Doctor Who fans are pretty focused right now on “The Day of the Doctor,” the 50th anniversary special set to air Nov. 23 on BBC America (and in select theaters). But the milestone will be bookended with a pair of equally significant presentations.
That Friday, Nov. 22, will see the U.S. premiere of An Adventure in Time and Space, a docu-drama chronicling the unlikely creation and early days of Doctor Who.
What do you get when you mix C.S. Lewis with H.G. Wells, and sprinkle in a bit of Father Christmas? An alien Time Lord exploring space and time in a Police Box spaceship called the “TARDIS” (Time And Relative Dimension in Space). On November 23, 1963, a television legend began when the very first episode of Doctor Who was broadcast on BBC One. Fifty years later, the genesis story is retold in a new BBC AMERICA co-production film celebrating the 50th anniversary of the franchise, An Adventure in Space and Time, premiering Friday, November 22, 9:00pm ET/PT on BBC AMERICA.
Travel back to witness the genius that was the first Doctor, William Hartnell (David Bradley, Game of Thrones, Broadchurch) and the unlikely production team behind the series, Verity Lambert (Jessica Raine, Call the Midwife), Waris Hussein (Sacha Dhawan, After Earth) and Sydney Newman (Brian Cox, The Bourne Identity, X2: X-Men United). From writer and executive producer Mark Gatiss (Sherlock, Doctor Who), executive producers Steven Moffat (Doctor Who, Sherlock) and Caroline Skinner (Doctor Who, The Fades) and director Terry McDonough (Breaking Bad, The Street), the stylish drama reveals the struggles and ultimate triumph of the British series created to “keep the sports fans and kids hooked.”
“An Adventure in Space and Time is principally a human interest story you can enjoy even if you know nothing about Doctor Who,” says writer and executive producer, Mark Gatiss. “You’ll see the story of some amazing people who come together under extraordinary circumstances to create this wonderful thing that is still with us today.”
An unlikely trio of misfits set out to create a genre series that all ages would love. A 55-year-old actor conceivably at the end of a frustrating career, a former production assistant fighting to make her mark in television, and a foreign born, novice director were tasked with bringing a vision for an exciting new science fiction story to life. William ‘Bill’ Hartnell, displeased with his career, was presented with a chance to break out of the hard-man roles he’d become known for. And with the instincts of first time producer, Verity Lambert and first time director, Waris Hussein, The Doctor was born. As the success of the show grew, William went from unhappy curmudgeon to beloved television star who relished his career resurgence and found a new lease on life. But all good things come to an end. How will Bill face leaving behind the part that has made him a hero to millions of children? And can the show survive without him? Journey back fifty years through space and time to witness the exciting beginning and untimely end of the First Doctor in this touching drama.
Saturday, Nov. 23, is of course the official 50th anniversary of the Doctor Who pilot’s original airdate, and it will see the feature-length “Day of the Doctor,” uniting current and outgoing star Matt Smith with his predecessor David Tennant and the mysterious figure from the Series 7 finale played by John Hurt:
The Doctors embark on their greatest adventure in this 50th Anniversary Special: in 2013, something terrible is awakening in London’s National Gallery; in 1562, a murderous plot is afoot in Elizabethan England; and somewhere in space an ancient battle reaches its devastating conclusion. All of reality is at stake as the Doctor’s own dangerous past comes back to haunt him.
Sunday, Nov. 24, will bring us the final installment of BBC America’s exclusive “Doctor’s Revisited” series, focusing on Matt Smith’s time as the Eleventh Doctor. In addition to interviews from Smith, costar Jenna Coleman and producer Steven Moffat, the retrospective will include screenings of the iconic two-parter comprising “The Impossible Astronaut” and “Day of the Moon.”