Sunday, 24 November 2013

Doctor Who's Early Years Revisited In An Adventure In Space and Time

Its probably not escaped your attention but Doctor Whocelebrated its 50th anniversary this week, 50 years since two school teachers concerned about a teenage pupil followed her into a London junkyard and into space-time machine that resembled a Blue Police Box owned by a crotchety white haired old man who as it turned out over the years was so much more…

The events surrounding that 1963 episode and its star William Hartnell were revisited in a touching drama written by mark Gatiss entitled an Adventure in space and Time on BBC2 last Thursday evening.

As viewers we followed from start to finish how Sidney Newman (a wonderful eccentric performance by Brian Cox) and Verity Lambert (Jessica Raine) overcame stiff opposition at the BBC to bring this new science fiction series to life.

Newman himself was an eccentric but radical character, larger than life and colourful, not unlike The Doctor he was about to create. His appointed producer, Verity Lambert was full of “piss and vinegar” and a woman, unheard of in such a role at a then male dominated hierarchy in 1963. Assisted by young director Waris Hussein (Sacha Dhawan) the pair chase character actor William Hartnell (David Bradley) for the lead role of The Doctor. However, Hartnell is far from happy with the path his career is taking and having only recently departed a long standing role in a comedy series has doubts about the role of The Doctor.

The story unfolds with a very moving performance from David Bradley who gives more depth to Hartnell’s character beyond his surviving appearances as the Doctor.

When Hartnell takes on the role, it becomes clear he struggles with the series concept but quickly falls in love with it and warms to the fact that he becomes a hero for millions of young fans. However he develops an illness which prevents him from memorising his lines correctly and from here on in the story confronts his loneliness as Doctor Who rings in the changes with new cast and production team.

Jessica Raine and Sacha Dhawan are equally wonderful as Verity Lambert and Waris Hussein, overcoming stiff opposition for different reasons to make a mark in the world of television.

There are some stunning recreations of early Doctor who moments created by a cast that looks and sounds like the originals, the recording of the first episode, The Daleks early appearances and the build up to the first regeneration scene, spelling the end of Hartnell’s reign as The Doctor but the rebirth of the series that ultimately lead to its constant reinvention, itself a moving moment as well as featuring an awesome big reveal.

Check out The Doctor Who Website for exclusive clips and further information on An Adventure In Space and Time

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