Dr Who - The Pilot Series

Created; 06/03/2013, Changed; 01/04/2020, 15/06/2020

Old this webpage; http://ww1.andrew-lohmann.me.uk/engineer/dr-who-classic-estb-1963/dr-who---the-pilot-series

Doctor Who TV series The Prologue

I started researching this project for two years prior to the 50th anniversary of the show in November 2013.

    • The Doctor will be born in about earth year; 2116 - Dr No.4 says Born about now (Nightmare of Eden, Part 2, which is set during 2116)

  • Doctor will be born within a couple of billion miles of Karn - Karn's solar system contains five planets (Brain of Morbius, Dr. No.4)

  • The Doctor's Granddaughter will be born in 49th Century - An Unearthly Child. (the TV series uses the connecting word "was" instead of "Will" for the ambiguous past/future tense)

  • They are from the 42nd century. - An Unearthly Child.

  • Technology at least 10 million years ahead of our own, starting 8 million years ago (Trial of A Timelord, The Ultimate Foe) Seems plausible to me even if it is unlikely that any of this is possible.

  • Harshest conditions that TARDIS can survive (inferred the story's are always ambiguous as is any observation); 10-20 minutes from the Big bang where the outside temperature is 1 billion degrees Kelvin and Atoms don't exist See; http://www.physicsoftheuniverse.com/topics_bigbang_timeline.html or http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/BBhistory.html

  • Conversely Galifreyans were war like 100,000 years earlier than there present time. (Underworld Dr. Who No.4) This is almost inconsistent and I think it is an inconsistency but serial story telling is good at leavening ambiguity rather than clear cut contradiction.

  • Are Timelords the most technologically most advance in the Universe? No there are far more advanced beings in the Universe (The Invasion of Time, Tom Baker), Yes Timelords are the most advanced (Trial of The Time Lords, Colin Baker)

  • Teleportation like that seen on Star Trek or Blake's 7 was seen prior to Star Trek in the Dr Who story Keys of Marinus and matter disassembly transportation and reassembly in the 1939 TV series Buck Rogers. But the TARDIS being entirely virtual energy or become material seems to be entirely novel.

    • The TV series was first broadcast November 1963,

    • Number of prior regeneration's, prior to the one we know as the first Dr Who, unknown but it may be eight (Brain of Morbius). Regeneration usually requires the support of a TARDIS or other Timelord Technology,

    • Life expectancy of a time lord is virtual indefinite but for accident (Dr. No.2 Tomb of the Cybermen 1967 - This seems to be one of the all time favourite stories). A change to a maximum of 12 regeneration's (Deadly Assassin 1976) though this inconsistency created another set of very good stories involving the Master and his Timelord's body wearing out, The Master steals someone else body in The Keeper of Traken. Typically of Douglass Adams he writes his last story for Doctor Who with another novel twist, timelord's essence and memory is intimately returned to his TARDIS at the end of a Time lords final life to be returned to Galifrey, in the uncompleted production of Shada. The story Logopolis the 4th Doctor becomes the 5th Doctor and so The Doctor is on his last regeneration the 12 but this point is never made though.

    • Lowest survival body temperature near absolute zero And (Space Museum 1965).

    • Highest survivable body temperature a Timelord can survive is not give though the Doctor rescues K9 from a conveyor belt leading to a recycling furnace in The Armageddon Factor. A temperature in which K9 has had to shut down but Doctor No. 4 puts his ability down to lessons he learnt from a fire walker.

    • Lowest survivable atmospheric pressure is the vacuum of space for 10 minutes, (Dr No. 3 another new fact from Frontier in Space a story involving the Master).

Note; Very small animals called; Tardigrades seem to be able to match all the environmental extremes that a timelord can withstand.

  • After the first regeneration in the TARDIS the Dr. gains a second hart. One hart beat when checked in in The Edge of Destruction and still one hart beat in the 10th Planet. But the third Doctor has two harts we discover in his first story. The second Doctor meets other humanoid species with two harts but is not physiologically examined to determine what he has in The Dominator's.

