Former Doctor Who and Jessica Jones actor David Tennant actor recently had some strong comments about the character he plays in the upcoming adaptation of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, Phileas Fogg
As noted by the Daily Mail, Tennant spoke with Radio Times where he criticized the character of Phileas Fogg, the main protagonist in Verne’s novel, saying, “‘In many ways Phileas Fogg represents everything that’s alarming and peculiar about that old sense of British Empire.”
The actor also spoke about the series at large claiming, “Potentially, it’s a story about an England that should elicit very little sympathy.”
He would go on to elaborate about his version of Phileas Fogg compared to Verne’s original version noting that Verne “chose to make Phileas Fogg a particularly stuffy Englishman. We’re showing a different type of stuffy Englishman. He’s very damaged, everything is a trauma for him.”
The actor previously described the show in much more flattering words back in November.
When asked what he hopes the audience reaction would be, he told Radio Times, “I hope a bit of joy. I think it’s very apt that it’s set for a Christmas transmission. It’s that kind of a show, it’s got that kind of scale and that kind of ambition and that kind of warmth.”
He went on to further describe the series saying, “It’s a romp, but it’s got real heart to it, as well. It feels like a genuine – this phrase is overused – but it feels like a genuine piece of family entertainment, something that you can all, you know, grab a mince pie and enjoy together.”
“It has that sense of something that everyone can come together, and it works. It’ll work for your five-year-old, it’ll work for your 85-year-old. I think it’s got a genuine kind of cross-generational appeal to it and that’s something very special I’ve been involved in, in that kind of a story,” Tennant added.
Tennant’s comments about Phileas Fogg and Around the World in 80 Days weren’t the only controversial statements he made to Radio Times.
The Guardian reports Tennant also took issue with recent comments made by former media minister John Whittingdale.
Back in September, Whittingdale spoke at the Royal Television Society conference, where he detailed the government plans to produce content that is “distinctively British.”
He specifically stated, “Public service broadcasters have a unique role and I want them to continue producing shows that allow people in every corner of the UK to see their lives reflected on screen, and that showcase the things we are most proud of to the rest of the world. To make programmes that are iconic, not generic.”
“So in our upcoming White Paper, I intend to include proposals that will expand the remit of public service broadcasters, so that it includes a requirement for them to produce ‘distinctively British’ content,” Whittingdale outlined.
“If it’s set in Britain and made in Britain by our public service broadcasters, then it should be distinctively British,” he added.
Whittingdale further added, “I want to ensure British broadcasters get the exposure they deserve – no matter how their content is consumed. Public service broadcasters have been part of our national life for almost a century, and are uniquely placed to reflect our values. It’s incredibly important that they keep their place at the heart of television.”
“That’s why we plan to legislate as soon as possible, and make it a legal requirement that major online platforms must carry PSB content, and that they must ensure it’s easy to find,” he said.
Tennant comments on Whittingdale’s speech saying, “Is there some inherent criticism within this plea for more Britishness? Did Britishness mean ‘made in Britain’ or programmes that have a certain political viewpoint?”
He then questioned, “Why would the government feel they need more sympathy directed towards them? Perhaps that’s a question they should ask themselves, rather than trying to blame it on the television industry.”
Around the World in 80 Days is an 8 episode series that premieres in the United Kingdom on December 26th. It will arrive in the United States on January 2nd on PBS.
What do you make of Tennant’s comments about Phileas Fogg and his reaction to the British government wanting to make more distinctively British programming?