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An Adventure in Space and Time

An Adventure in Space and Time

Thu Nov 21, 9-10.30pm, BBC2

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Written with the fervour and tenderness of a lifelong fan, Mark Gatiss’s docudrama about the genesis and early years of ‘Doctor Who’ will nonetheless draw in the casual viewer in much the same way as it did the series’ sceptical star, William Hartnell.

David Bradley brings to life, with considerable grace and skill, the man who played the first Timelord from 1963 to 1966: he is by turns grumpy, twinkly (a few of Hartnell’s rougher edges are discreetly smoothed off) and, finally, frustrated as changing fashions and his own declining health usher him offstage. Jessica Raine, Sacha Dhawan and Brian Cox (no, not that one) provide charming support as the triumvirate of production visionaries who launched a show initially intended as filler and overshadowed by JFK’s assassination, before exploding into the nation’s nascent pop culture.

There’s perhaps a touch too much exposition and a sense of insiderdom occasionally intrudes, but ‘An Adventure in Space and Time’ barrels along with the wit and charm of its parent show. And the outrageous, impossible conclusion will have you sobbing and shaking your head at the sheer gall of it. Saturday’s Tennant-Smith special has a tough act to follow.
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