The Original Doctor Who Pilot: Some Discussion

Posted by: Whochick

The Original Doctor Who Pilot: Some Discussion
The Pilot Episode

Before the aired version of An Unearthly Child there was another pilot filmed. This one had a few differences. I remember reading the reason why they they made some changes and re-filmed the pilot episode, but I don’t actually remember that reason. Anyway, I will be reviewing this episode rather like the others, but I will note differences as I see them.

An Unearthly Child features The First Doctor as played by William Hartnell.

Episode: An Unearthly Child by Anthony Coburn (the original version)
Rating (1 to 5): 2
Doctor: The First Doctor
Companions: Susan “Foreman” (The Doctor’s granddaughter), and Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright against their will.
Time: 1963
Place: England
Baddie: Well…The Doctor, really.
The Doctor’s Alias: Susan’s Grandfather
The Doctor enjoys: Being right.
The Doctor dislikes: People butting in where they’ve no business.
The Doctor apologizes to: No One
Doctor-y Strangeness: He kidnaps Ian and Barbara.
Susan-y Strangeness: She’s from the 49th Century.
Scary Stuff: The Doctor is a big ‘ole meany.
Does someone local help out? Ian and Barbara think they are.
Connections: The Doctor is wearing a scarf! (And he’s rude and not ginger.) The very first reaction to the “bigger on the inside” concept.
What we learn: The Doctor and Susan are from another planet and the 49th Century.
My Favorite Bits: Ink Blots! Ian takes things as they come. The Doctor is rude as ever.

Observations and musings:

There are actually quite a few small differences between the original version of this episode and the aired version. Not the least of which being that the original pilot is only one episode long. There’s a decal or something on the right hand door of the TARDIS in the Original Pilot. I don’t remember seeing it in the final version. The blocking is a bit different between the two versions in the scenes at the school. In the Aired version, Susan tells Ian and Barbara that she likes walking through the dark, as it’s mysterious. The other version has her enjoying walking in the mysterious English fog. Were the Ink Blots too weird to survive in the Aired version? In the Aired version, Susan is wearing normal clothing in the Control room. The Original Pilot finds her in a sort of futuristic tunic. The Doctor blames Susan for the intrusion of her teachers, and he’s rude to her in the Original version. I’m glad they cut that bit out and toned down Scary!Doctor in the Aired version. In the Original version, Susan says that they are from the 49th Century. She says that she was born on another world and in another time in the Aired version. It was more mysterious and open ended that way. The Doctor’s reasoning for kidnapping Ian and Barbara is more for fear of screwing up time, originally, rather than fear for He and Susan. In general, everyone is a great deal angrier in the Original Pilot. I’m glad they had everyone mellow out a bit for the final version.

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About the Author

Whochick is a huge Doctor Who fan. She loves the show so much that she not only co-authors a blog on the topic, but also a podcast that you should listen to. Whochick resides in California with her husband (the Shadow Architect), and occasionally refers to herself in the third person.


  1. Dr. Geek  September 16, 2009

    I think the decal was something that was on real police boxes at the time. I could be wrong but I beleive it may be back for the 11th Doctor

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  2. whochick  September 16, 2009

    I saw it on the preview pics.

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