Doctor Who: The Unicorn and the Wasp by Gareth Roberts; dir. Graeme Harper (BBC, 2008) Consciously overplayed comedy serving as a mid-season palate cleanser. David Tennant and Catherine Tate are obviously enjoying themselves. The story, while hokey, has enough of an idea to remain credible, poking gentle fun both at itself and at the murder mystery genre.
Des dir. Lewis Arnold (ITV, 2020) A three-part miniseries about 1980s serial killer Dennis Nilsen, played by David Tennant. The production remains true to life and derives its impact from Nilsen’s acute emotional remove—an unsettling detachment rendered darker still by his harangues in favour of due process.
Never and Forever by Cressida Cowell (Hodder, 2020); audiobook read by David Tennant (Bolinda, 2021) The finale of Cowell’s Wizards of Once series proves both cathartically climactic and something of a let-down, the extended codas drawing attention to a bloated cast of characters and the padding these provide. Nonetheless, a rousing MG adventure, elevated in audiobook form.
How to Train your Dragon by Cressida Cowell; audiobook read by David Tennant (Hodder, 2004) A simple, self-contained beginning to what would become a long and fantabulous series. Cowell introduces us to Hiccup, a brainy Viking in a world of boneheaded heroism and deadly dragons. The story, though predictable in its arc, is magical in the telling.
Knock Three Times by Cressida Cowell (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2019); audiobook read by David Tennant (Bolinda, 2020) Magic, conflict, adventure and silliness. This third instalment of Cowell’s Wizards of Once series treads water to an extent but also moves elements into place for a dramatic finale in books to come. David Tennant’s audiobook reading is as exuberant…
What We Did On Our Holiday dir. Andy Hamilton & Guy Jenkin (BBC, 2014) A funny and fast-moving death and divorce comedy, very British in its humour. The three children do very well carrying the bulk of the story, while Billy Connolly is beautifully understated as their dying grandfather. Also stars Rosamund Pike and David Tennant.
Doctor Who: The Creeping Death by Roy Gill (Big Finish, 2019) A fast-moving audio adventure very much in keeping (both in length and tone) with a television episode. Nothing extraordinary but it’s nice to have the Tenth Doctor and Donna together again. David Tennant and Catherine Tate slip effortlessly back into their roles.
Dr. Tenth: Christmas Surprise! by Adam Hargreaves (BBC, 2017) Having misappropriated elements from the Ninth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctor Christmas specials, Hargreaves then dresses the Tenth Doctor in nothing but sneakers and an unfortunately placed collar and tie, giving the distinct impression of David Tennant as a stripper. Ta-dah! Christmas surprise!
Twice Magic by Cressida Cowell (Hodder, 2018); audiobook read by David Tennant (Hachette Audio, 2018) Although the world is fantabulous and 13-year-old protagonists Xar and Wish are full of zest, this second instalment of Cowell’s wizards and warriors series reads as if emoting the climax, not merely the early unfolding, of their great adventure. Fun but overdone.
Spies of Warsaw (BBC, 2013) Although criticised for its lack of suspense, ‘Spies of Warsaw’ in fact delivers tension in abundance – on a smaller, personal scale, not the artificially heightened nonsense so often grafted onto productions. The acting is top-notch, and David Tennant makes himself beguilingly French.