Doctor Who News David Tennant starred with Olivia Colman in Broadchurch

Published on April 30th, 2013 | by Andrew Reynolds

Do YOU Think David Tennant Is the Best Actor on TV?

There are no finer TV actors working today than David Tennant and Olivia Colman. Co-stars on the recent, phenomenal Broadchurch, the pair have taken very different but no less accomplished paths towards this watershed moment argues Mark Lawson, in a lengthy and praiseworthy treatise of their individual talents as actors in The Guardian.

David Tennant starred with Olivia Colman in Broadchurch

For Tennant, there was the unenviable risk of over-exposure. With Just 71 hours between the climax of Broadchurch and the start of The Politician’s Husband, the actor risked the exposing any limitations he might have been hiding.

Instead, the moment proved revelatory:

The copper in Broadchurch explores the brooding, tragic notes that made Tennant a great stage Hamlet in a performance also thankfully preserved on film, while the thwarted minister in The Politician’s Husband is positioned somewhere lighter – skittish, darkly comic, closer to the tone of his Doctor Who.

What connects the characters is that they have public and private selves – Hardy and Hoynes both have to give press conferences or interviews while dying inside – and these are often the best parts to play on screen because of the tension in the character between what is being said and what is being felt.

This tension was writ large in the one of television most exploratory weapons in its arsenal; the close-up:

Such inner conflict also leads naturally to devastating moments of repose when the protagonists are later alone and we see in burning, churning closeup what they are thinking. In that sense, the silent closeup is the TV equivalent of the Shakesperean soliloquy.

But if Tennant is notable for the ability to move between tragedy and comedy, then his Broadchurch co-star matches him in such adaptability. Although what’s remarkable about Colman (who you should recognise from many shows, not least The Eleventh Hour) was never marked, out of drama school in her early performances, to be the powerful screen tragedian she has become.

It’s this inaction, the ability to transmit complex emotions in nothing more than a look and a gesture that marks the pair out as greats in their field:

The finest television actors – Guinness, John Thaw, Ronnie Barker, and more recently Benedict Cumberbatch (in Sherlock and Parade’s End) – have all had this ability to transmit inner life through expression: to speak a page through a variation of their face. And I think we can now add to that list Tennant and his Broadchurch co-star, Olivia Colman.

The whole piece is definitely worth a read and you can still catch up with The Politicians Husband and Broadchurch via the BBC iPlayer and ITV Player respectively.


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About the Author


Everyone has a favourite Doctor and mine - just for his honesty, his fairness and his ability to not notice the Master's awful, awful disguises/anagrams (Sir Gilles Estram!?!) - has to be the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison. The stories didn’t serve him as well as his acting served those stories.

19 Responses to Do YOU Think David Tennant Is the Best Actor on TV?

  1. Nope. Not in the top league just yet. He was very average in Spies of Warsaw. But he is a very good actor no doubt and was excellent as The Doctor. However, Olivia Coleman would be in my top ten TV actresses..

    • avatar Liz says:

      David Tennant is, in my opinion, one of the best actors around. I think he was brilliant in Spies of Warsaw and even better in Broadchurch. David is an extremely versatile actor who shows the feelings of the character he is playing through his extremely expressive eyes as well as his acting abilities. He is the only actor on TV at present that actually grips my attention and whenever he is on the screen I can actually sit an watch the programme all the way through without becoming bored. Don’t underestimate David Tennnat – I think there is so much more to him than we have seen already. Give the man the right script and he will surprise us all.

  2. avatar andres says:

    Definitely one of the best, but I don’t think there can be a “best” actor, it depends a lot on the role and its opportunities to show acting skills.
    He’s incredibly good in both Broadchurch and The Politicians Husband so far, but there are other really good actors as well.
    Where I really really love him is on stage (but not “the best” either).

