An idea as good as Doctor Who doesn’t just happen. Like building a bridge or a house, a great deal of thinking and work goes into a television series before you ever get to see it.
Malcolm Hulke, The Making of Doctor Who
An Adventure in Space and Time is the story of how Doctor Who began. How, 50 years ago, a group of people achieved the impossible – making a television legend against insurmountable odds.
It’s clear from the opening that this was made with love. The effort that went into this movie, into every aspect of it, shows on the screen. All the little details in the sets. In the costume. In the dialogue. The people who made this film quite clearly, quite obviously, love Doctor Who.
Mark Gatiss, who wrote and produced the movie, deserves a lot of praise for his work. After all, An Adventure in Space and Time started with him – he originally pitched it to the BBC for the fortieth anniversary of Doctor Who in 2003, and again in 2010 when Matt Smith was cast.
Now though, it’s finally reached its audience.
Throughout, the writing is phenomenal. There’s never a duff line, scene after scene after scene. Three years of Doctor Who is condensed skillfully and respectfully into ninety minutes, all framed in the smartest of ways – using the TARDIS.
There’s a theme of change as well, and the ways in which it can be good and bad. The obvious change is, of course, is in the cast and crew, and is told through William Hartnell as he watches, one by one, all of the original Doctor Who team start to move on and be replaced. It’s seen to be quite sad, but equally, without those changes, we wouldn’t have reached Doctor Who’s fifth anniversary, let alone the fiftieth.
It’s the actors though who really make the script come to life. Jessica Raine, Brian Cox and Sacha Dhawan all give brilliant performances as Verity Lambert, Sydney Newman and Waris Hussein. Through them, another change is explored – change within the BBC. Sydney Newman, the Canadian from ITV. Verity Lambert, the first female producer. Waris Hussein, the first Indian Director. All of them, together, revolutionising the BBC, and TV itself.
The best performance is from David Bradley as William Hartnell. It’s a nuanced, poignant portrayal, upon which the whole movie is based around. His is a truly wonderful piece of work, with some fantastic scenes – in particular, the “I don’t want to go” scene towards the end of the film.
An Adventure in Space and Time is, I believe, the best piece of television ever to go out under the Doctor Who name. It really is that good.
50 Days of the Doctor Who 50th