  • Known food; this story is about a time travelling but not like Gandi doing least harm to living things. The Doctor eats most things as well as food and water from the TARDIS food synthesizer. Jelly babies [Three Doctors] or Lemon Sherbet's [Wheel in Space], (Tom Baker and Patrick Troughton respectively). This TV show, Flower Power and the Hippy 60's era was not so enlightened on animal welfare, veganism or hunt sabbing.

    • Time and space travel occurs due to the symbiotic relationship between a time lord and a TARDIS (pilot series Edge of Destruction and The War Games).

    • The Doctor's Granddaughter Susan coined the Acronym TARDIS for the literal translation Time And Relative Dimension In Space. Later Time Lords call the machine's Time Capsules.

    • The limits to the range of travel and time range imposed on the TARDIS - virtually none but for a natural limit close to the big bang itself there are rules and guidelines that the Timelord must obey particularly not to travel in to there own future relative to Gallifrayan's present time (2 Million years from now) "Frontios" and some other clues.

  • Does the Doctor ever swear? In "The Chase", part 1 yes. It used to be quite common for people to put screws and things in their mouths when doing maintenance also the Milkmen would put his indelible pencil behind his ear - you don't see those things now. Anyway whatever the Dr. says to Vicky Sod-Off dear (I think I can hear) so she stops play the recorder, hits the Time/Space Visualiser in annoyance and goes away. We also see in this story, part 2 naughtyfor the first time an instrument on the TARDIS Console; The Time Path Detector that the Dr "constructed it" it warns of another time machine following the TARDIS track but to get back to the point. There is some plain speaking in this episode for example Ian tells Vicky to "stop screaming you little fool" Acting a real people genuinely annoyed things because they matter, was removed from Doctor Who towards the end of the first Doctor Who's period. (Subsequently the actress who played Vicky has said she would to go to William Hartnell's dressing room to talk him out and perform - evidently he would have been getting himself worked up ready to give another fine performance)

  • Time lords power source was created by the inadvertent martyrdom of Omega and is from a Black Hole in another Galaxy the power source is managed and distributed to the time capsules from Gallifrey. The timelords have powerful ceremonial tools which balance that power. (Three Doctors 1973 & Deadly Assassin 1976) This is very junky science and exciting. But the whole production including acting being very good in carrying off a sort of plausibility in 1976.

  • Known as The Doctor's but his Gallifreyan name is Theta Sigma. In The Armageddon Factor, Part 5 The Doctor is recognised by his old school colleague, Drax, who calls him Theta Sigma (I thought he said Peter Sigma). The Dr has a Doctorate - somehow had gained 450 years ago. Romana had told us earlier that the Doctors 51% pass was on a second attempt something she should not have known about was stated by her on there first meeting in the first of the Key to Time set of stories The Ribos Operation (this is funny Tom and K9 at there best, the Dr. does not want another companion but this idea may be based on Tom Baker's real viewpoint and thereby improves the story being acted).

  • Sir Ian of Jaffa as he was knighted by Richard the Ist the most convincingly capable companion and encouraged to be .William Russell is now oldest surviving companion.

Not continuity change but a style change;

The last of the big arguments was at the end of the story The Massacre 1966 where Steve storms out of the TARDIS returns and there is a brief reconciliation between them about the bad and flawed ethics the Doctor has, it seems anyway. Then Dodo strays in to the TARDIS looking for an emergency phone, is locked in whisked away by the Doctor. The Doctor's promises just made then broken but when Dodo is asked by Steve if she wanted that, she say's she does not mind, no one likes her much anyway, she observes, to paraphrase. Some years later we see change in popular music, similarly - enjoy Joni Mitchell singing one of the all time, now, standards later on in the 1960's. It seems that the BBC do a lot of leading the ways of people rather than following there lead.

Joni Mitchell - Both Sides Now

Era changes not only is music easier but after The Massacre The first Dr. the following Doctor's are not so nasty and not so very human.

Continuity is difficult when you;

    • Change the past you interfere with cause and effect. Consequently there are things in the present that don't have a past history. See Adric struggling with the Doctors old diaries in which things happen then latter those things have never happened in part 1 of The Keeper of Traken.

