The BBC Media Centre have released a new interview with Sacha Dhawan, who will play the director of the first ever episodes of Doctor Who, Waris Hussein, in the forthcoming drama An Adventure in Space and Time:
“There were definitely challenges for Waris at the time, but I think in the longer term it made him a better director,” says Sacha. “And I think Doctor Who was one of those projects that gave him immense confidence.”
Following on from Doctor Who, Hussein went on to have a long career directing a variety of projects from A Passage To India to Shoulder To Shoulder.
As well as touching on the issues of being an Indian director at the BBC in the 1960s, the drama explores the bond between Hussein and the producer Verity Lambert. They struck up a strong friendship and became a committed team, with Hussein going on to work with Lambert on several other productions after Doctor Who.
To research the role, Sacha spent a lot of time with Waris, first meeting him at a public screening of the episodes he directed.
“He is quite a specific character and I wanted to make sure that I played him as truthfully as possible,” explains Sacha. “He has a particular way of speaking as well, which I really wanted to home in on.”
“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 says.
Hussein attended one of the first scenes Sacha filmed, showing Lambert and Hussein in the BBC Club. “He started welling up and getting quite moved by it,” says Sacha. “I hope that was in a good way and not a bad one, but I think he seemed happy.”
Sacha was excited to tackle a period setting he’d never done before. “When I first read the script, it was the era that really excited me. I’d never done anything in this kind of genre. The 1960s is so cool; I love the set and the clothes. As soon as you wear them, you act in a certain way; you walk in a different way.”
And to get in to the right frame of mind Sacha dipped into his music collection. “I listened to loads of Sixties music on the way to work, to get a certain kind of swagger.”
So how would he sum up ‘Space And Time’?
“I think it appeals to those who aren’t necessarily Doctor Who fans. I was very moved by the script, particularly William Hartnell’s journey, which I relate to as an actor myself,” he concludes.