Dr Who: The William Hartnell Years
The First Doctor Who: William Hartnell
William Hartnell, an actor known for his stage, television and film appearances, was chosen to play the first Doctor Who, a role he would occupy for a little over three years. His first appearance as the time travelling voyager came in November 1963, the day after the assassination of US president, John F. Kennedy.
In his first story, An Unearthly Child, television viewers are introduced to a frail old man, grandfather to Susan. A brusque and mysterious character, the Doctor is protective of his background and unwilling to share any information about himself to his unwilling co-travellers, Barbara and Ian, two teachers who unwittingly stumble upon the TARDIS (his time travelling machine) while trying to find out more about Susan.
The TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space) becomes the centrepiece for the Doctor's adventures. Often unaware where his time travelling machine - disguised as a police phone box and bigger internally than the exterior - will take him next, added to the excitement and curiosity of the television viewer.
Exciting historical and futuristic stories followed. It was early in the series that the Doctor's most enduring and popular enemies were introduced: the malevolent and emotionless Daleks along with the humanoid Cybermen. Both remain the Doctor's nemeses to this day, having been featured regularly over the years, and are now embedded in the realms of British popular culture.
Due to ill health, Hartnell left the role in 1966. It was the height of the series' popularity, and rather than ending the show, the producers came up with an ingenious way of letting it continue. The Doctor would regenerate. The role would remain, but the Doctor's appearance and character would change. Thus, Hartnell handed the reins of the Doctor to Patrick Troughton, his second incarnation.
Hartnell would continue to make occasional appearances over the years, including 1973's Doctor Who: The Three Doctors, before his untimely death in 1975.
Doctor Who: A Television Legend is Born
William Hartnell Begins the Saga
Doctor Who was created essentially as a children's programme for the BBC's Autumn 1963 television season. Originally contracted for only thirteen episodes, it was never really expected to continue after these. However, thanks to some terrific casting, great writing and strong production values, it soon became a television staple in the UK, developing as one of Britain's most beloved television legends.
Historical stories were the writers' mandate during the early episodes; trips to ancient Rome and Greece, the Aztec Empire, Marco Polo's China, revolutionary France and America's Old West were amongst the travellers' many stops. These were offset by trips to distant alien planets, spaceships, as well as voyages to present and future Earth. The latter adventures introduced television viewers to the Doctor's most enduring enemies: the emotionless Daleks and Cybermen.
These early stories established the origins of the character of Doctor Who. He was a perplexing puzzle, a mysterious traveller from an unknown time trying to escape from his own people, the Time Lords.
Dr Who With His TARDIS
Tribute to William Hartnell's Dr Who
The First Doctor's Companions
William Russell (Ian) and Jacqueline Hill (Barbara) would join William Hartnell's Doctor and his granddaughter, Susan (Carole Ann Ford) as the weary companions who are thrust into adventures in time and space, travelling in a London police box (the Tardis). All three would eventually leave by the end of the second season.
They would be replaced over time by cast members Maureen O'Brien (Vicki), Peter Purves (Steven Taylor), Adrienne Hill (Katarina), Jean Marsh (Sara Kingdom), Jackie Lane (Dodo), Anneke Wills (Polly) and Michael Craze (Ben Jackson).
The First Doctor: Episode Guide: Series 1
An Unearthly Child
23/11/63 - 14/12/63
21/12/63 - 01/02/64
The Edge of Destruction
08/02/64 - 15/2/64
22/2/64 - 04/04/64
The Keys of Marinus
11/04/64 - 16/5/64
23/5/64 - 13/6/64
20/6/64 - 01/08/64
The Reign of Terror
08/08/64 - 12/09/64
Scenes From Series One
Episode Guide: Series 2
Planet of Giants
31/10/64 - 14/11/64
The Dalek Invasion of Earth
21/11/64 - 26/12/64
02/01/65 - 09/01/65
16/01/65 - 06/02/65
The Web Planet
13/02/65 - 20/03/65
27/03/65 - 17/04/65
The Space Museum
24/04/65 - 15/05/65
22/05/65 - 26/06/65
The Time Meddler
03/07/65 - 24/07/65
Episode Guide: Series 3
11/09/65 - 02/10/65
Mission to the Unknown
The Myth Makers
16/10/65 - 06/11/65
The Daleks' Masterplan
13/11/65 - 29/01/66
The Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Eve
05/02/66 - 26/02/66
05/03/66 - 26/03/66
The Celestial Toymaker
02/04/66 - 23/04/66
30/04/66 - 21/05/66
28/05/66 - 18/06/66
The War Machines
25/06/66 - 16/07/66
The Cybermen Are Introduced in The Tenth Planet
Episode Guide: Series 4
10/09/66 - 01/10/66
The Tenth Planet
08/10/66 - 29/10/66
Your Opinion About the First Dr. Who
Was William Hartnell the best Doctor?
Farewell to William Hartnell - The First Doctor Regenerates
About This Doctor Who Fan
My first memories of watching Doctor Who were from behind the couch as a kid in the 1960s. I have been hooked ever since, even now.
With each article, Richard invites you to step into his world of music, television and entertainment. He will introduce you to British Glam Rock, share The 20 Scariest Film Scores Ever? and even give you an up close look at some classic actors such as Christopher Lee as Dracula.
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