David Tennant on Shakespeare Live: “It’s A Little Bit Scary!”

Kicking off this Saturday, the BBC’s cross channel/cross platform celebration of William Shakespeare’s  birthday and the 400th anniversary of his death, sees the Tenth Doctor himself, David Tennant and his former companion Catherine Tate host Shakespeare Live! – a staged live from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon and due to air on BBC Two and in cinemas nationwide from 8.30pm.

If only there were some quote about the world being like a stage or something…would seem quite fitting here.

Anyway, speaking at the press launch the BBC’s Shakespeare Festival, Tennant shared his thoughts on what to expect, his first encounter with the Bards work and the miracle of autocue.

In quotes from both TV Choice and the Radio Times, Tennant spoke of the wide-reaching impact Shakespeare’s work has had upon the many and varied facets of our culture.

“His plays are as powerful today as they were 400 years ago, and it’s a real privilege to be part of this,” he said. “It’s a variety bill, with some of the greatest classical actors around, including Ian McKellen and Judi Dench. We also have opera, ballet, hip-hop and comedy from Al Murray – all different disciplines but all celebrating Shakespeare and what he’s done for our cultural heritage and life.”

Speaking of changing lives, he also went on to share how Shakespeare opened up a whole new world for a young David Tennant – leading on a journey that would take him from wide-eyed fan to acclaimed Shakespearian actor in his own right.

“I remember seeing Shakespeare performed – which is when it works best, when it comes alive – in the early 80s. It was in my school gym, and a company called Theatre Around Glasgow did As You Like It. I was blown away, and thought Touchstone was the coolest man I’d ever seen. I have no idea who played that part – answers on a postcard please, as I’d love to know!

Ever since, Shakespeare has been a huge part of my life. Those characters and stories, they’re catnip for actors and audiences alike.”

Then there’s the millions who’ll be joining in the Beeb’s celebration this Saturday. Understandably, he’ll need to screw his courage to the sticking place.

“It’s a little bit scary, but live performance is what Shakespeare is all about. Still, thank heavens for autocue!”

Shakespeare Live! Is due to air from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon on BBC Two and in cinemas nationwide this Saturday, April 23rd from 8.30pm.

For a full list of the weekend’s celebrations and local cinema times, check out the Royal Shakespeare Society’s site.