"Yeah. I'm doing it now. Time Lords, we have this little trick. It's sort of a way of cheating death. Except... it means I'm going to change. And I'm not going to see you again... Not like this. Not with this daft old face."
Those were the penultimate lines spoken by the ninth Doctor. And it appears he was right because Christopher Eccleston has turned down the chance to appear in the 50th Anniversary celebrations of Doctor Who.
Of course Doctor Who is used to celebrating its birthday by bringing back past regenerations of the eponymous hero. Nor is it the first time one of the Doctors has turned down the opportunity to appear.
It all started for the 10th Anniversary with The Three Doctors. The last time William Hartnell would appear on screen (or indeed in any role) and on screen is how he appeared whether in the TARDIS or the Time Lords space time viewer, he being too ill to hurtle about with Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee.
Ten Years and two Doctors later it was time for The Five Doctors. Hartnell who had died in 1975 two years after The Two Doctors was replaced by Richard Hurndall, and the other two from that ten year show appeared as did the newest Doctor Peter Davidson. But number four the recently replaced Tom Baker declined to take part, but he did appear trapped in some other time frame through footage of the strike affected and unaired Douglas Adams written story Shada.
Now there haven't been another other reunion of Doctors on the screen since the 20th, though for the 40th Big Finish did produce an audio play Zagreus which features the voices of Peter Davidson, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and some cuts of the voice of the by then late Jon Pertwee. Plus a whole host of familiar companions Nicholas Courtney (the Brigadier), Anneke Wills (Polly), Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), Louise Jameson (Leela), John Leeson (K9), Lalla Ward (Romana II), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Mark Strickson (Turlough), Nicola Bryant (Peri), Bonnie Langford (Mel), and Sophie Aldred (Ace). Although not everyone was playing themselves because anti-time has affected the Doctor and the TARDIS and invaders from another parallel universe come to the Doctor in the form of his past self and companions. But the relation of the Doctor with the TARDIS in this story before the return to TV was revisted and used again the The Doctor's Wife.
So is Chris Eccleston being small minded to not want to appear in the 50th Anniversary. Well with the exception of McGann his is the shorter tenure in the blue box. His initial contract was only ever for one season, because nobody at the BBC knew if the revival would work or not. So maybe he isn't totally to blame for being replaced with David Tennant. However, when asked how he enjoyed the role he did once respond "Mixed, but that's a long story."
Tom Baker refused to add his voice to any Doctor Who Audio version until 2009, so hopefully, with another 28 year break, we'll see Eccleston maybe appear in the 75th Anniversary story, however he will be 74 at the time being the first actor to play the role born after that first episode.