An Adventure in Space and Time

Synopsis: In 1963 Sydney Newman, progressive head of BBC TV's drama department, wants to fill a Saturday tea-time slot with a show with youth appeal and hits on the idea of an august figure, like a doctor, leading a group of companions on time travel adventures. He engages inexperienced young producer Verity Lambert to expand the idea. Fighting sexist and racial bigotry Verity and young Indian director Waris Hussein persuade crusty character actor William Hartnell to play the doctor figure and, despite technical hiccups and competition with coverage of the Kennedy assassination, the first episode of 'Doctor Who' is born. As the show becomes a success Hartnell displays an obsession with his character but, after three years, ill health catches up with him and he starts to forget lines. Newman tells him that Doctor Who will 'regenerate' and he will be replaced by younger actor Patrick Troughton. Though attached to the part and reluctant to give it up Hartnell wishes every success to Troughton, the
Director(s): Terry McDonough
Production: BBC America
  1 win & 8 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
90 min

This is the BBC. The following

programme is based on actual events.

It's important to remember,


that you can't rewrite history.

Not one line.

Except, perhaps, when you embark

on an Adventure In Space And Time...

Everything all right, sir?

Are you okay?

You need to move along now, sir.


You're in the way.


Er, Mr Hartnell?

Mr Hartnell, sir, they're

asking for you now.

Shall I tell them

you're coming now?

- Tell them what you like.

- Beg your pardon, Mr Hartnell?

Tell them

what you bloody well like!

- Listen, I'm only doing my job.

- Sod off, will you! I'm not ready!

I need more time.

Len! Len, for God's sake!

You'll go up like a Roman Candle,

if you're not careful.

Can I take my head off, mate?

I'm boiling in here.

No. We'll be starting up

again in a minute.

Why? What's the hold up?

You know who.

Well, tell him

to get his skates on!

Some of us have got a

bloody planet to invade.

- Shh!

- What?

Can I see your pass, sir?

Ah, come on, Harry.

You know my face!

- That's as maybe, sir.

- Sydney Newman. Clue's in the name.

- Better than any mug-shot.

- Still need to see your pass, sir.

Ah, to hell with it!

That's not the way

we do things at the BBC, sir!

You don't say!

So, we got a great,

big thumping audience for

Grandstand, but we lose them

before the teeny boppers

tune in for Juke Box Jury, right?

- Right. Erm... correct.

- We got a gap to plug.

- 25 minutes.

- How about another Dickens?

Fossilised, Mervyn! Fusty. Frowsty.

And lots of less polite words

beginning with F.

Here's a word for you, though - fun!

FUN! You heard of fun, Mervyn?

It that something else

you've brought from ITV?

I hope so, I certainly hope so!

We need stuff to keep the sports

fans hooked and the kids too.

Competitive Tiddlywinks?

You know what I'm talking about.

science fiction?

Is it really that popular?

It was last time I took a look.

With juvenile boys, perhaps.

I like it.

Oh, let's have a wonderful time

Let's have a wonderful time

Come on, everybody

and let's have a wonderful time...

She thought the balloon had gone up.

- What?

- She thought we'd all had it.

Cuba! No point in holding back

if the missiles started flying.

So she put it about a bit.

A lot!

So what did they say? "You're only

a production assistant, dear.

"It's a bit of a leap. "

I'm giving myself a year, Jackie.

Get on in television or get out.

Oh. What do I know?

I spend my time trying not to

bump into the cameras,

but don't pack in yet, Verity.

Softly, softly, eh?

- Mmm. You've got a... What?

- Red wine.

Oh. Red wine.

- Oh, Lord, it's on, isn't it?

- What?

The space shot! The Soviets.

Valentina what's-it.

- First woman in space!

- Oh, God, yes!

And there she is,

Valentina Tereshkova looking,

appropriately enough,

on top of the world.

Pop, pop, pop.

The first woman in space,

a major triumph there

for the Soviet Union

in the ever-escalating space race.

- Hello?

- Verity, it's Sydney.

- What?

- Sydney!


Hello, stranger.

- You know anything about children, Verity?

- Not a thing.

We want to do a science fiction

serial. Legitimate stuff, though.

- No tin robots or BEMs.

