Christopher Eccleston: The acting door is ‘almost shut’ if you’re from a working class background

Former Doctor Who star Christopher Eccleston has criticised the lack of opportunities for poorer kids trying to break into the acting industry today.

He told Readers Digest: “Acting was a huge escape for me. But nowadays, if you’re from my background, the door is almost shut.

“All the classical roles in London’s West End go to white, middle-class males, and we get a culture that is resultantly bland. To be honest, I find it very disturbing.”

Christopher Eccleston was Doctor Who for one season in 2005 (BBC)

Christopher Eccleston was Doctor Who for one series in 2005 (BBC/PA)


A versatile star of stage and screen, Eccleston’s CV is peppered with acclaimed productions: from cult-classic thriller Shallow Grave and Jimmy McGovern’s gripping Hillsborough to an adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s celebrated novel Jude alongside Kate Winslet.

Soon to be seen in Legend, a biopic about the Krays starring Tom Hardy as both twins, Eccleston has the pivotal role of Detective Chief Inspector Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read – the man who arrested the gangland brothers.

Talking about his part, he slammed the glamorisation of 1960s criminal gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray.

“They were vile criminals,” the Our Friends In The North star said.

Tom Hardy plays Reggie and Ronnie Kray in Legend

Tom Hardy plays both Kray brothers in Legend (Greg Williams/PA)


“I’m dismayed at the way they’re romanticised by some. I mean, it’s all just nonsense. ‘They were good to kids and they were good to their mum’. Yes, and they murdered and slashed and burned. There’s no ambiguity for me, and there’s no ambiguity for Nipper in the film.”

Even as he condemns the sentimentalisation of the infamous hoodlums, he understands it: “On a psychological level, the Krays were interesting. I myself have identical twin brothers, eight years older than me, so I know how extraordinary that relationship can be.”

As played by Eccleston, Nipper Read is a man totally unsuited to the Swinging Sixties: “This is someone formed in the 1930s and 1940s in working class Nottingham, and wants things to remain that way,” he observes.


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