Titled, An Adventure in Space and Time (the original subtitle to Doctor Who to set the scene for the series) the special will unravel the threads of time that led to the creation of Doctor Who, covering its first broadcast with the episode An Unearthly Child (also referred to as 100000 BC) on November 23, 1963. The special will highlight the varied array of personalities, talent and behind-the-scenes drama that gave birth to this iconic British series.
The script for the special is in the very safe, time vortex-drenched hands of Mark Gatiss. Gatiss began his public association with Doctor Who in 1992 with the novel Nightshade, set in Virgin’s New Adventures series, which carried on with Sylvester McCoy‘s Seventh Doctor (and later, with Paul McGann‘s Eighth Doctor). Gatiss then wrote television scripts for WHO/BBV direct to video spinoff P.R.O.B.E., which featured Doctors Jon Pertwee, Peter Davison and Colin Baker in different roles. He has since contributed four more Doctor Who novels to the canon, as well as two WHO audios for BBV and two audios for the official home for past Doctors, Big Finish Productions.
Since WHO returned to our screens in 2005, Gatiss has written four episodes of the show, The Unquiet Dead, The Idiot’s Lantern, The Victory of the Daleks and Night Terrors. He will also have two episodes in the second half of Series Seven in 2013. He has acted in two episodes of Doctor Who as well, as Professor Lazarus in The Lazarus Experiment (2007) and in 2011 he returned in the Series 6 episode The Wedding of River Song as the Galactic VIking character known as Gantok (although under the assumed name of Rondo Haxton).
“This is the story of how an unlikely set of brilliant people created a true television original. And how an actor – William Hartnell – stereotyped in hard-man roles became a hero to millions of children. I’ve wanted to tell this story for more years than I can remember! To make it happen for Doctor Who’s 50th birthday is quite simply a dream come true.”
In addition to Gatiss’ steady hands on the Time-Rotor and the Helmic Regulator, the special will be executive produced by current Doctor Who showrunner, Steven Moffat and Caroline Skinner.
“The story of Doctor Who is the story of television – so it’s fitting in the anniversary year that we make our most important journey back in time to see how the TARDIS was launched.”
By my calculations, Gatiss has written for Patrick Troughton‘s Second Doctor, Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor, Peter Davison’s Fifth Doctor, Sylvester McCoy’s Seventh Doctor, Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor, Christopher Eccleston‘s Ninth Doctor, David Tennant‘s Tenth Doctor and Matt Smith‘s Eleventh Doctor. Gatiss also has the distinction of playing an “alternate” incarnation of The Doctor, in a sketch called The Web of Caves for BBC 2′s Doctor Who Night in 1999, alongside Little Britian’s Mark Walliams.
It is not known yet who will be cast to play William Hartnell as he struggles to find a voice for his role as the original First Doctor, or if other actors who have played the part will be recast for the drama.
Personally, I’m hoping to see at least a montage of current actors portraying the Doctors of old, if nothing else for a fun bit of casting. Perhaps one of the newly cast “Doctors” for this special might be discovered good enough to use again, should they want to recast Hartnell, Troughton or Pertwee (all deceased) for the upcoming 50th Anniversary celebration in the series proper!
The single 90 minute drama was commissioned by Ben Stephenson Controller, Drama, and Janice Hadlow, Controller of BBC Two.
If you liked that, check out this:
G4′s Attack of the Show recently aired an interview with David Tennant regarding several of his new projects, and his complete evasion of questions about the 50th anniversary were too damned cute to miss. Great interview by The Nerdist’s Matt Mira! Check it out on your Time/Space Visualizer.
If you liked that too, then go see this also:
The Story of Doctor Who (Part 1) was the 40th anniversary documentary. Check it out for some great interviews! The other parts can be found on the Tube of You.