Sacha Dhawan who plays Waris Hussein, director of the first Doctor Who serial An Unearthly Child, in Mark Gatiss’s drama about the birth of the show, says Hussein became quite emotional while watching a screening of it.
“Waris started welling up and getting quite moved by it,” said Dhawan, who explained he made the most of getting to know the man he is portraying.
“He is quite a specific character and I wanted to make sure that I played him as truthfully as possible,” said Dhawan. “He has a particular way of speaking as well, which I really wanted to hone in on.”
When Hussein arrived at the BBC in 1963 to work on Doctor Who, it was as the Corporation’s first Indian-born director.
“There were definitely challenges for Waris at the time,” said Dhawan. “But I think in the longer term it made him a better director. And I think Doctor Who was one of those projects that gave him immense confidence.”
Despite the strange situation the pair found themselves in during the filming of An Adventure in Space and Time, Dhawan said he and Hussein got in immediately.
“We were a bit kind of weird with each other; we were both studying, looking at one another. He was looking at me thinking ‘You’re watching everything I’m doing aren’t you?’, but we hit it off straight away,” he revealed.
Dhawan said he had even tweaked his musical tastes to get into the mood for the role: “I listened to loads of Sixties music on the way to work, to get a certain kind of swagger.”
The one-off drama for the BBC will explore the relationship between Hussein and producer Verity Lambert (played by Call the Midwife’s Jessica Raine), who formed a strong friendship during their time on set and went on to work on various projects together after Doctor Who.
Of the end result Sacha said: “I think it appeals to those who aren’t necessarily Doctor Who fans. I was very moved by the script, particularly [first Doctor] William Hartnell’s journey, which I relate to as an actor myself.”
An Adventure In Space And Time is expected to air later this month