Unseen ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Doomwatch’ scripts unearthed

Posted Sep 2, 2013 by Mathew Wace Peck
Hitherto unseen scripts from “Doctor Who” and “Doomwatch” have been unearthed by researchers compiling information for a forthcoming biography of the cult science-fiction writer, Dr Kit Pedlar.
BBC Home Entertainment
Pedlar, along with Gerry Davis, was responsible for introducing the Cybermen into Doctor Who and for creating the cult 1970s eco-thriller television drama series, Doomwatch.
During research for a new book about Pedlar, a cache papers found in his archive includes the original script for the pair’s debut Doctor Who story, The Tenth Planet – and original storylines for Doomwatch, including several that were never made. Other finds, according to SFX, include proposals for further television series, a couple of never-recorded radio plays, as well as various unfinished books and short stories.
The Tenth Planet is the 1966 Doctor Who story that signalled the end of the tenure of the First Doctor, as played by the late William Hartnell.
The story is famous for its fourth episode, which introduced into Doctor Who the game-changing concept of regeneration – arguably, the single most important reason for the show’s longevity. In it, an ailing Doctor is seen to collapse to the floor and then, before everyone’s eyes change into a completely different-looking man.
Unique among TV drama, the idea of regeneration has meant not only the long-term continuation of the series but of its central character. For 50 years now, Doctor Who has been led by the same character – the Doctor – even though, to date, eleven very different actors have played the part, while, at the same time, convincing audiences that he is the same man; or, more accurately, Time Lord, for, although the Doctor looks human, he is, in fact, an alien with two hearts from the planet Gallifrey.
What’s interesting about The Tenth Planet script that has just been unearthed is that there is no regeneration scene. Michael Seely, the author of the book, explains the finding to SFX.
The Tenth Planet
“The structure [of the original] is more or less the same [as the one transmitted], though a lot of the dialogue is different. Some things were cut, especially involving the Cybermen. For example, the Cybermen planned to convert [the Doctor’s 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,” he confides.
However, Seely continues, “The most eye-catching difference is what didn’t happen at the end of the episode.”
Hartnell was known to be very proud of Doctor Who and would have played the part for longer than he did. However, his worsening health meant that he wasn’t able to.
Seely explains: “[Script writer] Gerry Davis and [producer] Innes Lloyd were always very diplomatic and tactful in their interviews [and] both died in 1991, long before ‘warts and all’ interviews became the norm. [However] we know that William Hartnell was being persuaded to give up the role he loved over the summer of 1966, and that they were sounding out replacements. He only decided to leave in the middle of July, the month after this draft was written.”
Evidence shows that the script was written in June 1966, with rehearsals for The Tenth Planet commencing on 14 September, and underlines that the Hartnell’s departure from Doctor Who was decided upon very late in the day. He was replaced by Patrick Troughton.
According to SFX, the diary of Hartnell’s wife – Heather Hartnell – “records that he told her on 16 July 1966”.
The story of the early days of Doctor Who and Hartnell’s departure from the series he adored will be told this November, in a 90-minute Doctor Who special, which has been commissioned as part of the BBC’s 50th-anniversary celebrations of the show.
An Adventure in Space and Time
Written by the Doctor Who and Sherlock writer, Mark Gatiss, An Adventure in Space and Time stars Harry Potter and Broadchurch star David Bradley as William Hartnell/the First Doctor and Lesley Mandrell (Mayday) as Heather Hartnell. Troughton will be played by Reece Shearsmith (A Field in England).
Early this year, another researcher, Jason Onion, revealed that he was in position of hitherto unknown Doctor Who scripts, written by Anthony Coburn, that were commissioned for the early days of the series. Ultimately unmade, Coburn did provide the first two stories – An Unearthly Child and The Tribe of Gum – for the-then fledgling science-fiction series, which made up the first four episodes
The biography of Dr Kit Pedlar – The Quest For Pedler, by Michael Seely – will be published by MIWK Publishing in early in 2014.
The first-ever DVD release of The Tenth Planet is scheduled for release later this year.