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Christopher Eccleston shares he was "very ill" with anorexia during Doctor Who

Susannah Alexander
Photo credit: BBC

From Digital Spy

Note: The following article contains discussion of themes including suicide that some readers may find upsetting.

Doctor Who star Christopher Eccleston has revealed that he was battling anorexia while filming the hit BBC sci-fi show.

Eccleston introduced a new generation of viewers to the Doctor during the first series of its modern revival in 2005, starring as the Time Lord for one series before handing the part over to David Tennant.

In his new autobiography, I Love The Bones Of You, the actor has opened up about filming the series, revealing that he was struggling with his health during production.

Photo credit: BBC

"Many times I've wanted to reveal that I'm a lifelong anorexic and dysmorphic. I never have. I always thought of it as a filthy secret, because I'm Northern, because I'm male and because I'm working-class," Eccleston writes in the book (via The Mail on Sunday).

"The illness is still there raging within me as the Doctor. People love the way I look in that series, but I was very ill. The reward for that illness was the part. And therein lies the perpetuation of the whole sorry situation."

He continued to say that he was diagnosed with severe clinical depression 10 years later while he was filming The A Word, explaining that he admitted himself to a psychiatric hospital when be began contemplating suicide.

Photo credit: Fred Duval/FilmMagic - Getty Images

Related: Christopher Eccleston says Doctor Who exit almost destroyed his career

"I was in a state of extreme anxiety, convinced I was either going to die or I was going to kill myself," he writes. "In my despair I reached for my phone and looked up a psychiatric hospital, I rang ahead, grabbed my bag and ran.

"I was 100 per cent sure I was in the last few weeks of my life."

After his diagnosis, Eccleston explains he was prescribed anti-depressants and began his road to recover, saying that he is still taking them "to this day".

"I could be on them for the rest of my days. I do have an issue with that," he added. "I would like to attempt slowly to reduce the dose, to experience reality again, to see how I do…

"And yet, interestingly I have received some of the best reviews of my life since I started taking them."

Photo credit: Simon and Schuster

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The actor's memoir will focus on his life and wide-ranging career, including his upbringing in 1970s Salford and the effect that his father's dementia has had on him.

I Love The Bones Of You will be published on September 19 and is available to pre-order now.

We would encourage anyone who identifies with the topics raised in this article to reach out. Organisations who can offer support include Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org), MIND on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk) and The Body Dysmorphic Foundation (www.bddfoundation.org). Readers in the US are encouraged to visit mentalhealth.gov or the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.


Beat promotes awareness and understanding of eating disorders, also challenging inaccurate stereotypes and stigma. Find out more at Beat's website. Beat's helpline for those aged 18 and over is 0808 801 0677, and there's also a dedicated Youthline for those under 18 – 0808 801 0711.


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