A legend was born this day (8th January) 1908 in London. William Henry Hartnell, who went on to become the very first Doctor (1963 – 1966)
From my research, I have read that Hartnell was at first quite uncertain about even taking up the part of the Doctor – eventually being talked into it by the amazing Verity Lambert (the young BBC producer who was in charge of setting up the tv series). Thank heavens she did, or we would have missed out on such an iconic and memorable rendition. Eventually he became very fond of the role, especially because of all the love and attention this garnered him from his young fans.
I was shocked to read that back in those days they filmed Doctor Who for 48 weeks of the year!! This must’ve been so tiring.
Due to poor health, and the conclusion of his contract, William finished as The Doctor in 1966 (he did reprise his role in the 10th Anniversary show “the Three Doctors” (1972). He sadly passed away in 1975 at the age of 67.
If you haven’t already, you MUST check out the The 50th anniversary docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time It retells the story of Hartnell’s time as the Doctor from the inception of the series to the filming of The Tenth Planet (with David Bradley as William Hartnell). It depicts all the challenges Hartnell faced due to his failing health and the constantly shifting cast and crew of the series. It is such an eye-opener and shows just how much it took to just get the series up and running.
One of my goals this year is to search for a copy of the only biograpghy about Hartnell (written by his granddaughter) – Who’s There, The Life and Career of William Hartnell. If anyone knows where I can find out please contact me
Tonight, in celebration of this remarkable man, I am going to be watching The Space Museum and The Chase.
Check out Peter Capaldi’s memories of William Hartnell