Nothing at the end of the lane

Doctor WhoMeetings commence at the BBC to hash out ideas for a new children’s science fiction series to be produced in-house, possibly involving a time machine, an aloof old man, a younger “man of action” character, a female scientist, and a younger woman. As the creative lightning rod of this series development, Sydney Newman begins to weed out ideas he considers unsuitable – such as giving these characters the roles of “science troubleshooters” working for the government – and homes in on the time travel idea, as well as the old man character, who emerges as a man of mystery. These are the first creative meetings from which the BBC’s Doctor Who will emerge.

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Doctor Who: the original pilot

Doctor WhoThe original pilot episode of Doctor Who – version 1.0 of An Unearthly Child – is filmed at the BBC’s Lime Grove Studios. Though it’s substantially the same script as the televised version – barring a line claiming that the Doctor and Susan are from Earth in the 49th century (!) – problems with the sets and props necessitate a complete reshoot on October 18th.

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Doctor Who: An Unearthly Child

Doctor WhoThe first-ever episode of Doctor Who airs on the BBC. William Hartnell, Carole Ann Ford, William Russell and Jacqueline Hill star in An Unearthly Child, the first episode of a four-part story which launches the series. Though it’s a major television milestone in retrospect, much of the viewing audience is still reeling from the previous day’s assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and the series premiere goes unnoticed by many.

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Doctor Who: The Dead Planet

Doctor WhoThe fifth episode of Doctor Who airs on the BBC. The Dead Planet is part one of the story now collectively known as The Daleks, the first story to feature the Doctor’s future arch-rivals, in a script written by Terry Nation (who had only taken the job writing for Doctor Who when his steady gig writing material for comedian Tony Hancock came to an abrupt end). In this episode, only the “sucker cup” of a Dalek is seen in the closing seconds.

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Doctor Who: The Survivors

Doctor WhoThe sixth episode of Doctor Who airs on the BBC. The Survivors is part two of the story now collectively known as The Daleks, the first story to feature the Doctor’s future arch-rivals. The Daleks are revealed in full, and their distinctive voices are heard, for the first time here, and schoolchildren begin imitating Daleks on playgrounds. Unexpected by anyone at the BBC, Doctor Who is suddenly a bona fide smash hit.

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Doctor Who: The Rescue

Doctor WhoThe 11th episode of Doctor Who airs on the BBC. The Rescue (not to be confused with the second-season story of the same name) is part seven of the story now collectively known as The Daleks, the first story to feature the Doctor’s future arch-rivals. In this story, paradoxically, the Doctor and his companions witness the extinction of the Daleks, as neither the BBC nor Terry Nation had anticipated the creatures’ popularity. Plans are already afoot to hire Nation to write a sequel featuring the Daleks; presumably all future stories featuring the Daleks take place before this one.

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Doctor Who: The Brink Of Disaster

Doctor WhoThe 13th episode of Doctor Who airs on the BBC. The Brink Of Disaster is part two of the story now collectively known as The Edge Of Destruction, the first story – and one of very few in the series’ entire history – to take place entirely within the TARDIS. This episode completes the BBC’s initial commitment to produce 13 episodes of the series, and the ratings – partcularly where the Dalek episodes are concerned – have proven promising enough for the go-ahead to be given to continue production on the remainder of the first season.

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