10 Surprising Facts About BAFTAs 2024 Host David Tennant

6 minute read

Movie stars will take to the red carpet and viewers to their screens Sunday for the British Academy Film Awards—commonly known as the BAFTAs—in London. Taking place at the Royal Festival Hall, this year’s ceremony will be hosted by actor David Tennant.

First-time BAFTAs host Tennant, 52, is a celebrated Scottish actor famous for the Harry Potter films, TV shows including Doctor Who, Broadchurch and Good Omens, and much more.

Apparently he’s not nervous for his inaugural gig, telling the Associated Press that he feels less pressure as an actor in the role than a comedian.

Here’s 10 facts you may not know about the award-winning actor in honor of his BAFTAs hosting debut.

David Tennant was initially a stage name

The actor was born David John McDonald. He said during an interview on The Late Late Show with James Corden in 2018 that he had to pick another last name when he was 16 and registered with the actors’ union, which already included someone with his name.

Tennant told Corden he gained inspiration for his stage moniker by flipping through a music magazine and is “sort-of named” after Neil Tennant of the British music group Pet Shop Boys. David later officially changed his last name.

He’s the son of a Presbyterian minister 

Tennant was raised in Bathgate, a town in Scotland made famous in the song “Letter from America” by Scottish band The Proclaimers, which Tennant’s website says is his favorite music group, along with the Beatles. Tennant cites Paisley, a town near Glasgow, as his hometown.

His father was a local Church of Scotland minister.

'Up Next Gala' - Red Carpet Arrivals
David Tennant attends a gala at The National Theatre in 2019 in London, England. Karwai Tang—Getty Images

David Tennant dreamed of becoming an actor as a toddler 

According to his website, he wanted to be an actor since he was three or four years old. 

Tennant told the Guardian in 2011, "I know it's absurd and precocious,” but said that he had a conversation with his parents about who the people on TV were, and when he learned they were actors, decided that’s what he wanted to do. He began appearing on screen before he was out of school.

Tennant is a seasoned Shakespeare performer

In 1996, at 25, Tennant joined the Royal Shakespeare Company. He’s continued to act in Shakespeare plays throughout his work in TV and film. In 2008, he played the titular character in a Hamlet run in London, tickets for which sold out in hours. A Guardian review of the show said Tennant was the “greatest Hamlet of his generation.”

Tennant returned to his theater roots in Dec. 2023, starring in a critically-acclaimed Macbeth production in London.

He was a Doctor Who fan before becoming the Time Lord himself

Tennant portrayed the 10th doctor in the popular, long-running sci-fi TV series Doctor Who from 2005 to 2010, returning for a reunion episode in 2013, and series of special anniversary episodes in 2023. He was voted “The U.K.’s Favorite Doctor” by Radio Times magazine.

Tennant told the Guardian that years earlier while in school, he wrote an essay on Doctor Who. “Am I as geeky as the Doctor Who fans? Yes,” he said.

Dr Who Series Four - Press Launch
David Tennant celebrated the Season 4 premiere of Doctor Who, standing in front of a Tardis, in 2008 in London, England. Dave Hogan–Getty Images

Tennant was star-struck on the Harry Potter set

Tennant was introduced to a worldwide audience as the character of Barty Crouch Jr., a villainous wizard, in the Harry Potter movie adaptations. 

When asked in a 2018 Q&A whether he was star-struck by any other actors, Tennant reportedly said he was originally nervous to meet his Harry Potter co-star Maggie Smith, who portrayed Professor McGonagall, since “she’s quite an intimidating presence… she goes way back. She’s proper.”

"And I remember being a little bit nervous of her and then just completely falling in love with her. She’s great. And there’s nothing more delicious than Maggie Smith in a witch’s hat. Nothing better.”

Tennant has a big—and recognizable—family

Tennant married actor and producer Georgia Tennant, who was also his co-star in Doctor Who, in 2011. Georgia’s father is actor Peter Davison, who starred as the 5th doctor in the hit BBC series.

David and Georgia Tennant have five children—Ty, Georgia’s son whom Tennant adopted, along with Olive, Wilfred, Doris, and Birdie. Ty, 21, has followed in David's footsteps, starring in Tolkien, War of the Worlds, House of the Dragon, and most recently with their father—and grandfather Davison—in a Season 2 episode of Good Omens.

Rolling Stone UK Awards 2023 – Backstage Winners
David Tennant, recognized for his role in Doctor Who, posed during the Rolling Stone U.K. Awards in 2023 in London, England. Dave Benett–Getty Images

David Tennant is also known for his work away from the screen

The actor has long supported the LGBTQ+ community, lending his voice to an anti-gay bullying campaign back in 2012. Last year, on a podcast during Pride Month, he said, “You want your children to be accepted for whoever they are, whatever they want to be,” adding that“we’ve all got to be fighting that fight.”

More recently, Tennant was spotted wearing a pin in the colors of the transgender flag that raises money for an LGBTQ+ youth charity with its sales. He reportedly told Attitude magazine while wearing the pin at the Rolling Stone U.K. Awards show in November that “we just need to banish the noise and banish the hate,” adding that Doctor Who “has always supported the other, the unusual, the disenfranchised. That’s what that show’s about.”

According to a post on his wife’s Instagram account, one of the couple’s children uses they/them pronouns.

He is no stranger to the BAFTA stage

Among his many accolades, Tennant won the Best Actor award in 2007 for Doctor Who at BAFTA Cymru (Wales) and in 2014, bagged a win for Best Male TV Performance at BAFTA Scotland for The Escape Artist. He hasn’t been nominated for any awards at the main BAFTAs, although projects in which he’s starred have won top prizes. At the BAFTA TV Awards in 2023, Tennant presented the trophy celebrating the Best Feature.

Tennant has a rule for his BAFTA Film Awards hosting debut

Tennant told Variety he took notes for his BAFTAs hosting debut after Jo Koy’s gaffe at the Golden Globes. “Don’t diss Tay Tay, I think is the lesson to be learned. I live in a house of Taylor Swift fans, so I know better,” he said.

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