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An Adventure in Space and Time (2013)

TV Movie  -   -  Biography | Drama | History  -  22 November 2013 (USA)
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A dramatization of the conception, birth and 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
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 an 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, ... Written by don @ minifie-1

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Parents Guide:



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Release Date:

22 November 2013 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ein Abenteuer in Raum und Zeit  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



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Did You Know?


Toby Hadoke has a cameo role as a barman. See more »


This shows Melvyn Pinfield being involved in the casting of Patrick Troughton. But Pinfield had left in the middle of the Hartnell years because of illness forcing him into retirement. 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 Brighton Rock (1947) See more »


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

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User Reviews

A Nice Tribute Despite Much Artistic License
26 November 2013 | by (Isle Of Bute , Scotland) – See all my reviews

Is it too much to state how much that DOCTOR WHO has shaped British popular culture ? Nearly everyone loves the show in all of its variable and diverse eras . That said if you're going to make a drama about the origins of the show then there's a very real danger that you're going to overstate everything and tell the story with embellished hindsight . To quote the late John Nathan Turner " The memory cheats " and if there's a problem with An Adventure In Space And Time it's that it's written with the view that the future of television itself is at stake . This is patently untrue and everything I've read on the origins of the show indicates no one had any inkling of the genie they'd released from the bottle and thought of it as a disposable children's television show that probably wouldn't last . That said the programme begins with a disclaimer - though be it in a pretentious manner - that some artistic licence has been taken by the storytelling

Sydney Newman a bold and brash Canadian newly arrived from ITV comes up with the idea of an educational children's show for the BBC that will fire their interest in both science in history . He decides to call it Doctor Who and delegates the task of producer to a young production associate called Verity Lambert . What the drama does very well is paint the picture of early 1960s Britain as being a million miles away from what it is today . Lambert being a woman - and a Jewish one at that - is an absolute anachronism in this world . Women in those days didn't have careers only jobs and often low paid menial ones at that because they were expected to be baby factories and housewives . She is joined on the debut story by her assigned director a young Indian man called Waris Hussein who is a closeted homosexual and young Jewish woman and closeted Indian homosexual have to fight tooth and nail to get the show off the ground usually against the creator of Doctor Who itself Sydney Newman .

One can understand the point Mark Gattis is making here that a show featuring an outsider in the role of the Doctor has a subtext all of its own in that it's being also being made by cultural outsiders who are about to change the face of television but again is true or is it merely shoehorned history after the fact ? It's interesting that Terry Nation gets name checked but it's a well documented fact of history that Nation only took the writing gig because he'd lost his job writing for Tony Hancock and Nation would always state with great relish he only wrote the Dalek story with the thinking of " Take the money and run " . To him writing the Dalek debut meant paying the rent as a struggling and jobbing writer and nothing more which again indicates that the BBC had little idea or faith as to how popular the show may have become . There's also an unforgiving airbrushing out of script editor David Whitaker from the show's history and Whitaker was probably more responsible than anyone else of shaping the character of the Doctor and bringing him to life and of giving the early show an ethos and unique feel of its own that made it more than mere disposable children's entertainment Whitaker not getting as much as a namecheck is unforgivable

That said the cast of the drama are more than adequate and we get some post modernism by casting William Russell and Carole Ann Ford in cameos as walk on characters . Pride of place goes to David Bradley as William Hartnell who you genuinely believe has somehow miraculously been reincarnated as himself . Unless they were movie stars actors in those days were berefit of the celebrity status where every movement was publicized by the tabloids and remained relatively unknown to the general public . From what we know of William Hartnell he could be very difficult and tiring to work with but at the same time he loved the show and the people he worked with and this comes across very well on screen . The only contentious point about the acting is Brian Cox gives a painfully over emphatic performance as Sydney Newman who seems to be a parody of a Jewish Hollywood movie mogul . This may or may not have been true in real life but Cox is still somewhat overdone

In summary this is an affectionate tribute to both the show itself and the people who created Doctor Who . It's a much better tribute than the much expected noisy mess of The Day Of The Doctor but at the same time many of the " facts " should be taken with a pinch of salt , if not the whole salt packet . It's a drama based on fact but isn't a fly on the wall documentary . Remember that while you're watching

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