    • Try to keep track with different story writers over many decades,

    • The Doctors age; No. 1, (William Hartnell) age is unknown age, No. 2, (Patrick Troughton) is 450, No. 3, (Jon Pertwee) is 2,000 but latter No. 4, (Tom Baker) is 749,

  • Don't believe what is written is school history books a time traveller will know better - see 6 minutes or so into "Unearthly Child" the first episode.

  • People discuss on the web many inconsistencies for example how Susan's acronym TARDIS become known more widely, That she lied about coining the Acronym - no Or via the Time lord's telepathic sense of each other - unlikely? Don't try, it is a story that has endured very much longer than could have been envisaged. There are many tangential threads that are running as well off the TV screen.

  • When reading the BBC's classic guide you will find that the first Doctor's actions are explained by future Doctors such as Doctor No. 6. Some embellishing here the story was not developed to that degree originally so don't try to read things in to make it all fit. The story as outlined between 1961 and 1963 when the TV series was being developed was not the same at all.

  • The number of past lives the Doctor has had and how many a time lord can have chop and change to suit the particular story particularly with the 4th and 5th Doctors. This may reflect more on the politics within the BBC rather than the continuity of the story.

Continuity and endurance - The BBC Radio 4 story The Archers is very strong on continuity, aims to convey agricultural accuracy and current social issues in a small village setting. The actress who plays Peggy at 94 was interviews in January 2014 has played the character since the beginning of that series in 1950. The fictional Peggy is younger than the actress who plays her, that piece of information makes me smile.

What was on Children's TV; Twizzle Fire Ball XL5

The full length story Dailymotion has a good selection of Dr. Who videos. As a Five year old, Mum and I did not watch the first episode.

Episode 2 - Cave of skulls. This is the first one that I watched and I particularly remember the part of the episode where the Dr looks back at the TARDIS and says with surprise it has not changed. See 8 minutes into the video, The episode gave me such a fright at the end seeing the skulls lined up in cave.

Episode 3 - The Forest of Fear - see 11 mins in - The argument and the constructive outcome, Episode 4 - The Firemaker - The four passengers in the TARDIS are all pulling their weight and are now equal partners, out of need, in their adventure.

In retrospect this first story, following the first episode, like many of the early stories are quite hard to watch now. I found the last two stories of the Pilot Series, The Daleks and Edge of Destruction very watch-able now, even so.

First film; Dr Who and the Daleks (Peter Cushin)

The first film is a shortened version of the TV pilot series story "The Daleks" but in colour which makes it a very enjoyable film and Peter Cushin is a very different Dr Who, he is an inventor, and he is very good. There is also an explanation in the film that the Daleks are so aggressive because they are vulnerable. Similarly the Cybermen in The Tenth Planet attack earth because they wish to eliminate any potential threat, they explain. The planet Pluto has been reclassified in 2008 as a dwarf planet and does not count as one of the now eight planets in our solar system.

Also see what the Doctor has to say on avoiding being seen as a threat; The Robots of Death (5 mins into part 1) and Talons of Weng Chiang (20 mins into part 1) - "stop doing that" The Doctor says to Leela after she has just thrown a knife or used a blow pipe and an attempted attacker to the Dr. drops down dead. The Dr goes on to explain that weapons threaten and create mistrust.

"The Daleks" by Terry Nation, who unusually was given the copyright on Daleks written in to his contract by Verity Lambert. Myth or not said to be modelled on a Russian dance where the women wore a very long dress covering her feet and the dance involved the dancer making very small steps as if to glide across the floor.

Russian Dancers lezginka - notice the womans tiny footsteps

"The Daleks" first episode The Dead Planet The possibility of Nuclear war and Ban The Bomb demonstrations were occurring but WWII rationing was history although bread prices were still regulated.

Although, Hitler is said to have coined the term "total war" (Daleks total war fighting and obedience might represent what Nazis-ism in an Englishman's mind was) War had been conducted that way before and since by the English. Bomber Command which bombed German cities causing fire-storm (like occurred on a bigger scale at Hiroshima) that burnt or suffocated civilians, would never to be acknowledged, and the Nuclear Bombs dropped on Japan in 1945 may have been a step to far.

