David Tennant swaps Doctor Who for father time in a new four-part BBC Scotland drama.
Following the global success story that was David Tennant’s reign as the Tenth Doctor, it seemed likely that Hollywood movies, or at the very least the lead role in another primetime series, were just around the corner.
It hasn’t quite gone as smoothly as that, the actor giving up a role in John Landis’ upcoming Burke and Hare for failed US pilot, Rex is Not Your Lawyer, but it appears that things might be back on track with his decision to return to his native Scotland for new drama, Single Father.
Tennant plays Dave, a successful Glasgow photographer who is husband to Rita (Laura Fraser) and father to four children. As episode one opens, we see both parents in full-on work mode, Rita helping out at the local primary school with family friend, Sarah (Suranne Jones), as Dave struggles to take baby portraits
Within the first 10 minutes Rita has been killed in a freak road accident, before we’re taken back to the previous day, a chance to see that the idyllic homelife previously hinted at may have had its problems.
The chance to see Tennant shed his familiar Time Lord persona for the all-too-human Dave is a welcome one. Mick Ford’s script allows the actor to shine as a normal bloke trying to support his wife and kids, Dave’s reaction to his loss thankfully not resulting in melodrama.
Despite the risk that Fraser becomes typecast in the role of recently deceased mums (see 2009’s The Boys are Back), she’s a strong presence here, while her offspring aren’t the usual annoying stage school brats but a likeable brood who follow their father’s lead when it comes to displaying grief.
The main issue with the episode comes from the incessant music which permeates almost every scene, an unfortunate TV affliction which needs to be addressed. If you’re going to hire a writer, actors and a director then let them do their respective jobs rather than trying to force the viewer to feel something that should be on the screen by pumping up the muzak.
Otherwise, this is a strong opener which sets up future dilemmas for Dave and Sarah nicely without being too heavy-handed. Just be careful: this one might, just might, cause the odd viewer to get something in their eye if they’re not careful.
Single Father is on BBC One, Sunday 10 October at 9pm.