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Classic Series Doctors: First Doctor Second Doctor Third Doctor Fourth Doctor
Fifth Doctor Sixth Doctor Seventh Doctor Eighth Doctor

New Series Doctors:
Ninth Doctor Tenth Doctor



The First Doctor:
William Hartnell

The 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 later.

After 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 his life.

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:

Images of the First Doctor:
Audio Clips from the First Doctor:
"Have you ever thought what it's like to be wanderers in the fourth dimension?
...To be exiles?"
The Doctor, An Unearthly Child
"I was born in another time, another world."
Susan, An Unearthly Child

The Doctor being condescending:

"You don't understand. And I knew you wouldn't! Never mind."

An Unearthly Child

"But that's ridiculous!"
The mystery of the TARDIS revealed for the first time...
An Unearthly Child

"Our destiny is in the stars..."
The final moments of the first season
The Reign of Terror

"Don't you realize, before you attempt to conquer the Earth, you will have to destroy all living matter!"
The Dalek Invasion of Earth
"Yes. They dare. And we must dare to stop them!"
The Dalek Invasion of Earth
"Don't call me 'Doc', I prefer Doctor!"
The Dalek Invasion of Earth
"Emotions. Love! Pride! Hate! Fear!
Have you no emotions, sir? "
The Doctor confronting the Cybermen for the first time, The Tenth Planet

This page was originally created on Sunday, February 4, 1996








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