INTERVIEW - How We Met Arabella Weir and David Tennant

The actor David Tennant was born in 1971 in Bathgate, Scotland. He attended the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, did his first season at the RSC in 1996, and has just started his second.
Comic performer and writer Arabella Weir was born in San Francisco in 1957 and grew up in London. After college she did a variety of acting jobs and later was asked to write for "The Fast Show". In 1997 she published her first novel, "Does My Bum Look Big In This?"

}}David Tennant: It was autumn 1993, I was working in Scotland and I got a lead part in a TV series called Taking Over the Asylum. Arabella came up to Glasgow to do a week on it.

This was long before The Fast Show so she wasn't the star-studded celebrity she is now. I'd only heard her name as somebody who was coming to join the company.

I was terribly green, and to me she seemed so laid back and au fait with the whole thing of being on a film set. She has a very forceful personality and for a wee skinny bloke from Bathgate it was, "Oh my word, who's this?"

I was scared of her, but it's all front - once you get past that you find she's as just insecure and nervous as everybody else - but she does have a very urbane and witty exterior.

On set there's lots of sitting about, so you get to know people easily, and her irreverent sense of humour appealed to me. She was good fun.

I'd decided to move to London, Arabella needed a lodger, so I moved in for what was going to be a short time and ended up staying for five years.

There's more than 10 years between us, but that never seems to have affected our relationship. When I moved down I was a young 22, and Arabella used to shock me with the things she would say, but she finds it harder to shock me now. She probably corrupted me, but I probably needed corrupting a little bit.

Arry's not an easy person to live with, and there were times when we nearly murdered each other - I'm sure she'll say the same about me. She has "areas of issue", rules about what goes where, which knife you use for cutting the bread and which you don't. She will freely admit that she's anally retentive to the point of bonkersdom. There was a dishwasher that we were never allowed to use, goodness knows why, and she used to have a thing about never putting the heating on. She has eased up over the years, but we used to live in near-freezing temperatures. Of course, the fact that I was from Scotland delighted her because she thought, "Oh well, you're used to it, you'll be fine," so that was a particular point of conflict.

There were other lodgers who passed through and Arabella's boyfriend eventually moved in, but I was the only constant. I did stick with it for quite a long time - but then, the rent was cheap.

When I first moved in, Arry was great about introducing me to people. She was sweet, a great ally to have in a new, scary city. These days she's got children, so there's less opportunity to see her. Her boyfriend isn't keen on the showbizzy events that she gets invited to, so occasionally I'm her date for things like that.

She's generous, supportive and she's good at giving advice, particularly on relationships. She can pretty much tell you what another person is thinking. She's a loyal, warm and open person.

}}Arabella Weir: David and I met on what was my last proper acting job and his first big acting job. I was completely blown away by how mesmerically talented he was. I remember thinking, "Blimey, this boy's brilliant."

We were shooting in Glasgow and David said, "Let's go out for a pizza tonight," and we did and got on brilliantly.

I was coming out of a not very nice relationship, and was landed with a big house in London. David was going to move to London, so I asked him to be my lodger. He did and it was fantastic. He was a proper friend first, so there was never that "I'm his landlady and he's my serf" stuff.

Maybe it's to do with the age difference, but it was one of those weird relationships where there was no sexual tension. He stayed on here after I met my boyfriend, Jeremy, and that was all fine.

There were a few teething problems. He's not at all tidy and I'm very tidy. I'm kind of, "You're cutting the garlic with the wrong knife and don't ever cut the plastic with that Sabatier." He's kind of, "Don't stir that pasta sauce with the spoon you've just licked." I'm more, "Don't be stupid, you kiss people you barely know."

He thinks I'm finicky, but he has to have his kiwi and his bowl of cereal in the morning. And he drove me nuts with his washing, which he'd leave in the machine for about a year. Also, I could never get him to believe that no matter how he shut the front door, to anybody inside the house it was a slam, although once Jeremy and I had babies he did get better.

Ours was quite a luvvies relationship. I'd take the piss out of him for reading books about the character he was about to do, and he'd take the piss out of me for not caring about what I was doing.

It was a very supportive relationship, though. David could, in all seriousness, stand in the kit-chen and do his next big speech to me - he trusted me enough as a performer, and also as a friend.

He could get quite wound up and angsty about a part. In that situation, I'd remind him that no one actually cared about what he was doing.

He says I've corrupted him. He was telling me a story about one of the RSC actors and I said, "David it's not like you to laugh at that." And he said, "Yes, but you've made it impossible for me to take this sort of thing seriously." So I think I've probably injected a good note of irreverence.

David is astonishingly focused for his age. He's amazingly honest and straightforward. He's one of the handful of people I would tell a secret to and know that he wouldn't tell anybody. He's trustworthy and he's honourable. He's lovely.

Source: The Times - 2002

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