‘AN UNEARTHLY CHILD’
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The Beginning of ‘Doctor Who’
This is where it all started…back in 1963!
I was a newcomer to ‘Doctor Who’ back in 2005/2006. I was enjoying watching the new series with Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant as the Doctors. In the interim of waiting for new episodes to come, I decided to venture forth and pursue watching the classic series of ‘Doctor Who’.
My life has never been the same since as I’ve enjoyed watching classic episodes of ‘Doctor Who’ from before I was born. It was my Dad who got me into watching ‘Doctor Who’ and because he knew I was enjoying the new series a lot, he purchased ‘The Beginning’ DVD box set with William Hartnell.
My Dad’s era of ‘Doctor Who’ was with William Hartnell back at the beginning. He remembers watching the very first episode of ‘Doctor Who’ back in 1963 and remembers watching ‘The Daleks’ for the very first time. Watching these episodes gave me a thrill as they are pieces of TV history.
‘The Beginning’ DVD box set contains three stories including ‘An Unearthly Child’; ‘The Daleks’ and ‘The Edge of Destruction’. I’ve enjoyed watching these three stories and found them an interesting insight into learning how this extraordinary TV series that I love watching began all those years ago.
‘An Unearthy Child’ is the first story ever in ‘Doctor Who’. It is a four-part story by Anthony Coburn.
N.B – The episode selection contains the unaired ‘pilot episode’ as well as the four transmitted episodes of this TV story. Watch the actual ‘four episodes’ first before watching the ‘pilot episode’.
‘Doctor Who’ had humble beginnings as the first episode starts with a policeman inspecting a junkyard at 76 Totter’s Lane in Shoreditch, London. Inside that junkyard is a battered old police box.
The first episode begins at Coal Hill School with a schoolgirl called Susan Foreman. Susan is a mystery girl to teachers Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright as she seems to know more than she should.
They become curious and follow her home to 76 Totter’s Lane. They discover that Susan lives with her grandfather called the Doctor and they live in a police box that is a spaceship called the TARDIS.
I enjoyed watching this first episode and comparing how the new series started with ‘Rose’ in 2005. It must have been extraordinary for audiences in 1963 who have never seen anything like this before.
I enjoyed the set-up of the first TARDIS team in ‘Doctor Who’. Usually the Doctor travels with one companion. But here, he starts travelling with three companions including Susan, Ian and Barbara.
Carole Ann Ford stars as Susan, the unearthly child and the Doctor’s granddaughter. I like Carole’s performance as Susan who is no ordinary schoolgirl and turns out to be alien despite being cheeky.
William Russell stars as Ian Chesterton, a brave man who teaches science at Susan’s school. He finds Susan extraordinary and is gobsmacked that her home is a police box that is ‘bigger on the inside’.
Jacqueline Hill stars as Barbara Wright, who teaches history at Susan’s school. Barbara is a kind-hearted lady who’s curious about Susan and asks Ian to join her to find out who she really is.
The star is William Hartnell as the First Doctor in ‘Doctor Who’. This was the first time I’d seen William Hartnell and I found his interpretation of the Doctor interesting compared to the new series.
The Doctor is eccentric and alien. He clearly isn’t nice as he seems to be in the show’s first TV story. He takes Ian and Barbara away from their home-time against their will as they blunder into the TARDIS.
The TARDIS takes the four time-travellers to the Stone Age where they meet the cavemen who want to make fire. I must admit I found the cavemen story less interesting than the actual first episode.
The DVD special features are as follows. There’s the un-transmitted ‘pilot episode’ in the Episode Selection menu. There’s also the ‘pilot episode’ studio recording’ feature; three versions of the theme music video; four comedy sketches (including three with Mark Gattis and David Walliams) and a photo gallery of the story.
There are audio commentaries on three selected episodes of the story. They are all moderated by Gary Russell and are with William Russell; Carole Ann Ford; producer Verity Lambert and director Waris Hussein. There is also an information text commentary option to enjoy.
‘An Unearthly Child’ has an exciting first episode on how ‘Doctor Who’ began and depicts the first adventure set in the Stone Age. I enjoyed watching these four episodes. It was a slow start into this series, but things would get better especially with the following story in ‘The Beginning’ DVD box set.
‘An Unearthly Child’ rating – 5/10
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