Originally posted 15th April 2016. Reposted 18th June 2019 in celebration of the anniversary of Tennant’s first appearance in Who with this very regeneration scene.
David Tennant’s Doctor (whose first full series celebrates its tenth anniversary today) is one of the most popular incarnations of the Time Lord since the show began, spanning four series of Doctor Who (and some specials) over five years and popping back for a much-loved guest appearance in 2013 anniversary special The Day of the Doctor.
So it’s a surprise to learn that the Scottish actor, whose Doctor is still fondly remembered by die-hard fans and casual viewers alike, was once worried that he’d be one of sci-fi series’ most short-lived stars.
In fact, as he told the crowd at the Madison Wizard World convention earlier this week, he wasn’t sure he’d last a full minute…
“So I was doing Casanova, and it was written by Russell T Davies, who at the same time was in the middle of putting together the reboot of Doctor Who, along with Julie Gardner, the executive producer also of both shows,” Tennant told the audience (see video below).
“Casanova ended up being my kind of audition for Doctor Who, although I was completely unaware of it at the time because I didn’t know they were looking for anyone.
“So yeah, Russell asked me round to his house […] because he had a couple of rough cuts of the first series of Doctor Who and he knew that I was a bit of a fan, and that I might want to see how the show was looking. And then they told me that they wanted me to take over!”
And, as Tennant revealed, the quick turnaround for his casting left him slightly concerned that he’d be left high and dry after filming the regeneration from Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor to his own in 2005 finale The Parting of the Ways.
“‘Would you take over and can you film a scene for the end of episode 13 kind of in about 10 minutes?’ It was a bit like that,” he recalled.
“Which was odd, because the show hadn’t been out yet. So you were thinking, ‘what if I film a little bit for the end of episode 13, the show doesn’t ever go again and I’m the person who played the Doctor for 35 seconds?’”
In the end, however Tennant decided it was still worth the risk – because in that worst-case scenario he’d still have played a version of the Time Lord, and we all know what that means…