What to watch tonight, 21 November

Ellen E Jones recommends new BBC drama about the first Doctor Who
  • @MsEllenEJones

An Adventure in Time and Space- 9pm, BBC2

Every major sci-fi franchise needs an origins story and you might like to think of this 50th anniversary tribute to Doctor Who as a something of the kind. The difference is that An Adventure in Space and Time, a drama about the early days of the BBC series, takes place not in the fictional universe of the show, but in the real world. Mostly.

Click here or on 'view images' for more pictures of the Doctor Who drama

It’s part a 60s-set workplace drama, like Mad Men or The Hour, in which ambitious young women bang their perfectly coiffed beehives against the era’s glass ceiling, and part a fascinating making-of doc. Did you know that producer Verity Lambert, was at that time the only female producer at the BBC? And that director Waris Hussein was the first Indian-born director?

This story really belongs to the First Doctor, however. William Hartnell can be cantankerous old codger, but he's played with pathos and empathy by David Bradley. How will he cope when old age and ill health forces him to give up the role he loves? Luckily, in Doctor Who an end is always a beginning, and so it is with Mark Gatiss’ cleverly resonant script.

Daleks going over Westminster Bridge, London in 'Adventure in Space and Time'

Also on TV tonight

Animal Odd Couples - 8pm, BBC1

A long-held belief that animals stick to their own appears not to necessarily hold true. In a film that goes beyond the mere cutesy, the biologist Liz Bonnin asks why a cat would adopt some ducklings and whether an orangutan could keep a dog as a pet. But then why not? They make very good pets.

Britain’s Secret Terror Force - 9pm, BBC1

In the early 1970s, the British Army ran an undercover squad that was designed to combat the IRA. Now, for the first time, some of its former members talk about their role.

A Young Doctor’s Notebook & Other Stories - 9pm & 12.10am, Sky Arts 1

Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm reprise their roles as the younger and older versions of Mikhail Bulgakov’s Russian medic. It is both 1918 and 1935.

Him & Her: the Wedding - 10pm, 12.30am & 3.30am, BBC3

The sitcom begins its final series, each episode charting a different stage in the awful Paul and Laura’s wedding day.