Call me crazy, but I have to confess that I’m secretly way more interested at this point in the upcoming Doctor Who drama, An Adventure in Space and Time than I am for the actual 50th anniversary coming up in November. Mark Gatiss’ 90-minute special will be a one-off look at the origin of the show, which first aired on 23 November 1963, and will kick off the BBC’s 50th celebration. Playing the part of and bearing a striking resemblance to William Hartnell, the first Doctor, is David Bradley (Argus Filch, Harry Potter). The newest image does nothing but validate my total fanboy interest in seeing this asap.
The show’s title is derived from an early Radio Times report that called Doctor Who ‘an adventure in space and time’. One of the first production stills published recently by the Radio Times shows Bradley, as Hartnell, sitting on a bench with Lesley Manville as Hartnell’s devoted wife, Heather, reading that early copy of Radio Times and the review of what has now turned into the longest-running science fiction television show in the world as listed in Guinness World Records.
Lots of familiar faces to telly watchers on both sides of the pond are involved in addition to Bradley. The BBC’s Head of Drama, Sydney Newman, who is officially credited with the creation of the show, will be portrayed by Brian Cox, the actor from The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Identity not the physicist, and the producer, Verity Lambert, is portrayed by Call The Midwife star Jessica Raine. The director of the first ever episode, ‘An Unearthly Child’, Waris Hussein, will be played by Sacha Dhawan (History Boys, Last Tango In Halifax).
Thankfully, the reviews from Guardian critic, Mary Crozier, were not taken too seriously by either the BBC or by producers. As you’ll see, given her review, Doctor Who should never have made it past two episodes. Actually, Crozier did not review the series until the second episode was transmitted on 2 December 1963 on BBC One. The previous weeks premiere on 23 November was never reviewed due to coverage of the assassination of U.S. President, John F. Kennedy in Dallas. In her review, Crozier seemed more worried about the ‘ludicrous dialogue’ and questioning why the space ship looked like a police box than she did with the groundbreaking program that was about to begin a 50-year run.