Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

Once upon a time

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An Adventure In Time And Space (BBC2, 9pm)

Charley Boorman's USA Adventure (Channel 5, 8pm)

THE origins of the Doctor Who series have always fascinated Mark Gatiss, the Sedgefieldborn actor and writer who first found fame as one of the League of Gentlemen.

A longtime fan of the Doctor, he has written for the series and even played a villain in one episode. Formany years, he has harboured the desire to write a drama about the show's origins.

An Adventure in Time and Space is the result.

"Above all, I wanted it to strike a chord on a human level. These were brilliant, complex, talented people making something revolutionary, " he says.

He pitched the idea to BBC4 when Doctor Who was approaching its 40th anniversary. Now it comes to fruition as the Time Lord's show reaches its half-century on Saturday.

At the centre of the story are three people pulled together by Sydney Newman, the charismatic Canadian TV executive who was, in 1963, working as the BBC's head of drama.

Newman believed a family drama about an old man who could travel the universe in a battered old police box (then common in the UK) would fill an awkward gap in the schedule between the end of sports show Grandstand and music programme Juke Box Jury.

He employed fledgling producer Verity Lambert to bring it to life. She had been a production assistant during his time at ABC TV, and was the youngest and only female drama producer at the BBC. Waris Hussein, the sole Indian-born director at the BBC, was brought in to direct.

Veteran actor William Hartnell was cast as the Doctor. He was a surprise choice, having spent most of his career playing hard-man roles. He was initially disinterested in the part, but grew to love it and only retired from it because of ill health.

"Principally, this is the story of how Doctor Who was created, so we concentrate on the very beginnings and the first few episodes. There are lots of treats for the fans, " says Gatiss.

"These were brilliant, complex, talented people making something revolutionary. And, in William Hartnell, we have the very affecting story of a man redeemed by the role of a lifetime, who then, sadly, had to let it go. I think we can all relate to something like that in our lives."

David Bradley plays the doctor, with Brian Cox as Newman, Jessica Raine as Lambert and Sacha Dhawan as Hussein.

Gatiss couldn't be happier with the way it turned out. "This is my love letter to Doctor Who, " he says.

"In this 50th anniversary year, I hope fans will enjoy and be thrilled by it and all the kisses to the past it is laden with.

But my greatest wish is that it appeals to people who know very little or nothing about Doctor Who and see the struggle of talented people (almost) accidentally creating a legend."

Disclaimer: These citations are created on-the-fly using primitive parsing techniques. You should double-check all citations. Send feedback to whovian@cuttingsarchive.org

  • APA 6th ed.: Pratt, Steve (2013-11-21). Once upon a time. The Northern Echo p. 27.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Pratt, Steve. "Once upon a time." The Northern Echo [add city] 2013-11-21, 27. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Pratt, Steve. "Once upon a time." The Northern Echo, edition, sec., 2013-11-21
  • Turabian: Pratt, Steve. "Once upon a time." The Northern Echo, 2013-11-21, section, 27 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Once upon a time | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Once_upon_a_time | work=The Northern Echo | pages=27 | date=2013-11-21 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=29 November 2020 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Once upon a time | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Once_upon_a_time | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=29 November 2020}}</ref>