David Tennant has achieved a regeneration to make his Dr Who alter ego proud. Within three hours of going on sale last week, all 6000 tickets to see the actor play Hamlet in London's West End sold out in a stampede that crashed websites and jammed hotlines.
The clamour to see Tennant as the Dane (pictured right) in a rapturously received Royal Shakespeare Company production alongside Patrick Stewart cemented the 37-year-old Scot's status as one of Britain's most popular - and bankable - actors.
By the end of the day, opening night tickets for the December production were being resold for $3235 a pair on the internet.
Hundreds of fans had queued outside the Novello Theatre, with die-hards camping out overnight. The spectacle was evidence that Tennant has succeeded where some predecessors as the Time Lord had failed, escaping the fate of only finding success as Dr Who. Said an RSC spokesman: "David has encouraged a new generation of theatregoers."
Tennant has enjoyed rave reviews for his parka-clad Hamlet. But the furore also served to underline the fact that Tennant, who supposedly decided at the age of 3 that he wanted to play the role of Dr Who, is at a crossroads. Amid speculation that Hollywood is beckoning, negotiations for the 2010 series of Dr Who are also under way.
Tennant is only confirmed to appear in four Dr Who specials next year. The BBC is reportedly prepared to offer him a deal worth $3.5 million for his fifth Dr Who season - or $269,000 an episode.
Helen O'Hara, of Empire magazine, said: "David is facing a dilemma. He could do anything he wants after Dr Who. But any actor who takes that role faces the danger of being typecast. That is why Hamlet will do him good."
Ironically, one potential solution for Tennant's ambition to do more films has been floated in the shape of a Dr Who movie. Steven Moffat, due to replace Russell T. Davies as the sci-fi's head writer, said last month that he would support a feature-length version starring Tennant, "so long as it's great and fantastic".
BBC Film flatly denied it was seeking funding for a movie or that it had struck a deal with Tennant to star in the next series as long as the corporation committed to a big-screen version. All of which will be greeted with insouciance by Tennant, who has said it is "too easy to become defined by your press cuttings" and shrugs off fascination with his private life. He has been linked with co-stars Kylie Minogue (who appeared in the 2007 Christmas special) and Georgia Moffett, who played his TV daughter on a recent episode - and just happens to be the daughter of former Dr Who Peter Davison.
Born David McDonald (he took his professional name from Pet Shop Boys' singer Neil Tennant, after another actor of the same name was already listed with Equity), he was raised in Renfrewshire, Scotland.
After frequent comic roles with the RSC, he appeared in a string of BBC dramas, culminating in the title role in Casanova.
The risk remains that Tennant's Doctor will define his career. It is something he may be comfortable with. He once wrote: "I was a Dr Who junkie. Every Saturday evening at 5.35 I could not be disturbed. I was worshipping at the shrine."