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article imageDavid Bradley is Doctor Who for 50th anniversary drama

By Mathew Wace Peck     Jan 30, 2013 in Entertainment
As part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the British television science-fiction series Doctor Who, David Bradley is to play the Doctor in an upcoming film, the BBC has announced.
Bradley – probably best known for playing Argus Filch, the caretaker of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies – will recreate the role of the First Doctor in An Adventure in Space and Time, a 90-minute special for BBC 2, written by Mark Gatiss (Sherlock).
The one-off drama will chart the creation and early days of the world’s longest-running science-fiction drama series. In it, Bradley will play the late actor William Hartnell and the First Doctor, the role Hartnell immortalised in the early 1960s.
David Bradley is the Doctor!
Speaking this morning, Bradley, 70, told the BBC that he was thrilled to have landed the role. He said, “I first heard about this role from Mark while watching the Diamond Jubilee flotilla from the roof of the National Theatre.”
He went on to add, “When he asked if I would interested, I almost bit his hand off! Mark has written such a wonderful script not only about the birth of a cultural phenomenon, but a moment in television’s history.”
Other significant castings for the film include Brian Cox (The Bourne Identity) as Sydney Newman – the person credited with the show’s creation – Jessica Raine (Call the Midwife) as Doctor Who’s first producer Verity Lambert and Sacha Dhawan (The History Boys) as Waris Husssein, who directed the very-first episode, An Unearthly Child.
Bradley is no stranger to the world of Doctor Who. In 2010, he appeared in The Sarah Jane Adventures – the popular Doctor Who spin-off that starred the late Elisabeth Sladen in the eponymous role – providing the voice of the Shansheeth in Death of the Doctor, which saw the Eleventh Doctor and his former companion Jo Grant (Katy Manning) team up. Next, Bradley came face to face with the Eleventh Doctor in the Doctor Who story Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, this time playing Solomon.
Likewise, Cox and Raine have both had parts in Doctor Who. In 2009, Cox voiced the Elder Ood in Russell T Davies’s The End of Time, which saw the Tenth Doctor regenerate into the Eleventh. And Raine is set to appear in an upcoming episode, Phantom of the Hex.
Gatiss, meanwhile, has written a number of Doctor Who episodes, including two to be broadcast this year, and, to date, appeared in three – The Lazarus Experiment (2007), The Wedding of River Song (2011) and The Great Detective (2012).
Significant others
Other significant actors involved in the early days of Doctor Who include Carole Ann Ford – who played the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan – and William Russell and the late Jacqueline Hill, who played the Doctor’s first-ever companions Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright. Casting for these parts has yet to be announced.
Likewise, for other significant behind-the-scenes personnel such as the writer Antony Coburn – who wrote the pilot and first four transmitted episodes of the series – and those people connected with the introduction of Doctor Who’s most iconic adversaries, the Daleks: Terry Nation and Raymond Cusick.
Doctor Who is the world’s longest-running science-fiction television series. Since it began in 1963, eleven actors have portrayed the Doctor on TV – William Hartnell played the First Doctor until 1966. He was succeeded by Patrick Troughton (Second Doctor), Jon Pertwee (Third Doctor), Tom Baker (Fourth Doctor), Peter Davison (Fifth Doctor), Colin Baker (Sixth Doctor), Sylvester McCoy (Seventh Doctor), Paul McGann (Eighth Doctor), Christopher Eccleston (Ninth Doctor) and David Tennant (Tenth Doctor). Tennant’s successor, Matt Smith – who has played the Eleventh Doctor since 2010 – will see the series through its anniversary year.
Bradley will be the third actor to portray the First Doctor. In 1983, in The Five Doctors, the Richard Hurndall (The Power Game) took over Hartnell’s role, Hartnell having died in 1975. To date, there have also been two ‘alternate’ First Doctors – Peter Cushing (Hammer Horror) in two 1960s-released movies (Dr Who and the Daleks and Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 AD) and Geoffrey Bayldon (Catweazle) in two Big Finish audio releases (Auld Mortality and A Storm of Angels).
The Eleven Doctors
An Adventure in Space and Time forms part of a number of TV programmes celebrating Doctor Who’s golden anniversary, which will also include an eight-episode series – starring Smith’s Eleventh Doctor alongside his newest companion, Clara Oswin Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman), beginning at Easter – and at least two further specials, both written by Moffat – the 50th-anniversary special itself, as reported by Digital Journal last year, which will be broadcast exactly 50 years after An Unearthly Child aired –Saturday, 23 November – and this year’s Christmas Day special.
For past milestone anniversaries, the BBC have produced specials involving previous incarnations of the Doctor: the tenth anniversary, in 1973, saw the then current Doctor Jon Pertwee joined by his predecessors, Hartnell and Troughton, for The Three Doctors; the first five Doctors then appeared together in 1983 for the 20th anniversary, in The Five Doctors. Other multi-Doctor stories have included The Two Doctors (1985), Dimensions in Time (1993), Time Crash (2007) and the audio-only stories The Sirens of Time (1999) and Zagreus (2003).
Fans hoping for another multi-Doctor reunion this year have yet to hear whether Moffat’s plans include The Eleven Doctors. However, it has just been announced that Big Finish will be releasing an audio adventure, The Light at the End, starring Doctors four to eight.
An Adventure in Space and Time is due to be broadcast sometime in the autumn. It will be produced by Matt Stevens – the producer of E4’s Misfits – and directed by Terry McDonough (Breaking Bad). Gatiss will act as an executive producer, alongside Doctor Who’s showrunner, Steven Moffat, and executive producer Caroline Skinner (The Fades).
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