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Spotlight: David Tennant

David Tennant as Hamlet, Courtesy of The Guardian
David Tennant. Well, let’s just get this out of the way: yes, he played the tenth Doctor. And not only that, but he was also voted ‘the best Doctor’ by readers of Doctor Who Magazine, and (time)Lord knows they must know best! He was also one of the longest serving Doctors, ranking 2nd on TV and 3rd overall if we include the Doctor Who radio broadcasts. And let’s not forget that he himself was, in his childhood, a huge Doctor Who geek. In fact it was for the express purpose of playing this legendary role that he decided, aged no more than four, to become an actor. He even wrote an essay at school about how much he wanted to play the Doctor. And did I mention that he has a daughter with Georgia Moffett, whose father Peter Davison, played the fifth Doctor? In essence, it is almost impossible to talk about David Tennant without talking about Doctor Who. But despite the explosion of popularity he enjoyed as a result of his role in the BBC’s oldest sci-fi export, Tennant still describes theatre work as his ‘default way of being’. And perhaps therein lies the key to his uncontrollable surge in popularity. But before we get into that, let’s hop in our own Tardis to gain an insight on the pre-Doctor David Tennant. 
There are two common misconceptions about David Tennant which are interesting to note. The first is that his name is not David Tennant. In fact, David Tennant was not even his first choice for a stage name. It’s is a bizarre thought that if actors’ union Equity weren’t quite so strict about their ‘one actor, one name’ policy, perhaps this would be a spotlight about David Brandon (his first choice of stage name) or David McDonald (his actual name). Thankfully perhaps, both names were taken, and the young Doctor-to-be picked David Tennant because he read an interview in a magazine with Neil Tennant of the pet shop boys and just went with it! 
The second thing to correct is that David Tennant is not only a Doctor – rather, he is a naturally talented and classically trained Shakespearean stage actor. After going to school in Paisley in Lothian, Scotland, he auditioned for the Royal Scottish Academy of Arts and Music, aged just sixteen. He got in, and at the time was the youngest person ever to do so. Needless to say he excelled, and after a short stint as part of the Scottish political theatre troupe 7:84, he became part of the Royal Shakespeare Company in London. And perhaps this is why he enjoyed such a meteoric rise to prominence: the incredibly expressive face, the attention grabbing charisma and the superb delivery of lines which made him arguably the most popular Doctor of all time, are all skills he would have mastered as a Shakespearean stage actor. Don’t take my word for it; just look to the seemingly endless list of awards, accolades and critical praise he has to his name, many of which are for roles in Shakespeare’s plays (his interpretation of Hamlet was widely accepted to be one of the best in living memory, and even as I write this he is wowing audiences and critics alike as Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing at the Wyndham’s Theatre). 
The bottom line is that although Tennant was born to play the role of Doctor Who, he has also become one of the most versatile and talented British actors alive today. Indeed he must be drowning under the sea of awards and accolades that are pumped in his direction constantly by critics and academies of nearly all media. But what is there to say other than he completely deserves them?! He is a not just a pretty face (although readers of The Pink Paper, who voted him the ‘sexiest man in the universe’, might tend to disagree), but also a genuinely outstanding artist. And perhaps his greatest achievement is that despite his role as Doctor Who, he has managed to avoid being typecast, and currently has the West End under his thumb. If nothing else, this is a tribute to how versatile he is as an actor. It is easy to predict that ‘David Tennant’ will be a household name for years to come, and thankfully, not just for his terrific portrayal of the Doctor.
Have we forgotten something important? Don’t suffer in silence, add it via the comments section below! Lets turn this page into a forum for David Tennant trivia!

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  1. His last name is spelled McDonald, not MacDonald.

  2. If you want to read more about David’s theatre career check out http://www.davidtennanttheatre.com

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