As David Tennant celebrates his 53rd birthday, it's hard to deny that his career, his image, and seemingly the man himself, are thriving more than ever before.


Of course, Tennant has never exactly been a divisive figure. Seemingly from the moment he hit screens, he captured everyone's attention, before his career-making role as the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who secured him as British acting royalty.

Tennant brought his flair, wit, charm, charisma and outright likability to the Doctor, providing one of the most iconic and best-loved incarnations of all time.

He's turned his hand to drama, he's a natural when it comes to comedy, he's showed off his presenting chops with Red Nose Day and the BAFTA Film Awards, and he's about to host a game show. Of course, plenty of other actors have thriving careers too but there are a few things that set Tennant apart from the rest.

For one, he has never lost his knack for having an absolute blast with a role.

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David Tennant as The Doctor in Doctor Who
David Tennant as The Doctor in Doctor Who. Doctor Who/YouTube

Cast your mind back to opening sequence of Casanova, starring a 34-year-old Tennant, which saw the character fling himself from a balcony in the hopes of landing casually on a horse – only to crash onto the ground, with Tennant grumbling: "B*****ks," before sprinting away.

Almost 20 years on, that humour and charisma have gone absolutely nowhere. You can see it in Crowley's swagger in Good Omens and you can feel it every time Tennant steps on a stage. Most of all, you can take it in during that glorious extended shot of the Fourteenth Doctor sprinting around the new TARDIS interior in the Doctor Who 60th anniversary specials.

Not many actors have returned to their best-loved roles and for good reason – it could very well be career suicide. Tennant's return to Doctor Who last year could have gone so spectacularly wrong, marring his legacy forever. But his love for the show and the fans won the battle, providing us with just a few more joyous adventures with one of the greatest to ever do it.

Safe to say, Doctor Who fans will never forget that surprise regeneration that brought Tennant back to Doctor Who once more.

David Tennant as Crowley in Good Omens season 2, sitting in a chair
David Tennant as Crowley in Good Omens season 2. Cian Oba-Smith/Prime Video

Of course, many of his roles have built their foundations on world-class scripts, from talents like Russell T Davies and Neil Gaiman, but he doesn't always need them to still give a memorable performance.

One of his upcoming gigs is a game show on ITV titled Genius Game. Let's face it – actual national treasure David Tennant doesn't need to do a game show at this point in his career. But I'd bet money on the fact that he, like the rest of us, got obsessed with Claudia Winkleman on The Traitors and thought, "That would be a laugh."

Throughout his career, he's always considered his fans too. He might not be on social media (although his wife, actress Georgia Tennant, has very much made up for that) but with every visit he makes to a convention to meet fans, every story you hear about people bumping into him on the street, and with every photo taken of him on a red carpet where his Pride pins are clearly visible, it's made clear how much he cares.

Somehow, Tennant has reached an astronomical level of fame seemingly without losing any sense of normality. He's simultaneously a national treasure and still a bloke you feel like you could pop for a pint with.

He often seems genuinely surprised at how admired he is, a sentiment summed up by that beautiful video of him receiving his Special Recognition award at the 2015 National Television Awards. It takes him a good half a minute to realise what's happening, and a good deal longer than that to process it – that all the fuss is for him.

Now, we're seeing up and coming actors raised on performances like Tennant's – performances that leave ego behind and cut straight to the heart of every role. From where I'm standing, that can only ever be a brilliant thing.

Doctor Who will return on Saturday 11th May on BBC iPlayer and BBC One. Previous seasons are available to stream on BBC iPlayer with episodes of the classic series also available on BritBox – you can sign up for a 7-day free trial here.


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