An Unearthly Child (Serial)

Classic Doctor Who | Season 1 | An Unearthly Child

Two school teachers’ curiosity leads them to a junk yard where they meet Susan’s grandfather, the Doctor, and stumble into his time/space vehicle, the TARDIS.


An Unearthly Child (also referred to as 100,000 BC) is the first serial in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was first broadcast on BBC TV in four weekly parts from 23 November to 14 December 1963. Scripted by the Australian writer Anthony Coburn, it introduces William Hartnell as the Doctor and original companions Carole Ann Ford as Susan Foreman, Jacqueline Hill as Barbara Wright and William Russell as Ian Chesterton. The first episode deals with Ian and Barbara’s discovery of the Doctor and his time-space ship TARDIS in a junkyard in contemporary London. The remaining episodes are set amid a power struggle between warring Stone Age factions who have lost the secret of making fire.

Initially, the first episode was filmed in September 1963. Creator Sydney Newman and producer Verity Lambert decided to refilm the episode, while making subtle revisions in the Doctor’s characterisation, following several technical and performance errors. This second filming was in October 1963. Now the title of this episode is generally considered to be “An Unearthly Child”

The launch of Doctor Who was overshadowed by the assassination of John F. Kennedy the previous day. The serial received favourable reviews, and the four episodes attracted an average of 6 million viewers. However, it became overshadowed by the subsequent story, The Daleks.

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Originally Aired: 11-23-1963
Director: Waris Hussein
Writers: Anthony Coburn
C.E. Webber
Starring: William Hartnell
William Russell
Jacqueline Hill
Carole Ann Ford
Leslie Bates
Francesca Bertorelli
Reg Cranfield
Heather Lyons
Mavis Ranson
Brian Thomas