SCOTS actor David Tennant has gone from almost unknown to a household name this year. With parts in Casanova and the new Harry Potter movie, he's proved he has what it takes.

But by taking over from Christopher Eccleston to become the tenth Doctor Who, he is set to become one of Scotland's biggest TV stars.

However, the 34-year-old from Bathgate, West Lothian, who has a major part in the new Potter movie as Barty Crouch Jr, is taking it all in his stride.

He said: 'My life hasn't changed. But I get invites to premieres, which I never used to.

'I've never done the career plan.

'My ambition goes from one project to the next. I look to the next thing to be exciting, inspiring, different. I get ambitious for a script. If something comes in I really want to do, I get very hungry and excited about that - and crushed if I don't get it.'

December will be an exciting time for David and will round off an amazing year.

As well as starring in his first episode as the famous Timelord in Doctor Who - The Christmas Invasion, he also gets to flex his acting muscles in a two-part thriller, Secret Smile, in which he plays a psychotic rapist.

He admitted: 'It's mind-boggling. The accountant is very pleased.'Fans of Doctor Who have already seen David as the Doctor on a couple of occasions. The first was when he appeared as the regeneration of Ecclestone's Doctor. Then David and Billie Piper, who plays his sidekick Rose Tyler, were seen last week in a specially written sketch for the Children in Need show.

David is enjoying the new popularity and has been amazed by the varying ages of Doctor Who fans.

He said: 'It's watched by everyone, aged seven to 70, including groups you wouldn't particularly expect to be huge fans.

'I'm continually surprised by the number of trendy teenage girls and middle-aged mums who come up to talk to me and who genuinely love the show. That's what's extraordinary and unique about it.'

As a child David was also a fan. In fact, when he was 13 he wrote an essay while at Paisley Grammar School saying his greatest desire was to play the Timelord.

He even admitted it was watching Tom Baker's Doctor Who as a five-year-old that made him want to become an actor.

David, who after Sylvester McCoy, is the second Scot to play the sci-fi icon, said: 'So far, I've had to answer a lot of mail because Doctor Who has a lot of committed fans.

'It was funny when I first got the part. I just laughed, thinking it was both hilarious and impossible because I'd wanted it so much.

'It's such a great job. I mean, I get to play a Timelord and have a Tardis. You can't knock that. I've always wanted my own Tardis and now I've got it!'

David grew up with Tom Baker's and Peter Davison's Doctors, but admits he has a hard act to follow in Ecclestone's award-winning version. He said: 'Chris was so good at it. I did think before I started: 'I've got an awful lot to live up to here'. It's daunting, but I just hope people like it and at least give it a chance.

'Viewers are going to see a slightly more no-nonsense Doctor and that is influenced by what Chris did with him.

'We are more aware that he's someone who fought a war, lost all his people and because he's the last Timelord, the last authority in the universe, he's more ruthless.'

In The Christmas Invasion, to be shown on Christmas Day, the Doctor and Rose return to Earth. As Rose's mum Jackie and boyfriend Mickey rush to meet them coming out of the Tardis, David's Doctor is overwhelmed and disorientated, but manages to say: 'Oh, I know! Merry Christmas!' before collapsing.

Rose and Jackie are powerless to help him. Later they are attacked by a sinister brass band of masked Santas, then a killer Christmas tree.

Meanwhile, it seems a race known as the Sycorax are set on taking over the world.

While David's usual Doctor outfit will be a blue pinstripe suit, white plimsolls and a tailored calf-length coat, for the Christmas special he'll be tucked up in bed and sporting striped pyjamas.

David, who camped it up in the title role of the colourful Casanova, will no doubt enjoy being over the top in Doctor Who, but he'll add another string to his bow next month playing a deranged stalker in Secret Smile.

The two-part drama, which starts on December 12, sees him play Brendan Block who dates Miranda Cotton (Kate Ashfield) and then, when she dumps him, her sister Kerry (ex-Casualty star Claire Goose). Then David's character rapes Miranda.

David admitted: 'Being particularly hard on Kate is a bit weird because she's such an eminently likeable, very gentle and open person. You do feel a bit of a heel, being cruel mentally and physically.

'Brendan is a dangerous, complicated character. It is a fantastic challenge to get to play such a dark and compelling part. I look forward to indulging my dark side.'

While Secret Smile was being filmed in the summer, David's image was plastered all over the UK on billboards for Casanova.

He said: 'There were two enormous poster campaigns. It's quite weird to see yourself.

'I tend to look away - not that anyone passing by the posters is checking to see if you're there.

'But it's quite fun, as well. I was on a bus in Edinburgh, when I saw the face of one of the cast, Nina Sosanya and her enormous cleavage, and thought: 'That's my head resting on it!' I quickly texted Nina and said: 'We're 15 feet tall in Edinburgh'.'

DAVID was born in West Lothian as David McDonald, the youngest of three children to The Very Reverend Sandy McDonald and his wife Helen.

When he was three heand his family moved to Paisley and after Paisley Grammar he joined the Royal Scottish Academy of Music at 17, where he changed his name to because there was already a David McDonald in Equity.

His first job was Brecht's The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui, touring through the Highlands in a minibus.

However, on his second job, playing King Arthur in Edinburgh, a critic delivered a put-down to remember: 'The cast of 18 are uniformly excellent with the exception of David Tennant, who lacks any charm or ability whatsoever.'

David then went on to work with political theatre group 7:84, but was turned down after auditioning for Taggart 16 times.

His big break came as Campbell, a manic depressive would-be radio DJ, in 1994 television series Takin' Over The Asylum, which starred Ken Stott.

It got him an agent and a move to London, where he still lives.

There he became a respected classical actor, who has performed numerous starring roles for the Royal Shakespeare Company, including Touchstone in As You Like It and Romeo in Romeo and Juliet.

Television roles included The Tales of Para Handy, Duck Patrol, Love in the 21st Century and The Deputy before his big telly break-out role last year as D.I. Carlisle in Blackpool, which also starred David Morrissey and Sarah Parish.

Casanova cemented his reputation and brought him into the mind of writer Russell T. Davies, who also wrote this year's re-invigorated Doctor Who series.

It seems there's just nothing this boy can't do - even travelling through time and battling aliens.

Source: The Daily Record 24th November 2005