David Tennant: ‘How dare I give Peter Capaldi tips on starring in Doctor Who?’

The actor talks about replacing Who with the whodunit Broadchurch, and Peter Capaldi getting to keep his Scottish accent

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Before starring as glum detective Alec Hardy in the sensational whodunnit Broadchurch, David Tennant appeared in a quaint sci-fi series called Doctor Who. Perhaps you’ve heard of it?

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“When you do something like Doctor Who you think: that’s fine, I’m very proud of that and that’s probably the thing people will remember me for,” he told a select group of journalists (yes, including RadioTimes.com) during filming of Broadchurch series two, “but then something like this comes along. You have to regard yourself as very fortunate to be attached to two projects that grasped the national consciousness.”

For the first time since he left that blue box behind, people were no longer stopping him in the street with frantic questions about Doctor Who. They were stopping him in the street with frantic questions about Broadchurch.

“It was certainly different! Not that I’m ever sad to talk about Doctor Who or to be recognised for that, I will always be terribly proud of it. But yes it was lovely to be part of something else that seemed to attract an equal level of enthusiasm.”

It’s not the first time the two worlds have crossed over. Tennant revealed he hadn’t been able to join the rest of the nation as they watched the final episode of Broadchurch series one. 

“I couldn’t because I was on a night shoot of the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who at the time. I was in a studio in Cardiff.  Which was a bit of a shame, because I thought this would be nice to sit and experience.” Still, he knew the moment Danny Latimer’s killer was finally unmasked. “I was following its progress through the text messages I was receiving in between takes. It was exciting, it really felt like an event.”

The 50th anniversary saw him team up with Matt Smith, but has he been following his successor’s successor, Peter Capaldi?

“Of course I’ve seen him, he’s fantastic. I think it’s illegal not to watch Doctor Who in this country, isn’t it?”

What about his fellow Scot using his native accent, when Tennant put on an Estuary twang during his time in the role?

“It clearly works. That character is defined by little other than whatever each individual brings to it. It’s great to see Peter bringing so much of him to it and running with it. You want to keep reinventing that character, taking it in different directions, that show is a very broad canvas. 

But has he given Capaldi any tips, one Doctor to another?

“We’ve caught up a bit, but I didn’t give him tips! How dare I give Peter Capaldi tips?!” 

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Broadchurch returns Monday 5th January, 9pm, ITV