David Tennant (born David John McDonald on 18 April 1971), is a Scottish actor and voice actor who portrayed the Tenth Doctor from 2005-2010, taking over the role of the Doctor from Christopher Eccleston at the conclusion of The Parting of the Ways. His final regular appearance in the role in The End of Time, a special two-part story that concluded on New Year's Day 2010, after which Matt Smith took over the role of the Doctor.
Prior to playing the Doctor, Tennant also portrayed several characters in various Big Finish Audio Adventures.
Before Doctor Who Edit
David grew up in Ralston, Renfrewshire, where his father was the local minister, and later Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. At the age of three, David told his parents that he wanted to become an actor, largely because of his early enjoyment of Doctor Who. Although such an aspiration might have been common for a Scottish 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, the lead singer of the Pet Shop Boys — because the actors' union Equity already had a David McDonald on their books.
Moving to London in the early 1990s, Tennant lodged with comic actress and writer Arabella Weir, with whom he became close friends and later godfather to one of her children. He appeared as a guest in her spoof television series Posh Nosh. Tennant began his career in the British theatre, frequently performing with the Royal Shakespeare Company for which he specialised in comic roles such as Touchstone in As You Like It, 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.
He has appeared in several high-profile dramas for the BBC, including Takin' Over the Asylum, (1994) a six part BBC Scotland serial in which he played a manic depressive named Campbell, He Knew He Was Right (2004), Blackpool (2004), Casanova (2005) and The Quatermass Experiment (2005). In film, he has appeared in Stephen Fry's Bright Young Things, and as Barty Crouch Jr in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, alongside Roger Lloyd Pack who played John Lumic in Rise of the Cybermen and The Age of Steel, and Michael Gambon. One of his earliest big screen roles was in Jude (1996), in which he shared a scene with his Doctor Who predecessor Christopher Eccleston, playing a drunken undergraduate who challenges Eccleston's Jude to prove his intellect.
Initial Doctor Who roles Edit
He has lent his voice to several supporting characters in Big Finish audio plays based on the 1963 version of Doctor Who. His first story was Colditz (also guest starring Tracey Childs, who later appeared in The Fires of Pompeii), where he played the German officer Kurtz. He later played two versions of Ross Brimmicombe-Wood in Sympathy for the Devil and the UNIT story The Wasting, Daft Jamie in Medicinal Purposes, a Time Lord in Exile and Galanar in the third series of Dalek Empire.
He was also a minor participant to the first "official" Ninth Doctor story, the BBC animated 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.
He also played the title role in Big Finish's adaptation of Bryan Talbot's The Adventures of Luther Arkwright (2005).
Playing the Doctor Edit
Tennant's name was suggested by tabloid newspapers as a possible candidate to take on the role of the Ninth Doctor for the new series that began in March 2005, although he was never considered for or auditioned for the role itself, and the role went to Christopher Eccleston. He got a chance to have a peripheral connection to the series when he narrated a prelude episode of Doctor Who Confidential that aired prior to the broadcast of Rose.
With Eccleston's announcement on 30 March that he would not be returning for a second series, the BBC confirmed Tennant as his replacement in a press release on 16 April. An oblique reference to his casting, however, had already been made in the live broadcast of The Quatermass Experiment on 2 April, in which Tennant appeared as Dr Briscoe. As his castmates had become aware of the speculation surrounding Tennant's possible casting in Doctor Who during rehearsals, actor Jason Flemyng changed Quatermass's first line to Dr Briscoe from "Good to have you back Gordon" to "Good to have you back Doctor". He made his first, brief appearance in the episode The Parting of the Ways (2005) after 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 (coincidentally the same day Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, in which he played Barty Crouch Jr., was released to theatres). While Eccleston holds the distinction of being the first man to play the Doctor not even born when the series premiered, Tennant is the first Doctor who was not even conceived, as Eccleston was born during the first season.
Tennant 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, which was broadcast on Christmas Day 2005, and followed by Attack of the Graske, a special interactive story available to BBC Red Button subscribers. He was also seen in early December in the ITV drama Secret Smile. In December 2005, The Stage newspaper listed Tennant at #6 in its "Top Ten" listing of the most influential UK television artists of the year, citing his roles in Blackpool, Casanova, Secret Smile and Doctor Who.
