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Doctor Who - An Unearthly Child [VHS] [1963]

William Hartnell , Carole Ann Ford , Waris Hussein    Parental Guidance   VHS Tape
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Actors: William Hartnell, Carole Ann Ford, Jacqueline Hill, William Russell
  • Directors: Waris Hussein
  • Writers: Anthony Coburn
  • Producers: Verity Lambert
  • Format: VHS
  • Language: English
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: BBC
  • VHS Release Date: 4 Sep 2000
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004WI6L
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 144,978 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

From Amazon.co.uk

The "unearthly" strains of Ron Grainer's soon-to-be-famous title music announced the arrival of Dr Who to British TV screens on Saturday 23rd November, 1963. It must have been quite a baffling experience for first-time viewers: the swirling abstract graphics, the weird electronic sound effects courtesy of the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop, the very oddity of the show's title. This really was groundbreaking TV. "I think you'll find there's a very simple explanation for all of this", says schoolteacher Ian Chesterton (William Russell) condescendingly, shortly before being taken on board the TARDIS and transported to an alien planet. For audiences, too, this was something entirely unfamiliar, yet obviously appealing: Dr Who ran for almost 30 years and even long after cancellation it remains one of the BBC's most popular shows.

His later incarnations were all eccentric in their different ways, but William Hartnell's original Doctor is an irascible and distinctively alien character, not at all happy having to put up with ignorant 20th-century humans. The "Unearthly Child" of the title is his granddaughter Susan (Carole Ann Ford), temporarily attending school on Earth. She is conspicuously different from her classmates and attracts the attention of two of her teachers who resolve to find out why. After an encounter with her mysterious grandfather they are whisked away on an adventure to a different time and place where angry cavemen are trying in vain to learn the secret of fire. Thus the show's trademarks are established from the outset: the Doctor and his more or less reluctant human companions, the mechanical unreliability of the TARDIS, the cliffhanger ending of each episode. It was a formula that rarely changed but that allowed apparently limitless variation, the only constraint being the BBC's budget. In later years the show tried vainly to compete with blockbuster special effects movies; but its original low-key incarnation relied more on inventive scenarios and good writing--qualities that are just as important now as then. --Mark Walker

Product Description

William Hartnell stars as everyone's favourite time traveller in the first ever 'Doctor Who' adventure. Overcome with curiosity regarding their mysterious pupil Susan Foreman - who seems to have a first-hand knowledge of history and yet is strangely naive regarding everyday matters - teachers Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright decide to follow her home one night. The duo see Susan enter a junkyard, but when they attempt to follow her discover that she has simply vanished. The only person present is an eccentric, irascible old gentleman who seems very keen for them not to examine the battered old police box in the corner of the yard. When Ian forces entry into the box, he makes a discovery that will change all their lives, and in so doing begins one of the longest science fiction sagas in the history of British television...

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Beginnings 3 Oct 2006
Format:VHS Tape
As a viewer of the latest series of Doctor Who it is great to see how this unique show began.

I saw the very first Doctor Who story back in 1980 when it was repeated on BBC2. It is just as mesmerising now, as it was for me at the age of 9! At the time I'd only seen Tom Baker as Doctor Who and it's great to see that the actor before him was just as good, if not better! These first episodes of Doctor Who set up a format that hasn't changed that much since 1963.

William Hartnell is every bit as dominating on screen as Christopher Eccleston was in 2005. A grumpy and difficult character, as all the best Doctor Who's should be. You can see where Eccleston got his main inspiration.

The plot takes a back seat in the first story. This is about two human abductees getting used to the whole concept of space time travel. The first ever Doctor Who companions Ian and Barbara (William Russell and Jacqueline Hill) play their parts to perfection. These first 3 stories are about developing the relationships between the four lead characters, thrown together they have to learn to work together to survive their frightening adventures. Be it in the distant past or in the far flung future!

It's great to see the very first appearance of the Daleks back in 1963, they are totally unique in the history of British TV and it is no surprise they have been as big a hit in 2005/2006 as they were in the 60's. They are proper scary, and still make me want to scuttle behind the sofa.

It's great to see that the early years of Doctor Who still stand the test of time. This is TV history in the making...
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5.0 out of 5 stars An overlooked classic ! ! ! 20 Sep 2000
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
This video is often overlooked by many Doctor Who fans, who instead concentrate on the Daleks story that follows. However this is a forgotten masterpiece of suspence and adult-style drama. From the opening sequence we see the murky depths of London and it sets the scene nicely for the coming together of the Doctor and Susan with his future companions Barbara and Ian. The tension is taught and breathtaking, from their kidnapping by the Doctor, to their enforced encounter with primitive man.
There are several scenes that almost convince you that one or more of them will be murdered, either by the early man's striving for mastery of Fire or the murder of one another in the heights of mistrust and misunderstanding. Truly gripping stuff !
Do yourself a favour, even if you are not a Doctor Who fan, get this, you will be kept on the edge of your seat for the entire 100 mins !
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No imitations will do. 7 Jan 2001
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Enjoy the first Doctor Who adventure, from back in 1963, long before the series became a parody of itself. William Hartnell, towards the end of his life, played the little old man with long, white hair and a stiff upper lip. He was a fantasy hero unlike any other, before or since. There have been many imitations since but nobody has been quite able to match the winning formula of this extraordinary British Broadcasting Corporation invention. Thank goodness they did not put this on the bonfire like so many of its successors.
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5.0 out of 5 stars William Hartnell in his best television role. 22 Nov 2000
Format:VHS Tape
If you only ever own one Doctor Who video, surely 'An Unearthly Child' has to be it. A fantastic debut with William Hartnell playing the role of his career in television. What is the colourful front cover of the video for, though? It is a bit misleading since the adventure remains in black and white.
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4.0 out of 5 stars promising first story. 18 July 2006
Format:VHS Tape
i didn't get the chance to see this doctor who story for quite a while, but i'm glad that i have.

even though the programme took a short time to get going, the soon-to-be regular cast are already settled in their respective characters.

in particular, the casting of william hartnell in his most famous role as the doctor should be noted. his being selected was an inspired choice, as this story proves; the grumpy mood swings, devious behaviour, being stubborn to the last but somehow he is also lovable. hartnell's use of various facial expressions and mysterious air, easily make him a resounding success right to the end in 1966.

of course, the other cast members do very well indeed. unlike the hi-tech nonsense we are now subjected to with the new series( god help us all), these early programmes always made sure that drama and dependable acting counted most of all. indeed, a brilliant performance easily compensated for the low budgets.

a years ago and then on D.V.D, the original pilot episode was released for the first time unedited, even showing retakes along the way. this is a rarity in itself to see behind the scenes footage. there aren't that many differences between the "pilot" and the opening episode that was finally broadcast.

a very good story that gets the series off to a promising start.
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