An Unearthly Child is the first serial of the first season of Doctor Who. It was written by Anthony Coburn, directed by Waris Hussein and introduced William Hartnell as the First Doctor, William Russell as Ian Chesterton, Jacqueline Hill as Barbara Wright and Carole Ann Ford as Susan Foreman.
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Susan Foreman is a mystery to teachers Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright, seemingly know more than she should about the past... and the future. Their curiosity leads them to follow her home one night, only to find that her 'home' appears to be a deserted junkyard. In the junkyard, they discover a police telephone box and a strange old man, who claims to be Susan's grandfather and calls himself the Doctor. The journey of a lifetime is about to begin...
An Unearthly Child (1) Edit
The following day, at Coal Hill School, students depart class to go home, while teacher, Barbara Wright goes into to speak to Ian Chesterton about a mutual student of theirs, Susan Foreman. He is surprised to learn of Susan as her problem as well. Barbara also brings up the subject of offering to help Susan specialise in history at her home, but she rebuffed this with the excuse that her grandfather dislikes strangers. Ian finds it a poor excuse, her grandfather being a doctor. Eventually having had enough of excuses, Barbara went looking for Susan's grandfather, only to find out that Susan apparently lives in an old junkyard at 76 Totter's Lane. They both decide to stake out the junkyard and see if she arrives.
They find Susan listening to a walkman to lend her a history book before leaving school. After they've left, Susan notices a discrepancy in the history book. Later that evening, Ian and Barbara arrive at 76 Totter's Lane and await Susan's arrival. As they wait, they discuss Susan's work in class, wherein she talked about the UK eventually upgrading to the decimal system in regards to currency in history, requesting some more challenging experiments and insisting on using on the use of the fourth and fifth dimensions in a simple problem. They spot Susan enter the junkyard from afar and decide to follow her in to satiate their curiosities.
Inside, they find a plethora of unusual artefacts and junk but no sign of Susan. In the corner, they find find the police box and feel a faint vibration coming from it; Ian draws the conclusion that it's alive. With no sign of Susan, they decide to go and search for a policeman, but are interrupted by the arrival of an old man. Hearing Susan calling out, Ian and Barbara accidentally give themselves away. The old man presses them for their identities and their business but insists he knows nothing about Susan's whereabouts. He frequently brushes off their demands to look inside the police box, raising their suspicions that he has her trapped in it.
Ian and Barbara decide to go and look for a police man, but the old man refuses to go with them or leave. As soon as the two ready to leave, the police box door opens and Susan calls out. The old man tries to keep them from going in, but Barbara forces her way inside. She is shocked upon entry to discover a much larger, peculiar-looking room inside. Ian and the old man follow close after; Susan flicks a switch on the console and the large doors close. The two schoolteachers are baffled by Susan's apparent home and reason that the old man is her grandfather, the Doctor. Ian presses the Doctor for details about where they are, but he continues to be cryptic and uncooperative.
The Doctor ponders on what will happen to his unwelcome guests now, believing that they will now inform all about the ship, which Susan identifies as the TARDIS. Ian and Barbara are highly skeptical of the TARDIS being a time and space machine, while the Doctor identifies himself and Susan as coming from another planet and another time completely. In spite of Susan's pleas, the Doctor refuses to simply let the schoolteachers leave. Susan is adamant that she is telling the truth, but Ian and Barbara attempt to leave all the same, only to discover they are unable to open the doors and the Doctor refuses to release them. Ian tries to work the controls but is shocked by the console and collapses.
The Doctor makes it clear that if he were to let them go, he and Susan are to depart also. Susan states that she would sooner leave the TARDIS than the 20th Century. The Doctor appears to appreciate her decision and claims to work the doors, but starts working the controls instead. Susan realises what he's doing and tries to stop him, but is too late to prevent the ship's take off. Ian and Barbara collapse into unconsciousness as the TARDIS departs from London in 1963 and makes it journey through time and space. The police box reappears on a large barren ground, it's passengers still unconscious, while outside, the shadow of a man grows over the landscape facing the ship...
The Cave of Skulls (2) Edit
The figure casting the shadow is a bemused looking caveman, staring the the strange shape with a look of complete bafflement. Elsewhere, a tribe of cavemen watch it's chief, Za, attempt to make fire warming up a bone, while the tribe's old woman refuses to assist him and disagrees that Za will ever make fire. Hur wonders if Kal, an opposing candidate for leadership, will end up making fire instead of Za.
Inside the TARDIS, Barbara and Ian awaken to find the Doctor and Susan examining the console to determine their place and time, taking readings and making observations. The Doctor shows Ian and Barbara the scanner; while Ian still refuses to believe their story, Barbara is more willing to accept them. When the Doctor determines that it is safe to exit the ship, he decides to finally open the doors, if to prove Ian wrong and nothing more. He picks up his belonging and goes outside. Ian reluctantly follows him outside with Barbara and Susan. While Ian looks for a reasonable explanation, the Doctor is disconcerted by the ship sill being a police box.
