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Tennant at PaleyFest discussing costume

David Tennant explains his iconic sandshoes

The tenth Doctor, played by actor David Tennant, charmed his way into the hearts of whovians back in 2005. His iconic suit and ‘sandshoe’ combination graces the corridors of conventions around the world by cosplayers of all ages. The popularity of this costume may be apparent. However, it may surprise fans to know that Tennant had to really insist to get his vision onto our screens. 

Actor David Tennant visited PaleyFest in New York this week. On Tuesday the actor gave some insight into his iconic Doctor Who look. He revealed the inspiration of adding converse to a suit and how it almost never happened.

David Tennant at PaleyFest

Photo Credit: PaleyCenter @ Facebook

The Struggle

Many fans may be aware that the dirty old shoes Tennant wore as the Doctor were straight out of his own wardrobe. They may also know these shoes got so battered during filming that they had to be replaced. However, they may not know just how insistent the actor was on bringing this element to the role. “I had these really old, battered, cream-colored Converse shoes that I brought in and I said, ‘I want to wear these.’ And people didn’t like that idea,” he explained.

He was originally offered some “wonderful boots” to wear for the role but the actor stuck to his guns. He simply refused to back down. Though the actor assures fans that the boots were fine but they didn’t fit his vision of the Doctor. “They’re beautiful. They’re beautiful boots”, he expressed. The Doctor Who design department didn’t agree with his choice of footwear and really pushed the boots. However, his final say was clear,” I want to wear these crappy old trainers”.

Tennant recalled being ganged up on as he was told the shoes he chose just wouldn’t work. He was told they would be too hot or too cold for certain scenes and conditions. They reminded him that he would be running up and down corridors for this role. A pair of boots seemed a more practical choice for such an active role. However, the actor absolutely refused. “That was the only thing I absolutely insisted on, battered old shoes, because that always just felt like that was the right thing to do […] I’m glad I did”, Tennant told fans.

This was the first thing Tennant ever asked for his character after agreeing to take the part. Eventually the rest of the Doctor’s look evolved from the suit and “crappy old trainers” combination.

The Inspiration

The actor had some inspiration for this combination, which he described as ‘I’m sort of an official, but I’m really not”.

“I remember seeing Jamie Oliver on a chat show wearing — not the same kind of suit [as the Doctor]. He wore a suit with his trainers, and I thought, there’s something about that kind of says the right thing.” – David Tennant

So there you have it, Jamie Oliver’s chat show look paired with Tennant’s love of the classic era is what inspired the Tenth Doctor look we see on screen.

Fans can watch David Tennant in Camping, which premieres this Sunday on HBO in the US.