David’s Desert Island Discs

"It is hard to imagine a less digestible festive sandwich for Tennant fans: Time Lord/Prince of Denmark/Time Lord. We time-travel from teatime jollity — albeit brilliant in its own way — to Shakespeare’s masterpiece and back again."

That’s Helen Rumbelow on the Christmas Telly, writing in today’s Sunday Times. Helen, I wonder if you actually watched DW this year? I think there were more laughs in Hamlet. Having said that, it’s not a bad article. The description of DT having a "punk intelligence" as Hamlet was perceptive.

Heard David Tennant on Desert Island Discs this morning, and he was absolutely lovely. It’s such a clever format – that’s why it’s lasted all these years. Asking someone about their favourite music is both non-threatening and revealing, and he was relaxed and down-to-earth as he discussed his childhood at the manse (writing down details of the choccy bars his gran gave him, as each one was enjoyed), through to touring the Highlands and Islands with Brecht in a minibus ("They get a lot of socialist theatre in the Highlands and Islands whether they like it or not. It’s Scotland – you get given what’s good for you) and the endearing tidbit that the DW cast all sang along to "Ruby" by the Kaiser Chiefs.

One thing really struck me about his choice of tracks (inevitably including "Me and the Farmer" and "The Pretenders"). They were all narratives, character studies, even the closest one to grandstanding stadium rock ("Dignity"). That’s the actor in him I suppose – a fascination with the process of revealing character through performance. There was a lovely moment when Kirsty Young gently probed him about non-academic milestones experienced at drama school, and he replied with lovely evasiveness that when he and his mate went out busking in Glasgow and sang "Over and Gone" it was never discussed, but his friend always took the verse about losing your virginity.

Come to think of it, "Over and Gone" is an excellent opener for the proceedings at this stage in his Doctor Who experience. Bless him, he really is lovely.

Here’s a link to the programme info page – if you’re in the UK you can catch it again on Friday at 9.00am, or Listen Again. It’s also available as a podcast.

Footnote – if you’ve any generous impulses left at this stage in the festive season, you might care to download David’s top choice – "White Wine in the Sun" by Tim Minchin – there was a campaign to get it to the Christmas Number One and although that was somewhat overshadowed by RATM it still charted well and a portion of the profits are going to the National Autistic Society.

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7 thoughts on “David’s Desert Island Discs

  1. He was a sweetie, wasn’t he? And he really is my generation musically, unsurprisingly – I was singing along loudly to every track. I always love that story about him meeting Tom Baker as a kid, too, and the corresponding responsibility he feels now whenever he meets starstruck eight-year-olds to behave as his eight-year-old self would have wanted 🙂
    Wot a lovely man he is. Bless.

  2. Oh yes – one chord of Oliver’s Army and I’m back at university! I’m impressed that they managed to find such a long clip of Eddie Izzard without an F-word in it.
    Did you get the feeling that he still chokes up a little bit when people ask about his mum?

  3. Thanks so much for posting this link. I just gave it a listen, and it really was lovely. Elvis Costello? Yay! And The West Wing? Absolutely.
    Going now to dig out some Billy Bragg that I have tucked away and haven’t listened to in far too long . . .

  4. Yes, I do, absolutely. And he wasn’t even asked directly – just that little catch in the voice when he mentioned that his Mum’s “no longer with us.” And they were talking about how proud of him she was, so perhaps unsurprising. I always love the stories of her cheerily inviting tabloid journos in for a cuppa and a chat and David hearing about it later and going “don’t do that!…”
    I do think both his parents should be incredibly proud of having raised such an unassuming, delightful, gifted yet apparently genuinely humble and grounded guy. Even if he does lounge about on prime time BBC2 waving his denim-clad crotch at the camera 😉

  5. I listened to this earlier and yes, it was lovely, for all the reasons you outlined. I loved how responsible he seems to feel for the kids he meets. It’s come across in previous interviews, but I really heard the weight of that in his voice, and loved him for it.

  6. Sorry to come back to an older entry, but this program sounds really interesting…and, of course, I’m having trouble finding a way to listen to it from the other side of the pond. Do you know of any?

  7. Your best bet is probably to post a request to one of the DT fan communities, such as tennant_love on LJ. There is a very slim possibility that it’s still available on the BBC Radio 4 website somewhere but I don’t think overseas people can link to that.
    I’m sure someone will have torrented it (or whatever the verb is) though.

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