Christopher Eccleston believes it would be ‘impossible’ for him to become an actor today
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Doctor Who star Christopher Eccleston has weighed in on the debate about access to acting from working-class backgrounds, admitting he doesn't think he'd be in the industry if he started out today.
Hailing from Salford, Greater Manchester in the UK, the actor spoke up on the importance of community spaces to foster creativity at the closing night of Oldham’s historic Coliseum theatre.
The venue sadly pulled the curtains one last time last Friday (March 31), after a failed campaign to save it, following a fund shake-up which saw it lose its Arts Council England subsidy of £600,000 per year.
Eccleston paid tribute to the Coliseum alongside fellow stars who grew up in the area, including The Theory of Everything's Maxine Peake.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme yesterday (April 1), the actor reflected on his career coming from a working-class background.
"There's no more actors like me coming through – it's impossible," Eccleston said. "Now, you've just got to go to public school, haven't you? You've got to go to Oxbridge, otherwise you can't act."
He pointed out he 'wouldn't be an actor if it wasn't for' venues such as the Coliseum, adding: "And they're disappearing. So what happens to this generation's Chris Eccleston's or Maxine Peake's, or whoever you want to name?"
He then shared his fondest memories of the theatre, saying: "I went to see productions there as a child, and I just think it's tragic that Oldham and its borough is losing a theatre in a time where we’re supposed to be levelling up."
The 28 Days Later actor reiterated the importance of cultural venues in the North West of England.
"If you grow up in the North West, you don’t feel the culture and the arts belong to you. You don't believe, if you come from a council estate, [that] you can be an actor, a poet or a painter," he said.
"So places like Oldham Coliseum, Bolton Octagon – they're a beacon for people like me."
He finally shared some words of wisdom with younger actors from underrepresented groups, warning them against rejection.
"You're going to have to put up with the unemployment – you're gonna have to put up with the rejection – and that's going to be doubled if you're from a working-class background or if you're a minority," he said, encouraging them "not to just think about becoming an actor" but also to "produce, direct, use iPhones, use everything available to you".
Eccleston will next be seen in Disney's biopic Young Woman and the Sea, starring Star Wars' Daisy Ridley as American swimming champion, Gertrude Ederle.