When William Hartnell left Doctor Who in 1966, the decision wasn’t taken lightly. Although the actor loved the role, those he worked for were increasingly concerned about his ability to carry the show as its lead. Eventually, in July 1966, he agreed to move on.
When you consider that a recently discovered draft script of his final story, The Tenth Planet, is dated June 1966, you can imagine why there is interest in the document. In this version of the Doctor’s first encounter with the Cybermen, their creators (Dr Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis) have the Doctor and Polly (Anneke Wills) threatened with conversion towards the end of the story, rather than a tired Time Lord regenerating.
Here’s a snippet of the script:
The script has come to light thanks to the research of Michael Seely, who has written The Quest For Pedler, a biography of the visionary scientist and writer who as well as creating the Cybermen also developed the BBC series Doomwatch. He explains:
I found this script and two more from ‘The Moonbase’ (known then as ‘The Return Of The Cybermen’) among a very large collection of Kit’s papers which one of his children had kept in their attic .As I looked through it, I realised it was the first draft [script editor and co-writer] Gerry Davis prepared when Kit fell ill in June 1966.
The structure is more or less the same, though a lot of the dialogue is different. Some things were cut, especially involving the Cybermen. For example, the Cybermen planned to convert [companion] Polly and the Doctor into Cybermen towards the end of the story, and kept them prisoner in what they described as a waiting room. The most eye-catching difference is what didn’t happen at the end of the episode.