Thursday, 3 March 2011

David Tennant Treat 4 Today for Thursday 3rd March 2011

The David Tennant Treat 4 Today was suggested by Laura several months ago now so apologies to Laura for taking so long to use this as it's a great suggestion.

It's an interview with Steven Moffat from around the time of the second series of Doctor Who (David Tennant's first series) and Laura believes that the interview comes from the Doctor Who Magazine.

You were talking about the new series having a new Doctor, which is obviously one of the biggest stories of the year for Doctor Who. How early in your writing process did you find out that you weren't writing for Chris?

Oh, at the same time you found out! In fact, I didn't even see the headlines in the papers, Paul [Cornell] told me, he phoned me up or got me on Yahoo Messenger or something, 'Have you heard the news that Chris has quit?'. And I was literally, that day, sitting down to start work on The Girl in the Fireplace. So I had to email Russell, in my usual grump, saying 'What the ****'s going on?!'. And he said 'It's too long to explain - phone me!'. I knew who it was, insofar as any of us had any doubt who it was going to be. A fantastic case of somebody simply casting themselves! By common consent, the entire nation said 'It's David Tennant, isn't it?'. I think I told you that after watching Blackpool I emailed Russell - I've still got the emails - and said 'Well, there's Doctor 10' and he emailed back, saying 'You're the fourth person to say that'...

Well, I was saying 'Oh Doctor Who's on' every time he's appeared on TV for about the past eighteen months. How little I knew...

But there is something very, very Doctorish about David. And look at Blackpool and Casanova... I haven't actually asked anyone on the production about this, but I don't think there was a great deal of debate about who to cast. And he's known to love it, he's known to be a fan, therefore he will give it the full-blooded attention that the part requires. And I suppose there's also the question of what other actor of his level - and he is actually a very high-level actor now, having played the lead in several major BBC dramas, he's now a major name, he's all over the shop - what other major star was going to take over from Chris?

And given that it had been someone as big as Chris, it needed to be someone that big again...

And someone that good again. And Chris is a phenomenal actor...

Given that it happened the day you were sitting down to start work - did you still sit down and start work that day?

Yes, I did. Because there's a certain amount of Doctor Who work that is going to be the same whoever is playing the Doctor. 'They walk out of the TARDIS and something dreadful happens to them'... it wasn't a huge adjustment. I had my chat with Russell, which wasn't very long, about how things were going to be with David Tennant now playing that part. So: still not posh, still none of that faux-eccentricity. I sat and watched Casanova, and got used to the idea of him being the Doctor, and I wrote my episode completely separately from Russell writing his, and when we compared episodes we'd written the same Doctor, it was very similar. In fact, I think we'd written, on one occasion, the same line. I think David maps very easily onto that part - so much of what he does is a bit Doctor Who-ish, you know?

And have you seen him in action yet?

I haven't seen film, but I was at two readthroughs, including the readthough for mine, and it was amazing. On readthrough performance alone, David is the best Doctor ever. He's one of those dazzling technicians, in that he can do anything with a line, he really can do anything with a line. Now, a certain amount of Doctor Who dialogue is inevitably going to be 'There's a spaceship over there, let's go and look at the spaceship', and David can find ways of undercutting it and spinning it. He puts a lot of very good spin on his dialogue, and I think he'll be astonishing. I think he will conquer the world as the Doctor. But you've always got to wait and see - one of the things with David is... do you know David?

Actually, yeah, I've worked with him!

...of course - one of the things is that David in person is just an incredibly nice bloke, an extremely courteous, kind, pleasant man. With a Paisley accent, which is kind of weird. Have I told you my funny story about his Paisley accent?

Not that I recall...

Sue [Vertue, Steven's wife and noted TV producer] and I were at a wrap party for Sue's sitcom, and we got back very drunk. So I staggered upstairs to get my messages, and I hear this message that I assume is from me! It's this Scottish voice going 'Hello, it's very late...' - and I assume I've left a message for Sue and forgotten about it. '...Ah, Steven, yes..' - and the voice starts raving on about my script. And I think '****ing hell - I've phoned myself about how good I am! My ego has got so big it's phoned me! This is unhealthy, I've got to see someone...'. And then at a certain point he remembers, in that scatterbrained David way, to say 'Oh, it's David Tennant, by the way...'. But then, of course, I was incredibly thrilled to have a message on my answerphone from Doctor Who himself. Saying I was clever! But anyway, as I was saying - in person David is this very pleasant, quite good-looking bloke. On screen, a whole new thing happens, he becomes quite mad, quite dangerous. His eyes become different, and you think he's actually got a touch of the Chris thing, of being slightly scary. There's something odd about his eyes, and his edgy, brittle manner that I think becomes very arresting and quite powerful...

It's really noticeable in Blackpool, where it's a very small performance in physical terms, he's not throwing himself around like on Casanova, but you can't take your eyes off him.

Exactly. And he was up against David Morrissey, who's fantastic, and stole the show from him. He is absolutely making his presence felt, which is just astonishing. And even as Casanova where he's playing a loveable, affable bloke, underneath it he's got this dangerous thing. It wouldn't surprise you if he turned round and was quite mean to you - and I think that's probably quite close to his Doctor. I think the Doctor should have that thing that he's not just 'nice', although he is very nice he's also slightly dangerous. What I liked about Chris was that there was something about Chris that was slightly mental - his Doctor, you're not quite sure where you are with him, 'I like you but I don't quite know where I am with you'. There's a moment in The Long Game where he's saying goodbye, and then as they turn away he suddenly becomes serious - and it's not an ordinary actor that can do that, that can just turn the temperature like that. And I think we're going to see David doing the same stuff - that's what he's got to rise to, but I think he will. More humour, obviously - he's funny, David, and it would be daft not to use that.


  1. Great interview, and David was the best doctos ever!

  2. David will be my Doctor always! Love the interview, I think it'd have to be a favourite :)