William Hartnell: the original Doctor Who

Historian Simon Schama Loves Doctor Who

With his laissez-faire attitude towards continuity you’d think that historians would share the same level of contempt for the Doctor as he has for archaeologists.

William Hartnell: the original Doctor Who

But rather than being bitter about his stubborn refusal to confirm even the most commonly believed theory (just put us out of our misery: is the Voynich Manuscript just a shopping list?) Brit-born historian, scholar and presenter Simon Schama revealed that he absolutely loves the Doctor.

Speaking to BBC America at the BBC Worldwide showcase, where he was fielding questions about his latest multi-part documentary The History of the Jews, the conversation became animated when talk turned to the Doctor’s upcoming anniversary:

“I love Doctor Who!”

Sharing his thoughts on the First Doctor, William Hartnell Schama said:

“He was very effective because he was so grumpy. He was a sort of a 1940s, very fierce, solid actor. Brooding, scary, unsmiling.”

He added that Patrick Troughton, who replaced Hartnell as the Doctor, was ‘really good. He was a mixture of the ferocious and the kid-friendly’.

The conversation then turned to the sci-fi of his youth, it turns out that Schama is very much a genre fan:

“As [British] kids of the ’50s, we grew up on The Quatermass Experiment. John Wyndham and The Day of the Triffids. That was one of the scariest things I’d ever read or heard. The Andromeda Strain. Charles Chilton‘s Journey Into Space. Those were all fantastic.”

They’ll be a comprehensive interview with Simon Schama later on BBC America’s Anglophenia site later on this week.

The History of the Jews will air on BBC Two in 2013.

Everyone has a favourite Doctor and mine - just for his honesty, his fairness and his ability to not notice the Master's awful, awful disguises/anagrams (Sir Gilles Estram!?!) - has to be the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison. The stories didn’t serve him as well as his acting served those stories.

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