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.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service by Ian Fleming (Jonathan Cape, 1963); audiobook read by David Tennant (AudioGO, 2012) Bond’s attitude to women remains unconscionable, but in other respects Fleming gives him a greater depth and vulnerability here than in other books (and certainly the films). The writing has refinement above its genre, and gains added respectability through David Tennant’s reading.…
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen; dramatised by Lin Coghlan (BBC Radio 4, 2003) This full-cast dramatisation offers the narrative equivalent of time-lapse photography: too sketchy for the purists but sufficient to convey some of Austen’s epic to-ing and fro-ing. Its commercial release retro-boasts the involvement of Felicity Jones, Benedict Cumberbatch and bit player David Tennant.
Doctor Who: The Stone Rose by Jacqueline Rayner (BBC, 2006); abridged audiobook read by David Tennant (BBC Audio, 2006) David Tennant’s narration goes some way towards saving this novel, but for all his exuberance the plot remains structured around obtuse main characters and a pantheon of dei ex machina. (Additionally, the Doctor’s escapades at the Flavian Amphitheatre form a new…