David Tennant questions government call for more 'Britishness' in TV shows

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  • David Tennant
    David Tennant
    Scottish actor
David Tennant during the filming for the Graham Norton Show at BBC Studioworks 6 Television Centre, Wood Lane, London, to be aired on BBC One on Friday evening.
David Tennant has questioned the goverment's drive to make more 'distinctly British' TV shows. (PA)

David Tennant has taken a swipe at the government as he questioned their call for UK channels to make "distinctly British” programmes.

The Doctor Who star was addressing government concerns that TV shows are becoming too generic as they are being made for international audiences via streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon, without reflecting real "Britishness".

Tennant told the Radio Times: “Is there some inherent criticism within this plea for more Britishness? Did Britishness mean ‘made in Britain’ or programmes that have a certain political viewpoint?”

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The Scottish actor went on: “Why would the government feel they need more sympathy directed towards them? Perhaps that’s a question they should ask themselves, rather than trying to blame it on the television industry."

David Tennant plays stuffy English gentleman Phileas Fogg in 'Around The World In 80 Days. (BBC)
David Tennant plays stuffy English gentleman Phileas Fogg in 'Around The World In 80 Days.' (BBC)

Tennant stars as Phileas Fogg in the BBC's new adaptation Jules Verne’s 1873 novel, Around The World In Eighty Days, about a Victorian English gentleman who attempted to travel around the globe in 80 days on a bet.

The Good Omens star said: “In many ways Phileas Fogg represents everything that’s alarming and peculiar about that old sense of British Empire. Potentially, it’s a story about an England that should elicit very little sympathy.”

Tennant added that Verne, “chose to make Phileas Fogg a particularly stuffy Englishman.

"We’re showing a different type of stuffy Englishman. He’s very damaged, everything is a trauma for him.”

In the new BBC Sunday night costume drama, Tennant's Fogg is seen a has-been relying on the help of a black man and a woman, among others, to help him complete his journey and win his wager of £20,000.

David Tennant played the title role in 'Doctor Who' from 2005 until 2010. (Credit: BBC)
David Tennant played the title role in 'Doctor Who' from 2005 until 2010. (BBC)

Former media minister John Whittingdale told the Royal Television Society convention in Cambridge, “Our national identity relies on the culture industries," and so the government plans to require UK public service broadcasters to produce “distinctly British” programmes.

He said: "Britishness is, of course, a nebulous concept. It means different things to each and every one of us in this room.

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"And yet we all know it when we see it on our screens. The sort of things we’ve all grown up with. Only Fools and Horses, Dad’s Army, Carry On. More recently, The Great British Bake Off and Line of Duty."

Watch: David Tennant in Around The World In 80 Days

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