From The Notebook to 10 Things I Hate About You, there are plenty of romance films that would make for a great watch this Valentine’s Day, but they’re missing one thing: a bit of time travel.


Don’t get me wrong, the kisses in the rain, the declarations of love, and Heath Ledger dancing in the bleachers are all well and good.

For some people, Hugh Grant is the way to go for V-Day, whether it’s Bridget Jones’ Diary or Notting Hill. For others, picking a Mr Darcy between Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen is what's needed, and I cannot fault that.

For me, though, there is nothing like having your heart ripped out of your chest and then only somewhat put back together again with a good time travel romance story. Seriously, the stakes are never higher than in time travel romance and, very aptly, there are infinite ways to explore it as a genre, so there’s a little something for everyone.

I’m talking Domnhall Gleeson trying to actually rewrite time to win over the love that passed him by in About Time. I’m talking Amy Pond sacrificing herself to the Weeping Angels in Doctor Who in the hopes of reuniting with her beloved Rory decades in the past. I’m talking Jim Carrey having Kate Winslet erased from his mind and the pair of them having to escape through their actual memories together in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

About Time
About Time Universal Studios

Some of those love stories are destined for tragedy – take the Doctor and River Song in Doctor Who. When we’re introduced to River (played by Alex Kingston) in Silence in the Library, there’s no mistaking her horror and heartbreak when she realises the Doctor (David Tennant) doesn’t recognise her. What follows is a wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey slow-burn, plagued with tragedy when we realise that they’ve never been destined for a happy ending.

Others find hope in a completely horrifying scenario. Even though they’re often comedies, the time loop is just about the most unsettling situation a person could imagine. I can think of few things worse than being forced into spending the same day over and over again – unless it creates the perfect environment for Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti to fall in love and risk death as they attempt to escape together in Palm Springs.

For those of us that aren’t so keen on having their heart ripped out for Valentine’s Day, some time travel romances are just a bit of fun. I maintain that Jennifer Garner gave the performance of a lifetime in 13 Going on 30, even if some parts simply didn’t make sense. That moment when Jenna realises Matty is lost to her forever is a genuine heart-wrencher - with time travel coming along to save the day and give us our happy ending. Meanwhile, if Adam Sandler’s your bag for Valentine’s Day (we’re not judging), Click was clearly made for you.

More like this

Time travel has the scope to bring the best parts of romance stories – the fun, the tragedy, the grand gestures and the happy endings – and do them on a bigger scale.

Reuniting after years spent away from each other? How about reuniting after being forced apart by time itself? An adorable meet-cute? What about a hundred meet-cutes just to win the same person over after being stuck in a time loop? A sad farewell? How about the Doctor burning up a thousand suns just to say goodbye to Rose Tyler? (Nope, I’m still not over it.)

Yes, it’s dramatic, but surely drama is exactly what we want from our fictional romances. To paraphrase the expert on the matter, the course of true love never did run smooth – it took a few detours in the TARDIS first.

If you're looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide and Streaming Guide.


Try Radio Times magazine today and get 12 issues for only £1 with delivery to your home subscribe now. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to the Radio Times View From My Sofa podcast.