Unlike his predecessor, Christopher Eccleston, who confessed to having only a passing interest in the 1963 version of Doctor Who, Tennant is a long-time fan of the series, and has exhibited extensive knowledge of its history and trivia in interviews, podcasts and DVD commentaries. In March 2009 he gave a demonstration of his knowledge of the franchise during a mock edition of Mastermind for the BBC's Comic Relief Red Nose Day telethon. He has often 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!" Like Peter Davison before him, Tennant was knowledgeable enough about the program to ask for his character to be credited as "The Doctor" instead of "Doctor Who", as had been done during Eccleston's tenure. Along with Colin Baker, he also has the distinction of being the only Doctor actor to provide DVD commentary for another Doctor's story when he recorded a special "Easter egg" commentary for the DVD Special Edition release of The Five Doctors.
Outside the TV series itself, Tennant is a ubiquitous presence on various ancillary productions related to Doctor Who, and it is not inaccurate to suggest he might be one of the most accessible actors to ever play the Doctor. He has regularly appeared in Doctor Who Confidential — a program for which he also notably picked up his first television directing credit, the episode "Do You Remember the First Time?" - and in fact has conducted a number of the interviews for the program himself. He was the narrator for Doctor Who: A New Dimension, the effective pilot for Confidential, and an occasional guest on Totally Doctor Who. He also recorded extensive behind the scenes video diaries of his work on Doctor Who, which became highlights of the Series 2 and 3 DVD box sets. On some of the Series 3-related video diaries, he recruited his then-girlfriend Sophia Myles to handle the camera. He only recorded two for the Series 4 set, but recorded more for the 2009 Specials DVD Box Set, released in early 2010, relating to his final episodes. He has provided various video content for both the BBC's Doctor Who website, mainly in the form of short question-and-answer sessions. He has also taken part in licensed spin-off productions, recording audio-book readings of several BBC Books novels, as well as narrating several original audio books for BBC Audiobooks.
Technically speaking, Tennant has actually played four roles in the televised Doctor Who: The tenth incarnation of the Doctor, Cassandra O'Brien.Δ17 when she briefly takes over the Doctor's body (TV: New Earth), John Smith who may be technically the Doctor but is depicted in the episodes Human Nature and The Family of Blood as a completely different personality, and most recently a clone of the Doctor, referred to as the Meta-Crisis Tenth Doctor.
He has also parodied the Doctor on several occasions, such as in a Comic Relief skit with future companion Catherine Tate, a Dead Ringers skit in which he portrayed a "regenerated" Tony Blair, and as the Doctor himself in the final episode of Extras. His guest appearances on general entertainment programmes like The Friday Night Project and Jonathan Ross have also usually contained elements of Doctor Who parody.
In January 2006, Tennant 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. Written by Andrew Davies and directed by Doctor Who's James Hawes for digital television channel BBC Four, Hoggart's son Simon Hoggart praised Tennant's portrayal in the drama in The Guardian newspaper. "[E]xtremely convincing — the suit, the hair, the Yorkshire accent, and trickiest of all, the speech rhythms. The only thing wrong is his sideburns. To do this film he had to take 24 hours off from making Doctor Who in Cardiff and, as he explained, the sideburns wouldn't grow back in a day."
Also in January 2006, readers of the British gay and lesbian newspaper The Pink Paper voted Tennant the "Sexiest Man in the Universe" over David Beckham and Brad Pitt. Tennant has also on several occasions unseated perennial favourite Tom Baker in the "Favourite Doctor" category in recent polls conducted by Doctor Who Magazine.
In 2007 it was announced that, rather than air a full season in 2009, a series of specials would instead be broadcast, with the series returning as a weekly offering in 2010. This led to Tennant signing on to star in a production of Hamlet, opposite Patrick Stewart. In 2008 rumours began circulating as to whether Tennant would continue in Doctor Who. This was finally confirmed on 29 October 2008 when Tennant, upon winning the 2008 National Television Award for favourite actor, announced that he would be leaving Doctor Who after the 2009 specials. It was subsequently announced that 26-year old Matt Smith would take on the role from 2010.
Tennant spent the last part of 2008 preparing to play Hamlet, although his run was interrupted due to a serious spinal injury that necessitated major surgery. By January 2009 he had recovered and commenced filming the first of his final four special episodes. It was subsequently announced that Tennant would recreate his stage performance as Hamlet for a planned television broadcast/theatrical release.
Tennant filmed his final scenes for Doctor Who as the Doctor on Wednesday 20 May 2009, and gave an emotional farewell to cast and crew that was captured for both Doctor Who Confidential and Tennant's own Video Diaries DVD supplement. Despite the emotion of the moment, Tennant noted in his Video Diaries that his final scene - a green screen shot - made it less emotional for him than his regeneration scene ,which had actually been filmed a week earlier. Also, the day after bidding farewell to Doctor Who, Tennant briefly reprised the role to film a series of short holiday-themed promos for BBC One. It was later announced he would play the role one last time in The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith, a two-part episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures. Tennant also signed up to voice the Doctor for a second animated serial, Dreamland, which aired in late 2009, and continued to record original audio adventures for BBC Audio, the last of which was released in March 2010. He also appeared, as himself, in a Doctor Who skit involving John Barrowman broadcast during the series Tonight's the Night.
