Doctor Who on-demand: William Hartnell
Simon Kinnear | On 13, Nov 2013
Doctor Who turns 50 on Saturday 23rd November. To celebrate, VODzilla.co is running a daily countdown of every Doctor to date, providing our expert tips on which stories to see – and where to watch them online.
The First Doctor: William Hartnell (1963-6)
The question in Doctor Who’s title needed an actor who could maintain an air of mystery and danger. Veteran actor Hartnell had specialised in hard-man roles but wanted something softer, and he found it playing an alien who travelled in time and space in a police box. Sometimes stern and formidable, at others kind and mischievous, he proved as mercurial as a show that – literally – could go anywhere and anywhen.
Top Three William Hartnell Episodes To Watch
An Unearthly Child (1963)
The opening episode of Doctor Who is still startling and genuinely original. It starts as kitchen-sink melodrama, as two teachers investigate a mysterious schoolgirl. And then they follow her home to find… a police box that is bigger on the inside than the outside. Fifty years later, we’re still watching.
The Dalek Invasion Of Earth (1964)
The first Dalek story made Doctor Who a hit, but it was the sequel that made it a sensation, as the Doctor arrives in 22nd Century London to find humanity under the ultimate threat. Epic war-allegory sci-fi on the tiniest of budgets, as pepperpots trundle around familiar landmarks while the heroes head for (where else?) a quarry in Bedfordshire to do battle.
The Romans (1965)
Before Doctor Who established its format, this was a show that felt free to try anything. Not only is this a monster-less historical, but it’s also the series’ first overt comedy, as the Doctor’s meeting with Nero turns into a farce of mistaken identity.
The Romans is currently unavailable on-demand. Buy it on DVD from Amazon.
Also available on-demand:
Doctor Who: The Best of the First Doctor
Including: An Unearthly Child, The Aztecs, The Time Meddler and The Dalek Invasion of Earth.