The Sport of Chair Racing with the 10th Doctor

In a fight between the Doctor and Killgrave, with Crowley as the referee, who would survive? According to David Tennant, Crowley, hands down. Why? Because Crowley would just get bored and walk away. That’s hard to argue against, but then again, who knows what wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey tricks the Doctor might have up his sleeve? And couldn’t Killgrave just tell them both to…? Circles within circles.

Tennant was boisterous, funny, and thoroughly enjoying himself during his panel on Saturday afternoon in the Marriott Atrium Ballroom. He’s certainly enjoyed his roles, and he has real sympathy for Killgrave. Despite a review suggesting otherwise, he had no intention of stomping on people’s memory of his stint as the Doctor. “Being in Doctor Who is not something the world lets you forget,” he said with a grin.

A trio of chair races ensued, a tradition started at his first Dragon Con panel on Friday, all of which Tennant won easily. “Oh, YEAH! It’s a sport!” He wondered if everyone who comes on the stage should be doing it. Or maybe caber tossing? Of all the Doctor Who series cast members, he thinks Jodi Whittaker would be his fiercest chair-roll competitor. “She would not rest until she beat me.”

When asked where he would go in history if he could write his own episode of Doctor Who, Tennant didn’t have to think about it for long. Although he readily admitted that he wouldn’t be a good writer, he said, “I would have loved to do one in Shakespeare’s Globe, but—Oh look, we did!” But he added that he’d love to do one with the Beatles in the Cavern Club. Maybe the Doctor could have been the interim drummer. He thinks it’s fascinating to visit those times in history when things could change. “It’s delicious, isn’t it?”

Asked to name his favorite episode of Doctor Who, Tennant gently but firmly refused because it would be too hard for him to choose.  “Every episode was so…uniquely itself. If feels immoral to…be choosing favorites. A bit like choosing favorite children. Which, apparently, you’re not meant to do,” he joked. “I have very happy memories of all of [the episodes], he added, “for all different reasons.” He feels it would be a disservice to the other ones if he chooses, so he doesn’t. He mused that he’s probably being too sentimental. “You know, I’m an over-sentimental kind of guy.”

It was a challenge for Tennant to try to decide what kind of room that he would have in the TARDIS if he could have anything. “The TARDIS has got most rooms, I think. I imagine that there’s one of everything in there. So, what could you not get anywhere else, I suppose? There is no limit to space in the TARDIS. It’s virtually infinite, I imagine. It can reconfigure itself as well, so I imagine there’d be something in it like a forest or a desert or something you can be entirely alone and then you can just nip back to the corner and be very much in the real world again. Something that would some kind of… like a Star Trek holodeck but for real.”

Tennant also discussed how he chose his stage name, since another actor already had his real name, David McDonald. And in acting, your name is your brand. He was only 16 at the time, and found the name by leafing through a music magazine called Smash Hits. He almost picked David Brandon, but that name was already taken, too, so he decided on Tennant.

Of course, it was impossible to ignore Tennant’s recent stint as Crowley on Good Omens. Fans were finally able to find out why Crowley had that distinctive swagger. “Because his pants were very tight,” Tennant said with a straight face. “Nothing more philosophical than that… I imagine demons swagger. He’s got nothing to prove. He’s been on earth longer than any of us… And he’s a snake… He’s got snake hips. And tight pants.” Tennant’s comedic timing can’t be denied, especially given the roaring laughter from the crowd.

Fans are looking forward to the possibility of seeing some of the deleted scenes from Good Omens in a special features version recently announced by Neil Gaiman. Tennant’s favorite cuts were scenes shot about what Crowley had done that day. In the final version, he just told the other two demons during their brag session.

Tennant’s ability to connect with us was reminiscent of the sparkling chemistry between him and Michael Sheen in Good Omens. When he was asked to play Crowley, he said, “Yeah, I’ll do it,” without having any idea how important the book was to people. All he knew at the time was that it was a fantastic script. For some, he said, “these are works of art that have shaped them… And suddenly you realize that you hold peoples’ dreams in your hands. It goes from being something terribly exciting to something you’re absolutely terrified of getting wrong.” He feels the same way about voicing Scrooge McDuck, and he’s relieved that it’s been accepted so well.

When asked how he balances his four children, with a fifth on the way, we assume the question would get around to his acting career had he not immediately quipped, “With one on each hand, one on each leg, and the new one will go on the head, I suppose.” Seriously, though, does he encourage his children to go into acting? “I wouldn’t steer any of them towards it. It’s a silly job. I think it’s a wonderful job when it works, but…neither would I stand in the way.” He went on to talk about his eldest, 17-year-old Ty Tennant, who was in Tolkein last year and who is currently working on the upcoming War of the Worlds. “It’s all very swish,” Tennant said in that gorgeous Scottish accent of his, “he’s off.” He suspected another of his children may be interested in acting, but he’ll have to wait and see until he grows up a bit.

After being complemented for his work on Broadchurch, Tennant said that he doesn’t think he took any of the dark, difficult things home with him from the show. But he admitted that his wife would be a better judge of that. He’ll think he was doing great, and “months later, Georgia will go, ‘Oh, you were a nightmare.’”

It was hard for us to imagine Tennant being anything other than a delight, given his humor and energy and the way that he entertained us for an hour. We hope this is just the first of many future appearances at Dragon Con.

Authors of the article

Debbie Yutko lives near Atlanta with her husband and two cats. When she isn’t gardening, rescuing homeless kittens, or cramming math formulas into teenagers’ brains, she can be found stringing words together at her computer and dreaming of adventures in far-off lands. She is a lifelong reader of Science Fiction and Fantasy and a veteran of Dragon Con, where she enjoys attending panels and working with the talented staff of the Daily Dragon.

Max sees to the needs of her kitty overlords; polices the grammar on all kinds of published material including signage, menus, and food packaging; and cuddles with her wife while watching her favorite shows (Our Flag Means Death, Killjoys, Sense8, and Doctor Who among them). She continues to be far too excited to be working for the Daily Dragon.