85 of 88 people found the following review helpful
Ever since the first pictures began to leak out earlier in the year there has been a buzz that Mark Gatiss' An Adventure In Space and Time would be something special - and it didn't disappoint.
It had a lot of ground to cover - from the launch of the show in 1963 to the departure of William Hartnell in 1966. In the main, it succeeded beautifully, although there's one caveat which I'll come too in a minute.
Essentially, AAISAT was the story of four people - William Hartnell (The Doctor), Verity Lambert (Producer), Waris Hussein (Director) and Sydney Newman (BBC Head of Drama and the "father" of the series). With only 85 minutes running time it did mean that many other people's important contributions went unrecorded, such as the first story editor David Whitaker and the designers Raymond Cusick and Barry Newbery. But this was inevitable, and the decision to focus on four key people did make dramatic sense.
Cast-wise it would have been difficult to get any better than this. David Bradley was outstanding as Hartnell, capturing both his abrasive side and his more considerate nature. Brian Cox (despite a moustache that looked painted on) was good fun as the brash Canadian, Newman. And Sacha Dhwan and Jessica Raine gave lovely performances as Hussein and Lambert - two outsiders (one an asian, one a woman) who dared to breach the conservative BBC.
The re-creations - Totters Lane, the Dalek city, the breathtaking TARDIS console room - were a massive treat, as were the numerous cameos from some of the great and good of the series' past.
But with a timeframe of three years there were times when things seemed a little condensed, and my only real criticism of Mark Gatiss' script is that whilst Hartnell's difficulty with lines was well illustrated, we maybe could have done with a scene that made it clear that Hartnell was a very good actor who gave many fine performances during the three years he was in the show, right up until the end when he was far from well.
There's no doubting the love Gatiss has for both the show and Hartnell, but a short scene with Lambert and Newman discussing Hartnell's line-fluffs with Lambert championing Hartnell's performance was sadly missing. Hartnell was technically a very good actor and his years of experience in films meant that he instinctively understood the camera. An off-told story (and something else that it would have been nice to see in the show) related to Hartnell's knowledge of when the camera was focused on him in close up - so his movements were restricted - and when the camera was further away - then he could be more expansive in his gestures. This is the sort of small detail that would have illustrated how good Hartnell was - otherwise you could come away from this programme thinking that Hartnell was just an old duffer who couldn't remember his lines.
But that apart, there was so much to enjoy here and by the end, with an ailing Hartnell forced to leave the part he loved, it was truly heartbreaking.
The surprise cameo at the end was a nice touch and an acknowledgement that today Doctor Who owes everything to one person - not Sydney Newman, not Verity Lambert, not even Dalek creator Terry Nation - but William Hartnell. If he hadn't made the Doctor such a compelling character then the series would never have endured. On the eve of the programme's 50th anniversary AAISAT is a fitting tribute to an old-fashioned actor who started something which still entertains today, and, I'm sure, for many more years to come.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 19 August 2014
This review is for Timelord007 who is a huge 'Doctor Who' fan.
"One day I shall come back! Yes, I shall come back"; William Hartnell, The First Doctor, 'The Dalek Invasion of Earth'
This is 'An Adventure in Space and Time', a docu-drama shown on BBC2 on the 21st of November, 2013 to celebrate 50 years of 'Doctor Who'. I watched this very special drama on the night it was shown. I enjoyed seeing how the history of 'Doctor Who's creation was dramatized before my eyes.
This docu-drama is beautifully written and well-produced by Mark Gatiss. Mark is currently a writer on the new series of 'Doctor Who' and it's great he produced this for the show's 50th anniversary.
I was aware of the origins of 'Doctor Who' from watching the 'Doctor Who: Origins' documentary on 'The Edge of Destruction' DVD in 'The Beginning' DVD box set. I discovered more behind-the-scenes stuff about William Hartnell's tenure in 'The End of the Line' documentary on 'The Gunfighters' DVD.
This special docu-drama begins with a prologue scene in 1966 with William Hartnell on his last day making 'The Tenth Planet'. Bill Hartnell has his life flashing before his eyes as we're taken back 1963.
