David Tennant in Empire laments his role as Phileas Fogg for BBC show

David Tennant in Empire laments his role as Phileas Fogg for BBC show

  • David Tennant stars in eight-part BBC series Around the World in 80 Days
  • The new series, based on Jules Verne’s classic novel, will air on Boxing Day
  • Tennant performs with his 19-year-old son Ty, whom he adopted in 2012
  • The actor has criticized Phileas Fogg for representing ‘alarming’ traditions


He will play the intrepid adventurer in an upcoming Christmas adaptation of Around the World In 80 Days.

But David Tennant has criticized Phileas Fogg for representing the ‘alarming’ traditions of the British Empire.

The first episode of the eight-part BBC series, based on Jules Verne’s classic novel, will air on Boxing Day.

But of the reckless traveller, Tennant, 50, said: “In many ways Phileas Fogg represents everything alarming and peculiar about that old feel of the British Empire.”

The actor told the Christmas issue of Radio Times: ‘Potentially it is a story about an England that should elicit very little sympathy.’

David Tennant (center) stars in Around the World in 80 Days alongside Ibrahim Koma (right) and Leonie Benesch (right)

The first episode of the eight-part BBC series based on Jules Verne's classic novel will air on Boxing Day

The first episode of the eight-part BBC series based on Jules Verne’s classic novel will air on Boxing Day

The drama follows Fogg and his servant, Passepartout, played by French actor Ibrahim Koma.

German actress Leonie Benesch also stars as aspiring journalist Abigail “Fix” Fortescue.

Tennant will also perform alongside his 19-year-old son Ty, whom he adopted in 2012.

He said, “He plays a 19th century New York mobster and knows how to make everything cool.

“I don’t agree with that, because at 19 I was so far from cool.”

In September, the then Secretary of State for Media, John Whittingdale, announced new rules that would legally require public service broadcasters (PSBs) to broadcast programs that reflect British and British values.

He cited such series as Downton Abbey, Great British Bake Off, Top Gear, The Bodyguard and Doctor Who, in which Tennant played the titular Time Lord between 2005 and 2010.

Tennant (pictured) performs with his 19-year-old son Ty, whom he adopted in 2012

Tennant (pictured) performs with his 19-year-old son Ty, whom he adopted in 2012

Tennant plays Phileas Fogg, French actor Ibrahim Koma plays his servant, Passepartout, and German actress Leonie Benesch plays aspiring journalist Abigail ¿Fix¿ Fortescue

Tennant plays Phileas Fogg, French actor Ibrahim Koma plays his servant, Passepartout, and German actress Leonie Benesch plays aspiring journalist Abigail ‘Fix’ Fortescue

On the subject, Tennant said, ‘Is there any inherent criticism of this plea for more Britishness? Did Britishness mean ‘made in Britain’ or programs with a particular political point of view?

‘Is it just a government begging the artist to sympathize with it? Why would the government feel it needs more sympathy for them?

“Maybe that’s a question they should ask themselves, instead of trying to blame the television industry.”

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