David Tennant: how Doctor Who changed my life

In the new Radio Times magazine, the tenth Doctor talks privacy, bad reviews and Matt Smith…


David Tennant’s time on Doctor Who took away his privacy, but hasn’t left him typecast, the actor has told the new issue of Radio Times magazine – and he says his successor Matt Smith is “brilliant” in the role.


“I’m very glad it happened,” Tennant said of his time on the BBC1 sci-fi show. “Mercifully, I haven’t been typecast and it opened more doors than it closed. I was never bored, but I wanted to make sure I left before it became a job. It’s still thriving and Matt Smith is brilliant in the part.”

Tennant admitted that his personal life had been affected by such a big breakthrough role: “Of course I lost a certain amount of right to privacy, which is not what I’d choose, but I accept. No one can teach you what it’s like to be observed in public. I remember, before I was that person, watching well-known people walk into a room – you imbue them with inner confidence and a slightly royal presence. Yet when it’s you, it’s terrifying. The world’s perception of you has changed while you remain the same.”

The actor, who is reluctant to make details of his private life public, hinted at a difficult relationship with the tabloid press: “I’ve had a go at them. I’m not suggesting my phone was hacked, although it would make sense of certain moments in my life when I was surprised about how some information became public. It’s difficult to do anything about inaccuracy or intrusion even if you think you have a good case. Grapple with the Daily Mail and you’re up against some serious lawyers. 

“You understand what you’re getting into by being on TV. I’m not that naive. But there’s a sense everyone in the public eye has to have moral purity. I don’t see why, because you’re in a TV programme, you have to be perfect.”

Tennant brushed off bad reviews for his 2011 film The Decoy Bride: “It’s disappointing when something in which you’ve invested time and love isn’t well received. But there’s little you can do. As the years trundle on you become objective. I thought it was a lovely film, but critics probably aren’t writing for its intended audience.

“Every fresh project is a gamble. You draw a deep breath, and ask yourself, ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ and the answer is, ‘That it’s not very good?’ You can’t worry.” 


Read the full interview in the new issue of Radio Times magazine, out now