A drama about the making of the first Doctor Who series is due to air in the week before the 50th anniversary episode, the BBC has confirmed.
Starring David Bradley and Jessica Raine, “An Adventure in Space and Time” will follow first Doctor William Hartnell and producer Verity Lambert as they struggle to put on the Saturday family drama in the sixties.
Written by Doctor Who screenwriter Mark Gatiss, the 90 minute drama has had to cut some of the show’s history out, including the story of how Terry Nation and Ray Cusick created the Daleks.
Instead, the drama focuses on the BBC in the sixties, and the attempts to get the tea-time sci-fi drama commissioned.
Brian Cox plays former BBC head of drama Sydney Newman, while Sacha Dhawan plays Waris Hussein, the first Doctor Who director.
David Bradley plays Hartnell, who was initially unsure whether to star in a children’s show having previously made a name for himself in hard-man roles.
But Bradley said the actor later embraced his role. “He was invited to school fetes in the full outfit and I thought how brilliant and touching that was. It’s clear that he absolutely loved it and found it very hard to let go,” he said.
Hartnell was persuaded with the help of Verity Lambert, the BBC’s first female drama producer and the first producer of Doctor Who, to take on the part.
Well-known among Doctor Who fans, Sydney Newman once described Lambert as full of “p*** and vinegar”.
Call the Midwife’s Jessica Raine, who plays Lambert, said she was “very strong willed, very compassionate and very warm".
She said: "As the first female drama producer at the BBC she had to be very determined. She had a real fire in her belly about projects she believed in."
An Adventure in Space and Time is due to air in the week before the 50th anniversary Doctor Who special, broadcast on 23 November