BBC NewsAndrew Marr Show


Page last updated at 11:52 GMT, Sunday, 8 June 2008 12:52 UK

To be or not to be... the Doctor

On Sunday 08 June Andrew Marr interviewed David Tennant

As he prepares his Hamlet, David Tennant says he may play Dr Who again.

Guests with a Dalek
Guests with a Dalek

ANDREW MARR: Great line. Great line.


ANDREW MARR: That's coming out on DVD. It's not, it's not been re-shown. I mean it's a long time ago now but ..

DAVID TENNANT: Ninety four it was first shown yeah.


DAVID TENNANT: Yeah. We shot it fifteen years ago.

ANDREW MARR: Fifteen years. And it was ..

DAVID TENNANT: Alarming to see oneself fifteen years ago isn't it?

ANDREW MARR: Yeah. There's been a few changes. Lasted well. But it was, it was, it was an interesting project because it was sort of prime time television but about mental illness which is something that you never see.

DAVID TENNANT: It wasn't the sexiest idea for, for a, for a drama no. And I think it was down to, it was down to a number of things. I think Bill Brydon who was Head of Drama at BBC Scotland at the time really fought for it.


DAVID TENNANT: And but it was a, it was a, an untried writer, Donna Franceschild. It was - the director David Blair who now directs all sorts of posh things was, was sort of a bit of a chance.

And Ken Stott and myself really were pretty unknown at the time as well so ..

ANDREW MARR: And you were, you were an inmate in the asylum?

DAVID TENNANT: I was, yes I was a manic depressive in the, in the psychiatric hospital yeah.

ANDREW MARR: And, and then Ken Stott was playing as I re.. he was the DJ in the hospital radio station wasn't he?

DAVID TENNANT: He's a sort of down, downtrodden hospital radio DJ who comes to set up a radio station within this hospital and ends up becoming a huge influence on the lives of many of the patients there.

And ends up having a huge journey himself yeah.

ANDREW MARR: What I was struck by was, I mean this is not a subject by and large that people laugh about and yet it was very funny.

Making, making a mental health issue very funny was bold but difficult.

DAVID TENNANT: Whilst not making light of it as well.


DAVID TENNANT: I mean I think it's a brilliant piece of writing. It's, it, it was something I was hugely proud to do at the time and looking back on it now I'm still ..


DAVID TENNANT: .. really, really chuffed I've been part of it, yeah.

ANDREW MARR: Yeah. You're, you're a Shakespearian actor, have been for some time. But Hamlet is the big one.

DAVID TENNANT: I suppose. I'm trying not to look at it that way at the moment. Just another play isn't it Andrew?

ANDREW MARR: You're going to, well you're going to bring - yeah except you - and just another audience will be a, probably the RSC will get audiences it doesn't normally have for its productions because you're doing Hamlet I would have thought. Lots of Trekkies in there ... Who'ees, Who'ees.

DAVID TENNANT: Well there will be Trekkies cos we've got Patrick Stewart in the cast as well. But I don't know. I think, I mean I think Ian McKellan was there last year doing King Lear.


DAVID TENNANT: So I guess he probably has an audience from ..


DAVID TENNANT: .. Lord of the Rings that maybe ..

ANDREW MARR: But it's, I mean every, I mean, I mean people will be watching to see - I've got an Olivier, a little clip of Olivier's Hamlet which is ..


ANDREW MARR: .. yeah let's just have a quick look at that.

VT: Olivier in Hamlet.

DAVID TENNANT: I'll do it like that then.

ANDREW MARR: You'll do it like that?


ANDREW MARR: So we've got it sorted?

DAVID TENNANT: Yeah, that's fine.

ANDREW MARR: Yeah. Yeah. But you, I mean when you're preparing for a part like that do you, are you aware of how other actors have done it or do you start absolutely fresh with a text and say right I'm going to rethink?

DAVID TENNANT: I mean it's impossible not to be aware of the, the, the, the lorry loads of history that ..


DAVID TENNANT: .. Hamlet comes with. But I think your job is to try and dispense with them and to try and see it as a play, just another play and take each ..


DAVID TENNANT: .. scene as it comes and play it as truthfully and as energetically as you can I think.

ANDREW MARR: And does - I think is it Jude Law's also doing a Hamlet ..

DAVID TENNANT: He is yeah.

ANDREW MARR: .. coming out. So it will be a sort of battle of the Hamlets ...

DAVID TENNANT: Well we're first.

ANDREW MARR: You're first.

