An Unearthly Child: Doctor Who: Season 1








An Unearthly Child SYNOPSIS:

Late November 1963. 76 Totters Lane. A Junkyard. Two curious schoolteachers, Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright follow home their intelligent but odd student, Susan Foreman from Coal Hill School. The only significant thing they find in the junkyard is an old Police Telephone Box owned by an irascible old man.

Forcing their way past the old man into the telephone box from where they can hear Susan’s voice they discover the interior is that of a large spaceship owned by the mysterious old man who calls himself the Doctor and his grand daughter Susan. They have fled from some unknown danger on their home world.

The Doctor kidnaps the two school teachers, not about to let them report his camouflaged space / time vessel, the TARDIS to the authorities and whisks them back in time to the year 100,000 BC. The Doctor's curiosity leads them to be captured by a Stone Age tribe and they escape with their lives as Ian reveals the secret of fire to them.

They have to mediate the warring factions of the tribe of Gum led by Kal and Za for the control of fire and know they have only a limited time to escape before they end up back in the Cave of Skulls awaiting execution.

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An Unearthly Child DETAILS:



Run Time

Viewership (In Millions)

Episode One: An Unearthly Child




Episode Two: The Cave Of Skulls




Episode Three: The Forest Of Fear




Episode Four: The Firemaker




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An Unearthly Child CAST & CREW

The Doctor: 
William Hartnell (First Doctor)

Carole Ann Ford (Susan Foreman)
William Russell (Ian Chesterton)
Jacqueline Hill (Barbara Wright)

Guest Stars:
Derek Newark — Za
Alethea Charlton — Hur
Eileen Way — Old Mother
Jeremy Young — Kal
Howard Lang — Horg

Production Staff for Serial A:
Writer - Anthony Coburn & C.E.Webber (uncredited)
Director - Waris Hussein, Douglas Camfield (film inserts,uncredited)
Script editor - David Whitaker 
Producer - Verity Lambert
Associate producer - Mervyn Pinfield 

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An Unearthly Child REVIEWS


It was 44 years ago today that The Beatles were really popular and Kennedy was shot…and before the year was out we got Dr.Who! Best title sequence & music combo. Ok I'm sticking to the first episode title An Unearthly Child as the story title idea and dismissing the 10,000 BC title because it sounds like a documentary and Tribe Of Gum sounds like the latest Wrigley's product.

How creepy would it have seemed in it's day to be watching An Unearthly Child for the first time. Nothing else like it on TV before. For it's time it's a brilliant first episode introducing a weird girl, her mysterious and grumpy old grandfather and BIG SHOCK a time machine bigger on the inside than out disguised as a police box so two snotty, nosey school teachers find out. Funny thing is it may be dated but the leads all play it so earnestly that you believe it's real. Cracker of a first episode, there's some funny stuff about cave men and prehistoric times that follows…where people run on the spot while branches are brushed past them by floor managers…

…although the original Tardis crew rock and really work well together, despite their characters not getting along.

Methinks Kennedy got a preview and asked to be executed after seeing the last 3 episodes. 7/10 for an atmospheric and creepy part 1, 0.5 for the rest.


Imagine sitting down in front of the black and white television receiver on a cold, foggy night on November 23, 1963 and hearing this really strange music. Then watching these strange shapes disolve and twist into the words "Doctor Who". You would just go "WOW!!"

So begins An Unearthly Child, the first story of a twenty six year drama. Which was then followed by fourteen years of Eddie Izzard's name being bandied about, and then..... well, we've already just been there. And here we are at the beginning again. An Unearthly Child. Or, The Tribe of Gum. Or 100,000 BC. Whatever you wanna call it, here it is.

I believe you can divide An Unearthly Child into two parts; the first episode, and then the other three as one has very little to do with the other and visa-versa. Taking the first episode on its own merits we have the best title sequence around for yonks with perhaps the best title music written for a show - ever. Period. Ron Grainer's theme is everything that Dr Who is; spooky, catchy, creepy, memorable and above all else - sets the hairs on the back of your neck on edge. The sheer creepiness of it all isn't let down by the opening scene of the copper in the fog and then the reveal of the mysterious Police Box.

Okay, we all know what happens here on end so I'll get straight on with the leads and regulars. Barbara and Ian (representing us at home) are both very identifiable - if a little wooden and static for the first story. There is the very obvious stilted acting that comes from anyone who is finding their feet with a new character in a new series so the chemistry between them does seem a little forced at times. Susan (with her unusual dancing hand movements as she listens to John Smith and the Common Men) is probably a little more forced in her acting than the other two. You can "see" that she is trying to portray an alien rather than "feel" it. The Man Who Started It For The Rest Of Us, Mr William Hartnell is bloody fantastic here as The Doctor. He's sly, creepy, untrustworthy, engaging and utterly watchable all at the same time. He really grabs the part of The Doctor from the get-go here. And then Ian hits a buzzy switch on the console and we are off to Studio B in the distant past.

The other three episodes are really just a separate story all together. I kind of would have preferred An Unearthly Child to remain back in the 20th century and have the mystery there as a real character study (kind of like a Quatermass episode) with a bit of an alien threat thrown in. But we are here where they haven't invented fire yet but some of the cave blokes got round to inventing the essentials - like underpants! I didn't really have the same interest here as I did with the first episode primarily as I couldn't really feel involved in the plight of the Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara. A lot of that also has to do with the characters of the cavemen being pretty bland. However, having the luxury of watching a remastered DVD of this episode does enhance the enjoyment of it and I really appreciate the production of it and I really do wonder about what it was like to be a part of making this really cool program.

Hey; it was filmed in a studio that was no bigger than the Mordi stage! Speaking of which, for some reason I can picture Neil Barnett being the guy who made the skulls in the Cave of Skulls episode. Score wise, I'm kicking it off with a solid 10 cos this is where it started and without it we wouldn't have had "Family of Blood" or "Blink". So there.


Firstly can we just say this...

Happy Birthday to WhoHappy Birthday to WhoHappy Birthday Dear DoctorHappy Birthday to Who

Just think, 44 years ago to the day people were sitting around the TV to watch.... the assassination of JFK bumping some new show about a time travelling bloke to a later time slot!

An Unearthly Child is, without a doubt, the hardest story to rate. Part one is brilliant. It's TV history. It's totally re-watchable (despite some of the bad acting), and it's surely one of the most original pieces ever. As Glenn said, it's where it all began.

But then the next three parts are rubbish. I don't think I've ever been able to watch them all... they're just boring! Thankfully some bloke called Terry came along and wrote the next story, otherwise we could have been finished after 4 weeks, and never have seen the 44 year anniversary.

Sentimentally I'd love to give it a 10... but I have to take off a mark for each of the last 3 episodes.


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