Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

Time traveller steps into family history

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Steady girls - David Tennant is the latest famous face to appear on this series. The heart-throb actor follows in the footsteps of Barbara Windsor, Robert Lindsay and Colin Jackson as he delves into his family's past.

Tennant was born David MacDonald in West Lothian, Scotland, in 1971. He's the son of Church of Scotland minister, and knew he wanted to be an actor from an early age - inspired by the performances of Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker in Doctor Who.

"I was very small, about three or four I think, and just wanted to be the people on telly telling these wonderful stories," he said.

David won a place at Glasgow's Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, but when he did finally make it as a professional, he was forced to change his surname because another David MacDonald was already registered with the actors' union Equity.

He started out on stage, appearing, among other projects, with the cutting-edge 7:84 Theatre Company, which has become well known in Scotland for its strong political and often challenging productions. Despite these experiences, and appearances in such films as Bright Young Things, Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire and Jude (opposite fellow Time Lord Christopher Eccleston), it's for his TV work that David is best known.

He made his small-screen debut in an episode of Rab C Nesbitt, followed by parts in The Mrs Bradley Mysteries, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) and Foyle's War. But it was the acclaimed double-whammy of Blackpool and Casanova that made him a star.

His work with Russell T Davies on Casanova led him to be cast as the 10th Tardis owner when Eccleston left Doctor Who - a role he had long coveted.

David is fiercely proud of being Scottish, but is stunned to learn he also has links to Northern Ireland. He heads to the Emerald Isle to find out more, and discovers his great-grandparents were the area's answer to Posh and Becks in the 1930s - Archie was a famous football player for Derry City FC, while his wife, Nellie, was a beauty queen. The 35-year-old actor then meets some long-lost cousins and learns how his family were affected by political problems in the country.

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