  3. avatar julie says:

    Defo he is brill

  4. avatar laura says:

    Of course heis! Great, great talent, I’ll fly to London just to admire him on stage, never did before for an actor, he fully deserve it. Hope they’ll show Broadchurch and The politician’s husband in Italy, watching them on line…

  5. avatar Szilvia Deri says:

    David Tennant is very talented actor!He is very good on stage and TV too!

  6. avatar Maila says:

    Absolutely. One of the best. To be able to portray such emotion without even opening his mouth is what sets an actor apart from being merely a fine speaker who can emote well enough, to truly being a great actor who embodies the role, rather than just wearing it like a costume.

    Though, why people haven’t noticed this of him since practically the beginning of his TV career, I have no idea. He’s been doing this sort of acting since Takin’ Over the Asylum. (Seriously, though the character is manic (as in clinically so), watch young David in the scenes when he’s not saying anything. Just watch. And that was way back when he was only 22. Just think what 20 years of experience has done for him.)

  7. avatar STLShawn says:

    I like Tennant because he understands the roles that he takes, and cannot but help to add bits of himself in it. And, since he seems a decent sort of fellow with a deep honesty to his character, that shows in his performance.

    Wonderful actor, but i don’t think anyone can have the title “best”. Let’s say (insert big time hollywood actor name here) had taken the role of the 11th doctor. It would have been a disaster with long brooding screen shots of profiles of his “good side”.

    The best actors know who they are and what they should play. David Tennant is James T. Kirk,,, not so much. Tennant as scotty or bones, fantastic! Tennant as the new Batman, no. Tennant as Iron Man,,,, yeah, that would work.

  8. David Tennant is a very talented actor!He is very good on stage and TV too!

  9. He always plays a pompous arse which I imagine is the bit of himself he leaves. No, he isn’t the best actor on television, he’s the worst.

    • avatar TonyS says:

      Have you been watching the same David Tennant as the rest of us? The man other actors have described as “terminally nice”?

    • avatar TonyS says:

      And I know that being nice doesn’t make him a great actor. Tends not to make him a pompous arse either!

  10. Yes!David Tennant is very talented actor!He is very good on stage and TV too!

  11. avatar Philip Bates says:

    I don’t know what qualifies as THE best. He’s certainly ONE of the best, alongside people like Matt Smith (obviously), Olivia Colman, Daniel Mays, John Simm, Matthew MacFadden… I could go on! We’ve exceptional talent in the UK. :)

  12. avatar tina iveson says:

    have you actually met him then M W i think not have you seen any of his stuff then excerpt one thying i think not wot give you the rite to come out with that he has more talent in his entire body than you i havwe met him actually and hes not pompous as you so put it hes down to earth genuine humble and nice and as for any of his stuff if you actually watched anything you would actually see how good he actually is and like its been already said it needs certian roles where he can pull it off but every role he does take on he pulls it off anyway and then more you however know nothing coz you are one of the deluded haters and theres plenty of them you hate anyone thats better or actually good makes you jelous or something to that effect jog on you muppet

  13. avatar Ana Polessi says:

    I discovered Tennant watching Doctor Who here in Brazil. By the time I begin to watch he was out of series and I began to search for every movie he had done before and the work after Doctor. I love him and Tom Hiddleston. they are great, talented actors and lovely persons. They have incredible life experiences, they take part in a lot of campaigns for Unicef and other institutions. They always put their heart in the characters.

  14. avatar Dr Hula Hoop says:

    He’s just played a scotch detective in Broadchurch. Hardly out of his comfort zone is it? I’ll save the plaudits until he does something more challenging. Are we talking British tv or all tv because the entire cast of Breaking Bad out-acts him. And talking about Broadchurch the utterly surprising Pauline Quirk and the bloke who played the missing boy’s father dominated that cast doesn’t that make them the best actors on the telly? If he wasn’t even the best actor in his own programme how can he be the best actor on the whole of television. There appears to be some comedy show on at the moment starring Derek Jacobi and Ian McKellan which I imagine is terrible but nonetheless has two cinematic greats which should bump it to the top of the list all things considered.
    So no, objectively speaking he’s far from being the best actor on television but you can keep thinking that in the same way the fans of homeland would probably argue, just as validly, that the stars of their own favourite show are the best actors.

