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An Adventure in Space and Time

Friday, 15 November 2013 06:21 Written by 

An Adventure In Space and Time - Coming to BBC2 on 21 November 2013"An Adventure in Space and Time’" got itself a special premiere BFI screening in London on 12 November 2013. This is perhaps the second most anticipated Doctor Who 50th Anniversary programme.  For me, Steven Moffat ‘s "The Day of the Doctor" will have to be exceptional to beat Mark Gattis’ love story about the creation of Doctor Who.

This biographical movie was the last drama to be shot at the old Television Centre on Wood Lane, with the fifth floor refitted to look like it did in the 1960s. Look out for cameos by a number of old cast members to thrill even the most hard-hearted fan. This review will remain 'spoiler free', but then most of you will be familiar with the story.

It was beautifully shot; great to see scenes from stories you are familiar with being re-created in full colour 16x9 HD in the studio setting – like being a fly on the wall way back in 1963. Many laugh-out-loud moments and touching moments, too. Can’t say more so I’ll move on to the Q&A that immediately followed, on stage.

As the screening ended, the audience rose and gave a standing ovation. The whole experience had a moving effect on Jessica Carney, William Hartnell’s grand-daughter, who needed a few moments to compose herself before coming to the stage to join the those already seated. Jessica had seen her 6-year-old self on screen. She described it as a “wonderful tribute to her grandfather” and thanked David Bradley, a “wonderful piece that captured what TV was like then”, “a love-letter to Television Centre” and “evocative of her childhood.”

Mark Gatiss, who like me had Jon Pertwee as his first on-screen Doctor, but grew up with this origin like a bed-time story, and had been wanting to make it from that very moment – had finally got his wish. There are many things he would have liked to have included but couldn’t, citing cost, not timing, for their non-appearance. I will return to one of these later.

David Bradley as William HartnellDavid Bradley thanked the audience for our response. He had been furnished with copies of a number of Hartnell stories on DVD, which also included the original pilot, noting the subtle changes that William made for the re-shoot.

Sacha Dhawan, had previously seen "An Unearthly Child" at the BFI screening earlier this year. He was initially intimidated at the prospect of playing the young Waris Hussein, but met him afterwards, and then got to know him and how he worked.

Director Terry McDonough (Breaking Bad) revealed that the original old-style studio cameras we saw in shot still worked and were used to feed the studio monitors when we got to see some scenes re-enacted. He also commented on working on something that is historic, but at the same time current, such is the span of Doctor Who’s 50 years. He added that he had never been to a screening before where the audience was so engaged.

A number of old cast members were in the audience; Carole Ann Ford was a row back and a few seats to my right. As I left, I asked if she could sum up what she’d seen in one word or sentence. “Extraordinary” was the reply.

Not long now, until the TV broadcast on BBC2 (9.00pm, Thursday 21 November 2013), when you can all enjoy the film. And you don’t need to stand in a queue for eight hours, as the last person to ask a question stated he had done to purchase a returned ticket – it was well worth the wait!

Now back to Mark Gatiss. A month ago we learned of nine missing Patrick Troughton episodes being found in Nigeria. Rumours persisted of more, and of episodes having been found in Ethiopia, too. Mark mentioned that one scene he would have liked to have re-enacted was from part 12 of "The Daleks’ Master Plan." Remember Mark started watching Doctor Who with Jon Pertwee, not William Hartnell? Episode 12 exists as just screen shots and audio recordings, and yet his recollection of the scene concerned was just too fresh, like he’d seen it recently. But he couldn’t have, as the episode is missing,... or is it???

Has most of the "The Daleks’ Master Plan" been found, or just one further episode? Time will tell.

Below (left to right): Terry McDonough (Director), Sacha Dhawan (Waris Hussein), David Bradley (William Hartnell), Jessica Carney (William Hartnell’s grand-daughter), Mark Gatiss (Writer) - all questioned by Matthew Sweet (a fan himself).

The Q and A at the BFI Screening


Last modified on Tuesday, 19 November 2013 07:29