On March 20th, 2004, writer & director Russell T. Davies put an end to the speculation and announced Christopher Eccleston to play the Ninth Doctor.
Eccleston is well-known (stateside, at least) for his roles in 28 Days Later, Gone In 60 Seconds, and most certainly Shallow Grave.
This smattered selection certainly lends credence to Russell's vacuous chatterbox references to an 'edgier, darker, more exciting' new era of Doctor Who... But 'darker, edgier & more exciting' is exactly the sort of inflated, meaningless talk which proceeds the apocalyptic end of everything one holds dear, and this has led certain Whovians to wonder what sort of flighty deconstructionist nonsense will be crammed into their favorite pulp vehicle; a worry in no wise extinguished by Davies' portfolio, as the creator, writer & director of series such as The Second Coming, Queer as Folk, Bob & Rose.
('Edgy'? 'Exciting'? Russell's soundbites belong to NME, not a silly SF show with a cult following.)
While it may do little to assuage these fears, it must be noted that as a graduate of the Central School for Speech & Drama, Eccleston is a trained Shakespearian and frequently participates in productions in his hometown of Salford, Lancanshire. With this history, it's unsurprising that Eccleston's opinion of the bard is rather lukewarm:
"I wasn't always such a great fan of Shakespeare, mind you. I can guess we all at one time had it rammed down our necks at school, which tends to take the edge off it."
What does this backhanded assessment have to do with the show? Three things:
First, no matter how grudgingly, Eccleston respects the dramatic form, and isn't likely to put up with a bunch of cheap hacks damaging his career.
Second, he has a sense of humor dry as burned toast. The silliness imbedded in the show by Pertwee, Baker & McCoy will evaporate somewhat, but won't disappear.
Third and most important, the new Doctor won't be Branagh-ing it up, and thank Christ. The last thing we need is another Colin Baker.