He’s been perhaps one of the most lauded television stars to set foot on the small screen in recent years. Less than a year after leaving his breakout role, however, David Tennant wants to try something new. Instead of fighting aliens, he’s going to be falling in love. And instead of keeping up with companions, he’s going to be raising children. Enter Single Father, a new BBC drama that will star Tennant as a widower who falls in love with his late wife’s best friend, Sarah (Suranne Jones). The premise sounds kind of familiar, but the BBC assures us that Single Father will be a heartwarming – and original – tale.
“From the first time Mick talked to me about the story of Single Father, I was gripped. It was beautiful, moving and funny and had all the truthful emotional stories that I want to see on British TV. It’s basically a great story. I had been a fan of Mick’s writing for many years and jumped at the opportunity to work with him,” shared Nicola Shindler, an executive producer of the series.
Mick Ford, who wrote the drama, released a rather lengthy statement about his inspirations for the series:
“Single Father is about the mess of family life today and the seismic shocks that hit after a traffic accident robs Dave of the woman he adores and the mother of three of his children. Rita’s the woman who runs the family and the woman who leaves behind a 15-year-old daughter from an earlier liaison.
“Dave really tries. He’s not a useless dad — I didn’t want to get into that. This is a man who can look after the kids and cook and clear up but the emotional and physical demands in the end are too great. Too much stamina is required — there’s no hiding place until he’s suddenly losing himself in his feelings for Rita’s best friend, Sarah. But is it all too soon?
“I think we have an instinct for decorum when it comes to how soon new relationships should blossom after certain events. Timing is everything and to go against that feels wrong and draws criticism.
“Consequently, Dave and Sarah feel all those things and can’t be sure that what they’re both feeling isn’t just an over-riding need to escape from their current situations, rather than a pure, laudable, love that’s simply out of synch with events.
“They both love Rita but they are also responding to each other out of a reflex that’s sparked by need and a sudden opportunity to acknowledge and advance the attraction they feel towards each other.
“Single Father is a love story — or rather a collection of love stories — between Dave and Rita, Dave and Sarah and Dave and his kids — plus others!
“Through a gradual process anything extraneous to family life has been stripped from the Single Father story, so we end up with a pure relationship drama. There’s no thriller elements, no bad people doing others down — it’s just life happening and, to me, when that works, I love it.
“Statistics tell us single parents now look after 23 per cent of all children against 8 per cent back in the early Seventies when I started having children. But other things have changed, too. There are now more families formed by two people who already have children, coming together and having their own kids — which leads to a complex family set-up where the extended family can have branches springing off all over the place.
“I have five children and my eldest daughter was born while I was still at college. So, in other words, I’ve effectively been a parent all my adult life and it was a case of searching for a story that would allow me to tell this story.
“I was also interested in single parenting — I think it’s an incredibly difficult way of life which presents all manner of dilemmas. Today, nearly a quarter of all children live in single parent families so writing about that appealed to me.
“From my own experience, when I separated, and subsequently became divorced, from my two daughters’ mum back in the Eighties, I had joint custody and they lived with me half the time. This is not single parenting, because half the time they weren’t with me and there were still two of us making decisions. But it gave me a taste of what it’s like, of how hard it is and the dangers and pitfalls that appear if the adult begins to concentrate too much on their own needs.
“On the other hand, should a single parent sacrifice their own happiness to concentrate solely on the children? Because children, however much we love them, can be infuriating and insatiable for a parent’s time and energy!
“I was delighted Single Father was filmed in Glasgow because seven years ago we took our three boys, aged three, seven and nine, to live on the Kintyre Peninsular for 15 months. It was in the middle of nowhere and Glasgow was where we came to get an occasional dose of city life — so I have a fondness for the place.
“Let me tell you something — most writers, when they see their work being filmed, have a crisis because it’s not what they imagined. But straight away — and it is a rare experience, for me anyway — Single Father is exactly what I imagined, and more.
“Red Production Company and BBC Scotland have done a fantastic job in every department — from the production to the casting, the design to the direction and the editing — everything has served the process of capturing fantastic performances from all the actors.
“I’m certain viewers will get caught up in this story. They’ll become attached to the family, to Dave and Sarah and the children. They’ll want to know what’s going to happen to them all. For me, Single Father captures the kind of family life I know and recognise.”
So what do you think? Are you prepared to see Tennant in a role besides that of the Tenth Doctor? I was personally disappointed to see NBC pass over his comedy Rex Is Not Your Lawyer, but this seems like a solid dramatic role. Everyone’s going to be watching to see if Tennant can have a solid career after being on the phenomenon that was Doctor Who. I think he can. I’ll be watching.