Doctor Who: The First Doctor

Doctor Who: The First Doctor
The William Hartnell Years (1963-1966)
"That is the dematerialisation control, and that over yonder is the horizontal hold. Up there is the scanner, those are the doors, that is a chair with a panda on it. Sheer poetry, dear boy".
William Hartnell (8 January 1908 – 23 April 1975) was born William Henry Hartnell on 8 January 1908 in dire poverty in St Pancras, London, the illegitimate child of Lucy Hartnell, an unmarried mother. Hartnell never discovered the identity of his father, whose particulars were left blank on his birth certificate. Sadly, he never traced his father, and felt the 'stigma' of his illegitimacy all his life. He was brought up partly by a foster mother, and also spent many holidays in Devon with his mother's family of farmers, from whom he learned to ride horses, a skill he later used in British films like Strawberry Roan (1944). Leaving school with no qualifications he was involved in petty crime, until at the age of 16, he met the art collector Hugh Blaker, who later became his unofficial guardian, arranged for him to train as a jockey, and helped him to enter the Italia Conti Academy.
Aged 17 he entered the theatre in 1925 as a general stagehand for the great actor-manager Frank Benson and a year later made his stage debut in The Merchant of Venice. He spent the rest of the 1920s appearing in either Shakespearian or Restoration roles, until 1928 when he appeared in the modern play Miss Elizabeth's Prisoner with the actress Heather McIntyre, whom he married the next year. In 1929 their only child Heather was born. In the1930s he also appeared in radio for the BBC, and made his first of many film appearances in Say It With Music (1932). His pre-war acting career was busy but poorly paid, often appearing in 'quota quickies', B-movies most of which are now lost, and he was often in financial difficulty.
With the outbreak of war he served in the Tank Corps but was invalided out in 1942. 
From then his career began to pick up, with appearances in films The Way Ahead (1944) and most notably Brighton Rock (1947), in which he was outstanding. Hartnell continued to play comic characters, but mainly policemen, soldiers and thugs. This typecasting irked him, for even when he was cast in comedies he found he invariably played the nasty character. In 1958 he played the sergeant in the first Carry On comedy film, Carry On Sergeant, playing the titular Sergeant Grimshaw. He found he was typecast again, this time as the nasty Army Sergeant, his first regular role on television was as Sergeant Major Percy Bullimore in The Army Game in 1957. He left after the first season though he did return for the final season in 1961. Again, although it was a comedy series, he found himself cast in a "tough guy" role. He also appeared in a supporting role in Lindsay Anderson's film version of This Sporting Life (1963), giving a wonderfully sensitive performance as  "Dad", an ageing rugby league talent scout. It was this role that Verity Lambert saw him in when she was casting around for the First Doctor Who. 
DOCTOR WHO - THE BIRTH &CREATORS
Sydney Newman
  Donald Wilson
C E Webber
In December 1962 Sydney Newman left the ITV company ABC to join the BBC. Alerted to the need for a programme to bridge the gap between the sports showcase Grandstand and pop music programme Juke Box Jury on Saturday evenings, he decided that a science-fiction drama would be the perfect vehicle for filling the gap and gaining a family audience. Although much work on the genesis of the series was done by Donald Wilson, C. E. Webber and others, it was Newman who created the idea of a time machine larger on the inside than the out and the character of the mysterious "Doctor", both of which remain at the heart of the programme. Who came up with the name of the show is much disputed.
(l-r producer Verity Lambert. director Waris Hussein, associate producer Mervyn Pinfield)
After the series had been conceived, Newman found that no-one at the BBC wanted to produce it. He then offered the show to his former production assistant at ABC, Verity Lambert. She had never produced, written or directed, so she was given Mervyn Pinfield as an associate producer, in charge of the 'technical' side of a Sci-Fi show.
(story editor David Whitaker)
           (writer Anthony Coburn)
Producer Verity Lambert, script editor David Whitaker, and writer Anthony Coburn 'fleshed' out the basic premise, and wrote and produced the pilot (effectively the first episode).  Bernard Lodge designed the innovative title sequence, of which nothing like it had been seen before, with electronic distortion caused by pointing the TV camera at its own monitor. 
Ron Grainer
Delia Derbyshire
Ron Grainer wrote the superbly memorable theme tune, Delia Derbyshire of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop arranged it using analogue noise generators (this was long before synthesisers, let alone computers).
Brian Hodgson
Peter Brachacki
For the TARDIS dematerialisation sound Brian Hodgson created this memorable sound by strumming his front door key down a piano wire, then manipulated the sound. Peter Brachacki designed the TARDIS  interior, including the now classic hexagonal TARDIS console design. Waris Hussein directed the pilot and the first serial. Raymond Cusick designed the Daleks, a design masterpiece.
Waris Hussein
Raymond Cusick
(Bill right with cast Carole Ann Ford, Jacqueline Hill, producer Verity, and William Russell)
As Lambert became the youngest, and only female, drama producer at the BBC, there were some doubts as to Newman's choice, but she became a success in the role. Even Newman clashed with her on occasion, particularly over the inclusion of the alien Dalek creatures on the programme. The programme was originally intended to appeal to a family audience as an educational programme using time travel as a means to explore scientific ideas and famous moments in history. Newman had not wanted any "bug-eyed monsters" in the show, but he admitted his error, and pleasure, when the Daleks became a great success.
THE FIRST DOCTOR
Although Hartnell was initially uncertain about accepting a part in what was pitched to him as a children's series, Lambert and director Waris Hussein convinced him to take the part. Hartnell later revealed that he took the role because it led him away from the gruff, military parts in which he had become typecast, and, having two grandchildren of his own, he came to relish the attention and affection that playing the character brought him from children. Throughout his tenure as the Doctor, Hartnell wore a wig when playing the part, as the character had long hair.
It is impossible to overestimate how important Hartnell was in making Doctor Who a success. Firstly, he was, in his own words, a "legitimate" actor. He brought great professionalism and all his talent to bear in the role, probably remembering when he was fired by Noel Coward for being late on his first day on This Happy Breed (1944), which spread throughout the whole cast. Contrary to myth, William Russell, who played companion Ian Chesterton, stated that in the early days Hartnell deliberately got his character's surname wrong on occasion for humorous purposes, as well as stumbling over the odd scientific explanation.
He first portrayed the Doctor as rather gruff, cynical (he's not beyond bashing out the brains of the wounded Za in The Tribe of Gum when he's slowing down their escape), and manipulative (he deliberately falsifies a fault in order to investigate the Dalek city). However, after the two-parter The Edge of Destruction, he mellowed his performance somewhat, the writers following suit. He described the Doctor as "a wizard", and "a cross between the Wizard of Oz and Father Christmas", and he played him thus.
Notice how quickly he realises TV is all about close-ups, and develops his iconic hands on lapels style of acting. Peerless. He is paternally affectionate to both his granddaughter Susan and her replacement Vicki. He played the Doctor as a mix of an eccentric Victorian scientist √† la HG Wells, a kindly grandfather, and an inquisitive explorer, with not a little wit and an occasional impish mischievous humour (witness his delight in hiding inside the Dalek in The Space Museum). He could be selfless too, at the cost of personal pain (see his reaction to losing Susan). 
He was the grandfather all kids had or could imagine. Although only 55 when he took on the role he looked much older. Remember, in 1963 grandfathers would look and act more elderly than today as the World was not so youth-obsessed then, and like Hartnell in real life, would have suffered the deprivations of the Great Depression and World War II. They'd had a hard life, and it had taken its toll on their health. This did mean though that he had a natural 'gravitas'. If he gave an order you followed it as he had the wisdom and maturity of lived experience. Later Doctors got younger and younger to the point where one couldn't imagine anyone accepting their authority. 
By the end of his reign in 1966 he was being paid £315 a week, but his failing health (he suffered from undiagnosed arteriosclerosis) began to affect his ability to learn his lines, with the problem increasing as his time on the series progressed. In addition, he had problems with Verity's replacements as producer. John Wiles's earlier attempt to replace the actor during The Celestial Toymaker (where for two episodes the Doctor is mute and invisible) when the Doctor regained visibility, failed, but new producer Innes Lloyd came up with the concept of replacing the character himself. Hartnell did return to the role though in 1973 for the Tenth Anniversary serial The Three Doctors, though his participation was reduced to reading cue cards in a studio due to his health. This was his last acting role.
Although it's true that The Daleks launched the show into popular culture and consciousness, they only appeared for 32 out of 134 episodes, and with frequent cast changes, the only recurring figure was William Hartnell's First Doctor. It was he that kept the audiences coming back week after week. Without him, the show might have ended after the initial six months run. In the end, let's leave the final word to his real life granddaughter, Judith Carney (pictured). "My grandfather is Doctor Who, and he can do anything". Absolutely. 
EPISODE GUIDE
(For titles in blue, click on hyperlink to see detailed analysis of the individual serial. Note that until The Savages, no serials had overall titles, each weekly episode having its own title).
    
