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article imageDoctor Who: Reece Shearsmith to play Doctor for 50th anniversary

By Mathew Wace Peck     Feb 20, 2013 in Entertainment
Reece Shearsmith is to play the Doctor in an upcoming film, which will form part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of Doctor Who, the BBC’s iconic science-fiction drama series.
Shearsmith will play the late actor Patrick Troughton and the Second Doctor, the role Troughton made his own in the 1960s, in An Adventure in Space and Time, a 90-minute special for BBC 2, written by Mark Gatiss (Sherlock). The one-off drama – which will chart the creation and early days of the world’s longest-running science-fiction drama series – also stars David Bradley (Harry Potter) as the actor William Hartnell and the First Doctor, Troughton’s predecessor in Doctor Who.
Reece Shearsmith is the Doctor!
Shearsmith, 43, who is best known for being part of the creative team behind The League of Gentlemen and Psychoville, will soon be seen in his new BBC 2 venture, Inside No. 9.
Gatiss revealed how he chose Shearsmith to Patrick Mulkern, who writes regularly for Radio Times. “I first asked Reece about 12 years ago when I started thinking about this project,” he told Mulkern. “We were in the midst of [The] League of Gentlemen and I just remember thinking, if anyone plays Patrick Troughton, it should be Reece. Like the second Doctor, he’s small, saturnine and a comic genius. The complete package. He thought it was a fantastic idea and I’ve kind of nurtured it all this time.”
As reported by Digital Journal earlier this month, Gatiss also handpicked Bradley for the role of William Hartnell/First Doctor. However, unlike Bradley – not to mention Shearsmith’s League of Gentlemen colleagues, Gatiss and Steve Pemberton – An Adventure in Space and Time will be his first foray into the Doctor Who universe.
In 2012, Bradley appeared with current Doctor, Matt Smith, in an episode of Doctor Who, playing a villain, Solomon, in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship by Chris Chibnall. Pemberton’s Doctor Who stint happened in 2008, opposite David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor, in Silence in the Library by Steven Moffat. Gatiss, meanwhile, has, to date, appeared in three stories – The Lazarus Experiment (2007), The Wedding of River Song (2011) and The Great Detective (2012).
Previously, Shearsmith's association with the series has been a little more left-field, with Den of Geek reporting Gatiss as saying, “He’s not steeped in Doctor Who like I am, but has been lightly dipped over the years. I know he’s delighted to be a part of An Adventure in Space and Time.”
Doctor Who – which was first broadcast on 23 November 1963 – is the longest-running science-fiction television series in the world. Since 1963, eleven actors have portrayed the Doctor on TV. William Hartnell played the First Doctor from 1963 to 1966, with Patrick Troughton portraying the Second Doctor till 1969. They in turn were followed by 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), David Tennant (Tenth Doctor) and Matt Smith who has played the Eleventh Doctor since 2010 and will see the series through its anniversary year.
Shearsmith will be the third actor to portray the First Doctor. In 1983, in The Five Doctors, the Troughton’s son, David Troughton (The Cafe) played the Second Doctor in the BBC’s Doctor Who audio series Serpent Crest, which was written by Paul Magrs.
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.
Whether or not the BBC is filming another multi-Doctor reunion this year is yet to be made known but fans are hopeful that Moffat’s plans include The Eleven Doctors. In the meantime, Big Finish will be releasing their own multi-Doctor audio adventure, The Light at the End, which will feature 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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