Dramarama: David Tennant's Co-Star Recalls His First TV Role

In 1988 actress Kate Sandison played David Tennant's sister in an episode of Dramarama, David's television debut. In an exclusive account for us she recalls her time working on the episode and alongside the future star.

Kate Sandison
"I was 17 when I was cast as Fiona in Dramarama - The Secret of Croftmore. It was very exciting not only to film at Scottish Television Studios in Glasgow but also to go on location to the island of Arran. I remember we did a full week of rehearsal for 'Croftmore' in specially mocked up sets at STV. This is something that sadly wouldn't happen in television today as there isn't the budget, but it was a real help and I think the filming went much more smoothly because of it. I remember the Celtic bracelet I wore was made by a specialist jeweller who phoned the wardrobe lady back to say my wrist couldn't be as small as she had measured it but it was! I still have that bracelet. It is a nice souvenir. 

"So much work went into 'Croftmore' - I remember the set that was Calum's studio. The set designer had himself painted and drawn all the pictures of birds and wildlife pinned up on the wall there. He talked to us about them and was so lovely. Going to Arran was quite an adventure - it was really freezing. I had wanted a more sexy costume for Fiona and I was very grateful in the end the wardrobe lady had insisted on getting something substantial. Staying at the Blackwaterfoot Hotel and going down to dinner all seemed sort of glamorous. The standing stones near to Calum's home were real and are probably still there. The location manager told us about the work it had taken to find a location with standing stones. Nothing is simple in TV. It all went so fast. 

"I remember David Tennant with great affection, and we and the rest of the cast all got on very well. He was very nice and had a remarkable focus for his age. I remember being rather upset one day about something and he and Tony [Kearney, who played Calum] were very tactful with me. The fields in Arran where we were filming were quite steep and David helped me up with a strong hand, which was good as I would have struggled otherwise! We talked about our families and David told us his dad was a minister. I could believe this - he was much more thoughtful than most guys his age, though not at all preachy, and not in the least like the arrogant character he played!

"I have not since then done any other film or play about about the Highland Clearances but maybe one day something will come up.  It was really a good experience."

Dramarama - The Secret of Croftmore first aired in August 1988 and features a pre-drama school David Tennant as Neil McDonald. Neil, his sister Fiona and cousin Calum are witness to some spooky phenomena in Calum's remote croft home. But do the ghosts of their ancestors have a message for them?

Kate Sandison is currently in rehearsals for Tortoise: Redux, a play about women in the psychiatric industry, from the all-female Little but Fierce Theatre company. Tortoise debuts on May 31st at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich. Click here for more information

Visit the New Wolsey Theatre website here