Adventure in Spain and Time

An Adventure in Space and Time was a film about how Doctor Who came to be on our screens, and how it took over the public imagination in the intervening years.

It dramatised the months leading up to the series first broadcast as written about in various Doctor Who publications over the years most notably the First Doctor Handbook by Davie Howe Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker who devoted a whole section of the book to a virtual day by day report on what happened at television centre through official BBC reports and memo’s etc.

Whilst this made fascinating reading to fans of the show it wouldn’t have translated well to the small screen, so what happened in this film was that the events that happened were all there and they all happened, but not necessarily in the way or manner that they actually happened but happened nonetheless.

Therefore there were a lot of people involved in the production and preparation of the show that were not even mentioned or seen on screen in this film.

This was not done out of any maliciousness but because it would have been rather unwieldy, and it would have gone on forever if they had included absolutely everybody and everything that happened in those months and years afterwards.

It simply couldn’t have been done in this format, unless it had been a twenty-six hour long drama rather than a 90 minute television film at least (which I would also have loved to have seen).

Perhaps in a faction book, such as Red or Dead by David Peace, this could have been possible, and I would love to be able to read such a tome, and secretly hope that one day this might be done.

What we got in Adventures of Space and Time was a relatively faithful version of these events told in very broad strokes in a highly affecting and emotional manner which enthralled me for the entire ninety minute running time and made me smile, laugh and cry all at the same time.

The film primarily concentrated on four people: Sydney Newman, Verity Lambert, Waris Hussein and William Hartnell all of them extremely well played by the actors cast to realise them.

Some of the other major players in the series origins briefly appeared such as Delia Derbyshire and Brian Hodgson explaining how the TARDIS dematerialisation noise was created, and Peter Brachacki basically putting the TARDIS set together in seconds with whatever he could find on the table in front of him after being nagged by Verity Lambert.

I really liked the friendship between Verity Lambert and Waris Hussein as both of them were made to feel like outcasts by some people in the corporation: him because of his colour, and her because of her gender.

The best performance of them all, however, was David Bradley who played William Hartnell and really became Hartnell for me. He was better when playing Hartnell the man rather than as Hartnell playing the Doctor.

The scene near the end of the film when he broke down in tears when he had been asked to relinquish the role had me in tears too, so well played was the scene, and you really felt for him at that moment, as it seemed that he had been forced out of the role that he loved but, I am not sure that it was done, in reality, as bluntly as it appeared to have been done in this film.

This film was a wonderful tribute to all of the people who put all the hard work into getting the series on the small screen and was a fitting tribute to the show in its fiftieth year and also to BBC television centre itself.

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