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David Tennant (1971)

David John McDonald

Type :  


David Tennant is a Scottish actor. In addition to his work in theatre, including a widely praised Hamlet, Tennant is best known for his role as the tenth incarnation of the Doctor in Doctor Who, along with the title role in the 2005 TV serial Casanova and as Barty Crouch, Jr. in the 2005 film adaptation, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.


 early life
Tennant was born in Bathgate, West Lothian, the son of Essdale Helen (née McLeod) and Alexander McDonald. He grew up with his brother Blair and sister Karen in Ralston, Renfrewshire, where his father was the local Church of Scotland minister. Tennant's maternal great-grandparents, William and Agnes Blair, were staunch Protestants from Derry in Northern Ireland and among the signatories of the Ulster Covenant; William was a member of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland. Tennant's maternal grandfather, footballer Archie McLeod, met William and Agnes's daughter Nellie while playing for Derry City.

Tennant was educated at Ralston Primary and Paisley Grammar School where he enjoyed a fruitful relationship with English language teacher Moira Robertson, who was among the first to recognise his potential. He acted in school productions throughout primary and secondary school . He also attended Saturday classes at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama; at 16, he passed an audition for the Academy, one of their youngest students, and studied there between the ages of 17–20. He earned a bachelor's degree and was flatmates with friend Louise Delamere.

At the age of three, Tennant told his parents that he wanted to become an actor because he was a fan of Doctor Who, and they tried to encourage him to do more conventional work. He watched almost every Doctor Who episode for years, and he met Tom Baker at a book signing event in Glasgow and spoke to him. Although such an aspiration might have been common for any British child of the 1970s, Tennant says he was "absurdly single-minded" in pursuing his goal. He adopted the professional name "Tennant" – inspired by Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys, after reading a copy of Smash Hits magazine – because there was another David McDonald already on the books of the Equity union.

 Early work
Tennant made his professional acting debut while still in secondary school. When he was 16 he acted in an anti-smoking film made by the Glasgow Health Board which aired on television and was also screened in schools. The following year he played a role in an episode of Dramarama.

Tennant's first professional role upon graduating from drama school was in a staging of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui co-starring Ashley Jensen, one of a few plays in which he performed as part of the agitprop 7:84 Theatre Company. Tennant also made an early television appearance in the Scottish TV sitcom Rab C Nesbitt as a transsexual barmaid called Davina. In the 1990s Tennant appeared in several plays at the Dundee Repertory Theatre.

Tennant's first major TV role was as the manic depressive Campbell in the Scottish drama series Takin' Over the Asylum . During filming, Tennant met comic actress and writer Arabella Weir. When he moved to London shortly afterwards he lodged with Weir for five years and became godfather to her youngest child. He has subsequently appeared alongside Weir in many productions; as a guest in her spoof television series, Posh Nosh; in the Doctor Who audio drama Exile—during which Weir played an alternate version of the Doctor—and as panellists on the West Wing Ultimate Quiz on More4.

One of his earliest big screen roles was in Jude , in which he shared a scene with Christopher Eccleston, playing a drunken undergraduate who challenges Eccleston's Jude to prove his intellect. Coincidentally, Eccleston later portrayed the incarnation of The Doctor immediately preceding Tennant's.

Tennant developed his career in the British theatre, frequently performing with the Royal Shakespeare Company. His first Shakespearean role for the RSC was in As You Like It ; having auditioned for the role of Orlando, the romantic lead, he was instead cast as the jester Touchstone, which he played in his natural Scottish accent. He subsequently specialised in comic roles, playing Antipholus of Syracuse in The Comedy of Errors and Captain Jack Absolute in The Rivals, although he also played the tragic role of Romeo in Romeo and Juliet.

Tennant also contributed to several audio dramatisations of Shakespeare for the Arkangel Shakespeare series . His roles include a reprisal of his Antipholus of Syracuse in The Comedy of Errors, as well as Launcelot Gobbo in The Merchant of Venice, Edgar/Poor Tom in King Lear, and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, all of which he performs in his natural accent.

In 1995, Tennant appeared at the Royal National Theatre, London, playing the role of Nicholas Beckett in Joe Orton's What the Butler Saw. The plot required Tennant to appear naked on stage.

In television, Tennant appeared in the first episode of Reeves and Mortimer's re-vamped Randall & Hopkirk in 2000, playing an eccentric artist. This is one of his few TV roles in his native Scottish accent. During the Christmas season of 2002, he starred in a series of television commercials for Boots the Chemists.

