Researches for a forthcoming biography of a ‘60s Doctor Who writer have turned up an intriguing curio: a draft script of William Hartnell’s final episode which doesn’t end with the Doctor regenerating.
William Hartnell’s Doctor bowed out in October 1966 with the four-part adventure “The Tenth Planet”, a story which not only introduced the concept that the Doctor could change his appearance, but also saw the first appearance of the Cybermen.
Now author Michael Seely, who’s working on a biography of the story’s co-author, Dr Kit Pedler, has unearthed a draft script of the final episode which predates the decision to write out William Hartnell.
“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,” explains Seely. “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.”
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The fact that this script was written in June 1966 and rehearsals for the story began on 14 September only underlines that the actor’s departure was decided upon rather late in the day (Hartnell’s wife’s diary records that he told her on 16 July 1966).
“Gerry Davis and [producer] Innes Lloyd were always very diplomatic and tactful in their interviews,” says Seely. “Both died in 1991, long before ‘warts and all’ interviews became the norm. 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.”
The cache of Pedler’s papers also includes five original storylines for Doomwatch , the 1970-1972 eco-thriller TV series he co-created with Gerry Davis – including several that were never made – as well as proposals for further TV shows, a couple of never-recorded radio plays, and various unfinished books and short stories.
The Quest For Pedler by Michael Seely is due for release early in 2014. Visit www.miwk.com for more details.