David Tennant says UK theatres are 'teetering' close to collapse over coronavirus crisis

Actor has called on government to intervene to save industry

Isobel Lewis
Tuesday 09 June 2020 10:34 BST
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David Tennant has warned that the UK government will need to intervene if British theatre is to survive the coronavirus crisis.

Speaking to the Radio Times, the former Doctor Who actor said that concerns for audience safety may be one of the biggest stumbling blocks preventing theatres from returning.

“You’re asking people to pay a lot of money to potentially have someone coughing into their packet of boiled sweets and infecting them,” he said.

“I don’t know what the answer is yet. It’s urgent, because the performing arts in this country don’t exist with huge profit margins.”

Adding that some theatres were “teetering” close to closure, he continued: “We’ll need Government intervention until theatres can safely reopen, and audiences are happy to go back.”

Last week, director Sam Mendes wrote an impassioned argument for investing in the cultural sector rather than relying on charity to save it from total collapse.

“The performing arts need to be saved now,” he wrote. “Not next week, or next month. If they die, an ecosystem this intricate and evolved cannot be rebuilt from scratch. If it stops breathing, it cannot be resuscitated. It is the product of decades of capital projects, loyal audiences, and of communities large and small.”

He continued: “It would be deeply ironic if the streaming services – Netflix, Amazon Prime et al – should be making lockdown millions from our finest acting, producing, writing and directing talent, while the very arts culture that nurtured that talent pool is allowed to die.”

On Monday (8 June), culture secretary Oliver Dowden said that he was in “intricate discussions” to save the industry, saying: “I am not going to stand by and see our world-leading position in arts and culture destroyed.”

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