James Bond isn’t the only iconic British character able to celebrate a 50th anniversary — the long-running and oft-reincarnated British sci-fi series “Doctor Who” marks five decades of existence this year, a milestone that BBC America plans to celebrate with a TV movie about the franchise’s start.
The network will join a project that was first announced in August of last year, working with BBC Cymru Wales to co-produce “An Adventure in Space and Time,” a scripted film about the genesis of “Doctor Who” — which first aired on November 23, 1963 — and the people involved in its creation. The film was written by The League of Gentlemen member Mark Gatiss, who will executive produce it alongside fellow “Sherlock” creator Steven Moffat as well as Caroline Skinner. (Moffat is the current showrunner of “Doctor Who,” for which Gatiss has written six episodes.)
David Bradley (Argus Filch in the “Harry Potter” films) will play William Hartnell, the first Doctor, while Brian Cox will be BBC’s Head of Drama Sydney Newman, credited with the creation of the show. Jessica Raine (“Call the Midwife”) will take the role of producer Verity Lambert, and Sacha Dhawan will act as Waris Hussain, the director of the show’s first episode “An Unearthly Child.” Terry McDonough (“Breaking Bad,” “Wire in the Blood”) will direct.
The 90-minute “An Adventure in Space and Time” is slated to premiere later this year on BBC America, with filming beginning in February in the U.K. “What a cast!” said Gatiss in the announcement. “I’m utterly delighted that everyone’s favorite Time Lord will be in such brilliant and stellar company. We have a terrific team who can’t wait to tell the fascinating and surprising story of how the Doctor began his journey through Space and Time.”
Matt Smith plays the current Eleventh Doctor on the series, which has grown from cult favorite in recent years into an international phenomenon, with the recent Christmas special “Doctor Who: The Snowmen” delivering record ratings for BBC America. The series returns to air in the U.S. on March 30th.