Of the Doctor’s very first
As you may know, Doctor Who celebrates its 50th anniversary next year but today is an anniversary of almost equal importance. That is because today, October 29th, is the anniversary of something that happened that would allow the show to continue although the lead actor was leaving the series.
“Change my dear. And it seems not a moment too soon.*”
October 29th 1966 saw the screening of episode 4 of “The Tenth Planet”. Sadly this episode is one of those missing from the archives but fortunately the transformation scene itself does still exist (yay for BBC children’s programme “Blue Peter”).
Plans were afoot to replace William Hartnell and may have been carried out a few stories earlier at the conclusion of The Celestial Toymaker (which would have worked within the confines of this story but it would be a trick that would be difficult to repeat) but it wasn’t until a few stories later (and the following season) that the first change of the Doctor was to take place.
The new production team of Producer, Innes Lloyd, and Script Editor, Gerry Davis, were looking to bring the adventure aspect of the show back to the forefront, rather than the previous year’s science fiction leanings, with The Tenth Planet being the first of what would be a staple of the stories during Patrick Troughton’s years as the Doctor, The Base Under Siege.
It was also an unusual decision to recast the lead by a completely different actor rather than a lookalike. This was to prove to be an inspired idea as you can then let the Doctor behave in a completely different way and would start the never ending discussion of “who is the best Doctor?”
At the time of the Doctor’s renewal (regeneration was not referred to until third Doctor, Jon Pertwee’s farewell story) and little was known about where the Doctor came from (again, it was during the Jon Pertwee era, and his final season at that, before his home is named as Gallifrey) and it was Patrick Troughton’s finale that introduced us to the Time Lords. How much of this mythology would have remained unknown had the Doctor never changed? Probably none.
So let’s celebrate the changing face of Doctor Who…
“Splendid chap, all of them” as the Brigadier has said.
Here is a list of the regeneration stories to date although you may notice that there hasn’t been an onscreen regeneration from 8th Doctor into 9th. (as of 2012)
- The Tenth Planet (1st Doctor into 2nd)
- The War Games (2nd Doctor into 3rd [although 3rd Doctor isn’t actually seen])
- Planet of the Spiders (3rd Doctor into 4th)
- Logopolis (4th Doctor into 5th)
- The Caves of Androzani (5th Doctor into 6th)
- Time and the Rani (6th Doctor [sort of] into 7th)
- 1996 TV Movie (7th Doctor into 8th)
- Parting of the Ways (9th Doctor into 10th)
- The End of Time –Part Two (10th into 11th)
*spoken by 6th Doctor just after he has regenerated.