Tennant began to appear on television more prominently in 2004 and 2005, when he appeared in a dramatisation of He Knew He Was Right Blackpool , Casanova and The Quatermass Experiment .

In film, he appeared in Stephen Fry's Bright Young Things , and played Barty Crouch Jr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire .

 Doctor Who (2005–2010)

Doctor Who returned to British screens in 2005, with Christopher Eccleston playing the role of the Ninth Doctor. After Eccleston's announcement on 31 March 2005 that he would not be returning for a second series, the BBC confirmed Tennant as his replacement in a press release on 16 April 2005. He made his first, brief appearance as the Tenth Doctor in the episode "The Parting of the Ways" at the end of the regeneration scene, and also appeared in a special 7-minute mini-episode shown as part of the 2005 Children in Need appeal, broadcast on 18 November 2005. He began filming the new series of Doctor Who in late July 2005. His first full-length outing as the Doctor was a 60-minute special, "The Christmas Invasion", first broadcast on Christmas Day 2005.

Tennant has expressed enthusiasm about fulfilling his childhood dream. He remarked to an interviewer for GWR FM, "Who wouldn't want to be the Doctor? I've even got my own TARDIS!" In 2006, readers of Doctor Who Magazine voted Tennant 'Best Doctor!', over perennial favourite Tom Baker. In 2007, Tennant's Doctor was voted the "coolest character" on UK television in a Radio Times survey. When Tennant was cast as Eccleston's successor, he had wanted to use his native Scottish accent and become 'the first kilted Doctor' according to an interview in the Daily Star, but writer Russell T Davies did not want the Doctor's accent 'touring the regions', so he used "estuary" English instead.

Tennant had previously had a small role in the BBC's animated Doctor Who webcast Scream of the Shalka. Not originally cast in the production, Tennant happened to be recording a radio play in a neighbouring studio, and when he discovered what was being recorded next door managed to convince the director to give him a small role. This personal enthusiasm for the series had also been expressed by his participation in several audio plays based on the Doctor Who television series which had been produced by Big Finish Productions, although he did not play the Doctor in any of these productions. His first such role was in the Seventh Doctor audio Colditz, where he played a Nazi lieutenant guard at Colditz Castle. In 2004 Tennant played a lead role in the Big Finish audio play series Dalek Empire III. He played the part of Galanar, a young man who is given an assignment to discover the secrets of the Daleks. In 2005, he starred in UNIT: The Wasting for Big Finish, recreating his role of Brimmicombe-Wood from a Doctor Who Unbound play, Sympathy for the Devil. In both of these audio productions Tennant worked alongside Doctor Who-alumnus Nicholas Courtney, who reprised the character of Sir Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. He also played an unnamed Time Lord in another Doctor Who Unbound play Exile. UNIT: The Wasting, was recorded between Tennant getting the role of the Doctor and it being announced. He also played the title role in Big Finish's adaptation of Bryan Talbot's The Adventures of Luther Arkwright . In 2006, he recorded abridged audio books of The Stone Rose by Jacqueline Rayner, The Feast of the Drowned by Stephen Cole and The Resurrection Casket by Justin Richards, for BBC Worldwide.

He made his directorial debut directing the Doctor Who Confidential episode that accompanies Steven Moffat's episode "Blink", entitled "Do You Remember The First Time?", which aired on 9 June 2007. In 2007, Tennant's Tenth Doctor appeared with Peter Davison's Fifth Doctor in a Doctor Who special for Children in Need, written by Steven Moffat and entitled "Time Crash". This was the first "multi-Doctor" story in the series since The Two Doctors in 1985 . Tennant also later performed alongside Davison's daughter, Georgia Moffett, in the 2008 episode "The Doctor's Daughter" with her taking the titular role as Jenny.

Tennant also featured as the Doctor in an animated version of Doctor Who for Totally Doctor Who, The Infinite Quest, which aired on CBBC. He also starred as the Doctor in another animated six-part Doctor Who series, Dreamland. Tennant guest-starred as the Doctor in a two-part story in Doctor Who spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures, broadcast in October 2009. Tennant continued to play the Tenth Doctor into the revived programme's fourth series in 2008. However, on 29 October 2008, Tennant announced that he would be stepping down from the role after three full series. He played the Doctor in four special episodes in 2009, before his final episode aired on 1 January 2010.
The Daily Mirror reported that Tennant was forbidden from attending Doctor Who fan conventions while playing the role. This was done to avoid the chance that Tennant could accidentally let slip any plot points during filming of the series. He said at the Children in Need concert that his favourite Doctor Who story is Genesis of the Daleks from the Tom Baker era, while another interview included him mentioning that his favourite classic monsters were the Zygons; although he never appeared in a television story with the Zygons, his Doctor confronted them in the novel Sting of the Zygons.

