“One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. Until then, there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs, and prove to me I am not mistaken in mine.” First Doctor Who.
The first incarnation of Doctor Who was played by William Hartnell and Doctor Who was a very different show in 1963 to the one today.
Firstly, none of the backstory was present, we didn't know he was a Time Lord from Gallifrey, that he could regenerate or that he only had 12 regenerations.
The initial incarnation of the Doctor was a mysterious traveller who carted his granddaughter Susan around, through many historical periods in earth's history. There was the odd sourjourn to alien worlds also and first meetings with classic villain's the Dalek's and Cybermen. Susan was a gifted individual with knowledge and abilities beyond her formative years.
The very first episode An Unearthly Child -1963 showed Susan's teachers Ian and Barbara, following Susan home to a junkyard after school, where they witness Susan go into an old police telephone box. Upon following Susan in to investigate, they meet her crotchety granddad simply named 'The Doctor' and are then promptly kidnapped to go along on the adventures for the next 2 years.
The first time the Tardis took off was like the Doctor had spiked everyones with acid, as the Tardis buckled and groaned and the lava lamp effects kicked in. Thankfully, later journeys would be much quicker.
Little was revealed about the background of the Doctor and Susan, only that they were exiled and that they were born in another time and another world. It is also remarked in the first episode that Susan coins the name TARDIS based on the term "Time And Relative Dimensions In Space".
"Have you ever thought what it's like to be wanderers in the Fourth Dimension? Have you? To be exiles?" First Doctor - An Unearthly Child
The original scripts had the Doctor written as a Time renegade from the year 5733 whose home planet had been invaded, although this wasn't written in to the final show. The first Doctor had the biggest number of different companions to date. Beginning with Granddaughter Susan and her teachers : Ian and Barbara. Later, the Doctor was joined by Vicki, Stephen, Dido, Ben and Polly.
The early show kept an air of mystery and the main part of its draw was Ian and Barbara finding out a little bit more every week about their alien kidnappers.
Nobody would forget the haunting opening titles and Ron Grainger's eerie opening title music, which would come to personify the show for the next 50 years.
It feels that the early Who intended to go off in a very different direction from the later series. It wasn't until the second incarnation of the Doctor that the more familiar lore came into being.
In The Chase 1965 , the Doctor remarked that he had built the Tardis himself. The later accepted lore is that he stole it from a museum.
The Doctor was played by William Hartnell - a 40 year veteran of stage and screen at the time he took the role of the Doctor. His acting credits included the very first Carry on film Carry on Sergeant - 1958 and the TV series The Army game - 1957-61 .
Hartnell was used to playing tough characters throughout his career and was no stranger to action having served in the Second World War, in the Tank corps.
So the role of the Doctor was a major departure for him. He could be crotchety, arrogant and aloof, but he also showed a more gentle, playful nature, especially with his Granddaughter Susan. He could be humorous in his own way and yet authoritive and intelligent. He could also be scatter brained and unintelligible, as if he had lost the plot.
Indeed, his Doctor had the many emotional facets later Doctor's tried to capture and each episode seemed to bring out a different emotion in him, depending on the situation the Doctor faced.
Through time, they met many famous people in earth's history : Marco Polo, Emporer Nero, Richard Lionheart and Wyatt Earp. They also journeyed much further and later episodes got bolder as the Doctor travelled out to far flung planets to meet many different species. Notable creations were the Dalek's but the Doctor also came across the Cybermen, psychic Sensorite's and the Reptilian Monoid's.
"It all started out as a mild curiosity in the junkyard, and now it's turned out to be quite a great spirit of adventure!" First Doctor - The Sensorites
The Doctor didn't have his sonic screwdriver to aid him in his jams, but he did have a ring which he could use in a similar way to control his Tardis console, open doors and break hypnotic trances. The Time Meddler - 1965 introduced to the first idea of a "Master" style antipothesis to the Doctor, in this episode the battle of Hastings is disrupted by a meddling time traveller who is trying to tip the balance of history using future technology.
Hartnell was 55 when he took over the role and in poor health. He would frequently forget his lines and he didn't always get on with his fellow actors or production staff, he was also rumoured to be very intolerant of other races and could be very difficulty to control.
It was decided, 3 years into his reign that his time had come and rather than end the show, a brilliantly conceived idea had the Doctor "regenerate" into a completely different individual. This would become a central part of the show, (with the Doctor regenerating every 3-4 years into a different actor) upon which the show could be taken in a different direction.
So the Doctor, having vanquised the Cybermen but being mortally wounded in the battle, fell to the floor in episode 4 of The Tenth Planet - 1966 and changed into Patrick Troughton in front of everybody's eyes.
In many ways, the idea of bringing in an established actor to set the scene was repeated in 2005, with Christopher Eccleston helming the Doctor - all to briefly.
Sadly, some of Hartnell's episodes were lost in the BBC Archive, some have since been recovered and viewers have sent in others on video tape but many still remain missing.
Hartnell briefly reprised his role in the Third Doctor's episode The Three Doctor's -1975 before he died. Richard Hurndell played the first Doctor in The Five Doctor's -1983 .
Hartnell's 10 of the best
The Unearthly Child, 1963 - First ever episode.
The Daleks, 1963 - First ever Dalek appearance.
Aztecs, 1963 - One of the better period pieces, with a moral message.
The Dalek Invasion Of Earth, 1964 - The first invasion of earth involving the Dalek's, it caught the public's imagination in the 1960's.
The Chase, 1965 - The Dalek's pursue the Doctor in a time machine. Companions Ian and Barbara leave and Stephen joins.
The Ark, 1965 - Humans in a spaceship fleeing earth and Dodo brings the common cold aboard.
The Time Meddler, 1965 - Doctor's first meeting with a dastardly fellow time traveler - an early Master.
The Celestial Toymaker, 1965 - Mad toymaker makes the Doctor complete some trials to save his life.
The War Machines, 1965 - The Doctor lands back on earth to face the fearsome WOTAN computer.
The Tenth Planet, 1966 - The Cybermen make their first appearance and the Doctor regenerates.