David Tennant: 'It was fascinating and terrifying'

David Tennant talks to What's On TV about True Love:

David stars in the first of five one-off dramas running every night this week. In Nick’s Story, he plays a happily married man whose life is turned upside down when his first love Serena (This Is England’s Vicky McClure) suddenly appears out of the blue.

The couple had an intense love affair 17 years ago and meeting up again reignites their passion. But is Nick prepared to break up a happy home with his wife Ruth (Joanne Froggatt) and two children to be with the woman he believes is the love of his life?

The series boasts a great cast including Billie Piper, Jane Horrocks David Morrissey and Ashley Waters. What attracted you to it?
“Dominic’s very name and presence is what made most of us turn up for a meeting. You just think, ‘He’s quite posh and proper. He does good things!’ Then, it was the challenge of doing something that you don’t usually do, which is terrifying and inspiring. In an effort to keep challenging yourself, that’s something worth pursuing.”

As the dramas are all improvised, what kind of brief were you given at the start?
“Before any of the cast met, we got a breakdown of what the stories would be. I was very struck by the fact that none of the characters were being judged. These are just things that happen in life and we all deal with them in different ways. There is no moral high ground taken and no right or wrong thing to do. It was lovely to do a television drama that doesn’t have easy answers.”

Did you find it difficult working without a script?
“It was fascinating and terrifying in equal parts. Fortunately, Vicky McClure is familiar working this way, so I felt a lot safer having her with me on Day One because when the cameras started rolling, I had no idea what was going to come out of my mouth!”

Had you met Vicky McClure before filming?
“No, we’d never met before and I hadn’t seen This is England, which is a terrible admission! But I knew of her by reputation – when you mention her name people go, ‘Oh she’s good!’ which is what you want. There was no rehearsal period and we only had six days to shoot it.”

So with no script, did you have to draw more on personal experience for the part?
“That’s an interesting question. Clearly that’s something you do in any acting challenge. But when the words are not on the page in front of you, it has to be your version of what someone might say in that situation. At the time, I don’t think you’re particularly conscious of that, I think you’re just trying to inhabit the situation and you draw on whatever you can, as with any acting job. It’s just a different process to get there.”