04a – Fourth Season – William Hartnell

The Smugglers

This is another historical story, but instead of being based on any particular incident it tells of a general occurence in English history. The English government chose to support itelf primarily through customs duties on imports, which of course created an incentive to avoid those duties by smuggling, and that definitely happened a lot in the Cornwall area. It was also one the issues that started the American Revolution, but that is not our story here. The TARDIS crew encounters a former pirate, now turned church warden, who tells them a secret before being killed by another pirate. Ben and Polly capture a man who they think is the murderer, but he is in fact an undercover Revenue agent, and in the end helps to defeat the pirates. It is a good story, and the most memorable character has to be Cherub, the pirate who murdered the church warden and who kills other people and is very sinister.


The Tenth Planet

This is Hartnell’s final story, and it takes the TARDIS to Antarctica, where the travelers are taken to the Snowcap base of the International Space Command. They are managing the return of the manned space mission Zeus IV, and everyting goes wrong when a new planet appears, dooming the mission. Then we meet the second most memorable enemies of the Doctor, the Cybermen. They explain that they are from the planet Mondas, which is Earth’s twin (hence the Tenth Planet), and need the energy from the Earth to keep their planet going. The General running the base is of course pig-headed and does everything possible to make things worse than they have to be. This adventure turns out to be too much for the Doctor, who esplains that his old body is just wearing out, and when they get back to the TARDIS he collapses and starts to change.

Hartnell was becoming increasingly difficult to work with as far back as The Time Meddler, where you could really see him losing his lines, and there are lots of stories about him hiding notes to remind himself of what he was supposed to say. But the BBC didn’t want the show to end, so they did something unprecedented and replaced the lead actor in a popular series. To explain it away, they invented regeneration, something the Doctor’s race could do. We now call them the Timelords of Gallifrey, but that part did not appear until the end of Troughton’s run as the Dcotor. For now, the Doctor was just a member of an unspecified alien race, and the only other member we had met was the Meddling Monk.


William Hartnell Reviewed

First Doctor


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