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Who Be Or Not Who Be

DAVID TENNANT denies he feels trapped by Doctor Who and admits he feels humbled to be part of so many people's lives.

Earlier this month the BBC revealed there would be a fifth series of the sci-fi favourite, but couldn't say whether it would be with David.

The 36-year-old, currently filming the show's fourth series, is to play Hamlet with the Royal Shakespeare Company next year.

To delay a final decision, the BBC will not film the fifth series until 2009.

However, there is no sense that David has grown tired of the long filming process which stops him from doing other things.

He said: "Nine months filming is a big commitment and it means that it's not possible for me to do some theatre work, but I'm having a ball, so trapped isn't the word - it's very humbling to be seen as part of something that people are so attached to. It's an experience I'm delighted to have had."

Since he took on the role of the 10th Doctor in 2005, the Scottish actor has also done different dramatic roles: as a creep in Secret Smile and a man with brain damage in Recovery.

But he admits he's always wanted to play Hamlet on stage, although he isn't one for the Scottish play and said: "I don't particularly covet Macbeth."

David also likens Shakespeare to playing opposite one of the famous Doctor Who creations like the Daleks.

He said: "It's the same imaginative leap - the person you were talking to at the catering van that morning now has seven green tentacles on their head. You just get on with it.

"I love it - it's just like being in the playground."

While David is looking forward to treading the boards again next year in Stratford from July to November, Doctor Who fans can't wait to see him back in the Tardis.

The Christmas special will feature Kylie Minogue and the fourth series will see David with his third companion, played by Catherine Tate.

David will also film three one-off Doctor Who specials, to be screened in 2009, to keep fans happy.

But it looks like there could be an 11th Time Lord for 2010.

And let's hope he's more like previous Doctors Tom Baker and Peter Davison than Christopher Eccleston, who David hasn't met.

Speaking in Academy, the magazine for the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, he said: "I never met Christopher Eccleston as even for the regeneration scene we were filming at different times, but it would be great to have a chat about the role, though he's in the US.

"Tom Baker and Peter Davison both sent me notes on the first day of filming, though."

While getting the part for one of the UK's best-known roles has made him ahousehold name, David, is notoriously private and doesn't like talking about girlfriend Sophia Myles.

He said: "Fame is not something I chase and it takes a bit of getting used to. It's a bit weird the first time a photographer chases you down the street. But it's churlish to complain about it. I like being recognised and I'm proud of what I do.

"I don't talk about my private life - I choose to define my own boundaries and not take every available publicity opportunity.

"I don't think I would have coped very well at 21 so I'm glad I've had a few years working first before dealing with being famous."

Born David McDonald, he was raised in Ralston, Renfrewshire and is the son of a Church of Scotland Minister who was also the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1997.

David wanted to play Doctor Who from the age of three and changed his name to Tennant because there was already another actor called David McDonald.

His audition at the Academy saw him playing Hamlet, which he will now do for real on stage 20 years later.

He laughed: "I was probably only 16 when I came in. I did the two most famous plays in the world, Hamlet and Death of a Salesman - not the most appropriate roles in hindsight." Once at the college, he admits he always seemed to play old men in RSAMD productions.

He said: "That Willy Loman audition piece must have affected things somehow. I was the youngest on the course but I was always putting on grey make up and affecting a stoop."

After graduating from RSAMD in 1991, David's first professional job was a Brecht tour with 7:84 who had one Ashley Jensen of Extras fame, also in the cast.

David revealed: "She was the grown up in the group as she'd already been working for a year and felt like the old hand."

The actor moved to London and worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company and appeared naked at the Royal National Theatre during his role of Nicholas Beckett in Joe Orton's What The Butler Saw.

In 2003 he was nominated for an Olivier Award for his role as Jeff in Lobby Hero at the Donmar Warehouse.

While working on stage he began to work in television, winning roles in Takin' Over The Asylum, Blackpool and Casanova, as well as film roles in Jude and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as Barty Crouch Jr.

One role he never got, though, was in Taggart - despite auditioning many times.

He said: "Very quickly, unsuccessful auditions just become part of the job.

"If it's something you've had three recalls for then of course it's a much bigger disappointment, but mostly you just move on to the next thing."

As well as Doctor Who at Christmas, before the end of the year David will be seen in a comedy-drama about a group of learner drivers called Learners with Jessica Hynes.

He's also rumoured to be one of the guest stars in Ricky Gervais' final Christmas special of Extras.

And David will also be staring in the BBC Two film Einstein And Eddington, which has been made by the BBC and American channel HBO.

In that he plays British scientist Arthur Eddington to The Lord of the Rings star Andy Serkis' Albert Einstein.

So has David ever been tempted by Hollywood?

He giggled: "I'm not un-tempted. But I'm in no rush. I've never had a great five year plan.

"I wouldn't say no if something came along and was worth doing.

"But I've seen friends go out there and it can be very tough and demoralising, so I'll just see what happens."


Q Which legendary actor would you most like to have worked with?

A Audrey Hepburn

Q Favourite film of all time?

A Twelve Angry Men

Q Would you ever appear in a musical?

A I can bang out a tune, and yes I'd love to do a musical. I'm still waiting for the phone call.

Q You're alone in a bothy in Benbecula with only a CD player and 3 tracks to play - what would they be?

A Something by The Proclaimers, Dignity by Deacon Blue and Me and the Farmer by The Housemartins.

Source: The Daily Record September 2007