Season 1
Producer Verity Lambert
Associate Producer Mervyn Pinfield
Script Editor David Whitaker
Regular Cast: Doctor Who (William Hartnell), Susan Foreman (Carole Ann Ford) Ian Chesterton (William Russell) Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill)
Season 2 
Producer Verity Lambert
Associate Producer Mervyn Pinfield (1-3)
Script Editor David Whitaker (1-2) Dennis Spooner (3-8) Donald Tosh (9)
Regular Cast: Doctor Who (William Hartnell), Susan Foreman (Carole Ann Ford 1-2) Ian Chesterton (William Russell 1-8) Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill 1-8) Vicki (Maureen O'Brien 3-9) Steven Taylor (Peter Purves 8-9)
Season 3
Producer Verity Lambert (1-2) John Wiles (3-6) Innes Lloyd (7-10)
Script Editor Donald Tosh (1-5) Gerry Davis (6-10)
Regular Cast: Doctor Who (William Hartnell), Vicki (Maureen O'Brien 1-3) Steven Taylor (Peter Purves 1-9) Katarina (Adrienne Hill 3-4) Dodo Chaplet (Jackie Lane 5-10) Polly (Anneke Wills 10) Ben Jackson (Michael Craze 10)
1.  Galaxy 4 (missing, unavailable)
2.  Mission to the Unknown (missing, unavailable)
3.  The Myth Makers (missing, unavailable)
4.  The Daleks' Master Plan (missing, unavailable)
5.  The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve (missing, unavailable)
6.  The Ark 
7.  The Celestial Toymaker (missing, unavailable)
8.  The Gunfighters 
9.  The Savages (missing, unavailable)
10.The War Machines
Season 4
Producer Innes Lloyd
Script Editor Gerry Davis
Regular Cast: Doctor Who (William Hartnell) Polly (Anneke Wills) Ben Jackson (Michael Craze)
1. The Smugglers (missing, unavailable)
2. The Tenth Planet 

RASSILON RAVES (5 star stories, i.e. Classics)

THE MASTER'S REVENGE (1 star or less stories, i.e. stinkers)
FIRST DOCTOR overall rating 3.38/5 - 67.62%
Lost In Time: 
The Daleks' Master Plan 
Episode 2  Day of Armageddon
Episode 5  Counter Plot
Episode 10 Escape Switch
The Celestial Toymaker  
Episode 4  The Final Test
To be continued ....

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