In 1963, newly arrived BBC Head of Drama Sydney Newman shakes the stolid BBC establishment with his rebellious attitudes and his desire to make the British broadcaster’s output less posh and more popular. With a 25-minute gap in the Saturday evening schedule to fill, Newman assembles a team to begin working on a new television series called Doctor Who, concerning an eccentric time traveler whose incredibly time-space machine, the TARDIS, is disguised as a 1950s police box. Wanting to appoint a producer to run this show, Newman looks for someone with “piss and vinegar” and settles on Verity Lambert, who had previously worked as his production assistant. But in her new position as the first female producer in the BBC, Verity makes waves… and a few enemies. She bucks conventional wisdom in hiring esteemed character actor William Hartnell to play the part of the Doctor, the show’s wizened and yet ageless time traveler. For his own part, Hartnell has been looking for a role to get him out of a rut of being typecast as tough authority figures and military characters. Verity also finds a willing collaborator in rookie director Waris Hussein, and after months of preparation and planning, Doctor Who is finally in a studio (one of the smallest and least sophisticated at the BBC’s disposal, naturally), though the show is fighting for its life up to the moment of broadcast and beyond.
written by Mark Gatiss
directed by Terry McDonough
music by Edmund Butt
Cast: David Bradley (William Hartnell), Ross Gurney-Randall (Reg), Roger May (Len), Sam Hoare (Douglas Camfield), Charlie Kemp (Arthur), Brian Cox (Sydney Newman), William Russell (Harry – Security Guard), Jeff Rawle (Mervyn Pinfield), Andrew Woodall (Rex Tucker), Jessica Raine (Verity Lambert), Jemma Powell (Jacqueline Hill), Lesley Manville (Heather Hartnell), Cara Jenkins (Judith Carney), Sacha Dhawan (Waris Hussein), Toby Hadoke (Cyril), Sarah Winter (Delia Derbyshire), Jamie Glover (William Russell), Claudia Grant (Carole Ann Ford), David Annen (Peter Brachacki), Mark Eden (Donald Baverstock), Ian Hallard (Richard Martin), Nicholas Briggs (Peter Hawkins), Carole Ann Ford (Joyce), Reece Pockney (Alan), Reece Shearsmith (Patrick Troughton), Anneke Wills (Farewell party attendee), Jean Marsh (Farewell party attendee), Anna-Lisa Drew (Maureen O’Brien), Sophie Holt (Jackie Lane)
Notes: Numerous actors appear in this movie who have appeared in actual episodes of Doctor Who before, not least of which are surviving members of the original 1963 cast William Russell and Carole Ann Ford, who played Ian and Susan respectively. David Bradley appeared in the 2012 episode Dinosaurs In A Spaceship as the episode’s villain, while Jessica Raine guest starred in 2013’s Hide. Hartnell-era companions Jean Marsh and Anneke Wills – both of whom reprise their 1960s roles for Big Finish Doctor Who audio dramas – appear as partygoers at Verity Lambert’s farewell party. Big Finish Doctor Who producer Nicholas Briggs, the voice of the Daleks in modern Doctor Who, appears (in a wig) as 1960s Dalek voice originator Peter Hawkins.
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