WILLIAM , IT WAS REALLY SOMETHING
Gary Gillatt celebrates WIllIaM HartNell’s defining moments
HEN DOCTOr WHO BEGAN, the Doctor himself was less the series’ hero than its anti-hero: self-serving and supercilious – a driver of plots, for sure, but far from the godlike superbeing we know today. But star William Harnell understood better then anyone how that must change, and the Doctor would soon become the hero of his own half-hour…
1 “I will not be questioned” “THe DeAD PLANeT”
Prevented from visiting an alien city by his cautious companions, the Doctor sabotages his own ship, claiming only an expedition to said city can save them. It’s the Doctor’s most recklessly petulant moment, with Hartnell, eyes narrowed, muttering Richard III-style asides to camera. “Uninvited passengers. I didn’t invite them into the ship. I shall do what I want to do.” The Doctor will never feel this unknowable and dangerous again.
2 “You destroyed a whole planet to save your own skin? You’re insane” “DesPerATe MeAsures”
One year on, and the Doctor has been retooled as the intergalactic investigator and general do-gooder we know today. He’s at his most Sherlock Holmes as he confronts crafty Koquillion, who has murdered the crew of an Earth colony ship. “I’ve been waiting for you,” he says coolly, before turning to face his unmasked foe. Backing round a table he draws out the villain’s plan, leading Koquillion to his doom, as Hartnell spins into position for his close-up.
3 “I might get entangled in court intrigue” “THe WHeeL OF FOrTuNe”
No incarnation of the Doctor is as physically affectionate with his friends as the first was – and he never loves anyone in quite the way he does Vicki, including his own granddaughter, Susan. Here, while the pair are inveigling their way into the retinue of richard the Lionheart, Vicki is worried the Doctor might leave her. Promising he won’t, the Doctor pulls her in tight and tweaks her nose as he says, “But I might get involved with court intrigue, and that’s going to be very, very dangerous. Very dangerous indeed!”
4 “I don’t touch alcohol – but a little glass of milk and I should only be too delighted” “DON’T sHOOT THe PIANIsT”
The second scene of this Wild West adventure is over six minutes long, and features 12 actors, gunplay, a live song and a screed of dialogue as the Doctor finds himself accused of being the notorious Doc Holliday by the Clanton brothers. It’s also very funny, and Hartnell is simply word perfect. “If it isn’t the great Doc,” snides one cowboy. “Oh, you flatter me, young man. reasonably accomplished I would say.” Again, Hartnell finds his close-up, and fills it with lemon-lipped outrage.
5 “Yes, well… The party’s over” “THe THree DOCTOrs”, PArT FOur
Seven years made a big difference for William Hartnell. Increasingly frail and suffering memory loss, his appearance alongside Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee in this first multi-Doctor adventure was curtailed by necessity. He features only in six short scenes, appearing on a monitor and filmed in isolation. Yet, even in extremis, his wit, warmth and imperiousness shine through. “Considering the way things have been going,” he huffs, “I shudder to think what you’ll do without me.”