It’s very tempting to go a bit sour grapes about the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary. At time of writing, companies like IDW and Big Finish are making a bigger deal of the anniversary than the BBC is with, so far, half last year’s season, a single 60 minute special and a 90 minute docudrama about the birth of the show being the only things we’re getting. On the one hand there’s a lot of fan speculation that these are simply the things we’ve been told about and on the other there’s both a little disappointment and a sneaking suspicion that nothing will ever quite be enough.
So instead of speculating about what we might have, let’s talk about what we’ve got. Namely, confirmation that David Bradley, recently seen as Solomon in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, is returning to the Doctor Who production offices to play William Hartnell in An Adventure in Space and Time. My immediate reaction to this is that he’s a fantastic choice, not just because he looks a lot like Hartnell but because he’s a great character actor and a man completely unafraid of playing a character’s less sympathetic qualities. Bradley also has natural authority, something Hartnell had in spades and throws himself at his roles. He’s also, interestingly, a fan of Hartnell’s work so is very motivated to do the late actor proud.
The production history of the show, to be quite honest, has never interested me. I’m far more concerned with the stories themselves than which ones reused which props from where, but I’m genuinely looking forward to An Adventure in Space and Time. The story of the show’s birth is fascinating; effectively given to a group of mavericks so it would definitely fail, it instead became a runaway success and the cultural institution we see today. Bradley joins a massively impressive cast and lifts it still further with his presence. Regardless of how much we’re getting for the anniversary, all signs point to An Adventure in Space and Time being a highlight. I look forward to it.