- BEMs?

Bug-Eyed Monsters! You know...

mutations and Death Rays.

Brains in glass jars,

that kind of crap.

It's going to run all year.

So a good-looking guy,

a good-looking girl

and a kid who gets herself

into all kinds of trouble.

Plus an older man. Quirky.

I'll come back to him.

They travel about in space

and time getting into scrapes!

- That's a lovely idea!

- You know me. Pop! Pop! Pop!

And we want history too.

Proper history.

The kids at home should learn


And what about this other man?

The quirky character?

- He's a doctor. -

A doctor? - Mm-hmm.

He should be a doctor,

don't you think?

Makes him an authority figure,

Sorta, kinda reassuring.

So, what do you think?

Look, Sydney, I'd love to work with

you again. Really I would.

It's just...

I gave myself a year.

Get on in TV or get out...

Hey, hey, hey, hey.

I don't want you to

be my assistant again, kid!

I want you to produce it!

Produce it?

Sure. They've never had a female

producer here! Sit down!

You're just what this place needs!

- Someone with piss and vinegar in

their veins! - Thanks! I think.

- I did a show called Pathfinders

at ITV. You see it? - Um...

We had an old guy as the hero.

A grumpy old guy.

That's what we want here.

Wait for it! Attention!

Oh, my stars!

What did I do to deserve you lot?


- We'll make her a skirt...

- No-one rung?

- Not since you last asked.

- All right.

- Five minutes ago.

- All right, all right!

You've only been out of work

a couple of weeks.

Well, I'm not built

for lazing around, am I?

I've got to graft

or I'll go round the twist.

What about that play?

Another ruddy army part! No fear.

That's all they ever offer me.

Crooks and perishing

Sergeant Majors!

But that's how casting people see

you, isn't it, love? Authority figures.

- My grandfather's a funny 'un...

- Don't do that.

He's got a face

like a pickled onion.

- Stop it! Bloody rubbish.

- Bill! Not in front of Judi.

- My Grandfather's a funny 'un.

- I said stop it!

Why are you always so grumpy, Sampa?

What? What's it got to

do with you? Silly girl!

Judi? Judi-poodi, darling?

For goodness' sake, Bill!

- Go after her! - I told the girl once.

What's wrong with her?

- Cloth-ears?

- Urgh! Don't you like being successful?

That's not success! I'm legitimate!

A legitimate character actor

of the stage and film!

This is variety!

I only asked.

What about Leslie French?

He'd be marvelous.

He's working with Visconti.

Gave us a polite no.

- Cyril Cusack?

- A less polite no.

- Ahem.

- Can I help you?

I think you're in my office.

That's a rather interesting

way of looking at it.

- I'm rather an interesting person.

- I don't doubt it. Rex Tucker.

I'm looking after Doctor Who.

Pending the appointment

of the permanent producer.

- Oh. Is he with you?

- You're looking at him.

- I keep coming back to Hugh David.

- Who?

He was in Knight Errant on ITV.

Lovely actor.

Not old enough for the Doctor,


Well, we don't want Grandpa Moses,

do we?

We need someone who can play older.

The shooting schedule's going to

be pretty punishing.

- I've got some ideas.

- I'll call Hugh. See what he thinks.

I'd rather you didn't.

Is that a fact? Waste of time!

We need someone like Frank

Morgan in the Wizard Of Oz.

He's dead.

- Rex... And American.

- I said "like".

Well, perhaps

we should all sleep on it.

After all, it took them

months to find Scarlet O'Hara!

Um... dear lady, may I have a word?



Oh, yes?

Is it right you were Sydney's

production assistant

on the other channel? Yes.

So this is quite a promotion.


Bound to ruffle a few feathers.

If feathers don't ruffle,

nothing flies.

This show is going to be a terrific

challenge, you know.

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Mark Gatiss

Mark Gatiss (Listeni/ˈɡeɪtɪs/ gay-tis; born 17 October 1966) is an English actor, comedian, screenwriter and novelist. His work includes writing for and acting in the TV series Doctor Who and Sherlock. Together with Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton and Jeremy Dyson, he is a member of the comedy team The League of Gentlemen. He is also known for his role as Tycho Nestoris in the HBO series Game of Thrones. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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