In Spotlight: David Tennant’s best ever TV shows and films ranked – Doctor Who and Broadchurch to Des and Good Omens

From Broadchurch and Doctor Who to Staged and Good Omens, we rank David Tennant's finest screen performances.

By Alex Fletcher Published: 7 December 2022 - 3.25pm
BBC David Tennant in Doctor Who

David Tennant returns to our TV screens this Christmas in season 3 of Staged on BritBox and the highly anticipated true story drama Litvinenko on ITVX.

The Scottish actor has been entertaining millions in movies, TV shows and on the stage, starring in some of the most popular crime dramas, sci-fi and comedy on British TV in the last two decades.

Ahead of his performance as Alexander Litvinenko, we’ve ranked our favourite 11 performances from the much-loved actor.

David Tennant’s best TV and films ranked

11. Inside Man – Plays Harry Watling (2022)

BBC

Tennant reunites with Doctor Who writer Steven Moffat for a twist-filled, puzzle box thriller. Tennant plays vicar Harry, who finds himself caught into a chaotic spiral of events that take this series down a dark path.

Watch Inside Man on BBC iPlayer

10. Casanova – Plays Casanova (2005)

Before teaming up on Doctor Who, Tennant and Russell T Davies collaborated on a TV drama about the Italian adventurer Giacomo Casanova.

Tennant shines in the BBC Three series, which also starred Rose Byrne, Rupert Penry-Jones, Nina Sosanya and Laura Fraser.

9. The Highway Rat – Plays the Highway Rat (2017)

Magic Light

“Halt! Give me your sweets and your lollies!”

Voicing the titular role in Julia Donaldson’s animated adventure about a greedy rodent, Tennant showcases his fabulous skills as a voice actor.

Watch The Highway Rat on BBC iPlayer

8. Staged – Plays himself (2020-22)

BritBox

Originating in lockdown, Tennant and Michael Sheen teamed up for this award-winning comedy in which the two actors play themselves.

Managing to turn Zoom calls into a comedy art form, the series is carried by the chemistry between Tennant and Sheen (more on that later).

Watch seasons 1-3 of Staged on BritBox

7. Blackpool – Plays DI Carlisle (2004)

Tennant stars alongside David Morrissey and Sarah Parish in this classic BBC musical drama series about a murder of a young man at a Blackpool arcade. Tennent plays DI Carlisle, who is investigating the case and unravelling some local secrets.

6. There She Goes – Plays Simon Yates (2018-20)

Based on writer Shaun Pye’s (Monkey Dust) own experiences raising a daughter with a chromosomal disorder, this BBC comedy series is endearing because of its honesty, authenticity and lack of sentimentality. Tennant and Jessica Hynes are joyous as the parents.

Watch There She Goes on BBC iPlayer

5. Jessica Jones – Plays Kilgrave (2015)

Tennant’s villainous and depraved Kilgrave was one of the most successful elements of Marvel’s Jessica Jones, which was originally released on Netflix. The supehero series, which starred Krysten Ritter as the title character, won critical acclaim for the deliciously dark performances of Tennant.

4. Good Omens – Plays Crowley (2019)

Prime Video

Tennant and Michael Sheen (we told you we’d mention them again) managed to bring the magic, humour and thrills of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s classic novel to life as the unforgettable Crowley and Aziarphale.

When Tennant is at his best, as he is Good Omens, he makes it impossible to ever imagine anyone else being able to play the roles. And the really great news is that Tennant and Sheen will return for Good Omens season 2 in 2023.

Watch Good Omens season 1 on Prime Video

3. Des – Plays Dennis Nilsen (2021)

ITV

David Tennant earned critical acclaim, 5 star reviews and an Emmy for his performance as Dennis Nilsen – the horrifying serial killer.

Tennant is unnerving and chilling in this true crime drama that raised questions about how far we’ve really come since Nilsen’s crimes in the 80s and 90s.

Watch Des on BritBox

2. Broadchurch – Plays Alec Hardy (2013-17)

ITV

Moving on from Doctor Who is always a tricky challenge for any actor and being cast as a detective in an ITV crime drama felt a little underwhelming when it was announced – but we couldn’t have been more wrong.

Tennant and Olivia Colman helped turn Broadchurch into watercooler telly, which got the whole nation talking. A phenomenal performance.

Watch Broadchurch on BritBox

1. Doctor Who (2005-10)

Christopher Eccleston managed the tricky challenge of getting critics and viewers to take ‘new’ Who seriously when the show returned to our screens after a 16-year absence, but it was Tennant's Tenth Doctor who took the BBC sci-fi series to new heights and its biggest audience yet.

His partnerships with Billie Piper, Freema Agyeman and Catherine Tate were joyous, heartbreaking and timeless and Tennant remains for many fans the definitive Doctor. So no wonder there was much excitement when Tennant made a surprise return to the Tardis as the Fourteenth Doctor earlier this year ahead of three 60th anniversary specials in 2023.

Watch Doctor Who on BBC iPlayer