Archive for the ‘William Hartnell’ Category

William Hartnell (1960’s)

October 19, 2009

Here are some brief quotes from William Hartnell, talking about his fear of travelling to the moon and the fan letters he’d get from children asking for help with their maths homework.

“Space travel? Quite honestly, it scares me to death. I haven’t the slightest wish to get in a rocket and zoom through the stratosphere. Somebody else can be the first man on the moon. It doesn’t interest me at all. I do, however, believe that there is life on other planets – and that they know we’re here but haven’t got the technology to get through.

“We did ‘Doctor Who’ for forty-eight weeks a year but I loved it. I couldn’t go out into the street without a bunch of  children following me, like the Pied Piper. People used to take it terribly seriously. I’d get letters from boys swotting for exams, asking me complicated questions about time ratios and the TARDIS. I couldn’t help them. A lot of the script writers used to make the Doctor use expressions like ‘centrifugal force’ but I refused. If it gets too technical, the children don’t understand and they lose interest. I saw the Doctor as a kind of lama, one of those long-lived old boys out in Tibet who might be anything up to eight hundred years old but only look seventy-five.”

William Hartnell (2)

July 28, 2009

This rare William Hartnell interview from 1964 was conducted between seasons 1 and 2, in terms of production at least.

Q: Are you pleased with the way the series has been received?

A: Very. We’re all very pleased and honoured that so many people seem to have taken it to their hearts.

Q: Are you surprised at how popular ‘Doctor Who’ is?

A: In some ways yes, in some ways no. I always believed in the idea of it, but a good idea is no guarantee of success. I suppose it was with the second serial, where we meet the Daleks, that it really took off. I’m very pleased. They’re coming back, you know, in the new series.

Q: Are the Daleks your favourite monsters from the first series?

A: Well I’m not sure that they weren’t the only monsters. All the other adversaries, were they really monsters? They were in many cases human, or human-like, and quite complicated in terms of their motivations. I think perhaps the Daleks were the only monsters. They were very good. I knew that from the moment I first saw them, I knew they had legs, if you’ll excuse the pun.

Q: Are there any other adversaries from the first series returning?

A: No, I don’t think so. We don’t want to rest on our laurels, we want to create new adversaries. The Daleks we can’t ignore, they’re everywhere, they’ve invaded the high street. But I hope we don’t overuse them. I was very clear on that with the producers. I told them we must not let the series descend into constant Dalek battles. They must be used sparingly.

Q: Do you have much input when it comes to storylines?

A: No, I keep my nose out. I dare say I could have more of a say, but we have very talented writers and I let them get on with their job, as I get on with mine.

Q: How much of the character of Doctor Who was present in the original script, and how much did you add?

A: Most of it was there. I brought something of myself to it, I’m sure, but if he and I sat down together we would seem very different. I think he’s a wonderful character, very mysterious and enigmatic but very kind beneath the veneer of grumpiness.

Q: You’re filming a second series now. Will there be a third?

A: I hope so. I think so. One never knows, but I think we’ll be back. I shall certainly be back if they let me.

William Hartnell

July 28, 2009

There are relatively few William Hartnell interviews concerning his time on ‘Doctor Who’, and most of them are puff pieces intended for promotion. This interview is based on various comments pulled together, and as such is less of an interview and more of an overview of his comments on the programme.

“I was so pleased to be offered Doctor Who. To me kids are the greatest audience – and the greatest critics – in the world.

“It may seem like hindsight now, but I just knew that Doctor Who was going to be an enormous success. Don’t ask me how. Not everybody thought as I did. I was universally scoffed at for my initial faith in the series, but I believed in it. It was magical.

“Before the part came along I’d been playing a bunch of crooks, sergeants, prison warders and detectives. Then, after appearing in This Sporting Life, I got a phone call from my agent. He said, “I wouldn’t normally have suggested you work in children’s television, Bill, but there’s a sort of character part come up that I think you’d just love to play.

“My agent said the part was that of an eccentric old grandfather- cum-professor type who travels in space and time. Well, I wasn’t that keen, but I agreed to meet the producer.

“Then, the moment this brilliant young producer Miss Verity Lambert started telling me about Doctor Who, I was hooked. I remember telling her, “This is going to run for five years.” And look what’s happened.

“We did it forty-eight weeks a year in those days and it was very hard work. But I loves every minute.

“You know, I couldn’t go out into the high street without a bunch of kids follwing me. I felt like the Pied Piper.

“People really used to take it literally. I’d get letters from boys swotting for O-levels asking complicated questions about time-ratio and the TARDIS. The Doctor might have been able to answer them – I’m afraid I couldn’t! But I do believe there is life on other planets – and they know there’s life here but don’t have the technology to get through.

“Doctor Who is certainly a test for any actor. Animals and children are renowned scene-stealers and we had both – plus an assortment of monsters that became popular in their own right. Look at the Daleks. They started in the second series and were an immediate success.

“At one time (in late 1964) I thought we might extend the series and I suggested giving the Doctor a son and calling the programme The Son of Doctor Who. The idea was for me to have a wicked son. We would both look alike, each have a TARDIS and travel in outer space. In actual fact, it would have meant that I had to play a dual role when I `met’ my son.

“But the idea was not taken up by the BBC so I dropped it. I still think it would have worked and been exciting to children.

“Memories? There are so many. There was the occasion when I arrived at an air display in the TARDIS and the kids were convinced I had flown it there! On another occasion I went by limousine to open a local fete. When we got there the children just converged on the car cheering and shouting, their faces all lit up. I knew then just how much the Doctor really meant to them.”