When he goes to make an assessment of the local area, he is approached from a distance by a caveman. Susan, Ian and Barbara find a large skull half submerged in sand. Susan explains to Barbara that the TARDIS should change it's appearance to suit it's surroundings. Ian and Barbara continue to question the situation, when Susan notices the Doctor is missing. As the Doctor is smoking a pipe, he is jumped by the hiding cave man. Hearing his cry out, the others go to help him. When they arrive, he has disappeared, with his possessions, including his closely-withheld notebook, strewn over the floor being the only thing they find. Not being able to see him, Susan goes into a hysteria, but Barbara talks her back down; they go in search of him.
In the camp, Za is informed that Kal promises to show the tribe how to make fire. They are interrupted by the arrival of Kal carrying the unconscious Doctor. They examine him closely, while Kal challenges Za's leadership in front of the people, taunting him about his inability to make fire. Za tries to win the people over to his side when they start to believe Kal. Hur notices the Doctor awaken and the two opposing tribe leaders fight. Kal tells the tribe that the Doctor can make fire for him. Za wishes to fight Kal to the death, but a member of the tribe talks sense into them. Hur wishes to see the Doctor make fire, but Za and Kal continue to fight in front of the tribe. The Doctor becomes full conscious and promises to make fire, but has lost his matches. He says he can make fire is returned to his ship, but Za thinks Kal is lying.
Kal begs the Doctor to make fire for him, but he is unable to. Kal threatens him with death if he does not make fire, but Susan arrives with Ian and Barbara and throws herself on him. The tribe breaks into hysteria and Za orders the time travellers to be taken to the Cave of Skulls. Kal storms away, furiously. Hur's father, Horg, is disturbed by the events that have transpired. Old Mother thinks that the four travellers should be killed, thinking fire to be the death of them all, but Za refuses to listen. In the Cave of Skulls, the travellers are bound and left alone. On the far side of the cave, the Doctor notices a pile of skulls and Ian observes that they've all been split open.
The Forest of Fear (3) Edit
Outside of the cave, the tribe sleeps, all except Old Mother, who takes Za's knife while he sleeps. In the cave, Susan gives Ian a stone to break his bonds, but to no avail. They all look for a means to escape; the Doctor suggests Ian use a sharp bone to cut himself looks. Old Mother, with Za's knife, slowly makes her way to the Cave of Skulls. The travellers all take turns trying to cut Ian's bonds; the Doctor tries to comfort Barbara and keep her focused on escaping. Outside, Hur awakens and alerts Za to Old Mother's disappearance and Za notices his missing knife. They both go after her, not alerting the rest of the tribe. In the cave, Susan is alarmed by the arrival of Old Mother by a secret entrance, and she tells them not to make fire.
Hur believes that Old Mother is going to kill the travellers and Za realises that if he stops her, they will give him the secret of fire and not Kal. They hear Old Mother in the cave; she promises the travellers their freedom is they leave and don't make fire. As Za moves the stone blocking the entrance, Old Mother frees them and they leave before he enters. When he breaks in, Za throws Old Mother to the ground. Hur insists that Za is the leader and he goes in pursuit of them.
The travellers make their way through the jungle, but have to stop to allow the Doctor his breath. Barbara begins to panic in not knowing her way back to the ship. Barbara sees something in the bushes and becomes hysterical, while the Doctor and Susan catch their breath. To the Doctor's chagrin, Ian organises an order for the party to follow to get back to the ship. Behind them, Za and Hur follow their trail. Rested, the travellers carry on again and Barbara screams upon finding a dead animal, alerting Za and Hur, who chase after them. They hide in the bushes when Za and Hur approach; Za goes to look for them alone when he is attacked by a wild animal. In spite of protests from the men, Barbara and Susan go back to help Za. They tend to his injuries, but the Doctor wishes to get away.
Barbara wishes to understand the Doctor's selfish attitude, but he defends himself by stating that the tribe could easily ambush them at any time, in spite of Hur admitting they are asleep. Knowing the Doctor is right about their exposure, Ian decides the make a stretcher to carry Za. In the Cave of Skulls, Old Mother awakes and is interrogated by Kal. He realises that it was she who freed the travellers. Hur refuses to allow the group to help Za; Barbara attempts to explain the values of kindness to her. While the others work, the Doctor looks on indignantly. He picks up a rock, seemingly intent on killing Za to save themselves, but is stopped by Ian and he claims he was going to have Za draw a map back to the TARDIS. Ian forces the Doctor to help carry Za on the stretcher.
