The First Doctor:
mystery of the Doctor was introduced by William Hartnell, who
played the first Doctor from September 1963 until October 1966.
He was an elderly man with no name, a scientist who spoke
of being an exile,
who traveled through time and space in a time machine he could
barely control, which was stuck in the shape of a police box.
The first Doctor was irritable,
forgetful, rude, and sometimes untrustworthy, or at least, he
was at first deeply distrustful of
Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton, a pair of schoolteachers
who followed the Doctor's granddaughter Susan home
from school, hoping to solve the mystery of her mysterious
and peculiar behavior.
To stop Ian and Barbara from going to the authorities about
what they've found, the Doctor willfully abducts them, dematerializing
the TARDIS and sending it hurtling tens of thousands of years
into the past, knowing full well he might never get them home
in his battered old and malfunctioning time machine.
The Doctor's morals seem much more questionable in the early
episodes, and at one point in the first story, he seems ready
to bash in the skull of a primitive man to aid in his and his
companion's escape. It is Ian who has to stop him from committing
murder, something which seems very strange to someone introduced
to the show even just a few years later.
In the second story, The
Daleks, he covertly sabotages the TARDIS as an excuse to
explore outside the safety of the ship, putting everyone in
danger. This overpowering desire to gain knowledge, regardless
of the consequences is established here as a central part of
the Doctor's character. This same desire that
led him to leave his home planet in the first place, and which
leads to the end of his third regeneration, many centuries
a while of traveling with Ian and Barbara, he grows fond of
them and mellows towards humans in general, growing more like
the Doctor we come to know in later years.
William Hartnell's last story was The Tenth Planet, which
was broadcast in late 1966. He left because of deteriorating
health, but maintained a love for the show for the rest of
He was able to make a limited appearance again
in the tenth anniversary episode, The Three Doctors, but
sadly passed away not long after.
The character of the first
Doctor appeared in one more story: The
Five Doctors, played instead
by Richard Hurndall.
Of the twenty-nine stories featuring the first Doctor, only
seventeen remain in their complete form due to a misguided
policy of the BBC in the early seventies. One of these losses
was, unfortunately, the final episode of The Tenth Planet. The
first three episodes of this four-part story are intact, but
only a few clips still exist from the fourth part, fortunately
these clips include the very
first regeneration scene.
Look below for more photos and sound clips of William Hartnell
as the first Doctor: