We look back at the career of iconic British actor Christopher Eccleston, and choose his 10 career defining roles

1. Let Him Have It (1991)

Eccleston's first role was an biographical one. He played Derek Bentley, a young man with learning difficulties falsely accused of, and hanged for, killing a policeman in a gang shooting incident during the early 1950s.

 

2. Cracker (1993-4)

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One of Eccleston's earlier roles, DCI David Bilborough gave him a turn in the spotlight as a determined, maverick detective alongside Robbie Coltrane's titular performance.

 

3. Hillsborough (1996)

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Written by Jimmy McGovern and co-starring Ricky Tomlinson, the television film Hillsborough depicted the lives of three of the ninety-six families who lost a loved one during the football ground disaster of 1989. Eccleston himself regards the role as the most important work he’s ever done.

 

4. Our Friends in the North (1996)

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Set in the northeast, the TV series charts the lives of 4 friends during the political and social upheaval of the mid to late eighties. The BBC drama was well received and helped to establish Eccleston’s acting career, along with co-stars Daniel Craig and Gina McKee.  

 

5. Othello (2001)

Christopher Eccleston in Othello by recorddoodle

Proving his ability to take on much lauded roles, Eccleston delivered another career defining performance as the treacherous Lago, by the new name Ben Jago, in this contemporary and well regarded update on the Shakespearean classic.

 

6. 28 Days Later (2002)

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Arguably one of the best post-apocalyptic films to come out the UK. 28 Days Later sees Irish actor Cillian Murphy wake in zombified London. Eccleston plays Major Henry West, a resourceful leader with an amoral edge protecting a military safe haven on the edge of Manchester.

 

7. Doctor Who (2006)

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Bringing charm, warmth, humour and vulnerability to the rubberised role of the lonely traveller, Eccleston joined the infamous programme for just one season, managing to revitalise the rebooted television series and set the tone for the future doctors.

 

8. Heroes (2007)

Among a cast of glamourous leads and , Eccleston cuts a dark and menacing figure by way of Claude, cursed with the power of invisibility. He played the perfect anti-hero, having turned down the role of arch-villain Sylar, and gave a British edge to the multicultural phenomenon.

 

9. Fortitude (2015)

Fortitude is a remotely-set crime drama that stands out for its international cast. Throwing plenty of plot twists and surprises for such a small town (including a surprise polar bear) where crime is said to have been previously non-existent. Eccleston plays a pivotal yet brief role as Charlie Stoddart, a scientist trying to help save the world.

 

10. Legend (2015)

This biopic centres on the rise and fall London’s most notorious gangsters, the Kray twins. Alongside a sterling performance from his co-star Tom Hardy, Christopher Eccleston plays the key role of Nipper Read, the Detective Superintendent who works to take the infamous brothers down.

Listen to our interview with Christopher Eccleston in the September podcast:

 

 

 

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