Thoughts on Doctor Who: Number One

William Hartnell

Doctor: 1963 – 1966

First Episode: An Unearthly Child

This episode is very much an introductory episode – we see the police box in a junkyard before we are taken to the setting of a school. Two teachers, Barbara and Ian discuss Susan Foreman and her falling grades. Barbara and Ian hatch a plan to follow Susan home, secretly, to see where she goes and to speak to her grandfather (supposedly a doctor).

What I like about this episode is that The Doctor discovers the teachers spying on Susan. He is arrogant and could be seen as a smart arse. He could be taken as being quite nasty, trapping the two teachers in the TARDIS to ‘teach them a lesson and prove it isn’t an illusion.

This first episode job I believe is to explain the ways of the TARDIS. Also, with this regeneration of The Doctor, his attitude towards humans is not in the same vein as the later regenerations in the reboot are. He thinks they are ignorant and couldn’t possibly understand some of the topics he discusses.

Finale Episode: The Tenth Planet

Back in the time that Doctor Who was originally broadcasted it was the practice to tape over old episodes of shows, as there were a limited number of tapes. People working at the BBC would not have imagined the longevity of Doctor Who, so it was inevitable that some of the episodes got taped over.

This story is the first to feature The Cybermen. They are introduced to the crew “… as a race who, though once like human beings, have gradually replaced their bodies with mechanical parts, and eliminated the “weakness” of emotion from their brains.”

Three of the four episodes survive today, the final episode has been lost to time. Only clips, including the regeneration seen remain.

It isn’t until the final episode that The Doctor finally has a larger speaking role. This may be because of the fact that by this stage of William’s career. It was very weird to watch if I am honest. In the last episode, you think that The Doctor is helping them until he realises The Cybermen’s true motives.

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