“A re-creation of the Time Lord’s genesis would be a perfect 50th birthday treat” writes David Brown of the Radio Times:
Next year will be Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary and who knows what surprises there are in store. Past incarnations reuniting to save the universe? Matt Smith’s Doctor regenerating in the final moments of a feature-length episode?
During Saturday’s Graham Norton show on BBC Radio 2, the host raised the possibility of a previously unconsidered idea – a drama documenting the programme’s genesis back in 1963.
Norton’s guest, Mark Gatiss, was quick to demur: “Am I writing a film about it? No,” he said, before playfully remarking that he was scribbling thoughts down on the back of his hand. “What a good idea that would be,” he confessed.
And yes, what a terrific notion it is. A re-creation of that bygone period in television production when young producer Verity Lambert was trying to carve out a career at a sexist BBC and Canadian Sydney Newman was coming up with the concept of a time machine bigger on the inside than it was on the outside.
Then there’s Delia Derbyshire, the musical pioneer who created that otherworldly theme music; plus the casting of William Hartnell as the original Doctor. What scope there is for a well-produced bio-drama.
There is a positive precedent for this kind of project. In December 2010, Corrie celebrated its half-century with the sight of a tram careening off its tracks and onto those Weatherfield cobbles. Yet by far the most moving tribute was BBC4’s The Road to Coronation Street, an evocation of Granada at the start of the 1960s, when young scriptwriter Tony Warren was attempting to get his vision of northern backstreets onto our screens.
This 90-minute piece, penned by one-time Street archivist and scriptwriter Daran Little, scooped a Bafta for best single drama. Surely, the same could be achieved for Doctor Who, a programme every bit as revolutionary and enduring as the Street?
And who better to pen the screenplay than Gatiss? He’s famous for being familiar with the more recondite corners of Doctor Who history, and has a track record in TV drama that takes in everything from Sherlock and Agatha Christie’s Poirot to exploits with the Time Lord himself.
It’s this combination of insider knowledge and lifelong passion that makes Gatiss the ideal choice to conjure up Who in its nascent years. Such a production would be a perfect addition to all the birthday celebrations in 2013. The story of the Doctor’s very first adventure deserves to be told.