Christopher Eccleston (pronounced /ˈɛkəlstən/; born 16 February 1964) is an English stage, film and television actor. His films include Shallow Grave, Elizabeth, 28 Days Later, Gone in 60 Seconds and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. In 2005 he became the ninth incarnation of the Doctor in Doctor Who.
Born into a working-class family in Langworthy, Salford, Eccleston is the youngest of three boys. His brothers, Alan and Keith, are twins eight years his senior. The family lived in a small terraced house in Blodwell Street until the late 1960s, when they relocated to nearby Little Hulton. Eccleston attended Joseph Eastham's High School, Little Hulton, where he became head boy Growing up with a love of Granada and BBC1 television, his main ambition was to play football for his beloved Manchester United. However, at the age of 19, he found himself to be a much better actor than footballer, being inspired by television dramas such as Boys from the Blackstuff. Eccleston completed a two-year Performance Foundation Course at Salford Tech, before going on to train at the Hampstead-based Central School of Speech and Drama. As an actor, his early influences had been Ken Loach's Kes and Albert Finney's performance in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, but he soon found himself performing the classics, including the works of Shakespeare, Chekhov and Molière. At age 25, Eccleston made his professional stage debut in the Bristol Old Vic's production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Underemployed as an actor for some years after graduating school, Eccleston took a variety of odd jobs at a supermarket, on building sites, and as an artist's model.
Eccleston first came to public attention as Derek Bentley in the 1991 film Let Him Have It and an episode of Inspector Morse, "Second Time Around", also in 1991. However, it was a regular role in the television series Cracker (1993–94) that made him a recognisable figure in the UK. At around the same time he appeared in Agatha Christie's Poirot.