On missed opportunities…and David Tennant

I’m going to take a deep breath and quickly type the following: I’maDoctorWhofact. Still with me? Hope so! I will type the following less quickly: this.post.is.not.about.Doctor.Who.

Except that it is…sort of…sorry.

Before we talk about adventures in Space and Time, let’s talk about missed opportunities. We all have them, buried out the back, never to be contemplated for too long. They are sometimes life-changing I-should-have-spoken-to-that-guy/taken-that-job/gotten-on-that-plane missed opportunities or more of a doesn’t-seem-like-the-biggest-deal-at-the-time-but-I-still-can’t-get-over-it missed opportunity.

The latter happened to me in 2007, the year I was living in London in my British life v.1.

Back then, Tennant was the Cumberbatch-flavour of the day and it was announced that he would be staring in an adaptation of Hamlet at the Novello Theatre.
Mmmm Hamlet-y

Cue sharp intake of breath.


My love for Doctor Who was a slow-burning flame that flickered to life when I began working as an editor in London all those years ago. It was a job whose remit included editing Doctor Who books for children. In order to become acquainted with this new-to-me-then, recently rebooted British institution, I hired DVDs (!) and caught up on what I had missed. At the end of the first (new) season, <SPOILER ALERT> as I watched Christopher Eccleston’s ninth Doctor regenerate into David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor, the flickering flame became a bonfire surrounded by fireworks. With this new, all-consuming obsession (a personal trait I documented in last week’s post), I’m sure you can appreciate the cloak of anxiety I wore as the days leading to the release of Hamlet tickets counted down. And this anxiety wasn’t just for myself. Thoughtful, sharing, kind person that I was, I had loudly declared to the rest of my team that I would secure tickets for them, too so we could all bask in David’s Tennant-ness.

Cut to ticket release day and me:

Constantly refreshing the ticketing web page!

I had the clammiest hands!

With an erratically beating heart!

And a sweaty top lip!

Along with a grossly churning stomach!

With sort, gaspy breaths…

Until!

Absolutely.

Nothing.


I couldn’t secure tickets for either a group or myself (desperate times called for desperate measures). Panic set in and a plan B was swiftly put into action. The Novello Theatre was a convenient five-minute walk from the office so a friend and I power-walked all the way there, chirping at the brilliance of this new plan and how confident we were we’d find success.

Until!

We came to an abrupt stop outside the theatre. 4,587 people had the same idea as we did and they were lined up around the block and then some.

After a time, we came to accept our defeat. We returned to work.

Before I leave 2007 and cut to present day, I just want to add an epilogue to this sad missed opportunity that took me waaayyy too long to get over (like, until 2015 when I finally, FINALLY watched Tennant as Hamlet thanks to tracking down a DVD [!] of the production at my local library). Sometime into the run, Tennant had to pull out owing to a sore back. Apart from how unfortunate this was for the tenth Doctor, I happily accepted this silver lining and moved on with my life as best I could.

And then I returned to the UK for my British life v.2. Could it be a time to rewrite history? To dig up those missed opportunities buried out back and put them in the no-longer missed opportunity column? Or would I hesitate and crumble and repeat the mistakes of my past? And was I just thinking about the theatre or were there other things I regretted not accomplishing during my v.1 life that I wanted to remedy? Were they buried too far down for me to acknowledge? Only time in v.2 would tell.

A few months after my 2016 arrival, it was announced that the not-so-much-tenth-Doctor-as-bearded-detective-from-Broadchurch David Tennant would be staring in Don Juan in Soho and OMG THIS WAS MY MOMENT TO MAKE MY TWENTY-SIX-YEAR-OLD-SELF HAPPY!

Mmm Don Juan-y
With a familiar churning of my stomach and clammy hands, I logged on to Ticketmaster and with the ability to breathe completely abandoning me, I waited as the website decided whether or not to deliver good or bad news. (Also, I had chosen a date early in the run, just to be sure. A bad back wasn’t going to ruin things for me this time.) And so I waited.

Until!

RESULT!!!!

I HAD MY TICKET! Finally, after a decade, I would get to see David Tennant on stage, as it had always been intended.

Let’s cut, for the last time, to last week when I took my stead, dead centre, six rows from the front, and waited for the show to begin. And then the curtains parted, and other actors were on stage, being funny, doing their job until…

There he was. The man, the Doctor, the Tennant.

He was cheeky, he was suave, he was damaged, he was brilliant. It was a role he was born to play and oh how happy I was to see it.

My kind of theatre
Afterwards, as I caught the bus home, warmed with a re-ignited bonfire in my soul, I happily rewrote history. No longer was Hamlet the dire missed opportunity of my past. Instead, it was a precursor to what was to come. And as other, no longer buried, missed opportunities began to surface, I promised myself that I would continue to rewrite my history in this, my v.2 life.

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