Press and Publicity Articles for An Unearthly Child

13 Sep 1963Press and Publicity Article for An Unearthly Child, by The Times
24 Oct 1963ITV can expect a jolt when the BBC launches its 'Dr. Who', by Kinematograph Weekly
21 Nov 1963Dr. Who? That is just the point, by Radio Times
23 Nov 1963Radio Times Coverage
02 Dec 1963A chance to see the first episode of the BBC's "Dr Who" over again, by The Guardian
04 Dec 1963Dr. Who, by Variety
05 Dec 1963Meant for children but this will get a much wider audience, by The Stage and Television Today
30 Jul 2013The Radio Times Doctor Who Cover That Never Was

 A cleaned-up version of the controversial B.B.C. late-night television programme "That was the week that was" will return to the screens on September 28 at 10.30 p.m.--earlier than last year. It will be restricted to 50 minutes.

This was announced here today by Mr. Stuart Hood, controller of B.B.C. television programmes, as part of a major rearrangement in programmes for the autumn and winter. The biggest new venture will be adult education, with programmes on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Mr. Hood said the "TWTWTW" programme was criticized towards the end of its last run for its "smut". "It is my hope that mistakes. which there were, will not be repeated, but this does not mean. that the programme will not continue to act as a gadfly", he said. There would be no strict supervision of the scripts, and he had complete confidence in the producer. It was an indiscriminate programme to make people think about institutions and persons, and the Mate of things in Britain.

On adult education programmes, which will start in October, he said the B.B.C. had been planning them for some time. They will teach such things as keeping fit, home dressmaking, Italian for beginners, the science of man, an introduction to relativity, and the painter and his world. The programmes will he mostly of half-hour duration, two on Saturday mornings and four on Sundays.

"We are giving people time to get up and have a bit of education before lunch". Mr Hood said.

In the big rearrangement of evening viewing, the 9 p.m. news becomes a half-way house in evening viewing, giving greater scope for two and sometimes three major programmes in the latter part of the evening. A new family series, "Dr. Who", which borders on science fiction, will be screened on Saturdays, and on Wednesday evenings "Festival", designed for people interested in the theatre, history, and the cultural evolution of mankind.

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The ITV companies can expect their first major jolt from the BBC Drama Group when Sidney Newman launches "Dr. Who," a 52-week family series, on November 23 at 5.25 p.m.

"Dr. Who" is a somewhat mysterious type of programme consisting in part of fantasy and realism, But Newman is backing it as a big rating success, and in fact initiated its format.

The story is about a strange doctor, played by William Hartnell, who creates a machine which goes backwards and forward, in time as well as going outside of time.

Accompanying him on various trips is a 15-year-old girl, Carole Ann Ford, and two young teachers, William Russell and Jacqueline Hill.

But while the premise of "Dr. Who" is fantastic, the treatment of various places and periods will be tackled factually and realistically.

The arrival at the time of the French Revolution will be as historically and naturalistically accurate as the landing on a new planet or a look into the future of the world in 100 years time.

In other words while "Dr. Who" will be informative and broadly educational, it will always be full of entertainment gimmicks and the type of showmanship that is part of the Newman flair.

And the BBC drama chief will create the world of "Dr. Who" in the confines of the Television Centre. There will be hardly any exterior shooting, but plenty of work for the two set designers of the series, Barry Newbury and Brachaki.

Full resources

Newman has always deprecated the failure of producers to use to the full the resources of a live television studio, and at ABC he was able to achieve astonishing result% with the aid of such brilliant designers as Tim O'Brien and Voytek.

"Dr Who" will have at least, two permanent directors, Chris Barry and Waris Hussein, and its producer is Miss Verity Lambert, who received her early training at ABC where she worked as PA to Dennis Vance and Ted Kotoheff.

Miss Lambert then went off to the States, directing shows for David Susskind, until her return to ABC early this year. In June she joined the serials department of the drama group under Donald Wilson, who has worked with Newman in setting up the project.

Producer Lambert told me this week: We think that "Dr. Who" will be something different in weekend family entertainment. We have some good writers who are experienced in working on high-class series, for this show must please adults as well as children if it is to be successful. "Dr. Who" is a strange mysterious weird old man, and William Hartnell is giving a marvellous performance in the title role. None of the episodes will be self contained, but will be grouped together into four or even eight-part serials. Only the four characters, Dr. Who, the young girl and the two teachers will be constant. The length of the serials will depend on the stories and locations and these will be varied in time and space.

With a perfect time spot of 5.25 p.m. on Saturday and with the full resources of the BBC hacking Newman's pet project, one can prophesy with some confidence that with "Dr Who" the BBC Drama Group should be making its first major ratings breakthrough against TV.

And about time, too.

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Dr. Who In this series of adventures in space and time the title-role will be played by William Hartnell

Dr. Who? That is just the point. Nobody, knows precisely who he is, this mysterious exile front another world and a distant future whose adventures begin today. But this much is known: he has a ship in which he can travel through space and time—although, owing to a defect in its instruments he can never be sure where and when his landings' may take place. And he has a grand-daughter Susan, a strange amalgam of teenage normality and uncanny intelligence.

