INTERVIEW: Regenration X

As Casanova he donned flouncy blouses and as Dr Who he gads about the cosmos in Converse trainers, but what does actor David Tennant like to wear? Hadley Freeman finds out

'Hi, I'm David-in-my-pants," says the very boyish, handsome 34-year-old striding towards me, arm extended, wearing, as promised, his underpants. Perhaps the train journey from London to Cardiff was worth it after all."I just don't have the courage of my convictions about my fashion decisions - I think I need some guidance there," he adds in his charming Scottish accent, his eyes all characteristically puppyish and pleading. Yes, the trip is definitely worth it so far.

This fashion insecurity is a bit surprising, though, seeing as it comes from David Tennant, the tenth and latest Dr Who (he's in Cardiff filming the new series) and, according to the Pink Paper, "the sexiest man in the universe". (Tennant claimed, sweetly, that he was "somewhat surprised" by that accolade.)When playing the title role in the BBC's widely acclaimed Casanova, Tennant wore flouncy blouses with aplomb; and his outfit for Dr Who - English tweeds paired with scruffy Converse - has already received plaudits from the fashion press. "It's not a million miles from what I usually wear," he says, "so I now have to be careful - if people see me out and about looking too much like Dr Who, that would be pretty naff."The Converse were inspired by Tennant himself - he's been devoted to the brand for more than 20 years - so when I tell him that David Cameron wears them, too, he reels back into the sofa, aghast. "No!" he whispers. "You've just ruined them for me."He insists that becoming a recognised face has not changed his style, but has made him more conscious that he shouldn't wear something more than once because people comment on it. This, naturally, means constant wardrobe updates, which rather goes against a Presbyterian upbringing "that would never permit any conspicuous consumption."Tennant's teenage years were a swamp of fashion mistakes, he says, citing in particular a pink jumper that he wore for years until someone told him that it was, well, terrible. And at 15 he sported a paisley shirt, skinny tie and cropped jacket combo that "properly expressed myself" - unfortunately, his tracksuit-wearing peers disagreed and punched him in the face. "Yeah, that didn't work out too well."He is, he says repeatedly, not a shopper. "I do that typical male thing of finding one thing and doing it to death, like Paul Smith suits." He recently discovered H&M, he adds, enunciating each of the letters carefully, as if tentatively speaking in a new language. "Plain T-shirts for only a tuppence."Yet despite all this he seems at ease during the shoot. He particularly likes a tan jumper, which prompts him to stroke his hands over his chest in a most distracting manner. "I love this - what is it?"Burberry, comes the answer. "Aren't they really, really naff?" Not any more, the rest of us chirrup. "Oh my God, I'm so yesterday," Tennant groans. Later, when a troublesome belt results in several hands rummaging around his groin for a long couple of minutes, he remains impressively unflustered.But for all his easy-going enthusiasm, I suspect Tennant is not really so comfortable with this modelling malarkey. Between shots, he prowls about like an anxious animal and stares distractedly at the walls. But the smile always snaps back on with professional alacrity. "I just never thought anyone would want to look at me," he says. "I mean, when I'm acting, that's fine, because that's my job, but when it's just for a photo, well, I'm delighted, but I just feel a bit, I don't know, like an impostor."So not even being cast as Casanova, to say nothing of being "the sexiest man in the universe", suggest to him that people like the look of him? "Not really. I think it comes from when I was at school. I was never one of the cool kids who could customise their uniform and make it look good and everything. I just had my seven-years-out-of-date, hand-me-down shirts with 70s collars from my brother, and you never grow out of that feeling."Then he perks back into self-mocking mode: "I just need some help, as you can see."Like Trinny and Susannah?"Yeah, bring 'em on."Really? "Er, no, probably not."The stylist brings out a golden brocade coat that looks, Tennant says, "like an old curtain". But by the end of the shoot he seems rather keen on this home furnishing coat, tying it just that little bit tighter around his waist."Maybe you could wear it next season on the show," trills his publicist. "Fashion Dr Who," laughs the stylist."No,"

Source: Saturday April 1, 2006 The Guardian