 Other television roles (2005–present)

While playing the Doctor, Tennant was also in the early December 2005 ITV drama Secret Smile. His performance as Jimmy Porter in Look Back in Anger at the Theatre Royal, Bath and Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh was recorded by the National Video Archive of Performance for the Victoria and Albert Museum Theatre Collection. He revived this performance for the anniversary of the Royal Court Theatre in a rehearsed reading. In January 2006, he took a one-day break from shooting Doctor Who to play Richard Hoggart in a dramatisation of the 1960 Lady Chatterley's Lover obscenity trial, The Chatterley Affair. The play was written by Andrew Davies and directed by Doctor Who's James Hawes for the digital television channel BBC Four. Hoggart's son Simon Hoggart praised Tennant's performance in The Guardian newspaper.

On 25 February 2007, Tennant starred in Recovery, a 90-minute BBC1 drama written by Tony Marchant. Tennant played Alan, a self-made building site manager who attempted to rebuild his life after suffering a debilitating brain injury. His co-star in the drama was friend Sarah Parish, with whom he had previously appeared in Blackpool and an episode of Doctor Who. She joked that "we're like George and Mildred – in 20 years' time we'll probably be doing a ropey old sitcom in a terraced house in Preston." Later in 2007 he starred in Learners, a BBC comedy drama written by and starring Jessica Hynes (another Doctor Who co-star, in the episodes "Human Nature", "The Family of Blood" and "The End of Time"), in which he played a Christian driving instructor who became the object of a student's affection. Learners was broadcast on BBC One on 11 November 2007. Tennant had a cameo appearance as the Doctor in the 2007 finale episode of the BBC/HBO comedy series Extras alongside Ricky Gervais. In November 2008 Tennant played Sir Arthur Eddington in the BBC and HBO biopic Einstein and Eddington, which was filmed in Cambridge and Hungary.

In 2009 he worked on a film version of the RSC's 2008 Hamlet for BBC2. From October 2009, he hosted the Masterpiece Contemporary programming strand on the American Public Broadcasting Service. In December 2009, he filmed the lead in an NBC pilot, Rex Is Not Your Lawyer, playing Rex, a Chicago lawyer who starts to coach clients to represent themselves when he starts suffering panic attacks. The pilot was not picked up and the project was shelved. In October 2010 he starred as Dave, a man struggling to raise five children after the death of his partner, in the British drama Single Father. For this role he was nominated as Best Actor at the Royal Television Society Programme Awards 2010.

In 2011 he starred in the BBC Two British TV film United, which tells the story of the Manchester United "Busby Babes" team and the 1958 Munich air disaster, playing coach and assistant manager Jimmy Murphy. In September 2011, he appeared in a guest role in one episode of the comedy series This is Jinsy, and also started filming Love Life, a semi-improvised BBC1 drama series, on location in Margate, Kent.

 Other work (2007–present)

Tennant is the voice behind the 2007 advertising campaign for catalogue retailer Argos and appeared in adverts for The Proclaimers 2008 album and learndirect's in June 2008, using his natural Scottish accent in both. More recently, Tennant's voice can be heard on Tesco Mobile and Nintendo Wii adverts.

Tennant appeared in Derren Brown's Trick or Treat. In the 26 April – 2 May issue of TV & Satellite Week Brown is quoted as saying "One of the appeals of Doctor Who for David is time travel, so I wanted to give him that experience. He was open and up for it, and I got a good reaction. He's a real screamer!". The episode aired on Channel 4 on 16 May 2008, and showed Tennant apparently predicting future events correctly by using automatic writing. Tennant also returned for the final episode of the series with the rest of the participants from the other episodes in the series to take part in one final experiment.

Tennant appeared in the 2008 episode "Holofile 703: Us and Phlegm" of the radio series Nebulous in the role of Doctor Beep, using his Lothian accent.

In 2008, Tennant voiced the character of Hamish the Hunter in the 2008 English language DVD re-release of the 2006 animated Norwegian film, Free Jimmy, alongside Woody Harrelson. The English language version of the film has dialogue written by Simon Pegg, who also starred in it as a main voice actor.

In early 2009 Tennant narrated the digital planetarium space dome film "We are Astronomers" commissioned by the UK's National Space Centre.

On 13 March 2009, Tennant presented Comic Relief with Davina McCall. He played guitar with band Franz Ferdinand on a special Comic Relief edition of Top of the Pops.

