Russell T Davies on how Doctor Who and David Tennant inspired his Midsummer Night’s Dream

"Shakespeare expert" Tennant injected some comedy gold into the BBC production, while Davies invoked "the ghost of Doctor" to create something both new and nostalgic


Russell T Davies called on “the ghost of Doctor Who” – as well as one of the show’s best-loved living stars – to help inspire his new BBC production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.


In the new issue of Radio Times, Davis reveals that when he was planning his adaptation of Shakespeare’s comedy, the first person he turned to for advice was “Shakespeare expert” David Tennant – and he wasn’t disappointed.

“When I embarked on this production, I scrolled down my phone to seek the advice of the greatest expert in Shakespeare I know, David Tennant,” says Davies. “Sadly, he wasn’t free to appear in this production – he would have made a great Moth – but he suggested some brilliant jokes. When you see the gag with Bernard Cribbins and a handpump, that’s copyright DT.”

But Davies admits that Doctor Who had also been on his mind for other reasons when he approached the play. As a childhood fan of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, who says starring in it at school “changed my life”, Davies wanted to capture some of the same magic he had brought to Doctor Who when he ressurected it for both a new generation and for existing fans back in 2005.


“The ghost of Doctor Who was invoked deliberately. When I brought the show back in 2005, I wanted to make it feel brand new, but I also wanted to stir that ancestral memory of something once loved. And I think a Midsummer Night’s Dream is the same. It wasn’t just my school putting on a production, it was 100,000 schools. This is the kids’ play!”

Read the full interview with Russell T Davies in the new issue of Radio Times magazine, on sale from Tuesday