David Tennant - Career of high drama

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HE is among the most sought-after actors of the moment, the time-travelling lord of the Tardis who makes grown women swoon and little boys reach for their sonic screwdriver.

Getting close to Bathgate-born David Tennant would be a dream come true for his star-struck fans.

Yet for top-flight theatre designer Katrina Lindsay, measuring up the Time Lord for his next Shakespeare role is just part of another day at the office. And if that's not enough to drive his fans wild with envy, she even gets to tinker with his tights and mull over his inside leg measurement.

"Oh, he's quite the old pro with all that," she chuckles, revealing that the charismatic Dr Who star is as laid-back off-screen when it comes to tricky costume fittings as he is on screen taking on Dalek Sec and crushing the Cybermen. "He's really very down to earth, no diva behaviour – none at all."

Katrina is having to yell over the racket of hammering and thumping in the background, as builders go about creating the epic set for the next Royal Shakespeare Company production, Love's Labour's Lost, starring the Dr Who leading man. She's somewhere in London – a long way from Colinton vil-

Measuring the Time Lord just part of the job

lage, where she was raised – phone glued to her ear while she watches over the noisy process of construction and settles down to perfect her designs for those all-important costumes.

So, on behalf of female fans the nation over, it was only fair to ask whether this time around, she just might be willing to dress the heart-throb actor in something a little, ahem, less 'restrictive' than the Elizabethan ruffs and doublet traditionally found in a Shakespeare play ...

"A thong!" she gasps, "you want him in a thong! Well, I really don't think so. It's Shakespeare! Nice try, but honestly, that wouldn't quite be right.

"No, he'll be dressed fairly traditionally. I'm sorry!"

Never mind. At the moment, Tennant could roll up for his next Shakespeare part – he plays Berowne, one of the King of Navarre's lords in the quirky comic drama – in a black plastic bag with a tin bucket over his head, and his legions of devoted fans would still think the universe revolves around him. To prove it, he's just been declared best actor at a glittering television awards ceremony staged by two entertainment magazines – Dr Who picked up the best-loved drama – and has wowed typically stuffy critics with his RSC stage performance of Hamlet.

He's even setting the internet alight with excited chatroom talk of him signing up to star in a cinema version of the BBC sci-fi favourite.

So surely no-one can be that perfect? And isn't there the remotest chance he might throw the occasional luvvie strop?

Former George Watson's girl Katrina insists Tennant is one of luvvieland's good guys. "He's done a lot at the Royal Shakespeare Company, so he knows what he's doing," she stresses. "Besides, we're all too busy getting on with what we have to do for anyone to throw a tantrum."

Certainly Katrina, 40, seems immersed in the job currently at hand – pulling together the lavish costumes for the third play in the RSC summer season at its 1000-seat Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, one of its most successful seasons ever thanks to a certain West Lothian-born actor.

The production begins in just three weeks' time, and there's nothing like a rapidly approaching deadline to focus the talented designer's mind on what needs to be done.

"It's pretty hectic," she agrees. "The design process usually takes around four weeks, then come the rehearsals – so it all becomes pretty intense and there are a lot of long hours. And things always come up that have to be fixed or changed."

The glamour of showbusiness, the behind-the-scenes graft and the magical moment when she picked up a Tony, the theatre world's equivalent of an Oscar – one of three awards for her costume design role in the Broadway production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. It all sounds light years in the Tardis away from her quiet upbringing, first in peaceful North Queensferry and later in the leafy suburb of Colinton village.

Back then, the only drama she knew was occasional school plays at George Watson's and a spell at the Scottish Youth Theatre summer school. Yet those, along with parents Bruce and Elsie's love for the arts, were enough to propel her into a world of greasepaint and curtain calls, albeit strictly behind the scenes.

She headed to art college – St Martin's School of Art and Design in London – where her foundation course gave her a taste of theatre design. And she never looked back. "Things connected for me," she laughs. "It was perfect."

Her parents now live in Pittenweem. Katrina is settled in London with her partner, former The Bill actor Karl Collins – he played Danny Glaze for almost five years in the hit drama – and eight-year-old daughter Umi. Having learned her craft on small-scale productions, she is now one of theatre's most sought-after set and costume designers, working freelance and in the comfortable position of being able to pick and choose what she does next.

And, it seems, Broadway may well beckon.

"It was wonderful to work in New York and pick up three awards," she says, referring to her recent accolades for Les Liaisons Dangereuses. "It was a beautiful period to work around – 18th-century France – I had a good team to work with and it was a job that fell into place at a lot of levels. It made me think about relocating to New York for a while."

But first, there's the not insignificant matter of ensuring the Time Lord sheds his familiar brown single-breast suit and trainers, and emerges in ruffs and doublet for his next role.

"Things always crop up that you don't expect," she sighs, as the hammering in the background gives way to the buzz of a drill. "It gets a bit busy at this stage of things, but you just get on and deal with it. Things can get a bit hairy sometimes, but thank goodness there haven't been any disasters.

"No bodices ripping at the wrong moment or sets going wonky," she laughs. "And I'm not planning on anything like that either!"

Love's Labour's Lost, directed by Gregory Doran with costume design by Katrina Lindsay, is at the Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon from October 2 to November 15 (www.rsc.org.uk)

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