DAVID TENNANT: Yeah. I don't think he's on till the middle of next year so we'll have come and gone by then.



ANDREW MARR: I remember talking to you some way back, just before you'd taken on the Doctor Who, started to do the Doctor Who role and ..


ANDREW MARR: .. you were going to was it Glastonbury? It was one of the rock festivals.

DAVID TENNANT: That's right yeah, I was just off to Glastonbury that day I think yeah.

ANDREW MARR: And you, and you off with your tent. I remember you saying to me "This is the last time I'll ever be able to do this. Life is going to be different for me from now on". True?

DAVID TENNANT: Yeah. Yeah. I've certainly not been in a tent since then.

ANDREW MARR: Yeah. Yeah. But it, has it been a sort of life changing level of fame Doctor Who? Or maybe you were just ..


ANDREW MARR: .. reclusive in the first place. I don't know.

DAVID TENNANT: I, yeah, I rarely go out anyway. No it's, yeah it gets a level of attention and scrutiny and, and enthusiasm that it attracts which is unlike probably anything else I'll ever do really as a cer...

You know there's a particular enthusiasm for it which is, but it's very exciting to be in the middle of that. You know it's, it's a time of life I think.

ANDREW MARR: Yeah, absolutely. Everybody who's heard that you're coming on has asked me to ask the same question.

DAVID TENNANT: What's that?

ANDREW MARR: Are you going to do another series?

DAVID TENNANT: Yes. Well I've not really been asked yet so I'm going to keep ...

ANDREW MARR: I think, I think it's, I think it's a reasonable guess that you will be asked.

DAVID TENNANT: Well then if, if and when I'm asked then I'll consider the question.

ANDREW MARR: All right. But you're doing, you're doing some specials anyway which are coming out soon.

DAVID TENNANT: We are. We're definitely doing them. Yeah. We, I go back, I go back to it in January. And I think, I think we're doing four now actually.


DAVID TENNANT: Four one off, one hour specials. Well I don't know how long they'll be but four one off specials yeah.

ANDREW MARR: Yeah. And what about, what about your current assistant? How's that? Are you, are you enjoying ..

DAVID TENNANT: Catherine Tate.

ANDREW MARR: .. that, that relationship?


ANDREW MARR: Because I mean she is, she's, well Catherine Tate's very different from some, she's, you know different generation from Billie Piper and ..

DAVID TENNANT: I guess and it's a very different character which, which was part of the idea you know, to just to keep changing around that sort of central dynamic.

And also you get to see how, how Catherine as Donna gets to react when indeed she meets Freema Agyeman and Billie Piper and John Barrowman because we might be seeing some, some old friends re-appearing in the next few weeks.

ANDREW MARR: Oh really?

DAVID TENNANT: Yes. Stay tuned.

ANDREW MARR: Okay. Okay. That's very interesting. People who don't, like me, who don't, you know don't really know about the acting world assume that it's, you know it's great fun.

You just pop on, you do a bit of acting and so on. But it's actually, it's very, very hard work doing something like this isn't it? It's pretty relentless your ..

DAVID TENNANT: Doctor Who is certainly long - I mean a filming day is you know a twelve hour day and it's five or six days a week and it moves quite fast...

ANDREW MARR: And you're almost always in shot. I mean compared to others ..

DAVID TENNANT: It's certainly a fair chunk of the time yeah. So it's, yeah there's a, there's a relentlessness to, to keeping on top of it. But, but I wouldn't want to do anything else.

ANDREW MARR: You, so you don't feel kind of ... I've had enough of this, it's exhausting?

DAVID TENNANT: Well there are days when you're knackered. Yeah. But, but it's still a great, it's a great pleasure to do and it's a great privilege to get - it's not really like working for a living is it? So ..

ANDREW MARR: You don't, and what, what about the level of sort of media intrusion? Because you've bec.. you have become a huge national figure.

There's no way of getting away from that. And it does mean that there's lenses and microphones following you everywhere.


ANDREW MARR: Almost everywhere.

DAVID TENNANT: Sometimes yeah.


DAVID TENNANT: I, you know, there are elements of that life which one wouldn't necessarily choose but I think it's very churlish to complain about them. I mean I knew what I was getting into.

ANDREW MARR: And you're enjoying it.

DAVID TENNANT: I'm, I, it's .. yeah.

ANDREW MARR: Well don't, don't go entirely away.


ANDREW MARR: Come back later on. But thank you for now very much indeed.


Please note "The Andrew Marr Show" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

NB: This transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy

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