The Best Part About The Ninth Doctor Is That He Lets The Northerner Be The Hero - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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The Best Part About The Ninth Doctor Is That He Lets The Northerner Be The Hero

James Troughton feels fantastic about the Ninth Doctor's dulcet tone.
There’s always been in-fighting among those in the UK, whether that’s between cities – the Sunderland versus Newcastle stir for example – or just in the geographical divide between something as arbitrary as north and south. There are stigmas, stereotypes, and all the things in-between, even bleeding into political policy every now and then. So, when Doctor Who provided a northern hero at the centre of one of the world’s largest sci-fi properties, it meant something. It held weight. It held potential.

The show, up until that point, had hammered home the southern and, to an extent, the posh. Most doctors, even the Scottish McCoy, sounded similar. That wasn’t necessarily problematic. They were all great in the role, and the show wouldn’t be what it is without each of them. However, Doctor Who had lacked in executing that initial promise regeneration brought. There was always a potential for giving a platform to anybody and everybody regardless of where you’re from, your gender, your skin colour, your sexual orientation, or whatever else.
New Who has been doing that since the start. Christopher Eccleston, a northern actor, kept his accent throughout his tenure, and given how controversial his entire motif was, from the more toned-down and plain style to his less cheery disposition, it was certainly a risk. Yet it was a stroke of genius in casting him because it differentiated the show’s revival so much from its past, and it set a precedent. That same precedent eventually led to Peter Capaldi, Jodie Whittaker, and Jo Martin taking up the titular role. But in that isolated bubble, Eccleston means something to me as a northerner. I grew up in Gateshead and Newcastle, just by Durham where some of Harry Potter was filmed, and there’s always been that lingering stigma that northerners are the thick and ostracized of England, the questionable middle child.

Yet, Eccleston came into the role and kept the Doctor’s same flair for intelligent detective work, grand speeches, brilliant monologues, and hefty morals. He was the Doctor through and through, a defining actor in the role, all without compromising that northern element. Having the largest sci-fi property in Britain sport that on television weekly let us northerners see ourselves like never before in the Doctor. He stood against those stereotypes and championed as a representative, and it was inspiring. You’d turn on the television normally and, even with northern comedians on panel shows, the butt of the joke was always some gag about how dumb us up high are, a weird superiority complex no doubt rooted in classism and the historical beating down from the likes of Margaret Thatcher. There wasn’t much of a space for northern heroism or intelligence on the silver screen prior to 2005, and that’s what Nine brought to the table.
Seeing him go was upsetting. That was lost. David Tennant, who is still certainly a favourite of mine, didn’t retain his Scottish accent, and it was a step back in that sense. But the show continued, eventually leading to Capaldi embracing his own inner-Scot, and that was wonderful to see. Suddenly a floodgate opened which meant the Doctor could be more than the white male mouthpiece of southern England.

It was understandable why the on-screen adventures of the Ninth Doctor were over so soon – Eccleston had on-set problems, that much was documented, and now with all that’s come out about some of his co-stars it’s perhaps even more clear as to why he chose to leave. But he’s back! He’s back in the audio dramas from Big Finish and yet again we have a northern hero at the centre of a goliath sci-fi property, making waves online, going as far as to hit Twitter’s trending. Again, we get to see a charismatic, loveable, deeply clever northern character contradicting stereotypes with every single syllable. Sure, fictionally he’s from some space planet where they discovered time travel and bureaucracy rivalling that of Parliament, but what matters is his sound. The accent.

In audio all you get is his voice. So, now, more than ever, it’s a potent trait. I’m not the most northern sounding guy, but there’s always been that estranged feeling of embarrassment when speaking to southerners, and a lot of that stems from those perpetuated notions on the telly of it being an inherently negative trait, something deeply soaked in a vat of stereotypical drivel. The Doctor, through Eccleston, became more than just the hero at the centre of a rich sci-fi world, he became an icon that could represent people, stand up for people, inspire people. I’m not sure Doctor Who would’ve had that same appeal to me as a kid without that hook that came with Nine. That’s far more important with the likes of Jo Martin and Jodie Whittaker, but it's great that we managed to build our way up to that point, letting the Doctor stand in for so many. The future holds a great deal of potential, and we should embrace that, not fear it.

James is a UK-based freelance journalist from Newcastle with bylines in TheGamer, IGN, NintendoLife, PCGamesN, GaymingMag, IntoTheSpine, and CBR. He can be reached at or @JDTroughton.

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