You never really leave the Doctor behind. As an actor you may go on to equally interesting and challenging roles, or perhaps never really step out of it shadow but in the minds of the public and the fans, you’ll always be the Doctor.
It’s a struggle for validation outside of the blue box which is all too apparent in this only surviving on-screen interview with the First Doctor William Hartnell, set to feature on the upcoming DVD release of 1966 story The Tenth Planet.
In it, he expresses his frustrations not only with the question of every escaping questions about Doctor Who but also his co-stars, the most famous creation in the shows history, and perhaps a greater enemy because of it, the Daleks:
I’m not brassed off, it’s just it’s the association of the Dalek question, this mechanical mobile object, I’m beginning to find it distracting. And they were difficult to play to, because you’re not looking into human eyes. You’re looking at a metal object, moving about, with a voiceover.
Hartnell is then asked whether he would ever “shake off” questions about Doctor Who, to which he tersely replied:
Oh yes, of course, by making a success in something else! That’s an actor’s job.
However, there’s a difference between finding success in a fulfilling role and inhabiting a role that fires imaginations and taps into our desires to be beguiled by a dramatic, fantastical persona.
The full interview, of which only a fragment survives, was filmed in Hartnell’s dressing room in the Gaumont Theatre, Taunton, during his run as Buskin in the pantomime Puss in Boots. It was initially broadcast on the BBC regional news programme Points West on 17 January 1967.
The clip was discovered by researcher Richard Bignell in 2009, working for BBC DVD.
Though digitised in 2011, the interview will appear for the first time on the DVD release of The Tenth Planet this October.
Next month William Hartnell will be played on BBC2 by David Bradley in An Adventure in Space and Time, a drama telling the story of the show’s conception that forms part of the Doctor Who 50th anniversary celebrations.
Available on DVD on October 14th, you can order The Tenth Planet from Amazon now for just £13.50, and we’ll have a review soon!