The story of how 'Doctor Who' was created begins with Sydney Newman, the Head of BBC Drama. He comes up with an idea for an educational science-fiction children's show and calls Verity Lambert to help him produce it before they cast William Hartnell, a former movie star to play Doctor Who.
I was impressed by how Mark Gatiss dramatizes the origins story and imbues it with such love and affection that is brought to life by the actors. This is the story on how a successful TV show was created and how the producers and the director struggled against pressure to make this show work.
As well as featuring the Daleks in this docu-drama, there's also the Menoptra from 'The Web Planet' and the first Cybermen from 'The Tenth Planet'. It was a delight to see the behind-the-scenes making of 'Marco Polo';'The Reign of Terror' and 'The Dalek Invasion of Earth' featured in this docu-drama.
This docu-drama stars David Bradley as William Hartnell. I've seen David in a BBC production of 'Our Mutual Friend' and the 'Harry Potter' films. He was also in the 'Doctor Who' episode 'Dinosaurs on a Spaceship' and voiced the Shansheeth in 'The Sarah Jane Adventures' story 'Death of the Doctor'.
David is brilliant as William Hartnell, looking and sounding like him! I was terribly impressed with David's performance as Bill Hartnell There's a moment when he has his eyes wide open Hartnell does. I really like how Hartnell's career is touched upon before becoming a world-famous child's star.
There's Jessica Raine as Verity Lambert, 'Doctor Who's first producer. Jessica has appeared in 'Doctor Who' with Matt Smith in the episode called 'Hide'. Jessica delivers a remarkable performance as Verity, who is a woman struggling in a man's world and becomes a female producer for the BBC.
There's also Sacha Dhawan as Waris Hussein, the first 'Doctor Who' director. I really like how Sacha plays Waris as someone who doesn't know what to do when getting the scripts of the 'cavemen' story and sharing a good working relationship and friendship with Verity Lambert when they start.
There's also Brian Cox as Sydney Newman, the BBC's Head of Drama and the man who originated 'Doctor Who'. Brian does a convincing and authentic performance as Sydney who gets people like Verity Lambert to produce 'Doctor Who' work. He's very blunt when pushing her forward to make it.
And there's Lesley Manville as Heather, William Hartnell's wife. I really like how Hartnell's family life is touched upon in this docu-drama. Heather is concerned for her husband when he's out of work from the start, and is pleased for him when he's called to do a leading part in a children's TV series.
The cast also includes Jamie Glover as William Russell; Jemma Powell as Jacqueline Hill and Claudia Grant as Carole Ann Ford. There's also Nicholas Briggs as Peter Hawkins the original Dalek voice.
There are cast playing behind-the-scenes BBC personnel. These include Jeff Rawle as producer Mervyn Pinfield; Ian Hallard as director Richard Martin and Andrew Woodall as producer Rex Tucker.
There are also cameos of real 'Doctor Who' stars. There's William Russell; Carole Ann Ford; Jean Marsh; Anneke Wills and Donald Tosh (script editor). There's also Toby Hadoke as a BBC bartender.
It was nice to set some of the drama filmed at the BBC Television Centre in London. This is after all where 'Doctor Who' started and it's such a tribute to a place where many classic 'Doctor Who' stories were filmed, although many of William Hartnell's stories were filmed in Lime Grove Studios.
As the story concludes, Bill Hartnell's ill health is depicted as he's getting flat out from the busy work schedule and his bad-temper grows worse which was very sad. The BBC producers including Sydney Newman consider what to do as they can't have 'Doctor Who' without 'Doctor Who'; can they?
There's a heart-breaking scene where Bill Hartnell meets Sydney Newman is in his office. Sydney tells Bill about their plans to 'regenerate' the show, but not with him. Bill is heart-broken when he discovers they want to carry on without him and the scene is beautifully played between the actors.
The scene where Bill Hartnell comes home to tell his wife Heather about what's happened is equally heart-breaking. Bill is accepting of his decision to leave, but it's also clear that he was reportedly heartbroken. Bill breaks down in tears saying, "I don't want to go" and it's really moving to watch.
We return to the making of `The Tenth Planet' where Bill Hartnell does his final scene and meets Patrick Troughton (Reece Shearsmith). I found the meeting between these two men really charming and touching. Patrick is so humble towards Bill Hartnell and Hartnell is pleasant towards Troughton.
