WIL­LIAM , IT WAS RE­ALLY SOME­THING

Gary Gil­latt cel­e­brates WIl­lIaM Hart­Nell’s defin­ing mo­ments

SFX - - The Three Doctors -

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.”

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