In the summer of 2009, Tennant became the first lead actor from Doctor Who to appear at the San Diego Comic Con.
Despite his final appearance in Doctor Who concluding in the New Year's Day 2010 episode, Tennant appeared in the subsequent episode, Matt Smith's first full episode as the Eleventh Doctor, The Eleventh Hour, which featured a sequence of "flashback" clips showing all previous Doctors.
During his time as the Doctor, Tennant also guest-hosted and guest-starred on many other BBC programs. He was featured on Top Gear, where he was discovered to be .7 seconds slower on the racetrack than Billie Piper - though he claimed that she cut corners, and also that he had problems with the 3rd gear of manual transmission. He was a guest on Ready, Steady, Cook, in which he competed with his father, Sandy. He was a contestant on a Christmas episode of QI, where his theme song was "Last Christmas" by Wham! and he co-hosted Comic Relief 2009 alongside Davina McCall. He was a guest host on Friday Night Project on two occasions, one opposite Freema Agyeman, and hosted a special Christmas edition of Never Mind the Buzzcocks, which featured fellow Doctor Who actors Catherine Tate and Bernard Cribbins, during which he revealed that he is a fan of Coldplay.
In 2013, Tennant reprised his role as the Tenth Doctor in the 50th anniversary Special The Day of the Doctor, and also appeared in various promotional videos.
After Doctor Who Edit
Tennant's first post-Who assignment was to film a movie version of his Hamlet production, opposite Patrick Stewart. This aired on BBC Two on 26 December 2009, the day after the first part of The End of Time, Tennant's last appearance, aired, and on American network PBS on 28 April 2010 and in addition to the fall of 2009, Tennant began hosting the PBS drama anthology series Masterpiece Contemporary in the US.
Although fan and media rumours linked Tennant to other high-profile projects, such as the Peter Jackson-produced adaptation of The Hobbit, most of these rumours were denied by Tennant or not confirmed. At the July 2009 San Diego ComicCon, Tennant indicated he had major projects under consideration, but did not elaborate. Also in July, it was announced that Tennant would be appearing in St. Trinian's: The Secret of Fritton's Gold, the second film in the rebooted Trinian's franchise. The film also features two of Tennant's Doctor Who guest stars: Fenella Woolgar and Talulah Riley. He was also cast to co-star with Simon Pegg in the upcoming John Landis film, Burke and Hare, but had to drop out shortly before filming began, reportedly due to NBC refusing to release him from his contract for Rex Is Not Your Lawyer.
In November 2009 it was announced that Tennant would star in the television pilot for NBC, Rex is Not Your Lawyer, a comedic law drama. This makes Tennant the first Doctor actor to be given a lead role in an American TV series after leaving Doctor Who. In reporting his casting, the Hollywood Reporter compared the situation to Hugh Laurie moving from UK comedy series like Blackadder to American superstardom on House. The pilot, which paired Tennant with fellow science fiction TV alumnus Jerry O'Connell (Sliders), was filmed between early November and mid December 2009. In late January, it was reported that Rex had not been picked up as a spring replacement, something that was never suggested as a realistic option, but was still under consideration for a fall 2010 pickup, something which led the tabloid press to wrongly report the project had been shelved. It was reported on January 24, 2010, that the sets had been dismantled and stored, and that the show had not been picked up for spring 2010. It was also passed over for the fall 2010 schedule. In September 2010, in an interview at the Emmy Awards, Tennant confirmed the project was "dead."
In 2010, Tennant filmed the TV drama series Single Father and three films, The Decoy Bride, Fright Night, and United. In Single Father, which was shot in Scotland between March and May and screened on BBC1 in October, he played a father of five children struggling to cope after the death of his partner. The Decoy Bride was filmed in June and July in Scotland and on the Isle of Man and stars Tennant as the fiancé of a Hollywood movie star who falls for the local girl hired to be a 'decoy' to distract the paparazzo.  Tennant was in New Mexico between August and October filming Fright Night, a remake of the cult 80s horror film, in which he plays vampire hunter Peter Vincent, a part originated by Roddy McDowall. In October, he flew to Uganda to shoot a charity film for Comic Relief. In November and December Tennant filmed United in Newcastle, a drama about the 1958 Munich plane crash in which he stars as Manchester United coach Jimmy Murphy. All three films were released in 2011, though The Decoy Bride did not gain a wide release until 2012, when it went straight to cable TV. Also in 2010, he voiced the role of Spitelout, a minor character in How to Train Your Dragon. Tennant is the narrator for the audio book series of How To Train Your Dragon.