Then we have a final moment which I did not expect to see when Bill's at the TARDIS console. He looks up and sees Matt Smith before him. It's a lovely moment where the two Doctors without saying a word and it acknowledges Bill Hartnell's legacy as 'Doctor Who' still carries on without him.
We then have words of tribute given to the real Sydney Newman, Verity Lambert, Waris Hussein and William Hartnell before the end credits. Then we see actual footage of William Hartnell making that famous speech to Susan from 'The Dalek Invasion of Earth'. It's a lovely way to end this docu-drama.
The DVD special features are as follows. There's 'William Hartnell: The Original' featurette with cast and crew interviews and 'The Making of An Adventure' documentary with cast and crew interviews. There are 'reconstructions' scenes; title sequences and two deleted scenes from the docu-drama.
'An Adventure in Space and Time' is a wonderful and touching tribute to 'Doctor Who'. This docu-drama is a brilliant dramatization of how 'Doctor Who' was made back in the 1960s and I thank Mark Gattis for coming up with this wonderful drama. It's a great tribute to people like William Hartnell.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 21 November 2013
Almost 50 years after the show started, Mark Gatiss sends us back to where it began!
No, not a junkyard on Totter's Lane, even further back than that, to the world of the smoky BBC offices of Sydney Newman. To the casual fan, this may seem like a slight bore, a documentary, or nothing exciting. However, those who took the time to see the broadcast will see that Mark Gatiss has orchestrated a masterpiece.
Pulling in bucket loads of elements surrounding the creation of Sci-Fi legend Doctor Who, Gatiss expertly combines Billy Hartnell's lack of self belief in inspiring generations, Sydney Newman's belief in Verity Lambert's production, helping her overcome the glass ceiling blocking her, Waris Hussein's pressure in successfully directing the first episodes, and later on, Billy's reluctance to leave and eventual realisation that this show will continue without him, becoming more of a legend than just a mere TV program.
Despite the historical and social plot strings, the acting is spectacular. David Bradley throws himself into Hartnell's shoes, and his heartbreaking moment of realisation of leaving the show is utterly spellbinding. Reece Shearsmith, even though he only appears for mere minutes, manages to capture the vivacity of Pat Troughton perfectly. The costumes and recreations of historical scenes are amazing and accurate, an old style Cyberman sat having a cigarette next to the TARDIS, a Dalek operator complaining about the cramped interior, and, in the opening scenes, Bradley walking into the TARDIS' perfectly recreated interior, and gazes up solemnly at the set one more time.
The DVD release, although a while off, does include the perfectly-recreated scenes such as the first encounter with the Doctor, The Doctor's final speech to his granddaughter, and a 'festive greeting' perhaps from the fabled lost Christmas broadcast 'The Feast of Steven?'
An utter masterpiece celebrating 50 years of Doctor Who, the people who started it all, and of course, the wonderful William Hartnell, played with style, gravitas and an air of humbleness.
I would easily give such a beautiful piece of drama more stars if I could. Definitely a must buy.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 22 November 2013
I was three days old when Dr Who began and it's played a big part in making me the person I am today (although I do plan to regenerate before this week is out). I was overjoyed watching the show last night. It was unashamed nostalgia and absolutely lovely. Christmas has indeed come early for us fans of The Doctor. I have just one question of the BBC, why oh why isn't there a blu ray release? The show looks exquisite and demands it. Please BBC I want to spend more money.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Originally broadcast in 2013, as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of Doctor Who, this is a feature length dramatisation of the early years of the show. How it came to be. The struggles to get it made. And the end of it's first era when William Hartnell left.
How can get all that into one feature? By concentrating on a couple of things...
Beginning in 1966, with a scene that lays some symbolism on a unsubtly, it then flashes back to three years before. When Canadian Producer Sydney Newman [Brian Cox] wanted to fill a gap in the saturday evening schedules. A show about an eccentric time traveller was the idea they devised. He trusted Verity Lambert [Jessica Raine] to produce the programme. The very idea of a woman doing such an important role at the bbc in 1963 was not something many went along with.
