Doctor Who star Christopher Eccleston talks to Vickie Scullard about his love of reading — and why books should be available to all.

HE is the young lad who grew up in Little Hulton and went on to star as the ninth incarnation of The Doctor — in Doctor Who.

Before then, Christopher Eccleston made his name alongside Ewan McGregor in the low-budget thriller Shallow Grave, directed by another local lad Danny Boyle.

And for his next role, the 49-year-old returns to sci-fi in Hollywood blockbuster Thor: The Dark World, playing Malekith the Accursed, leader of the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim and Thor’s arch-enemy.

But despite all these starring roles in film and television, it is reading where his true passion lies.

The actor is a self-confessed “avid reader”, so when the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) asked him to get involved with its reading day, he was happy to help.

Christopher lent his voice to the Read for RNIB Day exclusive performance of Now That You’ve Died written by author Patrick Ness, which was performed at The Roundhouse in Camden.

And off the back of this, Christopher was asked if he would help build awareness for the charity’s biggest ever fundraising event, Read for RNIB day on October 11, which aims to make reading more accessible for blind and partially sighted people.

The father-of-one, who was head boy at Joseph Eastham High School, said: “I was first approached by the RNIB about two months ago to get involved with a narration.

“Patrick Ness wrote a piece called Now That You’ve Died, which I thought was brilliantly written, moving, but also profound and humorous.

“The piece is sight specific and is performed in the dark to give you a feeling what it might make you feel like if you were blind or partially sighted.

“I did a narration for it and it was staged at the Roundhouse in Camden. We hope that in the future it will be re-done in other venues around the country.”

Christopher, known for his distinctive accent, has also been asked to take part in recording audio books.

He said: “I used my own northern accent in the narration. They specifically asked me to do that. I’m going to record some audio books too, although there isn’t a date or any details yet.

“The next big thing I’m supporting is the national awareness day for RNIB for people who are blind or visually disabled.

“When I heard that there are only seven per cent of books available for blind or partially sighted people I was shocked.

“I have been a professional actor for 20 years and I’ve got a bit of a name for myself — and if you’re given the opportunity to highlight something that you care about, I think I’ve inherited the social conscience from my parents to do that.”

The RNIB is urging people across the North West to take part in the Read for RNIB day to raise money by dressing up as book characters, second hand book sales and Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

Every penny raised will help provide vital reading services such as braille, talking books and giant print for the estimated two million adults and children with sight loss in the UK.

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