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Acting on the radio is challenging, inspiring, delicate and always a privilege.


Unless you are a member of Hermit's United you probably know that London hosted the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. 

As part of the celebration, the BBC has created Shakespeare Unlocked, and has teamed up with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the British Museum for the World Shakespeare Festival celebrating Shakespeare's life and work.

David and the cast were interviewed in the Radio Times talking about the Olympic's, radio drama, and the play. 

Below are excerpts, and you can read the entire article here.

"David Tennant is a little baffled by the Cultural Olympiad: “I’m a bit hazy as to what it actually means, what it all adds up to,” he says. “But if it means more Shakespeare, it’s fine by me.”

In cultural terms, the Bard is a world-beater, Team GB’s biggest hitter. (“Well, him and Adele,” offers Tennant. “I think they’re the book-ends of our culture.”

While Tennant is delighted to take part in the Shakespeare Season – “It’s a lovely cast to be part of and we’ve done it with a lot of care” – he’s keeping an open mind about the ‘2012 effect’ on the cultural life of the capital.

“I’ve heard some theatres are going dark this summer,” he says. “It is, apparently, generally understood that in cities where the Olympics are on, nobody goes to the theatre.
“It seems unlikely to me, but I guess if foreign visitors are coming to London this summer, they may be looking for something specifically to do with the Olympics.

Or maybe they’re staying away from London because it will be too expensive. I hope it’s wrong.

I hope the Olympics makes London all the more vibrant.” 

Tennant takes a part in both productions.

Despite a dose of flu, he’s closeted with fellow cast members in the green room at Broadcasting House, prior to recording his performance as Malvolio in Twelfth Night

As the company waits for the green light, talk turns to the special significance of radio drama in British arts.
“I think there can be a tendency, in modern theatrical productions, to rely on setting to tell the story,” says Tennant.

“When you hear something like Shakespeare on the radio, you’re forced to go back to the words. Because that’s all there is. And that close, unfiltered connection to the text is immensely rewarding.
Malvolio: Act II, Scene V
 “Also, as an actor, radio drama is very immediate. You don’t have the luxury of a six-week rehearsal process, which you tend to have in the theatre.

You’ve got maybe five days to get the whole thing in the can. So you’re coming to it quite fresh. You have a very instant reaction to the script, which I think makes it ‘live’ in a slightly different way.”

At 40, Tennant seems too young (and, frankly, too attractive) for the part of Malvolio, the deluded hypocrite who sighs after his young mistress, but the actor makes a spirited case for the casting.

“I’m making him slightly puritanical and I think he can be any age, really. He’s often played by an older gent, but there’s nothing in the text to tell you to do it that way.

“He’s the butler and I think it’s the social divide rather than the age gap that matters.

That’s what he dares to presume he might be able to traverse, and I think it’s really interesting in that he might believe himself to have a chance.”

If Viola’s some hot young thing and Malvolio’s being played by some septuagenarian, that seems rather less likely.

“Not,” adds Tennant, hastily, “that there aren’t relationships like that which work. Take my wife!”

“But,” he argues, “I’d say they’re quite rare. Though obviously if I finally play Malvolio aged 75, I’ll be arguing against that.”

Radio Times  - April 20 - 27, 2012 - E Jane Dickson

As part of this celebration, BBC Radio 3 commissioned new productions of three Shakespeare plays, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet and The Tempest.

Twelfth Night, directed by Sally Avens, was broadcast on April 22, 2012 at 8:30 pm and featured David Tennant as the lovesick Malvolio.

Malvolio may not be a major character but he certainly is the key to the comic aspects of the play and he has one of the most quoted lines in Shakespeare, at least by politicians. "Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em."

The recording of the play started on February 18. called David's performance "outstanding" - you can read their in-depth review of the play here.

"The first was Twelfth Night. David Tennant, played Malvolio, Rosie Cavaliero played Maria. I wish I could say they were rubbish, it being more fun to damn than praise. I can’t. They were astonishingly good." - The Telegraph - April 24, 2012 - Gillian Reynolds

"And last night I much enjoyed hearing David Tennant as a hilarious Scottish Malvolio in a BBC Radio 3 Twelfth Night . . ." - April 23 2012 - Michael Coveney

"David Tennant's Malvolio was a particular delight in a version of the play that eschewed all gimmickry and instead simply showcased the brilliant language."  - The Guardian - April 26, 2012 - Elisabeth Mahoney

David is pictured here with Rosie Cavaliero (Maria) and Ron Cook (sir Toby Belch)


Naomi Frederick*

Trystan Gravelle

Gerard McDermott

Paul Ready

Harry Livingstone**

Rosie Cavaliero***

Ron Cook****

Adam James+

Vanessa Kirby

James Lailey

David Tennant

Don Gilet++

Peter Hamilton Dyer**

Music by Roger Goula 

 *appeared in Kafka the Musical with David

**appeared in Waiting for the Boatman

***was a cast member on the Nebulous radio series on which David made a guest appearance



Sea Captain




Sir Toby Belch

Sir Andrew Aguecheek






The entire cast also appear in Romeo & Juliet

****appeared on stage with David in Vassa: Scenes From Family Life, was Magpie in the Doctor Who episode Idiot's Lantern and had a small role in Casanova.

+Appeared as DI McMillan in the Doctor Who episode of Planet of the Dead. (His godfather was Jon Pertwee, who played the Third Doctor.) He played Don Pedro in Much Ado About Nothing and Edmund in King Lear.  

++Portrayed Lance Bennett in the Runaway Bride episode of Doctor Who.

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