Tonight kicks off the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary weekend on BBC America, and with it the comes premiere of An Adventure in Space a Time, a movie which retells the complicated beginnings of one of television’s most beloved franchise. Most importantly, however, it provides a fascinating look into one of the most important – and perhaps most misunderstood – people of the entire series, William Hartnell (played by David Bradley), the actor who played the mysterious first Doctor. It airs tonight at 9pm on BBC America, with an encore presentation at 11pm.

Make no mistake about it: For fans, An Adventure in Space a Time is an exceptionally well-made celebration of Doctor Who which is of such high quality that it can easily stand next to theatrical releases; however, for those who couldn’t care less about Time Lords or Sonic “Thingamajigs”, there’s also an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look into the world of television production that you’ve likely never seen before.

Wrapped in this beautifully shot, exceptionally acted tale about the creation of about Doctor Who, William Hartnell’s story slowly begins to reveal itself – and it’s through him which the most important look behind-the-scenes take place. Hartnell, whose best described as the “grumpy” Doctor (and for good reason), is often only mentioned in passing or as an answer to a trivia question – so without many interviews with the illusive man, “grumpy” is what most know him for.

However, in An Adventure in Space and Time, Hartnell’s story is told to its fullest, revealing that he wasn’t so much “grumpy” as he was aging and ailing – and doing everything he could think of to stay on the show he helped create which, as it turns out, is something he loved as much, if not more, than its many fans.

When it first announced that BBC and BBC America would be combining their powers for a TV movie about Doctor Who, written by Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss, nobody could really tell what the cross-continental “Beebs” would come up with – and news that it was being broadcast on BBC Two – not BBC One, as with the series – didn’t do much to instill hope that a “TV movie” would ever be more than the label that defines it. That is, until you watch it.

Without revealing more, it’s safe to say that An Adventure in Space and Time is a MUST WATCH for anyone remotely interested in Doctor Who, or even television and what all goes in it, as everyone involved goes above and beyond to deliver a true cinematic-worthy telling of the creation of legend. If you’re looking for more films like this – few as they may be – check out: The Late Shift, about the battle for the Tonight Show; Exporting Raymond, about developing Everybody Loves Raymond for Russian audiences; or Network, an Oscar-winning film about a TV network with poor ratings.

An Adventure in Space and Time premieres tonight @ 9pm on BBC America

Replays: Friday, November 22 @11pm & Sunday, November 24 @11pm