Life Outside The TARDIS: David Tennant (Part 1)

Mark Gatiss and David Tennant in Stephen Fry's movie Bright Young Things

Note: Two problems. Everything David Tennant ever did ever appears to be on YouTube, and the space here is limited. So we’re going to break this into two sections. Part 1 is Pre-Doctor, Part 2 is After Gallifrey.

Let’s begin, the year is 1987, and a youthful aspiring teen actor has been cast in a public information film about smoking. It’s not a high budget affair, but by golly it’s a start:

A year later, and he’s back, in a one-off TV drama The Secret of Croftmore for Scots TV channel STV, as part of their Dramarama series (here’s the WHOLE THING). Then there’s a gap of some four years, before he makes his return, playing a painfully fresh-faced policeman in the comedy pilot Bunch of Five (around the 5:30 mark):

And a year after that, this remarkable thing happened (in Rab C Nesbitt):

Here’s young David auditioning for the part of a hospital radio DJ in 1994’s Takin’ Over The Asylum:

And here he is after he got the part, rocking a floppy Hugh Grant ‘do:

A year later, and it’s The Tales of Para Handy, with Gregor Fisher (Rab C Nesbitt himself) again). David’s in from 3:45:

That same year, and the true jobbing actor’s rite of passage in British TV, playing a villain on The Bill:

WHAT is going on with that hair now? Here’s A Mug’s Game from 1996:

Luckily he got a little tidier with the series Duck Patrol, a couple of years later:

Come the new millennium, and David can be found dismissing script ideas in Being Considered:

And on the other side of the audition arena in the semi-improvised mock-documentary People Like Us:

Stephen Fry’s directorial debut in 2003, Bright Young Things, saw our Dave playing the pompous English ninny with astonishing aplomb:

In 2004 he made this short (and wordless) film, Traffic Warden:

A little bit of costume drama – a squirmy turn in 2004’s He Knew He Was Right – to flesh out the resume nicely…

And now we’re dabbling in some colorful noir-ish detective hanky-panky, Blackpool-style.

Did I mention costume drama? Time to drop the motherlode. Here’s Casanova, the very thing Russell T Davies did before he resurrected Doctor Who, and the thing which raised David’s profile skywards:

Oh and while we’re putting the Who pieces together, here’s The Quatermass Experiment, also starring Mark Gatiss:

A little diversion, via a certain school of magic and wizardry:

A little philosophy, courtesy of 2006’s docudramamentry The Romantics:

And finally, let’s go out with a bang (knowwharrimean?). Here’s a little smut, courtesy of The Chatterley Affair, from that same year (NSFW):

Part 2 is here…

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser is a British writer, broadcaster and the the author of the book Stuff Brits Like. He is Anglophenia's resident Brit blogger, having written BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog, the Top of the Pops website, and for NME, the Guardian and elsewhere. Favorite topics include slang, Doctor Who and cramming as much music into Anglophenia as he can manage. He invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic
View all posts by Fraser McAlpine.