‘Doctor Who’ at a discount — David Tennant’s bargain replacement

Feb. 11, 2009 | 8:55 p.m.

Matt_smith_bbc_photoDavid Tennant became a household name in England — and a rich man– as the star of "Doctor Who," but his replacement has some work to do before he can say the same. The Telegraph reports that Matt Smith will be paid £200,000 per year (that about $287,000 U.S.) during a three-year contract, which is "a fraction of the sum" paid to Tennant. BBC officials would not discuss the 26-year-old actor’s contract specifically, but the broadcasting agency did tell the Telegraph that, "All new deals are done with the economic climate in mind." Maybe the youngest "Who" star ever would have gotten a better deal if he hadn’t confessed that he’s never been a fan of the show.

– Geoff Boucher     READ ALL ‘DOCTOR WHO’ COVERAGE AT HERO COMPLEX        Photo: BBC

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11 Responses to ‘Doctor Who’ at a discount — David Tennant’s bargain replacement

  1. Joe B. says:

    Geoff, I did the math at my blog.
    It's truly sad what Intern Who is making.
    But then again, he is an intern.
    I know: I kid, I joke, I hope he cuts his hair.
    I really hope he cuts his hair.

  2. I'm more than willing to give the new guy a chance and trust in Moffat's decision to go with a younger actor. If anything, it will likely be a topic of discussion at the Gallifrey One convention in Los Angeles this weekend….

  3. Laine says:

    I think the made a mistake in casting Smith, but now I see why. They didn't want to pay very much.

  4. Gavrielle LaPoste says:

    The bizarre thing is that the BBC attempted to CUT Mr. Tennant's pay, rather than negotiate a salary commensurate with how well Doctor Who, their flagship series, is doing world wide. I'm not surprised he turned in his sonic screwdriver. As for Mr. Smith, you get what you pay for. Let us hope that with superb direction and well-written scripts he can rise to the occasion. His pay check certainly won't!

  5. katie says:

    matt smith has got a funny shaped head and david tennant is way more sexy

  6. Craig Ranapia says:

    Oh, and something else — I'd note American networks are cutting orders for new shows, spraying around pink slips like confetti, and NBC appears to have pretty much given up on new drama programming by giving Jay Leno five hours a week of prime time real estate. (A risky move, but much cheaper than new dramas.) Would it actually have made anyone happy if the BBC had put 'Doctor Who' — which is, relatively speaking, a very expensive show for the BBC no matter how successful — back on permanent hiatus for another sixteen years?

  7. Craig Ranapia says:

    And, finally, before we throw a pity party for poor grossly underpaid and exploited David Tennant and Matt Smith, how about a thought for the estimated two thousand people the BBC are reportedly laying off in the current round of budget cuts — following the 3,750 who lost their jobs in 2005?
    One thing I shouldn't assume US readers are aware of is that most of the BBC's funding comes from a licence fee — which is, basically, a tax on every household with a television set. The idea is that this allows the state-owned television and radio networks to provide advertising-free programming and services that wouldn't otherwise be viable in a full commercial environment, and independent of political or commercial interference. The BBC's commercial operations are supposed to keep the licence fee low, but without going into too much detail, a couple of years ago the BBC Trust argued that they wouldn't be able to maintain this, and without a pretty hefty increase in the licence fee they would be left with a TWO BILLION POUND funding shortfall across the organisation. Not surprisingly, the Government said no and that the Beeb would just have to live within its means like everyone else.

  8. Craig Ranapia says:

    Sorry for getting in the middle of the snark fest, but I think there’s a certain amount of naivete here:
    1) First, I’d take anything you read in the British media about ‘Doctor Who’ with a grain of salt, and a whole bottle of tequila. Especially when the primary source for the story is the notoriously unreliable — but vastly entertaining — tabloid ‘Sun’. Tennant himself has said, repeatedly, that speculation about his salary is firmly in the “wouldn’t it be nice if it was true?” file, and 99.999% of the rest goes on the fiction shelves (that he was forced to go back to work the day after his mother’s funeral, that he hated Catherine Tate so much they were barely on speaking terms between takes, and that he forced this year’s reduced season by threatening to walk if he wasn’t released to do ‘Hamlet’ — which is not only totally unprofessional but entirely the wrong way around, and so on…)
    I also know people who’ve worked on ‘Doctor Who’, and they’ve all said nobody would believe how fair the production trio of Russell T. Davies/Julie Gardner/Phil Collinson have stretched extremely tight budgets to create the quality of work we’ve seen over the last four series. I don’t think I’ve ever read anyone who had produced drama for the BBC complain about being lavishly over-funded. :)
    2) The overwhelming majority of British actors would pimp their mothers for three to five yearsof steady work in an extremely high profile drama, and two hundred thousand pounds a year is nothing to sneeze at either.
    3) And American readers do remember that the BBC, unlike American networks, is effectively owned by (and draws a significant proportion of its funding from) the British government? Pretty hard to make an argument for funding for million pound salaries from a Government facing the worse economic crisis since the Great Depression.
    So nobody should be surprised that there’s a great deal of sensitivity toward any accusations that money is being put into sustaining any kind of star-system, rather than producing high quality shows. It’s worth noting that some of the high-paid stars cited in the linked story have been in projects that have, to put it politely, seriously under-performed or landed the BBC in endless PR disasters. I don’t think the likes of Jonathan Ross are going to be getting a sympathetic hearing if they argue for a pay rise when it comes time to re-up their contracts. And I’ve got very little sympathy for them.
    4) And what a shame that this is being used as just another occasion to snidely dump on Matt Smith; how soon we forget that David Tennant (or any of the other Doctors, with the arguable exception of Peter Davidson) wasn’t exactly a household name when given the key to the TARDIS.

  9. Brittney says:

    I believe truely that they have made a big mistake. NO ONE can come close to what David has turned this character into. I rather see the show stop than have the new guy in it.

  10. qew says:

    are u ppl sick have u seen what matt has done he deserves double what david got…

  11. KANNI BASSATIVA says:

    Two words to the BBC: EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!

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