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Perfect Tennant

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coverage of series 3, 2007

  1. Labour of love (7 April)
  2. Cat and Doc (14 April)
  3. The Thinking Man's Dalek (21 April)
  4. Enemy of the States (28 April)
  5. Who's scariest monster yet? (5 May)
  6. Burn, baby, burn (19 May)
  7. We're coming to get you! (26 May)
  8. Loving the Alien (2 June)
  9. Hell's Angels (9 June)
  10. And then there were three (16 June)
  11. Master mind (23 June)
  12. On set with... Freema Agyeman (30 June)
  13. Who's on board? (22 December)

coverage of other series
S1 | S2 | S3 | S4 | Specials | S5 | S6 | S7 | S8 | S9 | S10


The Doctor looks like he could have a new best friend, but has he got over the loss of the last one? And how does the man who plays the Time Lord cope with being one of the best-known faces in Britain? David Tennant tells all


"The Doctor probably thinks he's over Rose, but I think Martha would disagree. That's where the Doctor and Martha's relationship starts: him thinking he doesn't really need a new best friend, and Martha realising he probably does.

"It's different from the Doctor and Rose, where he was looking for someone. Now, it's turned the other way. Martha makes herself quite indispensable early on. She's much more front-foot about the fact that she's noticed the Doctor wearing tight trousers and things, and that disconcerts him rather. He's used to a slightly more asexual outlook! Whatever Rose might have thought, she kept it more to herself. Martha's a bit more on the nose. It's an interesting new dynamic.

"That's always the challenge, isn't it? Because essentially it's got to be the same dynamic, yet to make the show live it's got to be new, and Russell [T Davies], as with everything, manages to hit that balance beautifully. Also, obviously, Freema's a very different actress, and that gives it a different vibe, too.

"It's one of the things that has given this show the longevity it has; that it's essentially the same format, just slightly reinventing the wheel each time, finding new ways of telling that story. And putting a new relationship at the heart of it just spices things up a little bit.

"This series feels more ambitious. Each script that comes in seems to be bigger than the last; you see the production staff holding their heads heavier and heavier in their hands! And each time they manage to do it — with bells on.

"The scale is bigger; the locations are more extraordinary. We get to film at the Globe [Theatre, in London], you know. They were happy to accommodate us. It allows us to keep getting bigger and better."


It takes nine months to film a series. At the start, is there a sense of being waved off on a train by family and friends?

It does feel like coming back to school. You never do that as an actor: you do a little job and move on. It was weird coming back, but very pleasant seeing all the same people and going into the same old routine.

You have a flat in Cardiff. What do you pack for those nine months?

Mercifully I didn't really have to pack, because I didn't have to move out at the end of last year. The flat gets kept on, so I now have two fully functioning flats [the other is in London]. The danger will be when this finishes, because I've doubled up everything. I don't know where it's all going to go. I might have to have a large car-boot sale.

When do you start work each day?

Filiming usually kicks off at 8am — assuming it's not a night shoot — which means you have to be here just after seven. I live about half an hour From the studios, so I usually get up around six.

Does that take a while to get used to?

It's funny, you get into that routine quite quickly. Also, because of the nature of filming, that routine keeps being messed up because you go to night shoots, when you have to quickly rewire your body clock and try to get used to sleeping all day and waking up at 5pm to go to work. You just have to be continually flexible.

What, then, is the hardest part of being the Doctor?

That's quite a hard question. This year's been harder generally because we've done more nights and more odd hours and slightly further afield locations, just because the scripts have been more ambitious. The show keeps pushing itself and Russell keeps pushing what's achievable. And we've been away on location: down to Wells in Somerset, the Globe, Warwick...

You love your Shakespeare — what was the Globe like?

It was great. The curious part was, because we couldn't get in until after the show finished at nine, we would start filming at about 11pm and shoot through the night. But there are daytime scenes in the Globe as well, so as the sun came up we had to switch to the daytime scenes. Just as you were getting a bit weary around 6am, you had to switch to a whole other mode. The very nature of Doctor Who is that it's all quite high-energy. You can't allow yourself to droop.

