5 Things We Love About The ACTUAL Doctor Who Pilot
Doctor Who returns for a brand new series tomorrow night in an episode simply titled The Pilot.
All will become clear when you see it for yourself, but the title is also an allusion to the fact that the Series 10 premiere has been billed (Bill – see what we did there?!) as the perfect starting point for new viewers.
It did get us a-thinkin’ about the actual Doctor Who pilot, though, which we decided to revisit ahead of the show’s latest televisual return.
It’s the one that started it all, as it were, although it was never actually aired as part of the series itself. This pilot version was filmed as a studio rehearsal in September 1963 and the episode was reshot and developed into the first serial, An Unearthly Child, before it went to air in November. The rest, as they say, is history. Let’s go back to the beginning, shall we?
1. The Now Iconic Opening Scene
While this opening scene is pretty underwhelming when you compare it to today’s TV standards, it’s simplicity is what makes it so brilliantly, quintessentially Who.
There were some alterations made to the set for the actual first episode, but the premise remained the same. A policeman stumbles into 76 Totter’s Lane where a seemingly ordinary police box is hidden away in the shadows. It was the beginning of the world’s greatest sci-fi series and it all started out as a mild curiosity in a junkyard. The theme tune playing in the background is just the icing on the cake.
2. Susan’s Sass
While it’s often claimed that the purpose of Doctor Who companions back in the day was to look pretty, there is much to be said about the initial characterisation of the show’s first ever leading lady, Carole Ann Ford.
Introduced as an enigmatic pupil with knowledge way beyond her years, Susan Foreman caught the eye of two particularly suspicious teachers, Barbara and Ian, who were so intrigued by her otherworldly presence that they actually followed her home to find out what she was hiding. And aren’t they just glad that they did?
Susan’s sass levels are on point. She’s definitely her grandfather’s granddaughter…
3. The Doctor’s Understated Entrance
These days, the Doctor is partial to arriving on the back of a tank whilst playing the electric guitar, so it’s hard to believe that there was ever a time he was able to enter a room without all of the accompanying fanfare. To be fair, though, he’s earned it.
This was exactly the case in the pilot, in which William Hartnell’s inceptive incarnation of the now legendary Time Lord made his on screen debut with a cough rather than an explosion. Oh, how times change.
It’s also a whole 14 minutes until he actually appears, with the story being told through the eyes of his imminent companions, which only adds to the mystery of who the hell the show is even supposed to be about. 54 year later and we’re still not 100% sure.
4. The First Time We See Inside The TARDIS
Shock horror! Turns out, it isn’t just an ordinary police box after all. And guess what else? It’s bigger on the inside! Although, arguably, not as big as it is these days.
Barbara and Ian got more than they bargained for when they stepped through those doors, although their assumption that it was all simply an illusion is considerably tame compared to some of the reactions that have followed over the years. Just wait until you see Bill’s…
5. The Melodramatic Final Scene
Suffice to say, it all gets very heated when the Doctor threatens to keep Barbara and Ian prisoner to prevent his secrets from being exposed.
This melodrama was to become a staple of Classic Who, and some would argue that it’s carried itself over into the modern adventures, too. Admit it, though, you wouldn’t have it any other way.
What do you love about the pilot? Get nostalgic and let us know in the comments!