David Tennant Biography

Actor, Film Actor, Television Actor, Theater Actor (1971–)
Scottish actor and voice-over artist David Tennant is best known as the 10th actor to play the lead role in the immensely popular U.K. sci-fi TV show Doctor Who.


Born in the Bathgate section of West Lothian, Scotland, on April 18, 1971, David Tennant embraced acting at a very young age. After acting in school plays and attending drama school, he went on to work on the stage, and in film and television. He was cast as the 10th incarnation of the lead role of the Doctor, in Britain's smash science-fiction television program Doctor Who. Tennant continues to work on the stage and screen, and has done notable voice-over work.

Early Life

Born on April 18, 1971, in the Bathgate section of West Lothian, Scotland, David John McDonald grew up loving television with his older siblings, brother Blair and sister Karen. As a child, his favorite program was the British sci-fi hit Doctor Who. He appeared in school plays and was noticed by actress Edith MacArthur in his first role at age 11. At 16 the young actor auditioned, and was accepted, at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, one of the youngest students to be admitted.

There was already another David McDonald in the Actors' Equity union, so he changed his last name to Tennant. The choice was inspired by the name of Neil Tennant, lead singer of Brit dance-pop act Pet Shop Boys, after the actor read an issue of a British music magazine.

Tennant appeared in advertisements as a young actor; his early professional work included a staging of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui by the 7:84 Theatre Company, and a role as a manic-depressive in the Scottish TV drama series Takin' Over the Asylum (1994).

Acting Career

Tennant gained wide acclaim as a talented classical actor, performing often with the Royal Shakespeare Company; his first role for the RSC was Touchstone in a 1996 production of As You Like It. Increasing roles on television (on popular programs like Blackpool and Casanova) and in films (Stephen Fry's Bright Young Things and Mike Newell's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) raised his popularity and level of recognition, both in the United Kingdom and around the world.

A long-held dream came true in 2005, when Tennant was cast as the 10th incarnation of the lead character the Doctor in Doctor Who, his beloved TV program from childhood. The BBC-produced show also has a worldwide audience and is listed on the Guinness World Records site as the longest-running science-fiction television show in the world. As a piece of British pop-culture iconography, the show cemented Tennant's popularity. In addition to playing the lead role, the actor was given the opportunity to direct episodes.

In 2009, Tennant won a Critics Choice Award for Best Shakespearean Performance for his portrayal of Hamlet for the RSC.

A busy voice-over artist, Tennant provided all of the character voices for the audio book of the Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III stories by Cressida Cowell (How to Train Your Dragon). He has also appeared in additional advertisements, including a massive Virgin Media campaign, and in political commercials.

Personal Life

Tennant's mother, Helen, died of cancer in 2007, inspiring his involvement as a celebrity supporter of the Association for International Cancer Research. He is married to actress Georgia Moffett, with whom he has a daughter, Olive. He also adopted Moffett's son, Tyler. Tennant is very guarded about his personal relationships and private life.

Fact Check

We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!