  15. avatar Surya says:

    David Tennant is a respected classical actor who has performed numerous starring roles for the Royal Shakespeare Company, including Touchstone in “As You Like It,” Romeo in “Romeo and Juliet,” and Much Ado About Nothing.
    David Tennant will return to the stage for the Royal Shakespeare Company later this year in the title role of Richard II.

    He was nominated for a 2003 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best Actor of 2002 for his performance in “Lobby Hero” performed at the Donmar Warehouse and the New Ambassador’s Theatres.
    Graduated from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.
    Acted with the 7:84 Theatre Company, a genre-bending, ground-breaking, political Scottish Theatre Group.
    Nominated for Best Classical Actor Under 30, Ian Charleson Award for his theater role in “Comedy of Errors” as Antipholus of Syracuse. [2000]
    Won Best Male Performance, Critics Award for Theatre in Scotland, for his role in “Look Back in Anger” as Jimmy Porter. [2005]
    Won Best Actor, Theatre Management Association, for his role in “The Glass Menagerie” as Tom.
    Nominated 2009 Evening Standard Theater Award for Best Actor for his Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company.
    Won 2009 Critics Choice Award for Best Shakespearean Performance for his Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company.
    Nominated for the 2008 Royal Television Society Award-Best Actor for Recovery and Doctor Who.
    Nominated for the 2009 Broadcasting Guild Awards-Best Actor for his portrayal of “Sir Arthur Eddington” in Einstein and Eddington (2008) (TV) and “The Doctor” in “Doctor Who” (2005).
    Winner 2009 Theatregoers’ Choice Award Best Regional Production was RSC Production of Hamlet with David Tennant and 2009 Theatregoers’ Choice Award for Theatre Event of the Year was David Tennant’s return to the stage in the RSC Production of Hamlet.
    2013 – David Tennant has been nominated for a Daytime Entertainment Emmy in the Outstanding Performer In An Animated Program category for his role as Huyang in Star Wars The Clone Wars.
    2013 – Broadchurch, created by Chris Chibnall for Kudos, has been nomimated for Best Miniseries while stars David Tennant and Olivia Colman have been named as outstanding Actor and Actress respectively.

    Other list
    Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA
    Got nomination for Saturn Award
    category Best Actor in Television for Doctor Who (2005) (TV)

    BAFTA Awards, Scotland
    Got nomination for BAFTA Scotland Award
    category Best Acting in TV – Male for Doctor Who (2005) (TV)

    BAFTA Awards, Wales
    Won BAFTA Cymru Award
    category Best Actor (Yr Actor Gorau) for Doctor Who (2005) (TV)

    Daytime Emmy Awards
    Got nomination for Daytime Emmy
    category Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program for Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) (TV)

    National Television Awards, UK
    Won National Television Award
    category Outstanding Drama Performance for Doctor Who (2005) (TV)

    Won National Television Award
    category Most Popular Actor for Doctor Who (2005) (TV)

    Won National Television Award
    category Most Popular Actor for Doctor Who (2005) (TV)

    Royal Television Society, UK
    Got nomination for RTS Television Award
    category Best Actor – Male for Doctor Who (2005) (TV)

    TV Quick Awards, UK
    Won TV Quick Award
    category Best Actor for Doctor Who (2005) (TV)

    Won TV Quick Award
    category Best Actor for Doctor Who (2005) (TV)

    Won TV Quick Award
    category Best Actor for Doctor Who (2005) (TV)

  16. avatar tenner says:

    David Tennant is the talent of a generation and the best actor to come along since Anthony Hopkins. They don’t give you a seat on the Board of Directors for the RSC for your looks. Some people just hate him because he’s not Matt Smith. He still wins awards and polls and is constantly working, so he’s doing something right.

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