In January 2011 Tennant announced that he and his Doctor Who co-star Catherine Tate would be starring in a theatre production of Much Ado About Nothing, which ran at the Wyndham's Theatre in London between May and September 2011 (Tennant's close friend and Doctor Who alumnus Adam James also co-starred). During the months he was performing in the play, he also recorded a guest appearance in Sky sitcom This Is Jinsy (a role he took because his good friend Jennie Fava, who 2nd ADed on both Doctor Who and This Is Jinsy, recommended it to him), voiceover roles in two animated films and one animated TV series, an 8-hour BBC Radio 4 drama series, and multiple radio and TV narration projects. Two days after his final performance of Much Ado, filming started in Margate on his next project, a BBC TV series called True Love, which also co-stars David Morrissey and Billie Piper. On 4 October, three days after Tennant finished filming True Love, he started production in Coventry on the comedy film sequel Nativity 2, which also co-stars Ian McNeice as Tennant's father. He filmed on Nativity 2 in Coventry, Warwickshire and north Wales until 29 November. The next day, he started filming a BBC documentary, Prefaces to Shakespeare, in London and Stratford-upon-Avon.In 2011, Tennant "appeared" in a cameo as himself in the Buffyverse Angel & Faith comic "In Perfect Harmony".
In January 2011, UK newspapers reported that he was engaged and planning a 2012 wedding to Georgia Moffett, who starred opposite him in the 2008 episode The Doctor's Daughter, and that she was pregnant with the couple's first child. On 31 March, UK newspapers reported that Moffett had given birth to a daughter, Olive, earlier that week. Neither Tennant nor Moffett themselves have ever spoken about or confirmed their relationship publicly and they avoid being photographed together. On 2 September 2011 he changed his name legally by deed poll from his birth name of McDonald to his stage name Tennant, and his soon-to-be wife changed her and her son from a previous relationship's surnames to Tennant also. The couple are reported to have married in a secret ceremony on 30 December 2011, and no details or photos from the event have ever been released. Tennant confirmed on the 21 March 2012 that he had adopted Moffett's 10-year old son Ty, making this the first time he has spoken about his private life since starting to date Moffett. In January 2013 it was confirmed on the Jonathan Ross Show that Moffett was pregnant again. She gave birth to a boy named Wilfred on 2nd May.
In 2012, Tennant played a role in the one-off Sky Arts drama The Minor Character, and continued to excel as a voice actor, playing roles in numerous audio books, radio plays, and other voice jobs. He also became the face of Virgin Media. He spent April-June in Poland filming the BBC4 WWII-set spy drama miniseries Spies of Warsaw (which also co-stars Burn Gorman). In June and July he filmed the BBC2 political drama miniseries The Politician's Husband in London, playing a Cabinet minister who takes extreme lengths when his wife's career threatens to overshadow him. In August 2012 he visited Los Angeles to appear at the TCA event, promoting The Spies of Warsaw. On 4 August he started work on his first TV series regular role since leaving Doctor Who, in the new ITV1 detective series Broadchurch, which filmed in Bristol and Dorset until December. In August it was also announced that Tennant would be hosting a panel game show for C4, titled Comedy World Cup, his first time hosting a TV series other than as a guest host. He shot both series concurrently, filming Broadchurch in Bristol during the week and travelling to London on weekends to record Comedy World Cup.
On 9 September 2012 he made his first proper Doctor Who fan convention appearance, at the Lords of Time convention in Birmingham. On 16 December 2012, he appeared at the Midnight Convention also in Birmingham, alongside Billie Piper.
In January 2013 Tennant recorded several audio books and radio plays, some TV commercials, and did publicity for Broadchurch and Spies of Warsaw. It was also announced Tennant would be returning to the Royal Shakespeare Company to play the titular role in Richard II. Between January-April Tennant shot the BBC1 thriller series The Escape Artist, playing a top lawyer who gets a murderer off on a technicality, but comes to regret it. Between April-May he filmed the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor in Cardiff, reprising his role as the Tenth Doctor. Between June-August he shot the BBC comedy feature film What We Did On Our Holiday in Scotland.