In summer 2009, he filmed St. Trinian's II: The Legend of Fritton's Gold in which he plays the antagonist, Pomfrey. The film was released in December 2009.

At the October 2009 Spooky Empire convention, John Landis announced Tennant's casting in his movie Burke and Hare, starring alongside Simon Pegg. In January 2010 it was announced Tennant had dropped out of the film due to scheduling problems.

In November 2009, Tennant co-hosted the Absolute Radio Breakfast Show with Christian O'Connell for three consecutive days. He returned to co-host the show for one day in October 2010 and again in September 2011.

Tennant also provides the narration and all the character voices for the audio book versions of the Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III stories by Cressida Cowell such as How to Train Your Dragon. In these audio books, Tennant employs his vocal skills to create a vast cast of recognisably distinct voices. Some of his most memorable characterisations include the Norfolk yokel of Norbert the Nutjob, the broad Glaswegian of Gobber the Belch, the hissing and whining of Toothless the Dragon and the sly insinuations of Alvin the Treacherous. He also played the role of Spitelout in the recent animated film adaption of said books. On 7 March 2010 he also appeared as George in a one-part BBC Radio 4 adaptation of Of Mice and Men in the Classic Serial strand.

Tennant appeared alongside former co-star Catherine Tate in the Shakespeare comedy Much Ado About Nothing at London's Wyndham's Theatre from 16 May 2011 to 3 September 2011. For his performance - as Benedick - he won the BroadwayWorld UK Award for Best Leading Actor in a Play.

In September 2011, it was announced that Tennant will voice a character in the movie adaptation of Postman Pat named You Know You’re the One next to Rupert Grint, Stephen Mangan and Jim Broadbent with a planned 3D theatrical release for spring 2013.

In October 2011, Tennant started shooting the semi-improvised comedy film Nativity 2: The Second Coming (the sequel to Nativity!) in Coventry. Tennant doubles two roles, playing the main character, put-upon teacher Mr Peterson, as well as his 'golden boy' twin brother and rival.

 Royal Shakespeare Company (2008–2009)
Despite his recent focus on television work, Tennant has described theatre work as his "default way of being". It was announced on 30 August 2007 that he would join the Royal Shakespeare Company , to play Hamlet and Berowne (in Love's Labours Lost) during 2008. From August to November 2008 he appeared at the Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon as Hamlet, playing that role in repertory with Berowne that October and November. Hamlet transferred to the Novello Theatre in London's West End in December 2008, but Tennant suffered a prolapsed disc during previews and was unable to perform from 8 December 2008 until 2 January 2009, during which time the role was played by his understudy Edward Bennett. He returned to his role in the production on 3 January 2009, and appeared until the run ended on 10 January.

On 12 April 2011, a photograph of Tennant as Hamlet featured on a stamp issued by the Royal Mail to mark the RSC's fiftieth anniversary.

 personal life
Tennant has a brother, Blair, and a sister, Karen. His mother Helen died on 15 July 2007 of cancer. His father, Sandy McDonald, appeared in a cameo non-speaking role as a footman in the Doctor Who episode "The Unicorn and the Wasp". Tennant traced his family tree in an episode of BBC One's popular genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are?, broadcast on 27 September 2006. His episode explored both his Scottish ancestry and that from Northern Ireland, against the backdrop of the Troubles in the latter. Tennant's maternal great-great-grandfather, James Blair, was a prominent Ulster Unionist member of Londenderry county borough council after the partition of Ireland. Tennant displayed discomfort after learning of his great-great-grandfather's membership in the Orange Order. The programme revealed that Archie McLeod, the husband of Nellie Blair, who once played with Derry City, was Tennant's grandfather. Tennant is now a member of the club's Exiles Supporters Club.

In 2008 Tennant was voted "Greenest Star on the Planet" in an online vote held by Playhouse Disney as part of the Playing for the Planet Awards. Later that year he underwent surgery for a prolapsed disc.

Tennant is a supporter of the Labour Party and appeared in a party political broadcast for them in 2005. In 2010 he declared his support for then-UK prime minister, Gordon Brown and in April 2010 he lent his voice to a Labour Party election broadcast. He is a celebrity patron of the Association for International Cancer Research.

He believes that religion "must have" shaped his character, and he is an occasional churchgoer.

Tennant does not discuss his personal life and especially his relationships in interviews. "Relationships are hard enough with the people you're having them with, let alone talking about them in public," he said in December 2009. He dated Sophia Myles in 2006.

In January 2011, several newspapers in Britain reported that Tennant was engaged to actress Georgia Moffett. They have a daughter, born in March 2011. Tennant and Moffett married on 30 December 2011.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "David Tennant", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.