April 4th 2005 transcript from the Heaven and Earth Show, a BBC programme:
In an interview for sunday morning program The Heaven and Earth Show, Eccleston discussed his recent screen ventures as well as how he felt about being the new Doctor, citing his hectic schedule as the ultimate reason for his departure from the series after only one season.
The Lancashire born celebrity, who now resides in Manchester, also touched upon his own religious upbringing.
"I'm an atheist." he professed. "My mother is very religious, a churchgoer. She would often encourage me to go to church as well, but never forced it upon me, which I thought was quite decent of her."
Elsewhere in the interview, Eccleston, who ironically played a Messiah-type figure in the British TV Movie The Second Coming, said that he derives his own sense of spirituality from his work, and often prefers to focus on doing good toward others in the here and now.
"There was no definining moment in which I decided there was no god for me," he continued, "it was more of a growing process. I do feel that whatever religious beliefs I had as a child were foisted upon me. It's like when you ask where Grandma went when she died, and you'd be told that she went to heaven. I wouldn't necessarily view that as a bad thing, but it was stuff like that which I think hindered my intellectual development. Now that I've grown, I prefer a different interpretation."
The current BBC1 series of Doctor Who now features David Tennant, who replaced Eccleston to become the tenth actor to portray the Doctor.