Between August 2013-January 2014 he played Richard II for the Royal Shakespeare Company. The day after the final Richard II performance, Tennant flew to Canada, where he spent five months filming the Fox series Gracepoint, the US remake of Broadchurch. He started work on series 2 of Broadchurch (which filmed on location in Dorset, Devon and North Somerset late May - October) two days after returning to the UK. In July he simultaneously worked on Broadchurch and a short film titled 96 Ways to Say I Love You, shooting the short on weekends and his days off from Broadchurch. In October he spent time in LA and NY, doing a promotional press tour for Gracepoint and auditioning for roles.
In January 2015 he won a Special Recognition Award at the NTAs. Between February and August, he was in New York shooting the lead role of villain Kilgrave/The Purple Man on the Marvel/Netflix TV series Jessica Jones. During this time, he appeared at two American fan conventions, at Wizard World Raleigh in North Carolina in March, and with Billie Piper at Philadelphia Comic Con in May. In April he attended the White House Correspondents' Dinner in Washington DC, his wife Georgia Moffett travelling from England to accompany him to the prestigious event. In August, the day after his return from New York, he travelled to Cardiff for several days where he visited the Doctor Who set with Russell T Davies. He spent much of November in New York, doing a promotional tour for Jessica Jones.
In November 2015, he announced on The Jonathan Ross Show that his wife had recently given birth to another daughter, her fourth child.
In December 2015 he attended Comic Con Brazil in São Paulo.
In January 2016 Tennant reprised his role in Richard II for the RSC's 'King and Country' season (all four history plays performed together) at the Barbican. In February 2016 he shot 'Mad to be Normal', a feature film biopic about RD Laing, in York.
In March and April, Richard II transferred to New York. During this time he attended Wizard World convention in St Louis, alongside Billie Piper. He also presented a BBC special marking the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare. In May he began shooting Broadchurch series 3 in Dorset.
Between March and June 2017, Tennant appeared in Patrick Marber's Don Juan in Soho at the Wyndham's Theatre. Also in 2017, he took over as the voice of Scrooge McDuck for Disney XD's DuckTales reboot, replacing the character's longtime voice actor Alan Young, who died in May 2016.
List of appearances as the Tenth Doctor Edit
Doctor Who Edit
Series 1 Edit
Series 2 Edit
- The Christmas Invasion
- New Earth
- Tooth and Claw
- School Reunion
- The Girl in the Fireplace
- Rise of the Cybermen / The Age of Steel
- The Idiot's Lantern
- The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit
- Love & Monsters
- Fear Her
- Army of Ghosts / Doomsday
Series 3 Edit
- The Runaway Bride
- Smith and Jones
- The Shakespeare Code
- Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks
- The Lazarus Experiment
- Human Nature / The Family of Blood
- Utopia / The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords
Series 4 Edit
- Voyage of the Damned
- Partners in Crime
- The Fires of Pompeii
- Planet of the Ood
- The Sontaran Stratagem / The Poison Sky
- The Doctor's Daughter
- The Unicorn and the Wasp
- Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead
- Turn Left / The Stolen Earth / Journey's End
- The Next Doctor
- Planet of the Dead
- The Waters of Mars
- The End of Time
50th anniversary special Edit
Mini episodes Edit
Animated serials Edit
Big Finish Doctor Who audio stories Edit
- Time Reaver
- Death and the Queen
- Infamy of the Zaross
- The Sword of the Chevalier
- Cold Vengeance
The Sarah Jane Adventures Edit
Series 3 Edit
BBC New Series Adventures Edit
- The Stone Rose
- The Feast of the Drowned
- The Resurrection Casket
- Pest Control
- The Day of the Troll
- The Last Voyage
- Dead Air
Video Games Edit
Other DWU appearances Edit
Big Finish Doctor Who audio stories Edit
Doctor Who Unbound Edit
- Scorpius - Pilot (Uncredited)
Dalek Empire Edit
BBC webcasts Edit
Television pastiches Edit
- The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot - Himself
- Theatre Management Association Best Actor Award: The Glass Menagerie
- 2000 — Nominated for Ian Charleson Award (Best classical actor under 30): Comedy of Errors
- 2003 — Nominated for Olivier Award as Best Actor: Lobby Hero
- 2005 — Critics Award for Theatre in Scotland, Best Male Performance: Jimmy Porter in Look Back in Anger
- 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009/2010 (awards ceremony shown in January 2010 instead of October 2009) — ITV National Television Awards, Best Drama Actor, The Doctor in Doctor Who
- 2007 — Critics' Circle Theatre Award, Best Shakespearean Performance: Hamlet in Hamlet
- 2013 — TV Choice Award, Best Actor: DI Alec Hardy in Broadchurch