When David Tennant performed his last line as a regular, “I don’t want to go,” in the 2010 episode The End of Time Part 2, it was closer to Doctor Who history than it would appear. At least, it was through Mark Gatiss’s eyes.
Yes, An Adventure in Space and Time is out. And it’s about time (zing!). Actually, it’s about the early years of the BBC television mega-series, Doctor Who. It tells the story of the creators of the show (namely Verity Lambert, producer, Waris Hussein, writer, Sydney Newman, Head of Drama at the BBC). It is also the story of William Hartnell, the show’s first lead. The thing was penned by Mark Gatiss, who wrote classics in the modern Doctor Who line-up such as The Unquiet Dead, Victory of the Daleks, and, more recently, The Crimson Horror, which despite my feelings about it, most people enjoyed. Nonetheless his vision is impressive and his storytelling ability sound.
Gatiss has surpassed himself. He actually suggested the idea to the BBC once in the past, but was turned down due to budget constraints. Fortunately, for the 50th anniversary celebrations, our screens were finally graced with it. But the film is better suited to the make-an-historical-with-a-modern-production genre trending at the moment, in plot if not in anything else. It powers through the manditory content at a pace almost dismissive of it, with the exception of the inevitable dismissal of William Hartnell as The Doctor (or, as he was known then, Doctor Who), and it meanders around the extra, unnecessary but entirely welcomed content with a pleasing hesitancy.
The real gem of the piece, though, the crème de la crème, is the casting. Done by Andy Pryor, who also did the casting for Torchwoood, the new series of Doctor Who, and Life on Mars among others, it is impeccable. Firstly, the actors have real talent, but what’s more, for the most part, they look like the people they’re playing.
What’s not to like, then? The opening titles, for starters. They look like they were done in Sony Vegas.
But that aside, there isn’t much to complain about. The ending features a somewhat corny, completely unexpected, but not entirely unwelcomed, scene, which I won’t describe because of spoilers. My mixed feelings about this scene didn’t hinder its effectiveness, though, as it appears in the height of the show’s drama and reinforces the nostalgic feeling conveyed throughout the rest of the film.
The film will air on ABC1 in Australia tomorrow morning after The Day of the Doctor, then again tomorrow night. Tune in. It’s worth it.