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Page last updated at 09:39 GMT, Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Not THE David Tennant

David Tennant and impostor Lisa Valentine
One of these is a celebrity, the other is a prankster civilian
We've all heard of people pretending to be celebrities on a social networking site, but is it OK as long as you're trying to be funny?

To some they are satirists, wittily sending up the people in the public eye. To others they are a pain in the neck, tricking genuine fans.

We are well used to hearing about how the rise of social networking sites has enabled us to communicate and spread our identity across the internet. But social networking has also spawned its own version of identity theft - people pretending to be celebrities.

Lisa Valentine is one of them. Search for Doctor Who star David Tennant on Twitter and the first result you call up is a feed called THEDavidTennant.

Had a drink with Matt Smith, he was crying into his shandy about not being as good as me. I told him to shut up and get the round in
Tweet from THEDavidTennant

On the feed, David Tennant ridicules his successor Matt Smith and spends his time talking about having Paul Daniels as Davros in a celebrity special.

But it's not really David Tennant, it's Ms Valentine. She's just having a laugh.

"I made him into an egotistical womanising character who is obsessed with his own status from Doctor Who."

While to somebody taking a two-second glance, Ms Valentine's feed might appear to be that of Tennant, she assumed from the ridiculous nature of the tweets the Twitter-using public would realise it was all a joke.

Just to let you all know that David Tennant does NOT use Twitter. There is someone impersonating him on here so please don't contact them!
Tweet from official davidtennantcom

Many didn't.

"I was getting requests for autographs and to say hello to their sons."

Worried, Ms Valentine contacted everybody who sent messages to her, making absolutely clear that she was not Tennant. She also contacted David Tennant's "people".

"I made the entries more and more ridiculous. They are surely not going to believe he goes to eat in McDonald's wearing a kilt."

But there were still some followers who didn't realise it was a joke.

She then made it clear on her feed that she was not David Tennant.

"Some people wanted me to say hello to their sons anyway," she says.

Obviously there are two different categories of online faker. Those who are genuinely seeking to trick people, whether for financial gain or other nefarious reasons are in one camp. Those having a stab at humour are in another.

Stern warning

Ms Valentine's ambitions are definitely in the latter - a point made clear from the nature of the entries, that this was not really the star speaking.

But the BBC was sufficiently concerned over the general phenomenon of Tennant impersonation to issue a warning.

"There have been several recent cases of people posing as David Tennant and other members of the Doctor Who cast in internet chat rooms and forums - as well as setting up social networking profiles in their names.

Tennant is a very appealing and popular public figure. Why does that image need subverting?
John O'Farrell

"So fans are not disappointed or misled, we'd like to point out that both David Tennant and incoming Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith do not use social networking websites, chatrooms or forums. They wouldn't want fans to think that anyone who uses these are talking to the real actors."

Ms Valentine says she has made a contribution to Comic Relief as her "penance" and encouraged "followers" to do the same. She hopes no-one is going to mind too much about her efforts to amuse.

"I do hope they have a sense of humour. They know I'm not a threat."

But is this really satire? Comedian John O'Farrell, editor of website Newsbiscuit, suggests not all the humorous celebrity impostors are really acting in the true spirit of satire.

"They are pretending to be satirical. They are actually getting off on the fame, vicariously enjoying celebrity.

"[Tennant] is a very appealing and popular public figure. Why does that image need subverting? There is a role for satire on social networks but it needs to be aimed at the powerful and pompous."

Below is a selection of your comments.

Some people will do anything for their five minutes of fame. It's a shame that people are willing to dupe children and fans in order to do that. Clearly some people don't have a life, or they have too much time on their hands, or both.
Joanna Keys, London

THEDavidTennant is obviously spoof and is the tweet I look forward to most in my Twitterfeed. Please don't try to remove it. It's the funniest pre-cursor to Comic Relief I've come across yet. I'll pay to keep it going.
Sarah, Notts, UK

I saw David Tennant in Hamlet at the RSC. He was brilliant. It is alright, in my opinion for online fakers as long as it is only to entertain the viewers. Although, when fakers start trying to pull wool over our eyes and make out they are the real deal, that should be made illegal surely. I don't really see anything wrong with this. I just can't understand how these fans could be so naive in really thinking it was him, especially reading some of the comments she left on the site. Why would he say that about himself....
Holly, Hampshire

Maybe it's about time the celebrities fought back. This isn't satire, it's a personal attack on the celebrities targeted. I am saddened that some people find this hysterically funny, they wouldn't be amused if they and their families were targeted in this way - in this case what if the "author" was "fictionalised" as a thieving nymphomanic who preys on the husbands of her associates - would that be funny to her? I think not. It's about time people considered how their actions affect others instead of looking for ridiculous notoriety. So sad...
Dazzi, Sunderland UK

Maybe I'm childish and pathetic, but I thought it was quite funny... come on, Matt Smith crying into his shandy? As for judging how someone else spends there time - there are many varied pastimes which are completely beyond me. Golf. Grand Theft Auto. Running. If she (and other people) are entertained by this, and no malicious intent is directed towards Tennant, what's the problem?
Esther, Nottingham, UK

Personally, I fail to see how this could be perceived as funny by anyone other than, possibly, the perpetrator. It seems more childish and pathetic, really, to pretend to be someone famous for the express purpose of insulting that person.
Dragon Paltiel, Concord, Calif, US

I can only agree with John O'Farrell in this case. David Tennant is quite clearly NOT pompous, egotistical or obsessed with his own fame. Why then does this woman feel it necessary to satirise him? She is potentially damaging his good reputation in a cowardly way that he cannot easily address, and does not seem to understand the true purpose and spirit of satire.
Pennygwynne, Dunedin, New Zealand

THEDavidTennant is not a satire; it is obviously a spoof. The writer clearly doesn't think David Tennant is as egotistical as the persona created within these tweets, nor is she trying to say this, as her use of extremely exaggerated examples demonstrates. The whole joke here lies with the writer pointing out how farcical is the suggestion that this egotistical persona could be Tennant's real personality. It seems that Mr O'Farrell, and some of your readers, haven't understood this.
Laura Funnell, Norwich, UK

It's a bit sad when your own life isn't interesting enough and you have to pretend to be someone else. I mean seriously, who has time to pretend to be a celebrity?
Lia Parker, Birmingham UK

We have had impersonators on screen and stage for decades so exactly what difference is it online? Unless the person is scamming, I can see absolutely no harm in someone posting such escapades like the lady concerned.
Brian Welsh, Aberdeen

I think this is potentially more damaging to a professional than the impersonator might think - David Tennant has a persona, a profile; he is an actor who earns his living by promoting being David Tennant (who had to re-brand himself by changing his name from David McDonald to get a job). Someone tarnishing that hard-earned image could compromise an actor's future earnings in a way that most of us who are salaried probably can't possibly imagine.
Fee Lock, Hastings, East Sussex

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