Nevertheless, this 34-year-old actor can lay claim to a dazzling roster of work in the past year, and his good fortune is about to multiply, with enough juicy roles to leave fellow-thespians drooling.
There's been an award-winning theatrical performance (as Jimmy Porter in John Osborne's Look Back in Anger), a show-stealing part as Sarah Parish's detective lover in the BBC's drama series Blackpool, and the title role in its Casanova.
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No more mornings sitting undisturbed outside Mayfair cafés.
"I never ticked the box saying, 'Want people to come up to me'.
For someone "pure and clean", he certainly likes art and literature that examines the bleaker side of life.
Occasionally, his characters' bad habits have crept into his life. "I didn't become any more furious than normal, but I did become deeply politically incorrect.
His mother looked after him and his older sister and brother as they grew up in Paisley amid the usual bustle of a minister's house.
"There were always people dropping by, but it was what I'd grown up with so I never thought, how odd, why isn't my father going to an office?But anyway, I'm used to doing English accents." Does he object to having his Scots brogue stripped from him, as some reports have suggested? I don't feel any great nationalistic need to be Scottish. "But I don't understand why there's this thing that actors from a certain place have to speak with the accent of where they come from otherwise they're somehow being un-Scottish.That feels very 'small nation' to me, and I think Scotland's a much bigger nation than that." Roused from his early-morning languor to a state of almost crossness, you can suddenly see why directors respond so well to this actor. Testament to this charm is the way that he won the plum role of Doctor Who after impressing its writer, Russell T Davies, when he worked with him on Casanova.That's what Jimmy does, he pushes the boundary and then goes beyond it.I was being rude at really inappropriate moments." Rudeness doesn't come naturally to Tennant. His father became the Moderator of the Church of Scotland - "that's our equivalent of the Archbishop of Canterbury".With uncanny prescience, he told them that one day he wanted to play his hero - Doctor Who.