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60 Year Anniversary of Broadcast of First Doctor Who Episode

Patine

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On November 23, 1963, the BBC broadcast, "An Unearthly Child," (and re-broadcast a week later after being drowned due to media coverage over the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy), starting the world's longest-running science fiction television series, Doctor Who. William Hartnell played the first of what became many incarnations (each portayed by their own actor) of the title role, Carole Ann Ford, as the Doctor's, "granddaughter," under the assumed name Susan Foreman (a familial relationship that has been contentious, in retrospect, in Doctor Who canon a few times, but she was definitely a much younger Gallifreyan, by species), and Jaqueliline Hill and William Russell as Susan's schoolteachers in 1963 London, investigating her alien perspective on England, and going to her registered address, an old police box in a junkyard, and Jeremy Young as the tyrannical and ruthless fire-seeking Paleolithic chieftain Kal, who is officially the first villain in the series. An interesting bit from an interview with Ford (now 83) about what she was originally offered in the role of Susan, compared to how it turned out,

"her character would be "an Avengers-type girl <the British spy series, not the Marvel Comics, though neither was that old in introduction to the public media at that time> – with all the kapow of that – plus she would have telepathic powers. She was going to be able to "fly the TARDIS" as well as [the Doctor] and have the most extraordinary wardrobe. All that a teenage girl in the '60's could want."

Hartnell and Ford were given a great degree of consultation and leeway in contributing and imagining to the backstories of their characters before debut. Susan being the Doctor's, "granddaughter," was originally deemed a necessity as scriptwriter Anthony Coburn did not think not think it was, "seemly," for a single, elder man to travelling through time and space with a teenage girl, otherwise.
 
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It has to be said that that first story was pretty dire, reaching a particular nadir where the Doctor attempts to murder someone with a rock. Not quite the pacifist Doctor of recent incarnations! It really got going with the second story, which introduced the Daleks.

I do think that Doctor Who really owes its longevity above all to Patrick Troughton. He had the impossible job of making the audience believe that he was the Doctor despite looking and acting completely differently from Hartnell. Not only that, but it was his interpretation of the character, rather than Hartnell’s, that set the template for most of those who followed. You could see why people would want to explore the universe with the Second Doctor - it’s a mystery why anyone would step into a police box with the First! It’s criminal that Troughton’s era has the least surviving recordings - I think he’d be more widely appreciated if they were all extant.
 
It has to be said that that first story was pretty dire, reaching a particular nadir where the Doctor attempts to murder someone with a rock. Not quite the pacifist Doctor of recent incarnations! It really got going with the second story, which introduced the Daleks.

I do think that Doctor Who really owes its longevity above all to Patrick Troughton. He had the impossible job of making the audience believe that he was the Doctor despite looking and acting completely differently from Hartnell. Not only that, but it was his interpretation of the character, rather than Hartnell’s, that set the template for most of those who followed. You could see why people would want to explore the universe with the Second Doctor - it’s a mystery why anyone would step into a police box with the First! It’s criminal that Troughton’s era has the least surviving recordings - I think he’d be more widely appreciated if they were all extant.

Definitely agreed. The First Doctor was abrasive, on a superiority kick, and not very sympathetic. I enjoyed his stories that focused more on the companions - there's a reason why Ian is my favorite First Doctor companion, and my favorite male companion.

My first exposure to the Second Doctor was in The Five Doctors. PBS, at that time, had only shown the Tom Baker era, but took a brief detour to show us the 20th anniversary show. The Second Doctor's comment about "You've redecorated - I don't like it!" was all it took to make me like him.

The Second Doctor era also gave us Jamie McCrimmon. And without Jamie McCrimmon, we wouldn't have the modern historical romance of Outlander. That series of novels and the TV show were inspired by Jamie McCrimmon, as Diana Gabaldon had a crush on that character, and wrote Jamie Fraser as a sort of future version of who Jamie McCrimmon could have been, post-TARDIS adventures. She even sent a copy to Frazer Hines, hoping that he could play Jamie in the TV series.

Frazer Hines was too old by that time, but he did appear in an episode.


As for the 60th... I gave up on nuWho years ago. I've never seen the final season of Capaldi, nor any of Whittaker. The last new Who I saw was the Christmas special that took place in WWI. I don't even have the science fiction channel anymore. Money's tight these days, it's an extra channel that I wasn't watching much, and I had no idea when the Who anniversary shows were going to be on anyway. When a channel purports to be for science fiction, but shows Sylvester Stallone movies and a weekend diet of Jurassic Park, with Stargate on at 4 am... it's time to quit. So I canceled it. If I ever see the 60th, it'll have to be online somewhere. And only if it's Clara-free.
 
Capaldi’s final season was really excellent, much better than the previous ones. Whittaker has not been great overall, but I think the more recent ones are better, even though they lack Graham, a companion so good he really outshone the Doctor. Her other companions have all been drearily forgettable.
 
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