Doctor Who: Why Christopher Eccleston’s return is much more exciting on audio

Next year, Christopher Eccleston returns to Doctor Who, this time on audio. We look at why that’s much more exciting than a TV appearance.

I’m sure you’ve heard the news by now – the huge surprise of Christopher Eccleston returning as the Ninth Doctor in 2021! Considering how it didn’t look likely that he’d ever return to Doctor Who – in any format – this was undoubtedly huge news.

Of course, while many are excited about this, reading through some of the comments and Facebook groups, it’s clear that others are disappointed. Not by his return, but by the fact that it’s happening on audio.

It’s understandable. In the reporting of the news, some websites have unsurprisingly left out that it’s audio in the title. Finding out that he wasn’t meeting Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor on-screen can be disappointing. At least, if you think TV is the best medium for his return.

But honestly, the fact that it is happening on audio is far, far more exciting than if it were happening on television. Here are a few reasons why.

Doctor Who

The magic of the audio medium offers so much more than the medium of television.
Courtesy BBC

Bringing an era to life

Firstly, let’s say the obvious: it’s been 15 years since Eccleston last played the role. Now while he hasn’t massively aged during that time, it’s still noticeable. While Paul McGann came back after 17 years, it was for his long-overdue regeneration story The Night of the Doctor, so the fact that he noticeably aged during that time was hardly a problem. With Eccleston’s Doctor, we know exactly when he regenerated, so it’d be harder to tell stories before that point on-screen.

With audio, it’s far easier to just close your eyes and picture Eccleston looking exactly as he once did in 2005. Nostalgia and the audio medium can bring that era back to life in a way that television simply couldn’t.

On top of that, he’s getting a new 12 episode series thanks to Big Finish. If he was returning on-screen, we’d be lucky to get a cameo. While it was a delight to see John Barrowman return to Doctor Who this year as Captain Jack, his appearance didn’t really add too much to the plot of Fugitive of the Judoon. Honestly, his Torchwood audios have been far more satisfying.

More stories

With something as big as Eccleston returning to the role of the Ninth Doctor, we really need something better than a brief cameo. For a Doctor so short-lived, we need more than 1 episode. That’s not guaranteed on television, when the production team has to primarily keep moving forward and focus on the current Doctor.

But, with Big Finish, there really is so much more that you can do. You can tell more stories of the Ninth Doctor’s travels with Rose. You can have him facing more old enemies. Or even find out about his first adventure post-regeneration. There’s so much more that you can do away from the confines of the small screen.

It would be nice to see Eccleston take part in a multi-Doctor story one day. But, until then, we have the audios to look forward to. They won’t be as good as a TV appearance – they’ll be so much better.

What do you think? Do you think Eccleston’s return will be much more exciting on audio than on television? Are you hoping that his audio appearance will eventually lead to a TV cameo? Let us know in the comments below.