Her choice for leading man was William Hartnell [David Bradley] a professional actor of many years, who'd become stereotyped in hard man roles. A complex man who could be difficult to work with.
Little did any of them know they were creating a tv institution...
As ever, the BBC never let you down with period drama. And this recreates the time of it's setting, the fashion and the way tv was produced back then, absolutely perfectly. The script has to condense a lot down. Some people, such as head of serials Donald Wilson, who was heavily involved at the time, get written out. And it barely touches on the behind the scenes troubles in the show's third year. But it manages to get the story by focusing on two main things.
Firstly, Verity Lambert's struggles and ultimate success. Jessica Raine does very well in portraying a lady who had to find the inner strength that Syndey Newman knew she had. There's a pretty compelling performance in that role from Brian Cox, also.
But when Verity moves on, the focus moves over to William Hartnell. David Bradley is amazing in the role. Not trying to copy Hartnell, but acting the part. A man who had some of the attitudes of his time. But who came to love this role he'd been hesitant about taking. Only for the ravages of illness to mean he couldn't keep it forever.
As the story moves on through his days struggling to keep his health and keep the role, it becomes incredibly moving. And you really are left feeling so very sorry for him.
There's an ending that strives for emotional impact. Which might not work for some. But if it does for you, then it really will leav you with a lump in the throat.
A perfect tribute to a tv legend, and those who brought it to us. And an excellent drama with it.
Look out for cameo appearances from original companions Carole Ann Ford and William Russell. And keep watching after the end credits.
The dvd has the following language and subtitle options:
It's also English audio captioned.
William Hartnell: the original. A five minute long profile of him with various people sharing their memories. This is the material from post the closing credits. It's a bit short to have much substance, but it is occasionally touching.
Behind the scenes: narrated by Carole Ann Ford, this is a nine minute long making of feature. It's also a bit too short to have much substance, but occasionally touching as well. Do watch this otherwise one of the next batch of extras will catch you out.
Said next batch is reconstructions and regenerations: the cast and production team recreate scenes from the original pilot episode and first story. One from the tv story the Dalek Invasion of Earth. And the christmas greeting. From the 1965 episode 'The Feast of Steven' when the Doctor wished viewers a happy christmas. These are all superbly done and great to watch.
Regenerations recreates the first regeneration. But not in the manner you might expect...
Title sequences is a short look at the difference between the original title sequence for the show, and the one used for an adventure in space and time.
There are also two very short but very good deleted scenes, that are both worth a watch.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 June 2014
As a child I had a fear of the original theme music for Doctor Who, so I missed out on the series, apart from little glimpses now and then, when I was being especially 'brave'. As an adult I still find that famous theme music unnerving, though not in the new series, where Murray Gold has updated it to something less eerie, and probably upset a lot of die-hards in the process. With my fear in mind, I approached An Adventure In Space and Time with some trepidation when it was on TV. I confess to having recorded it to watch during the day, which is ridiculous coming from a 40-year old! However, I am delighted that I didn't miss what has to be one of the best one-off drama's of recent times.
I wondered if some of the 'in' jokes would go over my head, but they didn't, which is a testament to how Doctor Who is ingrained in our culture, but also says something about the way this drama is written. It isn't trying to be clever, or quirky. It's trying to tell a story, which is about one man, William Hartnell, every bit as much as it is about a TV legend.
All of the performances are outstanding, but David Bradley steals the show. My brother is old enough to remember when Doctor Who started, and he says that Bradley's portrayal of Hartnell is uncanny. Jessica Raine is also wonderful as Verity Lambert, whose story is told in a sympathetic and engaging way. Some drama's portraying women encroaching on a masculine world go overboard on the feminist agenda. I didn't feel that with this. Every step of the way the viewer roots for Lambert, engaging in her story just as much as Hartnell's.
In short, I loved An Adventure In Space and Time. I've now got the DVD. Oh, and that old theme music still makes me nervous, but I have the strangest feeling that it is supposed to do exactly that.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 December 2013
Being obsessed with anything related to Doctor Who, I simply could not pass an opportunity to buy this. And I am absolutely glad I did.
First, there are no complaints about the packaging of the DVD. The special features are well worth watching for the trivia enthusiast, or just for some interesting insights about the show and all the people involved in its first season, or rather all the seasons of the 'first doctor'.
