Dodger FIRST LOOK: Ex Doctor Who star Christopher Eccleston transforms into criminal Fagin

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    Former Doctor Who star Christopher Eccleston was seen on the set of the new BBC drama Dodger for the first time on Thursday.

    The actor, 57, wore a period costume as he filmed scenes at the National Waterways Museum in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, alongside former Hollyoaks star Saira Choudhry.

    Christopher will play criminal organiser Fagin in the 10-part family drama which is an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist.

    New project! Former Doctor Who star Christopher Eccleston was seen on the set of the new BBC drama Dodger for the first time on Thursday

    New project! Former Doctor Who star Christopher Eccleston was seen on the set of the new BBC drama Dodger for the first time on Thursday

    Fagin – one of the main characters in the 1838 novel – is the leader of a group of children who he teaches to pickpocket in exchange for shelter. 

    Christopher transformed into Fagin in a long blue and grey jacket which he wore over a light pink waist coat and light blue shirt. 

    He had a brown neckerchief on and a brown hat and was carrying a suitcase and a box as he filmed what appeared to be a tense scene alongside Saira.

    Saira, 31, – who is best known for playing Anita Roy in Hollyoaks and Tegan in Paul Abbott’s No Offence – wore a blue dress with elaborate sleeves and a beige cape. 

    Tense: The actor, 57, (left) wore a period costume as he filmed scenes at the National Waterways Museum in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, alongside former Hollyoaks star Saira Choudhry (centre)

    Tense: The actor, 57, (left) wore a period costume as he filmed scenes at the National Waterways Museum in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, alongside former Hollyoaks star Saira Choudhry (centre)

    Star: Christopher will play criminal organiser Fagin in the the 10-part family drama which is an adaptation of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist

    Star: Christopher will play criminal organiser Fagin in the the 10-part family drama which is an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist

    Shameless star David Threlfall, 67, will play chief of police Sir Charles Rowan in the series, while child actor Billy Jenkins, 14, – who was in The Crown – will also star, though they were not seen on set on Thursday. 

    The series, which will appear on CBBC and BBC iPlayer, has been written by Rhys Thomas and Lucy Montgomery, while Charlie Higson has also guest-written an episode.

    Oliver Twist is Charles Dickens’ second novel, and was published as a serial from 1837 to 1839 and released as a three-volume book in 1838, before the serialisation ended.

    Filming: Christopher transformed into Fagin in a long blue and grey jacket which he wore over a light pink waist coat and light blue shirt

    Filming: Christopher transformed into Fagin in a long blue and grey jacket which he wore over a light pink waist coat and light blue shirt

    Shooting scenes: He had a brown neckerchief on and a brown hat and was carrying a suitcase and a box as he filmed what appeared to be a tense scene alongside Saira

    Shooting scenes: He had a brown neckerchief on and a brown hat and was carrying a suitcase and a box as he filmed what appeared to be a tense scene alongside Saira

    The story centres on orphan Oliver who was born in a workhouse and sold into apprenticeship with an undertaker.

    After escaping, Oliver travels to London, where he meets the ‘Artful Dodger’ Jack Dawkins, a member of a gang of juvenile pickpockets led by Fagin. 

    Christopher said of the upcoming series: ‘Fagin is an iconic role, I’m a very fortunate actor.

    Exciting: Christopher (pictured on set) said of the upcoming series: 'Fagin is an iconic role, I'm a very fortunate actor'

    Exciting: Christopher (pictured on set) said of the upcoming series: ‘Fagin is an iconic role, I’m a very fortunate actor’

    Costume: Saira, 31, - who is best known for playing Anita Roy in Hollyoaks and Tegan in Paul Abbott's No Offence - wore a blue dress with elaborate sleeves and a beige cape

    Costume: Saira, 31, – who is best known for playing Anita Roy in Hollyoaks and Tegan in Paul Abbott’s No Offence – wore a blue dress with elaborate sleeves and a beige cape

    ‘Rhys Thomas and Lucy Montgomery have taken Charles Dickens’ extraordinary characters and imagined a whole new world and lives for them.

    ‘I’m very, very excited.’

    Thomas, who is also co-directing the series, said: ‘I have always loved Oliver Twist but wasn’t so keen on Oliver himself.  

    ‘I preferred the company of Dodger, Fagin and the gang. 

    Heated: Saira was seen in a tense discussion as she filmed the scenes alongside Christopher

    Heated: Saira was seen in a tense discussion as she filmed the scenes alongside Christopher

    ‘I thought it would be fun to create a family show with Dodger at its heart and see how he came to be a master criminal in Victorian London.

    ‘Working with the very best material as a springboard, it’s a total delight to expand Dickens’ rich world of characters and create a few of my own.

    ‘To top it all, we have an incredible cast who are starring in the show.

    ‘I can’t wait for families all over the world to see it!’ 

    Christopher left the role of Doctor Who after appearing for just one series in 2005, despite being praised by fans for her performance as the Time Lord haunted by the destruction of his home planey.

    The series gripped viewers with the return of the infamous Daleks, the debut of Captain Jack (played by John Barrowman) and the Doctor’s blossoming romance with Rose Tyler. 

    But the end of series one saw Christopher’s Doctor regenerate, with David Tennant taking over the role for the second series in 2006.

    Since his departure the actor has candidly revealed that he was battling anorexia during filming for the sci-fi drama, and was praised for fans for bravely revealing his mental health struggles.

    Drama: The series, which will appear on CBBC and BBC iPlayer, has been written by Rhys Thomas and Lucy Montgomery, while Charlie Higson has also guest-written an episode (extras are pictured on set)

    Drama: The series, which will appear on CBBC and BBC iPlayer, has been written by Rhys Thomas and Lucy Montgomery, while Charlie Higson has also guest-written an episode (extras are pictured on set)

    Writing in his book I Love The Bones Of You, he said: ‘Many times I’ve wanted to reveal that I’m a lifelong anorexic and dysmorphic.

    ‘I never have. I always thought of it as a filthy secret, because I’m Northern, because I’m male and because I’m working-class.’

    The father-of-two revealed his anorexia was prevalent during his spell on the BBC drama, adding: ‘The illness is still there raging within me as the Doctor.

    ‘People love the way I look in that series, but I was very ill. The reward for that illness was the part. And therein lies the perpetuation of the whole sorry situation.’ 

    Dodger will air later this year on BBC.

    Iconic show: Christopher left the role of Doctor Who after appearing for just one series in 2005, despite being praised by fans for her performance as the Time Lord

    Iconic show: Christopher left the role of Doctor Who after appearing for just one series in 2005, despite being praised by fans for her performance as the Time Lord 

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