David Tennant, the man chosen to be the next Doctor Who, landed a leading acting award last night for his first stage role in nine years.

He was named best male actor at the Critics Awards for Theatre of Scotland for his role as Jimmy Porter in John Osborne's Look Back In Anger at the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh.

Accepting his prize, Tennant said: "I'm supremely chuffed to win this award. It's a part I've wanted to play for such a long time. Theatre work is part of what I do and I don't see it as something you leave behind."

Last night's ceremony, at the Tolbooth in Stirling, honoured the cream of Scottish theatre. The big winner was Scots playwright Anthony Neilson, whose work, The Wonderful World of Dissocia, took five of the ten awards - for best new play, best director, best actress, best design and best production.

But all eyes were on Tennant, who has shot to fame over the past year in the BBC television series Blackpool and Casanova, and who is to become the tenth Doctor Who, replacing Christopher Eccleston.

Talking to The Scotsman after the ceremony, he admitted that life is often far from easy for young actors. "Theatre wages aren't great but that's not the reason you go into acting - it's not that type of a profession," he said. "It can be a difficult and tiring job to do, especially when it's a play like Look Back In Anger, which is quite emotionally full on. But I hope to be doing more theatre work, although I have nothing planned at the moment."

Tennant, 33, from West Lothian, whose father is a former moderator of the Church of Scotland, also talked about dealing with the pressures of fame. He said: "It is a great job, I love it and it's the only thing I've ever considered doing. I'm very lucky to be doing a job that is vocational and that I enjoy.

"I do have to understand that certain things come with the territory and I don't like the idea of my family and friends getting chased by newspapers. It does bother me. But it's foolish to complain about it, because I am in a very fortunate position.

"It's very flattering when the media are interested and it's nice to see people interested in what I do, but you need to find your own boundaries for that."

The awards ceremony was hosted by The Scotsman's theatre critic, Joyce McMillan, who was on the judging panel. She said: "It's great that David Tennant was able to play the part, and it's great what the production has done, but there is also a lot of good acting going on elsewhere in Scotland, and in a couple of years some of the young actors will go and become as famous as David Tennant."

Vicky Featherstone, the director of the National Theatre of Scotland, said: "I think it's wonderful that David is doing so well and it is testament to the calibre of acting that is here in Scotland."

However, she admitted young actors could find it difficult to make ends meet while trying to get on in the theatre. She said: "It is incredibly difficult to keep going. It is the will that people have, and the belief that they have that theatre can have a great effect on an audience, that drives them to keep going.

"More people are going through the training than will ever get jobs and it's important that we try to create as many opportunities for young actors in Scotland as we possibly can."

Aside from Tennant, the main talking point last night was The Wonderful World of Dissocia. Christine Entwisle was named best female actor for her role as Lisa and the play's director, Anthony Neilson, was named best director.

Neilson, who couldn't attend the ceremony, sent an acceptance speech from the Italian city of Florence in which he bemoaned the lack of funding that has limited the play's audience.

He said: "This project was one of those rare instances when everyone was in harmony and gave their best. I would be lucky to have such an experience twice in my lifetime.

"That said, it is depressing to me that - despite the support and enthusiasm of Scottish critics and audiences alike - it has, so far, been impossible to find the resources to properly remount the production and to bring it to a wider British audience."


Best Actor (male): David Tennant, Look Back In Anger, The Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
Best actor (female): Christine Entwisle, The Wonderful World of Dissocia, The Drum Plymouth / Edinburgh International Festival / Tron, Glasgow
Best director: Anthony Neilson, The Wonderful World of Dissocia
Best Ensemble: A Little Bit of Rough, The Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
Best New Play: Anthony Neilson, The Wonderful World of Dissocia
Best Children's Show: Beauty and the Beast, Cumbernauld Theatre
Best Design: Miriam Beuther, The Wonderful World of Dissocia
Best Music: Philip Pinsky, Fierce, Grid Iron Theatre Company
Best technical presentation: Anna Karenina, Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh
Best Production: The Wonderful World of Dissocia

Source: The Scotsman 6th June 2005