Who is David Tennant?
It may be hard to believe for quite a few people, but David Tennant had already had a very versatile career before he was cast as the “Tenth Doctor” in Doctor Who in 2005. However, this TV show is reported to be his catalyst for becoming an actor, making it an important turning point in his life when he was only three or four years old.
Born David John McDonald in West Lothian, Scotland, on 18th April 1971 to a Presbyterian minister and his wife, he was the youngest of three children. He had to change his surname in order to be able to join the actors’ union, Equity, since there was already a registered member by the name of David McDonald. He chose Tennant as his professional surname, inspired by Neil Tennant, singer with the Pet Shop Boys.
His acting talent was discovered at primary school, and he took part in school productions throughout primary and secondary school. Having also attended Saturday classes at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now known as Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) he passed one of their auditions at the age of 16, as one of the youngest students, where he subsequently studied until the age of 20.
Whilst still at secondary school, in 1987 David Tennant was cast in an anti-smoking film made by the Glasgow Health Board. This film was screened in schools and aired on TV. In 1988, he was featured in an episode of Dramarama, a British children’s anthology series. In 1991, he performed, as part of the 7:84 Theatre Company, in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, his first professional role after his graduation from drama school. He then landed his first major TV role in 1994 playing a manic-depressive in the Scottish drama series Takin’ Over the Asylum.
In the years to come, he frequently performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company, for example in As You Like It; The Comedy of Errors; and Romeo and Juliet, whilst also pursuing his TV and film career. He appeared in Bright Young Things; Blackpool; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; Casanova; and The Quatermass Experiment, to name just a few. And we mustn’t forget that David also performed in quite a few radio and CD audio dramas throughout this time.
In 2005, David Tennant saw his childhood dream come true. He was cast as The Doctor in Doctor Who, replacing Christopher Eccleston with whom the series had entered into its ninth regeneration. Whilst starring as The Tenth Doctor from 2005 until 2010, David Tennant still made time to appear on television (particularly deserving a mention are Secret Smile and Recovery); in the movies (e.g. St. Trinian’s II: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold); and on stage (Look Back In Anger; Hamlet; Love’s Labour’s Lost).
Naturally, leaving Doctor Who was not the end of David Tennant’s remarkable career. Single Father and United marked the beginning of the post-Doctor Who era. In 2012, Fright Night and The Decoy Bride appeared in the cinemas and David rejoined with his Doctor Who co-star, Catherine Tate in Wyndham’s Theatre’s Much Ado About Nothing. He also found time in his busy schedule to record the narration for both series of the award winning mockumentary Twenty Twelve and star in the Christmas movie, Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger.
But 2013 was one of David’s busiest year since Doctor Who. He was in three acclaimed mini-series – Spies of Warsaw, Politician’s Husband, The Escape Artist and Chris Chibnall’s Broadchurch with Olivia Colman and he returned to stage in Gregory Doran’s Royal Shakespeare Company’s Richard II. But perhaps, the biggest event of the year was his return as the Tenth Doctor in the 50th Anniversary Special – Doctor Who: The Day of The Doctor. David starred with the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, and the newly introduced War Doctor portrayed by the legendary John Hurt. The spectacular event was broadcast to over 90 different countries and territories around the world as everyone seemed to be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the beloved show.
In 2014, David finished his run as Richard II and immediately travelled to Victoria, BC Canada, to film his first American’ series, the Fox TV remake of Broadchurch, Gracepoint. Immediate after completion of Gracepoint, David Tennant immediately jumped on a play to return to film series 2 of Broadchurch. And somewhere in his busy schedule he found time to record the voiceover for several John Downer Productions nature documentaries as well as the follow spoof mockumentary, W1A, which once again followed the career of Ian Fletcher (Hugh Bonneville) as he took on the role of the BBC Head of Values.
His work was not unnoticed and he received a 2014 BAFTA award for Best Actor for The Escape Artist along with the 2015 What’s on Stage Award for Best Actor for Richard II.
In 2015, he was presented with a National Television Award – Special Recognition Award. His friends, family and co-stars were on hand in an unique video that express both admiration for his talents as an actor and honour and love for the man himself.
This is another busy year for the tireless actor. He has already recorded another voiceover for series two of W1A and the new animation film, Reds and Grays. He also will be returning to Scotland in Autumn to film a new movie I Feel Fine. But that is not all. David has joined the Marvel universe and will portray the classic villain Purple Man in Marvel’s A.K.A. Jessica Jones. The new American series will air on Netflix in December 2015 and early 2016.
Whilst in America he has also taken time to appear at several conventions and has proven once again to be a fan favourite with his dynamic performance on stage along with his personal treatment of fans at the photos and autograph sessions.
But that isn’t everything for 2015. David Tennant will be returning to the stage November where he will reprise his role as Richard II, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s event KING AND COUNTRY: Shakespeare’s Great Cycle of Kings. Richard II, Henry IV P1&2 and Henry V will all be preformed in cycle as part of the RSC’s major theatrical event to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
As you might have gathered, the above only shows a small, yet important part of David Tennant’s career.
For more information on David Tennant’s long and varied career, follow our blog and see the following pages on our site.
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And if you want to see David’s current work, see our highlight pages on:
- Marvel’s A.K.A. Jessica Jones
- Reds and Grays
- I Feel Fine
- Richard II (reprisal) – King & Country
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