Playing the Doctor is the well-known film actor, William Hartnell, who has not appeared before on BBC-tv.

Each adventure in the series will cover several weekly episodes, and the first is by the Australian author Anthony Coburn. It begins by telling how the Doctor finds himself visiting the Britain of today: Susan (played by Carole Ann Ford) has become a pupil at an ordinary British school, where her incredible breadth of knowledge has whetted the curiosity of two of her teachers. These are the history teacher Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill), and the science master Ian Chesterton (William Russell), and their curiosity leads them to become inextricably involved in the Doctor's strange travels.

Because of the imperfections in the ship's navigation aids, the four travellers are liable in subsequent stories to find themselves absolutely anywhere in time—past, present, or future. They may visit a distant galaxy where civilisation has been devastated by the blast of a neutron bomb or they may find themselves journeying to far Cathay in the caravan of Marco Polo. The whole cosmos in fact is their oyster.

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Radio Times clippings for the broadcast of An Unearthly Child on 23 Nov 1963

An Unearthly Child, BBC1, 23 Nov 1963 (Article) (Credit: Radio Times) An Unearthly Child, BBC1, 23 Nov 1963 (Credit: Radio Times)

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A Chance to see the first episode of the BBC's "Dr Who" over again on Saturday before the second, turned out to accentuate that the space and time serial has fallen off badly soon after getting under way. Anthony Coburn's science-fiction story starter off traditionally with a strange, unearthly girl and her grand. father, who are travelling about in space and time. To some people anything like this is anathema, but to anyone lured by time travelling, there is always the hope when a new venture starts that it will capture a genuine thrill, that slight shiver of uneasiness that means a barrier has been broken.

The first episode. In which a young man and woman, both schoolteachers, track down Susan and follow her into the mysterious police 'phone box (which inside is a space-time ship) got off the ground predictably, but there was little to thrill. The time travellers were whisked off, the young teachers too, and thanks to strange sound effects and whirligigs on the screen, it was possible to get mildly worked up about the outcome. Part two was a depressing sequel. The vessel came clown in a prehistoric landscape, and the hairy savages who lived there got busy with prolonged debates and quarrels, about their inability to make fire. Wigs and furry pelts and clubs and laborious dialogue were all ludicrous. Were these serious Stone Agers or not ? The space ship, for some unexplained reason, remained looking like a police box in the dusty desert. I hope this will be explained later.

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Apparently, this new sci-fi serial is intended to go on into infinity, as each adventure will consume several weekly segments and then be followed by another. The initialler seemed likely to hold an undemanding audience, but its aim is somewhat indecisive as yet. This kind of melodrama requires the utmost conviction in detail to carry the futuristic development. Anthony Coburn's script suffered from a glibness of characterizations. which didn't carry the burden of belief.

Basic idea was that Dr. Who (William Hartnell) and his daughter Susan, (Carole Ann Ford), had the use of a couple of other dimensions. They could travel around in space and time at will. Meanwhile, Susan, at school, had alarmed her teachers by displaying astonishing knowledge of science and the French Revolution. The dominies investigated her home background, and stumbled across grandad Who, who trapped them into a space craft which promptly went into orbit.

William Hartnell fatally erred in suggesting that Dr. Who was certifiable, rather than supra-gilled. The other thesps were adequate; and director Wads Hussein came up with some effective camera-work, which indicated the strangeness of it all without pinning it down. The BBC Radiophonic Workshop gave eerie support, and the production will impress if it decides to establish a firm base In realism.

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Although Dr. Who is said to have been written for the 10-14 year olds, I feel sure that if it keeps up the high standard of the first two episodes it will capture a much wider audience. It has certainly captured me.

So far it promises to be an imaginative and intelligently written story, with four first-class actors carrying the burden of continuity. Jacqueline Hill and William Russell make two young teachers of the conscientious kind who would believably be worried about the strange pupil who seems to know so much more than they do about history and science.

William Hartnell makes a more than welcome return to television in a pastiche of absent-minded professor, space age scientist and medieval wizard. The difficult role of a 15-year-old Beatle-age schoolgirl with supernatural knowledge of f the past and the future is so successfully carried by Carole Anne Ford that it is impossible to imagine anyone else in the part.

But all televised science fiction leans heavily on the resourcefulness of the technicians and the imaginativeness of designer and producer team.

Dr. Who is superlatively well served in these respects. Ron Grainer has excelled himself with the music he has composed for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. The Visual Effects Department have succeeded in transporting me through time and space more satisfactorily than I can recall ever having journeyed before—and that includes the cinema with all the trick effects at its disposal.

The cave men and women in the second episode were a little disappointing. This was partly because their well-chiselled 1963 features and strong white teeth were at odds with the stunted apemen of my imagination; but, even so, I felt that for once the make-up artists were not in top form.

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The 30th July 2013 edition of The Radio Times took a look at how Doctor Who missed out on having a front cover back in 1963, and presented a mock-up of how it could have been, presented below with the actual cover that graced the 23-29 Nov edition!

Dummy Radio Times (23-29 Nov 1963) (Credit: Immediate Media) Radio Times (23-29 Nov 1963) (Credit: Immediate Media)

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