Sunday Theatre: Secret Smile

Sunday 23 March, 8.30pm

After playing infamous seducer Casanova and before once again donning the mantle of Doctor Who, David Tennant appears as the boyfriend from hell in Secret Smile.

While celebrating a friend’s birthday, Miranda (Kate Ashfield) is attracted to Brendan Block (Tennant), a funny and charming new man in their crowd. They have a brief fling, which ends abruptly when she discovers him in her flat reading her diary.
Three weeks later, her younger sister Kerry (Claire Goose) excitedly reveals she has a new boyfriend – a certain Brendan Block. Then people around Miranda start disappearing. She realises the only way to beat her manipulative ex-lover is to turn the tables on him. Soon, she finds herself in a terrifying war of nerves with a master of the game.

David Tennant admits that he felt guilty about his character’s treatment of Miranda. “Being particularly hard on Kate is a bit weird because she’s such an eminently likeable, very gentle and open person,” he says. “You do feel a bit of a heel being mentally and physically cruel.”

But although Brendan may be terrifying, Tennant says, “In Brendan’s mind everything makes sense and is justifiable. I don’t think he thinks he’s appalling at all.”

Kate Ashfield, who worked with Tennant on a short film and a radio play before Secret Smile, says his chilling performance helped her with her role. “Brendan’s a very unlikeable character and David was brilliant at playing him. He’d come in, do his scenes, be really horrible, and go away again. It helped that I didn’t see David much outside of our scenes though as he’s actually really a nice guy.”

Brendan’s creepiness aside, Ashfield enjoyed playing Miranda. “It’s rare to get such a good part. I don’t think there are many roles where you have got so much to do. It was hard work, but there was something nice about that. Sometimes, the hardest part is the waiting, or being called in early and not being used. I hope the audience will be on Miranda’s side, while staggered by the injustice of it all. Her ordeal could happen to anyone.”

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