So pervasive was the force of American television popular culture on this child of the 1960s that every time I type An Adventure in Space and Time, the forthcoming docudrama on the genesis of Doctor Who, I have to make a correction that the spell checker never picks up. What error could this be, I hear you ask? Well, for the last 40 odd years a catchy little theme song has been running through my head that goes something like this “It’s about time, it’s about space, about two men in the strangest place …”
Yes, the Sherwood Schwartz created one season science fiction comedy series, It’s About Time, will forever make me type An Adventure in Time and Space. This 1966-1967 CBS show was in production at the same time as Schwartz’s more famous offering, Gilligan’s Island. It’s About Time chronicled the adventures of two astronauts that travelled faster than the speed of light and somehow found their way back to the prehistoric times. Their interactions with the locals were the constant cause of merriment.
Having watched the short YouTube clip memories of my Australian childhood came flooding back as I recalled the days when we had only three TV stations. It wouldn’t have mattered that It’s About Time was filmed in wonderful “Technicolor”, because we still only had black and white TV. Colour transmission didn’t begin in Australia until 1 March 1975. Name an American children’s themed TV show of the Sixties and you can be sure that it was played ad nauseam on one of Australia’s networks.
I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between episodes two, three and four of An Unearthly Child and It’s About Time. The Cave of Skulls, The Forest of Fear and The Firemaker saw the Doctor and his companions, Ian, Barbara and Susan, caught in pre-historic times and at the mercy of likes of Za, Kal, Hur and Horg. As Season One of Doctor Who was never aired in the US the likelihood of Sherwood Schwartz having seen, let alone heard, about Doctor Who is negligible. Stranger things have happened, though!
©Vivien Fleming, 2013.