In recent years many acts of acknowledgement and reconciliation have occurred. The formation of the EEC now the EU was the first step, And in 2008 the British WWII debt to USA was paid off.

BBC ran ran very short TV series of very good Science fiction before Dr Who started.

Quatamass Experiment(1953).

Quatamass II (1955)

Quatamass and the Pit (1958)

A for Andromeda (1961)

Mum tells me these story's were gripping and terrifying. Those earlier stories were told in a slower and fuller way. Some where made into very good films much latter;

Quatamass and the Pit (1958 and 1967)

Quatamass Conclusion (Ringstone Round) (1979) This TV film was never in the original 1950's TV series but a new film it was also written by Nigel Kneale.

There were very many science fiction films and story's most are quite junky by many standards. I remember the H.G.Wells story below being read to the class at school;

The man who could work miracles 1936

A teacher read this story to the class when I was at school it is better read and listened too.

I found many 1930's films of H.G.Wells books but I found the story telling poor as a sequence of events but did not come over as a story. There is no problem with 1930's story telling in film. This film is good but perhaps only suffers from its restoration that makes the background seem elastic.

Medicine Man 1930

If Dr Who had come to save humanity from conducting war he would have had an impossible task alone but to change and inspire people might have been a promising objective. That is what the postwar political consensus was largely about (in reality a myth the wars and exploration abroad got worse it turned out). ---- link removed ----

Code breaking

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Negative and positive influences on children people;

Children see children do.

Dial 999 from 1959 With William Hartnell is an example of positive propaganda as opposed to negative and cynical spin prevalent now - All over the place as a story but the good public come though and give their finger prints freely is the punch line. The Hobo we would call a tramp is not in the credits, I think it was Patrick Troughton.

Dial 999 - 50,000 Hands

This commercial TV production, concludes with the public helping the police in a community spirited way.

Having said that this story first episode of "The Daleks" is The Dead Planet is not frightening but it is sad. A race on a distant planet had set it self so far back by Nuclear war. The next episode "The Escape" is a good episode the travellers are coming together combining bravery and ingenuity. The remaining episodes of The Daleks might have been the end of Daleks leaving the planet to the peaceful Dhal, who had originally been the aggressors, to restore life to their world. Dr Who and Daleks turned out to be too good for to die or the TV series to die. This is probably the best Dalek story and has more background and detail than the film but the film it is different, similar and was excellent.

At the end of the Second World War

Winston Churchill acknowledge everyone effort saying that so much was owed to so many by so few. But all the same people, of cause regarded Churchill highly, but did not want the old warmonger as a Prime Minister although he was Prime Minister again for a while during the 1950s. "The post war consensus" really started occurring at the end of the Victorian era, though the term means post World War 2. The National Insurance Act 1911 is evidently part of the start but after the end of the First World War the introduction Unemployment Insurance Act 1920 provided the "Dole", the common term for unemployment pay. It could be said, that both Churchill and Michael Foot were on the same side but Michael Foot was supreme in expressing how and why you should "look after the little people because the big people can look after themselves". Both politicians put the case for war with Germany before WWII. The Victorian era had been a cruel with a "Red in Tooth and Claw" view of Nature applied to their capitalist. In this most harsh time the 1601 Poor Law the medieval equivalent of Dole was weakened in 1834. Their were acts of individual Philanthropy but these would provide patchy coverage and they were not "Victorian Values" they were often stated but were exceptions as in the saying "that prove the rule".

In Warriors of the Deep the 5th Doctor wonders why he helps humans Silurians are a noble species which has now let down for the third time. The two other times were when the third Doctor met them.

There were warnings such as Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961 on Military-Industrial Complex and Martin Luther Kings inspiring 1963 "I have a-dream" speeches. Rather than humans being custodians and inheritors of the planet humans are a plague but during this era there was hope and effort to make things different to how they had been even if the reality was never so. A wish not to repeat the first world war and the building of wealth on the exploitation of it's own and the rest of the world but the reality was that the Korean and Vietnam wars were conducted were considerably less chivalrous than even preceding wars had been.