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I Always Knew I'd Be Doctor Who

Thanks to Stephen for the scans
When sexy Casanova star David Tennant regenerated into the new Doctor Who in the last series of the hit BBC1 show, i was his dream come true. David has always believed it was his destiny to be a Timelord. In fact, he only took acting lessons because he knew it would help him achieve his ambition. As a kid, growing up in his native Scotland, David was obsessed with Doctor Who and was convinced he'd follow in the footsteps of his hero, Tom Baker. David, 34, even wrote about his preoccupation in assignment at Paisley Grammar School when he was 13. And in our exclusive extract from the essay called 'Intergalactic Overdose', David reveals; 'Everyone was persistent in the belief I would 'grow out of it', but not me. I believed this was going to be a life-long thing. When I was old enough I was convinced that I was going to play the part of the Doctor on TV. I was absolutely convinced.'
Born in Bathgate, West Lothian, in April 1971, David was the youngest of Scottish minister The Very Reverend Sandy McDonald and his wife Helen's three children. The family moved to Paisley when David was 3, but it was watching Tom Baker as Doctor Who at the age of 5 that convinced him that he wanted to be an actor when he grew up. 'David really has always wanted to be Doctor Who since he was tiny,' recalls close friend Innes Smith. 'The reason he wanted to be an actor was because wanted be the Doctor, so we're all very pleased for him.' At home David's bedroom was crammed full of Doctor Who books, figures, and memorabilia, including a replica of robotic dog K9. David's gran even knitted him a long striped scarf, just like the one Tom Baker wore. 'It was sensational,' recalls Gordon Whyte. 'David wasn't that tall, we were only 9 years old. It literally went down to his feet on both sides. That was his main prop.'
English teacher Moira Robertson taught the young David from the age of 13 until he left school at 17. She recalls: 'The Doctor Who scarf became a kind of game for him. It didn't matter what essay or assignment I gave him, he managed to work his granny's scarf in it. That took real ingenuity. I remember having to explain to him that the exam board wouldn't actually get the point and give him extra marks for it.'
When Tom Baker left as Doctor Who in 1981 and Peter Davison took over, David's gran knitted him a cricket jumper just like the new Doctor's! 'He loved the pullover as much as the scarf, says mum Helen, 65. 'It was cream with a stripe. It would often be in the wash and got bigger and bigger.'
David even got to meet Tom Baker once, when the actor visited Scotland. 'My dad took us into Glasgow to meet him,' says Gordon. 'We queued up to see him and shook his hand.'
David got his first taste for performing in public with choir at Ralston Primary School in Paisley. Although he was outstanding in English, he didn't perform plays at his secondary school Paisley Grammar, instead, he went on church summer missions led by his father on the island of Great Cumbrae. These involved activities for children, games, open air beach services and mission work, including biblical stories. David would often act out sketches.
In his teenage years David was focused on becoming an actor. He joined the Royal Scottish Academy Of Music and Drama when he was 17. He had a close group of friends and enjoyed going to the theatre and cinema, as well as just hanging out with his pals. Unlike his Casanova character, girls weren't a distraction for David. 'David wasn't a complete geek,' says his older sister Karen Clark, 41, a mum of three who works as a special needs teacher. 'But he certainly wasn't  party animal. He wasn't a spotty teenager. He looked the way he always has, only a bit younger, nor was he a womaniser. He was more into being with his tight knit group of friends than dating a lot.'
After graduating from the academy when he was 20, David's mum was keen on him to get a teaching diploma as a fall-back, in case acting didn't work out. But David wasn't interested. He was forced to change his name from McDonald to Tennant because there was already a David McDonald in Equity, the actor's union. It didn't do him any harm, though. He started landing roles right away.
Early work came with the 7:84 theatre company and in a panto called 'Shinder The Magic Ape' in Edinburgh. The latter is particularly memorable as David broke his index finger when the mechanical ape landed on him! 'As parents we did think he might be out of work a lot of the time, but since he graduated that's rarely happened,' says Helen. 'When he was still in Scotland if work stopped maybe he would sign on as unemployed, but very quickly he stopped doing that because there wasn't long enough between jobs.'
In his early 20's, David left home and headed to London to further his career. He achieved his main ambitions of doing Shakespeare at Stratford and appearing at The National Theatre.
His stage work was recognised in June when he picked up Best Actor for the 2005 Critics Awards For Theatre in Scotland. David also enjoyed a string of TV and film roles including parts in The Bill and Stephen Fry's movie Bright Young Things. He's also played a transvestite barmaid.
And while David's enjoying success in his career, mum Helen wishes her son had someone to share it with. 'I did mention to him that we have no babies in the family at the moment. But he doesn't have a girlfriend so there's not a lot he can do. It would be nice if he had somebody. He'd make a great dad.'
Source: Sunday Magazine 14th August 2005