An Adventure in Space and Time

First Broadcast on BBC2 November 21st 2013 @ 9.00pm (2.71m viewers)

In one of the highlights of the 50th Anniversary celebrations the Mark Gatiss penned docudrama provided an affectionate celebration of the people who began it all in 1963. The 90-minute special focused on the three central influences on Doctor Who’s origins; Sydney Newman, Verity Lambert and William Hartnell. All three are brought to life superbly by talented actors, providing touching representations of the real individuals. As with all programme’s of this style factual accuracy may or may not be absolute. However, as a tribute to those who created the show, whose anniversary we were celebrating, it is flawless.

Writer Mark Gatiss had this programme in mind for a number of years, attempting to get it produced ten years earlier. His labour of love eventually delivered a high level of attention to detail. This was extended to recreations of central elements such as the original console rebuilt with stunning accuracy which came across onscreen, particularly in High Definition. Other items also recreated included a Menoptera and an original Mondas Cybermen. These were to the delight of older fans as the original costumes have long since been lost. One of the most famous images from 60’s Doctor Who was also recreated. Daleks on Westminster Bridge has been repeated a few times, for the ’30 Years in the TARDIS’ documentary and to promote the Doctor Who Experience at Olympia, for instance. However, it was the finale which reenacted the departure of William Hartnell that left viewers in tears.

Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)

This drama provides an interpretation of how much leaving Doctor Who hurt William Hartnell. In public, of course, he would’ve been bullish and looking forward to the next project. But behind the scenes he was undoubtedly devastated, the role taken away from him because of ill health. His admission that he doesn’t want to go, mirroring the sentiments of The Doctor’s Tenth incarnation, is utterly heartbreaking. Of course, Hartnell himself couldn’t have possibly predicted the global success that Doctor Who would become, or envisage a youthful Matt Smith, but hopefully he appreciated how much potential the programme had. Similarly, before he passed away I hope he recognised how loved he and the character he created were and would forever be.

Whilst we all looked forward to the highly anticipated 50th Anniversary special ‘The Day of the Doctor’, an affectionate reflection on the show’s troubled beginnings felt very apt. As a piece of drama it was engaging and emotional. As a tribute to original lead actor William Hartnell writer Gatiss absolutely nailed it. Thank you, Mr Hartnell.


William Hartnell – David Bradley
Verity Lambert – Jessica Raine
Sydney Newman – Brian Cox
Waris Hussein – Sacha Dhawan
Heather Hartnell – Lesley Manville
William Russell – Jamie Glover
Jacqueline Hill – Jemma Powell
Carole Ann Ford – Claudia Grant
Mervyn Pinfield – Jeff Rawle
Rex Tucker – Andrew Woodall
Douglas Camfield – Sam Hoare
Judith Carney – Cara Jenkins
Arthur – Charlie Kemp
Len Roger – May
Richard Martin – Ian Hallard
Delia Derbyshire – Sarah Winter
Peter Brachacki – David Annen
Donald Baverstock – Mark Eden
Reg Ross – Gurney-Randall
Alan Reece – Pockney


Writer – Mark Gatiss
Producer – Matt Strevens
Director – Terry McDonough

Also First Aired On This Day…
  • The Dalek Invasion of Earth: World’s End
  • Face the Raven


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.