David Tennant facts: Doctor Who actor's age, wife, children, films and career revealed

24 November 2023, 15:24

David Tennant in 2018
David Tennant in 2018. Picture: Getty

By Tom Owen

David Tennant is one of the most celebrated actors of his generation, known for his versatile and charismatic performances on stage, screen and voice.

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He has achieved fame and acclaim for his roles as the Doctor in Doctor Who, DI Alec Hardy in Broadchurch, Kilgrave in Jessica Jones, and Crowley in Good Omens, among many others.

But who is the man behind these iconic characters? How did he become an actor and what inspired him to pursue his dream?

  1. How old is David Tennant and where is he from?

    David Tennant is Scottish, and was born on April 18, 1971 in Bathgate, West Lothian.

    He is 52 years old as of 2023.

    His parents are Helen (née McLeod) and Alexander 'Sandy' McDonald.

    His mother was a homemaker and his father was a minister who served as the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

    His siblings are Blair and Karen. Blair is a journalist and Karen is a teacher.

    David's birth name was David John McDonald, but he had to change it when he joined the actors’ union Equity, because there was already another David McDonald registered.

    He chose the surname Tennant from Neil Tennant, the lead singer of the Pet Shop Boys, a pop duo that he admired. He found the name in Smash Hits and decided to use it as his stage name. He later made the name change official in the 2000s.

  2. How did he get his start in acting?

    David Tennant in 2004
    David Tennant in 2004. Picture: Getty

    David Tennant got his start in acting when he was still in secondary school.

    He made his professional acting debut at the age of 16, after his father sent some photos of him to a casting director at Scottish TV. He appeared in an anti-smoking film that aired on TV and was also shown in schools.

    He also joined a youth theatre group at weekends run by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where he later enrolled as a full-time drama student at the age of 17.

    David worked regularly in theatre and TV after graduating, and his first big break came in 1994 when he was cast in a lead role in the Scottish drama Takin’ Over the Asylum.

    He also made an early TV appearance in the sitcom Rab C Nesbitt as a transgender barmaid called Davina.

  3. What are his most famous TV and film roles?

    Gala Screening Of The Doctor Who Christmas Episode
    Gala Screening Of The Doctor Who Christmas Episode. Picture: Getty

    Some of his most famous TV and film roles are:

    • The Doctor in Doctor Who (2005–2010; 2013; 2022–2023), a sci-fi series about a time-travelling alien who protects the universe from various threats. He played the 10th and 14th incarnations of the character, and is widely regarded as one of the most popular and influential Doctors in the show’s history.
    • DI Alec Hardy in Broadchurch (2013–2017), a crime drama series about the investigation of a murder in a small coastal town. He played a troubled detective who partnered with Olivia Colman’s DS Ellie Miller to solve the case.
    • Kilgrave in Jessica Jones (2015–2019), a superhero series based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. He played a sadistic and manipulative villain who had the power to control people’s minds.
    • Crowley in Good Omens (2019–present), a fantasy series based on the novel by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. He played a demon who teamed up with an angel (played by Michael Sheen) to prevent the apocalypse.
    • Giacomo Casanova in Casanova (2005), a historical comedy-drama miniseries about the life of the famous Italian adventurer and lover. He played the title role in his younger years, while Peter O’Toole played him in his older years.
    • Barty Crouch Jr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), a fantasy film based on the novel by J.K. Rowling. He played a loyal follower of Lord Voldemort who disguised himself as a teacher at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
    • Peter Vincent in Fright Night (2011), a horror comedy film and a remake of the 1985 film of the same name. He played a Las Vegas magician and self-proclaimed vampire expert who helped a teenager (played by Anton Yelchin) fight a vampire (played by Colin Farrell) who moved next door.
    • Charles Darwin in The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! (2012), an animated comedy film based on the novel by Gideon Defoe. He voiced a young and nerdy version of the famous naturalist who joined a pirate crew on a quest to win the Pirate of the Year Award.
    • R. D. Laing in Mad to Be Normal (2017), a biographical drama film about the Scottish psychiatrist and author who challenged the conventional methods of treating mental illness in the 1960s and 1970s. He played the lead role and also served as an executive producer.
    • John Knox in Mary Queen of Scots (2018), a historical drama film about the rivalry between Mary Stuart (played by Saoirse Ronan) and Elizabeth I (played by Margot Robbie) in the 16th century. He played a Scottish Protestant leader who opposed Mary’s claim to the throne.
  4. Who is his wife and does he have kids?

    David Tennant with wife Georgia
    David Tennant with wife Georgia. Picture: Getty

    His wife is Georgia Tennant (née Moffett), an actress and producer who is also the daughter of another former Doctor Who star, Peter Davison.

    They met on the set of Doctor Who in 2008, when Georgia played the Doctor’s daughter in an episode of the same name.

    They married in 2011 and have five children together: Ty, Olive, Wilfred, Doris and Birdie.

    Ty is Georgia’s son from a previous relationship, whom David adopted.