This was a touching homage to the creators of the amazing cult show and a delightful treat for fans, bookending the series with its beginning before the 50th anniversary special tomorrow.
It’s delightful watching Producer Verity Lambert get her start, learning beside the terribly young director Waris Hussein as they both fight the white male dominated BBC. Watching Verity defend the Daleks’ existence was a special treat. As she uses expressions like “Brave heart,” or Hatnell asks “Doctor Who?” the program nods to its many episodes and in-jokes. The music turns menacing for the Daleks but also shows the creation of the theme song (unchanged in 50 years!) and the sound effects.
Of course, there’s the traditional period music and costumes placing the show firmly in the 60s. We see the first woman in space and the Kennedy assassination that is being revisited so much this weekend, along with Who. We also get to visit a world of taping where four takes was considered far too much effort, with no budget and none of today’s tech.
Watching William Hartnell bond with his granddaughter through his relationship with his fictional granddaughter and his science fiction adventures is a delight. Of course this is framed partly as his struggle, his adventure to grow into a science fiction legend. At the same time, the series itself gain fannish status as kids on the bus start chanting “Exterminate!” and the first fan magazines and merchandising appear as the show begins to show what a success it can be. When a new producer joins, it’s lovely to see Hartnell being fannish, insisting that the proper buttons must do the proper jobs. With something on Verity’s cheek and the toasting photo of actors there’s a lovely cycle back to the beginning as the show tells a good story with artistry and heart as well as all its nods to fans.
The device of dialing the TARDIS to achieve flashbacks and flashforwards is charming for fans as well. Of course so many script moments from entering the TARDIS to the Daleks to the Doctor’s farewell to Susan are refilmed, along with the making of parts of the episode. As the show ends with a few actual actors and contributors, this delightful docu-dram takes its place in history…and the history of time itself.