TV picks of the week: A lesson in Who-story

Adelaide Kane as Mary, Queen of Scots and Toby Regbo as Prince Francis in Reign.
Adelaide Kane as Mary, Queen of Scots and Toby Regbo as Prince Francis in Reign.

Pick of the Week: Dr Who 50th Anniversary

You might have heard - or read in last week's TimeOut - that there is a Doctor Who 50th anniversary on this weekend. There surely is.

And if you're a fan you can make the experience stretch all the way from your couch to your local cinema - if you want to see the special anniversary episode The Day of the Doctor in 3D, that's the place to see it.

But for those who prefer to hide behind their own sofas when those Daleks inevitably arrive, Prime is screening the show, which stars outgoing Doctor Matt Smith and his predecessor David Tennant as well as mysterious new "War Doctor" John Hurt, twice on Sunday. It's on in the morning to coincide with the screenings elsewhere in the world at 9am and then again at 8.30pm that night.

But the Who-athon starts early on Saturday morning, with retrospectives on each doctor and classic episodes starting on UKTV at 6.30am and running throughout the day - and on Sunday, too.

On Sunday, UKTV's Doctor Who shows end with The Women of Doctor Who, which reminds that while there have been a dozen or so Time Lords, there's never been a Time Lady.

But the most concise and possibly the most enjoyable of the many Doctor Who history lessons is An Adventure in Space and Time, a new one-off BBC drama about how the show's creators got the first show on air in 1963.

A similar idea to The Road to Coronation Street, which dramatised the soap's beginnings for its 50th anniversary, Space and Time screens on UKTV at 5.50pm on Saturday, just a few days after its British broadcast.

It depicts how the first doctor, William Hartnell, was cast against type in the role. And how BBC drama producer Verity Lambert (the youngest and only woman in the job) teamed with director Waris Hussein (the sole Indian-born director at the Beeb) to deliver the programme dreamed up by Sydney Lambert, the Canadian head of BBC drama and sci-fi, who created the show to fill the Saturday-afternoon gap between sports show Grandstand and pop show Jukebox Jury.

Space and Time is co-written by Mark Gatiss, who has written for the series in recent years and has occasionally appeared in it in various supporting roles.

He says the drama concentrates on how the role briefly transformed Hartnell's life - he eventually had to give it away because of illness, inspiring the first Doctor-to-Doctor actor transformation.

"In William Hartnell, we have the very affecting story of a man redeemed by the role of a lifetime who then, sadly, had to let it go. I think we can all relate to something like that in our lives," says Gatiss.

"I'd wanted to tell the story for years - I sort of grew up with it - how no one wanted the Daleks, about the first episode going out just after JFK was shot. But I wanted to get deeper than just the details of production and find the human story."

Where: Prime and UKTV
When: Various times across the weekend
What: Winding the clock back on the Tardis

Drama pick: REIGN

Think Gossip Girl crossed with The Tudors for an idea of what this new show will deliver. It's a period drama, full of dangerous liaisons, politics, sex, ghostly figures in dark passageways, love triangles, family honour, and poisoned wine - but this time it's aimed at a younger demographic, and takes plenty of creative licence. The series opens with young Mary Queen of Scots, who has spent her childhood in a monastery, arriving at the French palace where she has been sent to formalise her arranged marriage with the French King's son - the charming Prince Francis. Their marriage should secure France's alliance to Scotland, and help protect Scotland from England. But, despite the bond between Mary and Francis, their match is not a done deal, and the safety of Mary and her ladies in waiting is by no means guaranteed.

When: Thursday, 9.35pm
Where: Prime
What: Mary Teen of Scots

Food pick: FUSION FEASTS

Despite his high profile here and in Britain, Kiwi wonder-chef Peter Gordon hasn't done much TV. And this, thankfully, isn't just a plug for his many dining establishments but a wander into the heartland where Gordon becomes guest chef to a different iwi each week. "Now I face possibly my biggest culinary challenge yet, the chance to take this fusion philosophy to the marae, to take traditional Maori food, and give it my own special twist," he says. The first episode has him at Pakipaki's Mihiroa Marae in Hawkes Bay where his extended whanau are in for a big feed of paua and eel. But first there's a diving trip for the shellfish followed by spot of eel-netting. Future adventures for Gordon include shooting deer, cooking trout in geothermal hot sand, and that most risky of NZ culinary quests - hunting truffles.

When: Saturday 7pm
Where: TV3
What: Kai time with Pete from the big smoke

Music pick: NEW ZEALAND MUSIC AWARDS

Hosted by the ever-versatile Shannon Ryan and the increasingly unavoidable Stan Walker, the 48th Vodafone Music Awards is going out an hour behind the real-time action at Vector Arena tonight. The coverage starts with a half-hour red-carpet special at 8pm before it's into the prize-giving. Walker, a nominee himself, will be performing as will Aaradhna, Titanium, Jamie McDell, Iva Lankum and Walker's X Factor judging colleague Ruby Frost in the tribute segment to NZ Herald Legacy Award winner Shona Laing. Undoubtedly the star of the night will be chart champion Lorde who is up for four awards - her nominations are based on the early local success of her debut EP The Love Club, so she's not featuring in the album of the year category. But might she win best breakthrough artist? You think?

When: Tonight, 8pm
Where: Four
What: The Tuis

Reality pick: THE AMAZING RACE

Having survived a South Island farm challenge involving gumboots, stubbies, and a poo pond, the four remaining duos in the latest series of Phil Keoghan's jet-setting reality show are finally on their last lap for the million dollar prize. They're heading back to the US, having stopped off in French Polynesia, NZ, Indonesia, Vietnam, Botswana, Switzerland, Germany, and Scotland. But first they're in Belfast for a spot of bog snorkelling, before it's off to London via Liverpool then across the Atlantic to Washington D.C. There, the final three pairs face challenges involving some spy games around local landmarks and a test of their knowledge of local history. This 22nd incarnation is still a high-rating show in the US where most of the series attracted more than nine million viewers every episode. Series 23 starts here on November 30.

When: Tuesday 7.30pm
Where: TV2
What: The final dash

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- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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