David appeared in the highly acclaimed drama Recovery which aired on BBC One on February 25, 2007. He was once again teamed with his Blackpool co-star Sarah Parish and it was while doing research for the part of Alan Hamilton that he started his association as patron of the Headway charity.
Here are some of the reviews and press about the show:
This is an excerpt from the Nottingham Evening Post - February 27, 2012 - Lisa McCarthy
"Headway, the brain injury association, whose headquarters is based in King Edward Street, has seen a record 200% rise
in calls - from 20 a day to between 80 and 100 - following the dramatisation of
on BBC 1 on Sunday night.
Peter McCabe, chief executive of Headway, described the reaction as 'phenomenal'.
"I have never seen a day like it," he said.
"The response has been phenomenal," he said.
"We have had a 200% rise in calls, which is huge, especially for a Monday.
"It is wonderful that such a hidden condition has been given a primetime audience for the first time. Hopefully this
level of exposure can take us to a completely different level," he added.
"As a consequence of the programme there are millions of people who now have a better understanding of traumatic brain
injury," he said."
The Express - February 26, 2012 - excerpt from TV Express - Charlotte Civil/Matt Baylis:
". . . this was clearly a piece developed
in close consultation with a lot of experts on a lot of issues. In addition to the diligent research, it was faultlessly written
and acted, to the point where even the most hardened viewer would have been moved by the events unfolding before them. The
clever editing made a good job of showing us the jagged, jarring, incomplete way that Alan saw the world after recovering
from his coma, contrasting sharply with flashbacks to a happier time. No single piece of TV drama could have done a better
job of depicting the frightening character changes that can follow a brain injury, or the lasting harm done to a victim's
family." (This article did go on to say that they thought the drama was too real and that it forgot that people want to be entertained!)
Sam Wollaston from The Guardian - February 26, 2007:
Tennant is playing Alan, . . . He's
extremely good at it, totally convincing as the husk of his former self. And Sarah Parish is also brilliant as his broken
It wasn't over-sentimental, just believable. And much more powerful for that. Anyone who says they didn't have a lump
in their throats is either an unfeeling brute or a liar."
David Belcher - The Herald - Feburary 26, 2007:
"First things first: if you watched
, I'm sure you'll be feeling inspired to make a donation to Headway. . . the play was one of TV's saddest, most harrowing dramas
ever - and one that should, if there's any justice, produce bucketloads of awards for its two stars David
Tennant and Sarah Parish. (ED: IT DIDN'T and MANY people thought David should have gotten a BAFTA for his performance.) Jolly entertainment,
wasn't; heart-breakingly educative, it was.
With deft thespian rigour,
T and Sarah P portrayed your average happily-married couple . . ."
"The best dramas then deliver that hope - after all, too much bleakness is too much to bear - but it's always a slim
hope, a reminder that often in life there is no fairytale happy ever after.
Recovery was such a piece of television. . . It was so intense, I think I need a lie-down to recover - but, my word, it was worth it." - Leicester Mercury - February 26, 2007
Sarah Parish and
Tennant are both really good actors, and
gives them both the opportunity to shine in ways that they haven't been able to before. . . . His inability to look after his kids, make toast, shower himself or get dressed, is the least of it. Rather, and this
is what Parish and
represent so well, it is his fury at his new incapacity, coupled with his terrible vulnerability and his complete lack
of social graces that makes this such a moving piece of drama." - The Observer - February 25, 2007 - Rebecca Seal
According to the Glasgow Sunday Mail - February 25, 2007: "the Scots actor based his character on the true story of ex-Sunday Mail reporter Brian Cullinan, who was moved to
's portrayal of his struggle"
is superb as always . . ." - Birmingham Sunday Mercury - February 25, 2007 - Roz Laws
shows he can do misery and volcanic rage as well as he does dapper charm." - Sunday Times - February 25, 2007 - John Dugdale
is brilliant in the role, especially in the scenes in which he
explodes into impotent, anguished fury. Initial reservations
that he looks too boyish to convince as a father of two growing boys are vanquished as his powerful performance unfolds." - The Scotsman - February 24, 2007 - Paul Whitelaw
David's thoughts as quoted in The Sun - February 24, 2007 - Kate Noble:
"Our brain is our personality, If that gets knocked sideways, you become fundamentally different."
"You can't imagine what it must be like to be married to someone who becomes a different human being,"
"To research the role, I visited a self-help group of people, who talked about their own experience of brain injury.
I also met a family who were very open about what it is like to live with this condition." (In another interview Sarah P also talked about her and David having dinner with this family and also screening the programme for them, which they said portrayed their situation realistically.)
"Headway had felt misrepresented by other dramatic representations of
this. They were keen to make sure that we had got it
right, and to make sure that there was no happy ending. There are no
absolutes about these injuries. Every situation is different.
At the one end of the spectrum you can end up like Hammond, but at the
other you have got people whose lives are never the
"Initially, after a brain injury, there's this period of blessed oblivion.
I've been told over and over by the experts not to call it a coma. But it's such a good word. Anyway, you come out of this
sleep and then there's this process of realisation," he says. "Alan believes he's fine to start with. But his brain has lost
the ability to know these things are wrong with him. Alan has no sense of how he has changed to the outside world.
It's weird, all that brain and identity stuff. It's like when you start thinking about physics too hard, and after a
certain point you start feeling really vertiginous." "Appropriateness is often an issue sexually, and telling people what you think,"
"Most patients' relationships split up after the injury. Many are abandoned by their families."
"It gets very existential very quickly," he says. "Is Alan the same person Tricia
married? He looks the same but can't act the same.
Emotionally, he's not capable of being a husband the way he was. It makes me think about who we are and what happens
when we change. What is it about the chemical reactions in our heads that give us a personality? What would it take to change
them? How many criteria do you need to change to cease to be the person that you were?"
"Life can get better and easier for them, yeah.
Things can be achieved that might be felt to be important. But the fact
is that life is different and must be coped with differently.
There were a lot of unhappy stories among the men I met -and it was
mostly men who get this,"
- taken from an interview in The Times - February 24, 2007 - John Naish