An Adventure in Space and Time (2013)

TV Movie  |   |  Biography, Drama, History  |  22 November 2013 (USA)
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A dramatisation of the early years of Doctor Who (1963), with the story revolving around BBC executive Sydney Newman, novice producer Verity Lambert and actor William Hartnell.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ross Gurney-Randall ...
Roger May ...
Douglas Camfield
Charlie Kemp ...
William Russell ...
Harry - Security Guard
Mervyn Pinfield
Rex Tucker
Heather Hartnell
Cara Jenkins ...
Judith Carney
Toby Hadoke ...


In 1963 Sydney Newman, progressive head of BBC TV's drama department, wants to fill a Saturday tea-time slot with a show with youth appeal and hits on the idea of an august figure, like a doctor, leading a group of companions on time travel adventures. He engages inexperienced young producer Verity Lambert to expand the idea. Fighting sexist and racial bigotry Verity and young Indian director Waris Hussein persuade crusty character actor William Hartnell to play the doctor figure and, despite technical hiccups and competition with coverage of the Kennedy assassination, the first episode of 'Doctor Who' is born. As the show becomes a success Hartnell displays an obsession with his character but, after three years, ill health catches up with him and he starts to forget lines. Newman tells him that Doctor Who will 'regenerate' and he will be replaced by younger actor Patrick Troughton. Though attached to the part and reluctant to give it up Hartnell wishes every success to Troughton, the... Written by don @ minifie-1

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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Release Date:

22 November 2013 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ein Abenteuer in Raum und Zeit  »

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Did You Know?


Anneke Wills (Uncredited Party Guest) was Polly Wright, a companion to both the First and Second Doctor and one of the companions who witnessed the First Doctor's regeneration. Wills was the Doctor's companion when Hartnell's Doctor faced the evil Celestial Toymaker played by Wills' husband, British movie star Michael Gough. See more »


In the establishing external shots of William Hartnell's house, the car parked outside is a D registration which was 1966 even though the scenes pass through 1963 to 1965. See more »


[a cameraman catches his first sight of a Dalek]
Cameraman: What the hell's that? A sink plunger and an egg-whisk? Oh well, if they can't take over the universe they might at least be able to whip up a decent omelette.
See more »


References Doctor Who: The Zarbi (1965) See more »


Walkin' Back to Happiness
By John Schroeder and Mike Hawker
Performed by Helen Shapiro
See more »

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User Reviews

Really nice, gentle and affectionate look back at the Hartnell origins
14 December 2013 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Earlier this year, on the gentle prodding of IMDb user Theo Robertson, I decided that I would go back and watch Doctor Who from the beginning. This was interested to me since I can just about remember the image of Davison as the Doctor but really the actual moments I remember are from the era of McCoy and Baker (an era that brought the show to an end for many years); so watching the originals was interesting to me if for no other reason than I had never seen them. The timing was good because I was glad to have made that connection before all the 50th anniversary stuff kicked off.

All through the fuss and hype, I did feel like we were celebrating where the show was right now, not its roots and as a result I was really glad of this film for focusing on the origins of the show. As Theo will probably tell you better than I, the facts are dusted up in the sake of a good story and the film moves better for it. I disagree with Theo where he says this film presented it as some sort of great cultural moment – I thought the film did a good job of showing how throwaway it was, how little interest there was and how it is more or less a matter of good fortune that the characters caught the public imagination and made an impression that has endured for decades. The story is presented in an affectionate manner, particularly towards Hartnell, who is probably given a bit too much nostalgic cheer for what he deserves, but he is given his dues and is very well played by Bradley.

The tone of the show is affectionate and humorous; we are not spared the fluffed lines and the set malfunctions and yet these are given over to part of the charm. The supporting cast play up their outsider status in a pleasing way, although as Theo says, I'm not sure if Cox was told that his role was to inject energy and color into the film, but his performance is so overblown as to be pure caricature. Still though, it all works really well and with so much hype and fanfare for the current show, it was so nice to have something looking back with such gentle affection – I didn't even mind the appearance of Matt Smith as I thought that was a nice moment and more a nod to the origins than it was to the present.

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