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David Tennant, Don Juan in Soho
© Helen Maybanks

David Tennant: from Doctor to detective to ‘nihilistic sexual athlete’

Time Lord, detective, Prince of Denmark and now debauched nobleman in ‘Don Juan in Soho’. We talk to David Tennant about his roles past and present

Andrzej Lukowski
Written by
Andrzej Lukowski

David Tennant has been many things: Time Lord, Casanova, hard-bitten ‘Broadchurch’ detective, duplicitous Harry Potter villain and commanding Shakespearean stage thesp. ‘Nihilistic sexual athlete’ is a new one, mind you, but it’s a role he’s embracing with gusto. 

Patrick Marber’s ‘Don Juan in Soho’ is a very rude update of a classic Molière farce, in which the eponymous debauched nobleman – played by Tennant – callously bonks his way through W1F, leaving a train of ruined lives in his path. It is very naughty, very outrageous, and about as far away as you can imagine from Detective Alec Hardy, the troubled ‘Broadchurch’ copper currently back on our TV screens for a third and final series of Tennant’s most iconic post-‘Doctor Who’ role. 

Here’s what Tennant had to say about some of his defining characters and productions.

...On being a perv in ‘Don Juan in Soho’

‘It is a little bit saucy. I’m still quite shocked by it and I think of myself as quite hard to shock. It’s not just the naughty stuff, something about the man is quite shockingly psychopathic – someone who can exist entirely free of guilt. Living as I do very much in a Scot-ty Presbyterian bubble of guilt there’s something intoxicating about the idea about shaking all of that off and not having a care in the world.’


L-R Adrian Scarborough and David Tennant in Patrick Marber’s ‘Don Juan in Soho’. © Helen Maybanks

...On the possibility of a black or female Doctor

‘It’s obviously not my decision, but it’s good that it’s an ongoing conversation. There’s also a conversation to be had about behind the scenes both in television and the theatre, which are both predominantly white areas at the moment. I think the industry is addressing it; not quickly enough and not efficiently enough, but it’s right that everyone has to continue to work at it.’

...On the insane secrecy around ‘Broadchurch’

‘It’s tricky because a thriller isn’t a thriller if you know what happens next. Sometimes on “Broadchurch” we’re getting sent scripts digitally and it’s the fourteenth password you’ve had that week and if you can’t open it you can’t learn your lines. But if you don’t do that and somebody hacks an email everything’s online and it ruins it for everyone.’


Olivia Colman and David Tennant in ITV's ‘Broadchurch’. © ITV

...On ‘Broadchurch’ season two being a bit of a dud

‘No, I don’t think that at all, I think we just got that whole “We’re not going to say we like it twice” syndrome. That happens, I think we all expected it and we got it. That’s all right, that’s what we do, but I thought the second series was a brilliant bit of writing and I think the third series is too, it’s the best one. I’m very proud to be associated with it.’

...On voicing the new Scrooge McDuck

‘I believe I’m right in saying this is the first time Scrooge McDuck has ever actually been voiced by a Scotsman. People are very passionate about that show. I don’t think I quite realised what I was taking on, but I will endeavour to give it my best shot.’

‘Don Juan in Soho’ is at Wyndham’s Theatre until June 10 2017. 

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