The Scots may have invented the game of golf, but one Scotsman who doesn’t know a Big Bertha from a putter is actor
The actor, who is co-starring as the cop in BBC America’s intriguing musical-crime drama, “Viva
Blackpool,” isn’t worried about that lapse in his life.
“It’s all the poshies that play golf
in Scotland,” he says over coffee in the patio restaurant at a hotel here. “We grew up running across the golf
course and hiding in the bushes. I’m good at that.”
To hear Tennant talk, he’s not good at much.
“I’m rubbish at most things,” he shrugs. “I don’t have a lot of life skills. I can’t really
cook. I try and I can’t really do it very well ... Whenever I have to do something in a show, some new skill, I like
the challenge of it. And I love that I have to force myself to get good at it, but my heart always sinks a little bit —
‘Oh, this is another time I’m going to fall off this horse or miss this putt.”’
The one thing
he can do is act. And though he calls it “preposterous” Tennant knew when he was 3 years old that he wanted to
be an actor. It was a life choice, he says, that he never questioned.
In Merrie Old England he’s played everything
from Merlin to Romeo. He will co-star in the upcoming “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” and will pop into
that time-skewing phone booth as the new Dr. Who in the British TV series being shot in England.
But it is the determined
detective inspector Carlisle in “Viva Blackpool,” premiering Oct. 24 on BBC America, that will lodge him in American
The show — a combination musical, murder mystery and drama — is so unique it caused a major stir
when it aired in England. “I got the script; it arrived in the post and it was just, ‘What’ya think of this?’
I just thought it was fantastic,” says Tennant in his thick, Scottish accent.
“The stage directions just
said, ‘Miming’ and then we’d have the song after it. I suppose your reference point is Dennis Potter and
‘The Singing Detective.’ So you thought, ‘Well, that’s how we’re going to do it.’ But
what a fantastic and mad idea! Also a great script in between, so it wasn’t just a gimmick.”
father was a minister with the Church of Scotland and his mom held down several part-time jobs, his folks never tried to dissuade
Tennant from acting. “My parents expected I would grow out of it. And when I didn’t grow out of it and continued
to pursue it, they tried to gently suggest some other things I might want to do. … ”
Tennant went straight
from high school at 17 to drama school in Glasgow. He was only 20 when he graduated. “When you’re 20 you’re
indestructible, you’re Teflon. I think it gets harder when you get older,” he says.
The first thing he
did was try to land a gig in the theater. “You feel as soon as you do that it’ll all fall into place. I worked
for a very short time then I got my first job, which was touring around Scotland in a van doing a Brecht play. One-night stands.
I managed to join the jobs up since then, really. I did a lot of theater initially, then TV. Then I went to London and I’ve
been ridiculously fortunate.”
His mother became ill a couple of years ago and has since recovered. But Tennant,
34, says that set him straight on his priorities. Though he’s not married, he says a two-year relationship with a girlfriend
also helped change him. “I think the way you can only really learn about yourself is by seeing how you affect someone
else,” says Tennant.