David Tennant plays Dr. Tom Kendrick in the upcoming drama Deadwater Fell on BBC First.
Tell us about Deadwater Fell.
Deadwater Fell is set in the small Scottish village of Kirkdarroch. Tom Kendrick is the local GP and his wife, Kate, works in the local school. They have three beautiful children and are very much at the centre of the community. Very early on in our story, a terrible, tragic event happens; their house burns to the ground and the family are all wiped out with the exception of Tom who survives. With their best friends Jess and Steve, the community start to look into what exactly happened: was it an accident or something darker at play?
This is your first Executive Producer credit. What was that like? What was the experience of exec-ing alongside starring like?
They’re two very distinct things. For me, as an EP on this it’s just about being involved in some of the decision making elsewhere and having a little part in that. This was not a case where the scripts needed great wrangling, they’re beautifully written by Daisy Coulam. And the cast came together very easily because they responded to that material and we got great people involved on the crew. It was just nice to have a small involvement in bringing that team together and being part of the process. And also it was learning from Karen Wilson and Emma Kingsman-Lloyd at Kudos who are so, so experienced in that world. It was great to be in on some of those meetings and see what it takes to put together a television production.
What attracted you to the project?
The script. Just the script. It always is really, for me. If you read a script and it connects with you, it touches you, it intrigues you and you think “I don’t want anyone else to do this because I want to do it,” that’s really the clincher. I read the first episode and was intrigued and compelled by these characters. I didn’t feel like I quite knew what everyone’s story was and that of course makes you want to know what happens next. I think Daisy created very real characters, very believable characters, and also characters that had a real history to them. That was immediately intriguing.
Who is Tom Kendrick?
So, Tom Kendrick is the local GP, a father of three and that’s very much a part of his identity. He is very much the centre of the community of Kirkdarroch. He’s respected, well liked and seems to be the perfect family man with a happy marriage. There doesn’t seem to be anything untoward in his family life. To the outside world he’s the perfect father, the perfect husband, he’s popular and admired and people look up to him and his world revolves around that.
By the end of the series all the characters are very different people to who they are when we meet them. This is aided by the use of the two-time frames explored within the drama. What was that like to film?
You tell the story, from an acting point of view, of each scene as you come to it. Where that scene falls in the chronology of the characters is not really something you think about on set. That’s something that the script has set out and what the script does very cleverly is reveal things about these characters piece by piece and not in an obviously chronological way. The series allows us, as an audience, to uncover them and take off the layers of onion skin to reveal what’s going on underneath. In terms of filming it you’re filming whatever scene comes up in the schedule that day, which is always out of sequence anyway. It’s how they’re constructed afterwards that is the trick to the way this story unfolds.
What was it like returning to film up in Scotland?
It was hugely appealing to me to get to spend some weeks back in Glasgow. I still have family there and of course it’s a city that I grew up around and has always meant a great deal to me. Any excuse to return to Scotland I’m always happy to embrace. To be filming there with a fantastic Scottish crew and a lot of local actors too, it was one of the great joys of this job for me.
You have an amazing cast alongside you in Cush, Anna and Matthew. What was it like working with them?
I knew Anna a little before but we’d never worked together. I knew of Cush and Matthew but had never met them. It was delightful to find them so easy to work with, so exciting to work with, so inspiring to work with. They were all perfectly cast and I think they really bring these characters to life. Each of these characters has so much going on sub textually. In episode one we can only imagine what that might be and then all the secrets they are living with are slowly revealed to us through the four episodes. You needed actors of the calibre of Cush and Matthew and Anna to do that. I feel lucky to have been acting alongside them.
Lastly, what are the main take-aways of Deadwater Fell?
I don’t want to tell an audience what to take away from it, partly because I think when you start telling people what the show’s about you inevitably start revealing things that are revealed much more elegantly by the story. The story you think you’re being told at the end of episode one is not the story that you realise you’re being told in episode two, which again is not the story you thought you were in the midst of when you get to episode three. I think it should be up to an audience to decide what they might take away from that. All I will say is whatever you think the story is, it will confound you, compel you and surprise you.