother’s Day Activities for 2017

Top 5: Mother’s Day Activities for 2017

Mother’s Day is the perfect opportunity to let that special person in your life know how much you appreciate them. For all those years of nappy…

Brexit, moving to London and Denial - An Interview with Rachel Weisz

Brexit, moving to London and Denial - An Interview with Rachel Weisz

London born and Cambridge educated, Rachel Weisz has wowed audiences from her breakthrough role as Egyptologist Evelyn in The Mummy to her Oscar-winning performance as…

Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait

Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait

You might think you know Amy Winehouse. The caricatured, instantly recognisable figure in tiny 1950s style dotted dresses with a colossal beehive of black hair,…

Don’t Wake The Beast - An Interview with Kill The Beast

Don’t Wake The Beast - An Interview with Kill The Beast

“We’re all friends because we’re weirdos,” says Clem Garritty, one fifth of theatre company Kill The Beast. “We just hope other people like the stuff that makes us…

‘You don’t want to play the goofy sidekick or best friend characters anymore’ - An Interview with Dev Patel

‘You don’t want to play the goofy sidekick or best friend characters anymore’ - An Interview with Dev Patel

Born in West London, we first saw Dev Patel on our screens in the anarchic Bristol-based TV drama Skins, before he got the biggest of…

More inspiration...

‘Being haunted by the past is something I’m creatively turned on by’ - An Interview with Brian J Smith

‘Being haunted by the past is something I’m creatively turned on by’ - An Interview with Brian J Smith

We spoke to Stargate Universe and Sense 8 actor about his latest role in the Glass Menagerie, the roles that most inspire him and the surprising purchase he made with his first acting paycheck.
Free Fire - An Interview with Ben Wheatley

Free Fire - An Interview with Ben Wheatley

Ben Wheatley’s films are sick and twisted in the best way possible. We talk to him about his latest film, Free Fire.
This Week 27 March - 2 April

This Week 27 March - 2 April

We find out what will be keeping you occupied in the capital this week.
The Best Places to Watch the Boat Race in London

The Best Places to Watch the Boat Race in London

Whether you're Oxford, Cambridge or (literally) somewhere in between, find out the best places to watch the Boat Race 2017.
Deutsche Börse Prize Exhibition at the Photographers’ Gallery

Deutsche Börse Prize Exhibition at the Photographers’ Gallery

This diverse exhibition takes in landscapes, travel diaries and post-modern self-portraits.

Your inbox deserves a little culture!