In the camp, Kal is telling the tribe that Za and Hur have gone with the Doctor's party, but Horg refuses to believe it, while the travellers trek their way through the forest. The tribe go to the Cave of Skulls to find Old Mother dead, a large wound on her forehead. Kal lies and claims that Za killed Old Mother; the tribe then agrees Kal should be leader and they chase after the travellers. Making it to the edge of the forest, they are ambushed outside the TARDIS and cornered by Kal as they try to retreat.
The Firemaker (4) Edit
Kal returns to camp with the travellers . Kal continues to taunt and undermine Za, despite Hur's protests that the travellers helped him and it was Old Mother who freed them. Kal reveals to the tribe that Old Mother is dead and shows them Za's knife as the weapon used to kill her. The Doctor examines the knife, observing the lack of blood on it. He taunts Kal into showing him his knife, which does in fact have blood on it, thereby exposing Kal as the killer. The Doctor starts a rabble to drive Kal out of the camp by throwing rocks at him and the tribe forces him out.
With Kal gone, Za is made leader of the tribe and, in spite of their having helped him, orders the travellers sealed in the Cave of Skull again. Hur tells Kal about the travellers helping to heal his wounds; she was confused by their affection and tenderness. Za tells her that the travellers will tell him how to make fire, or else face death. In the cave, Susan and Barbara collect dust and dry leaves and grass in order to make fire, when Za arrives to speak to Ian, but he professes the party's leadership to the Doctor. Za informs them of the tribe's wishes for them to be put to death in order to gain fire, so they show him how to make fire.
Slowly, the dries leaves and grass breaks into a flame, which Susan places on a stick so as to present to the tribe. The guard left on the exit to the Cave of Skulls is attacked and killed by Kal, who breaks into the cave and starts a fight with Za. The Doctor and his companions stand aside as they fight over possession of the fire. The fight is vicious and brutal as the time travellers watch Za and Kills hit each other with bones and throw each other to the floor. Eventually Za gets the upper hand on Kal and wounds him, giving him the chance to kill him by hitting over the head with a large rock. Ian gives Za a stick with fire on it to show to the tribe, but Za refuses to release them; the tribe is enamoured by the fire he brings out.
Hur goes to the cave to speak to the travellers, but she refuses to release them, declaring it Za's decision. Ian feels foolish for giving them fire, but Barbara assures him that they would not still be alive if it weren't for the fact. Za later brings food to the cave, and expresses his wishes for their party to join his tribe, but they do not wish to stay. After he has gone, Susan takes a torch from the fire and places one of the skulls from the cave on top of it, the fire blazing through the eyes and jaws of it. It gives Ian the idea to replicate this three more times to convince the tribe that they had died. Hur returns to the cave later to find the travellers ruse, and while they are distracted they escape the cave and flee the camp. While they are rushing through the forest, Za discovers the ruse and order the hunters to go after them.
Armed with fire, the tribe chase the Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara through the forest, they make it back to the TARDIS just before the tribe catches up with them. Inside, Ian has the Doctor launch the TARDIS, which dematerialises just as the tribe's hunters throw their spears at it. They are all baffled by what they have seen. In the control room, the Doctor works at the console but informs Ian and Barbara that he cannot return them to their own time. When confronted on whether he actually tried, the Doctor proclaims that he managed to get them away from the other time, when the TARDIS lands. The scanner reveals a dead-looking forest with no significant indications. Susan checks the radiation meter, which initially reads normal, but as soon as the travellers ready themselves to look outside, the meter slides straight into the 'Danger' reading...
- Dr. Who - William Hartnell
- Ian Chesterton - William Russell
- Barbara Wright - Jacqueline Hill
- Susan Foreman - Carole Ann Ford
- Za - Derek Newark
- Hur - Alethea Charlton
- Old Mother - Eileen Way
- Kal - Jeremy Young
- Horg - Howard Lang
- Writer - Anthony Coburn
- Special Effects - the Visual Effects Department of the BBC
- Title Music - Ron Grainer with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop
- Incidental Music - Norman Kay
- Story Editor - David Whitaker
- Designers - Barry Newbery, Peter Brachacki
- Associate Producer - Mervyn Pinfield
- Fight Arranger - Derek Ware
- Director - Waris Hussein
- Producer - Verity Lambert
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Story notes Edit
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Broadcast & Ratings Edit
|No. Overall||#||Title||Runtime||First Airdate||Viewers (in millions)|
|#1||1||An Unearthly Child||23:24||23 November 1963||4.4|
|#2||2||The Cave of Skulls||24:26||30 November 1963||5.9|
|#3||3||The Forest of Fear||23:38||07 December 1963||6.9|
|#4||4||The Firemaker||24:22||14 December 1963||6.4|
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Home video and audio releases Edit
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External Links Edit
- Official An Unearthly Child page on Doctor Who Website