The main feature absolutely hits the right spot. It shows us so much about the show in its early days of conception and the people responsible for it. David Bradley is at his finest, dare I say in this marvellous offering, as are others who tried their level best to re-enact some of the scenes from the first season including the characters playing the producer, show runner and director.
It is really hard to praise this DVD without exposing any spoilers, so I will make it easy for you. Just buy it! But be ready to shed some tears, because I sure did! I am wondering if they will do this for each of the 'çlassic' doctors, but that will ruin the magic of this one.
My sincere and heartfelt thanks to Mark Gatiss for bringing this release for us Doctor Who fans!
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 21 November 2013
I remember clearly the impact Dr Who had on me as a six year old child in 1963. I was full of wonder for this unique atmospheric new drama, with the most Incredible Theme Music i had ever heard. William Hartnell was captivating and charismatic as the Doctor. His companions likable and memorable. One would have to be my age (or older ) to have experienced the first ever entrance of the Daleks which was mesmerising and so totally
original . It was the year of the Beatles and
James Bond. A time of real excitement in Britain. 50 years on, the Beatles, James Bond & Dr Who are more popular than ever !
Mark Gattiss has done a Brilliant job with this drama. William Hartnell's final scene in the Tardis had an unexpected feature which i personally found very moving and emotional.
I think the drama will appeal more to the First wave of fans (although i may be wrong) those who followed William Hartnell's Doctor.
I enjoyed it immensely, and will buy the DVD.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 January 2014
There are so many reasons to go and buy this, even if you saw it on the TV. Well worth a repeat viewing any way, It also has many extras, among them recreated scenes using the TARDIS console room they recreated especially for this tribute to the greatest show in the galaxy. A brilliant performance from David Bradley as William Hartnell and all the others perform excellently too. Even if you did not know of (Unlikely!) or even dislike Doctor Who, this is a warm, poignant, funny and interesting story of one man's emotional journey in creating the role he made his own - Doctor Who. On the way it offers a fascinating glimpse into 60s Britain and particularly the BBC. Doctor Who is unique in having the first woman producer, Verity Lambert, and the first Asian director, Warris Hussain who worked on the first stories depicted here. If you have not seen it yet, do yourself a favour. You are in for a treat, I promise!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 30 December 2013
We are huge Doctor Who fans (I started watching in 1973 when I was 6) and this was a perfect addition to the anniversary celebrations. Whilst some aspects (especially the final few scenes) have divided fans, for myself I found it strangely moving and I don't mind admitting I cried during those last few minutes of the programme. David Bradley is a good fit for Hartnell - he's not quite as good a fit facially as Richard Hurndall was in 'The Five Doctors', but the effort put into the characterisation more than makes up for it. Verity Lambert is ably played by Jessica Raine (and looks very like her) and Sacha Dhawan inhabits the character of Waris Hussein in a very believable way. To see Hartnell's gradual decline played out on screen (which has been well-documented over the years) is sad - and there's no doubt he was a grouchy old devil in real life, rather snobbish about how he viewed himself as an 'character actor' rather than simply a 'variety actor', but he was passionate about Doctor Who and didn't patronise the children who watched the show - that is clearly shown in key scenes such as the one where he says to some producer who doesn't care about the detail, that as The Doctor he has to make sure he always uses the same knobs and dials on the console for the same thing each week, because if he didn't the children would notice.
Mark Gatiss is one of the semi-regular writers for Doctor Who in its current incarnation and is clearly a deeply passionate fan in his own right - that shines through in this tribute drama, which is one of the best things he's ever written for the world of Doctor Who. Whether or not you agree with his decision to cross-over into something that brings the current Who into what had been, until that point, all original Who, (trying not to spell it out in case anyone hasn't seen it - I'm probably not making much sense!) it shouldn't be enough to put you off if you want to watch a very well-made, affectionate-in-its-way tibute to the people who started it all - and who had to fight to keep it going, and then found their saviour in the Daleks!
And the rest, as they say, is history. The DVD comes with some extras, although not as many as there might have been, but if you've enjoyed the 50th anniversary year and Doctor Who as a whole then this DVD should be part of your collection.