The David Tennant Theatre Archive



The Times - Ben Hoyle - December 11, 2008
"The RSC confirmed yesterday that the actor would not be returning to the Novello Theatre stage in the West End before Christmas. He has a prolapsed disc and will undergo surgery today.

In his stead Edward Bennett, 29, a relative unknown who was due to be playing Laertes, will continue to perform the most coveted role in English drama.


..Tennant , 37, has suffered from a "niggling" back injury for some time but had ignored it, thinking that there was no point in seeking medical help for an occasional twinge. On the set of Doctor Who he was renowned for his athleticism and for performing his own stunts.

He played Hamlet 60 times at Stratford-upon-Avon in the summer before the West End transfer, without missing a single performance.

A spokesman for the Royal Shakespeare Company said: "The problem has been around for a while, certainly before he was with this production. I don't think even he knows when it started." Tennant saw a specialist on Tuesday and again yesterday."
David Tennant said, “It is hugely disappointing for me to have to miss these performances. My back problem has progressed to the point where it is currently impossible for me to carry on without surgery. I want to get back onstage as quickly as possible and I am very grateful to Ed who has courageously got to grips with the role but in a much shorter time. It's a fantastic achievement."

Artistic Director Michael Boyd said, “We all wish David a speedy recovery and it is an indication of the RSC's investment in understudies that Ed Bennett can take over Shakespeare's largest role at such short notice.

As an ensemble company, we feel it is important to go ahead with the run at the Novello Theatre and I am proud of the way Ed, the understudies, Patrick Stewart, Penny Downie and the rest of the company have risen to this challenge, getting a great reaction from audiences and critics alike."

Michale Boyds response from The Independant - December 29, 2008

"You Ask the Questions":

Shouldn't audiences get a discount if they are seeing an understudy instead of the advertised star? Jonathan Heaton, Leeds West Yorkshire

"We put so much investment into the whole company and the ethos of ensemble and we really are ready for such an eventuality, so in our case I would say the audience is getting full "value for money". And on Hamlet we have been vindicated by the small number of returns and requests for refunds that we've had."

British Theatre Guide -  January 4, 2009
"David Tennant returned to the RSC's Hamlet at the Novello Theatre yesterday (3rd January), following an operation on his back. . . .

A statement from the Royal Shakespeare Company said, "We will be assessing David's return to each Hamlet performance next week on a day by day basis so patrons are being invited to check our website from noon each day for an update for that evening's performance, or to call the RSC Box Office."
The Daily Telegraph had the best headline!

"At last, poor, Yorick . . .Tennant  returns as Hamlet after surgery"

The Daily Mail - January 5, 2009 (And many other papers)
"David Tennant has returned to the role of Hamlet after back surgery . A slipped disc saw the Doctor Who actor pull out of most of his performances last month but he was on stage on Saturday, January 3rd, and received a standing ovation.

The sell-out run of Hamlet at the Novello Theatre in central London is due to finish on Saturday, January 10th.

The Evening Standard - Felix Allen - January 5th:
"But theatregoers who attended the actor's comeback performance were full of praise, adding that some small allowance had been made for his condition."

Tony Greenway, 42, of York, said: "We'd already been told by letter that Tennant definitely would not be performing, so when the producer came on stage just before the play started and announced that Tennant was back , the whole place went wild."

"Even Sir Ian McKellen, who was sitting about five rows in front of us, went bonkers." Another fan said: "Before the show, someone came out and announced David was going to perform we think so the play wasn't interrupted by all of us yelling when he appeared."

"The only real change we could see was that he was slightly slower when jumping up on things and he didn't pull [Polonius's] body off the stage."

"They darkened the back of the stage and someone else moved Polonius then David pulled a less weighty object across the front of the stage. You might not even notice this if you weren't really close."