This wry, wiry Scotsman may be best-known for his five-year stint inside the TARDIS, but he’s been a fixture on British television for years. With Fright Night signaling his arrival on the big screen, let’s take a stroll back through Tennant’s career in snapshots.
Wielding a Scottish accent as thick as canned haggis, a 23-year-old Tennant played a manic-depressive in the six-part BBC drama, Taking Over the Asylum. Watch clips.
In an episode of this mystery series set in the 1920s, Tennant played a dapper music teacher, one of the many suspects in a series of murders at a school for girls. Here, Tennant shared screen time with his future father-in-law Peter Davison, a.k.a. the Fifth Doctor. Watch clip.
The BBC mockumentary series People Like Us took a “day-in-the-life” look at a member of a certain profession. In one of the final episodes, Tennant lampooned his own vocation as actor Rob Harker. Watch clip.
Tennant as a babe-magnet minister? The star showed off his comedic chops in this adaptation of Anthony Trollope’s novel about the collapse of a young couple’s marriage. Watch a clip, which features Fenella Woolgar, who played Agatha Christie in the Doctor Who episode, “The Unicorn and the Wasp.”
In the innovative pre-Glee musical series Viva Blackpool, he played DI Peter Carlisle, an officer investigating the death of a young man in a casino owned by Ripley Holden (The Next Doctor‘s David Morrissey). Things are complicated when Peter takes a shine to Ripley’s trophy wife (Sarah Parish). Watch one of the best scenes from the series, Tennant and Parish dancing to Gabrielle’s “Should I Stay.”
On the red carpet at the 2005 BAFTA TV Awards, Tennant nodded to his Scottish heritage by combining a traditional kilt with black-tie formality. Nice legs.
So David Tennant grows up to be Peter O’Toole? Awesome. O’Toole plays the old Giacomo Casanova, with Tennant portraying the legendary womanizer in his youth. Russell T Davies created this dramedy while developing the modern Doctor Who, and Tennant’s role on Casanova eventually led to his recruitment to the TARDIS..
Tennant has played a few absolute bastards in his day, but few quite as dodgy, or as deadly, as Brendan Block in the two-part drama Secret Smile (opposite Kate Ashfield and Waking the Dead‘s Claire Goose, above). Not only does he bed a pair of sisters, but he gets to say appalling lines like this one. Audio NSFW.
The role that began the world’s love affair with David Tennant. Taking over from Christopher Eccleston was no easy feat, but the charismatic, hyperactive Tennant won over fans, becoming the most beloved Doctor since Tom Baker.
Tennant reunited with Viva Blackpool co-star Sarah Parish in this one-off drama, in which he plays a family man who suffers brain damage in a car accident. Watch clip.
In this BBC drama set in the 1910s, Tennant played renowned British scientist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington to Andy Serkis‘s Albert Einstein. Jim Broadbent, Rebecca Hall, Lucy Cohu, and Jodhi May rounded out this sterling cast. Watch the HBO trailer.
Tennant and Sir Patrick Stewart appeared as Hamlet and Claudius in this 2009 telefilm, reprising their roles from the rapturously received Royal Shakespeare Company production. Watch clip.
The Guardian called David Tennant‘s performance “superb, as always” in this drama about a Scottish dad struggling to raise kids alone after the sudden death of his wife. Watch trailer.
Tennant has specialized in portraying real-life figures. In the BBC telefilm United, he stepped into the shoes of Jimmy Murphy, assistant manager for the Manchester United football squad, as he attempts to pull together the team following the 1958 Munich plane crash that killed most of its players. Watch a clip.