How do you keep that energy up? Oh, I don't know. Black coffee? That's the character, that's the job, and it's the nature of these kinds of scripts as well; that's what you thrive on. Often the Doctor's energy is what powers a scene, so you've got to match that. I don't find it difficult, particularly. The very energy that comes off the script is what inspires you.

How do you fill time between scenes? There are usually more lines to learn, new scripts arriving, or people like yourself to speak to. The time tends to get filled up.

How do you manage the day-to-day stuff like shopping and bills?

That's the stuff that I find problematic. It's the answer to your question about the hardest part of the job: keeping normal life going, remembering which bill hasn't been paid.

Are there red bills back at the flat? It's not bad. I'm quite good at doing weekend clearance. But I apologise now to all family and friends! Things like keeping up with birthdays and making sure you've sent a card for somebody's opening night: all that kind of stuff does tend to suffer a bit, just because this is quite all-consuming.

What about shopping? When did you last go out and buy a CD?

The internet's useful for that, I find. I do tend to get my CDs and DVDs via the Internet. There's a little spot just outside the men's loos, just at the

back of the studios here, where the wireless internet comes down from the office upstairs, so I spent about four weeks prior to Christmas crouched outside the gents' toilets with my laptop, trying to get into various shopping websites, making sure I had something to take home to the family.

Do you find time to watch much TV? I've been watching The West Wing on DVD, working my way tragically towards the end of season seven. I'm trying not to rush it because I think it's the finest TV there's ever been. And I'm very much looking forward to Life on Mars [this interview took place before Mars returned]. Because you do odd hours, it's easier to work your way through a DVD boxed set, and 45 minutes is about as much downtime as you get of an evening, by the time you've eaten, looked over your lines and made a couple of phone calls.

Do you have many nights out? It's limited because of the early mornings and late evenings. Now and again we get out. There are a couple of restaurants in Cardiff that I'm quite fond of.

Presumably you get recognised — is it disconcerting?

You acclimatise, but it was a bit of a shock at first. Doctor Who is a different level of attention. Billie and I got chased through the traffic once in a car. You expect paparazzi to do that, but when it's normal people you start to think the world's gone a bit mad. You're literally having a car chase and some cabbie's going, "I'll sort youse out, dahn't worry. We'll run this red light!" But I've had very few bad experiences.

Any funny stories?

A certain BBC presenter who I'd never met before came up to me at a party and went, "Hi, how you doing?" And I went, "Oh, hi, alt right?" ! knew who she was and I assumed she was just being friendly. We were chatting away: That time we met..:' and I'm thinking, "No, we haven't!" Then she stopped and said, "That was Christopher Eccleston, wasn't it?" Ha ha ha! She was mortified. I'm not going to tell you who it was.

Do the days ever feel repetitive?

No: that's why nine months shoot by. I can't believe I'm nearly finished! We started on 1 July. It does seem a long time ago that Catherine Tate and I were doing the Christmas episode. I think, jings, this is such an extraordinary time and it's flying by, and in my dotage I'm going to look back and think, that was the blink of an eye! Nick Griffiths

Caption: COOLER THAN KASTRIA*... In our online poll of more than 4,000 readers, Tennant was voted TV's coolest person: see

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  • APA 6th ed.: Griffiths, Nick (2007-03-31). Perfect Tennant. Radio Times p. 20.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Griffiths, Nick. "Perfect Tennant." Radio Times [add city] 2007-03-31, 20. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Griffiths, Nick. "Perfect Tennant." Radio Times, edition, sec., 2007-03-31
  • Turabian: Griffiths, Nick. "Perfect Tennant." Radio Times, 2007-03-31, section, 20 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Perfect Tennant | url= | work=Radio Times | pages=20 | date=2007-03-31 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=26 May 2024 }}</ref>
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