Soph Watches Classic Doctor Who – The Daleks (Part 2 of 2)

By Sophie Iles

With five episodes to talk about, you’ll probably suspect this to be rather daunting to write. The last two episodes after all had a lot going on, and with five more episodes to review, how can you possible summarise it without it being a novel length? Well, I think I’m just about going to manage it, and that’s because, for me, this is where the Daleks serial comes under fire compared to its predecessor The Unearthly Child. Today I will be looking at The Escape, The Ambush, The Expedition, The Ordeal, and The Rescue.

We last saw Susan preparing herself to leave the TARDIS with these anti radiation drugs to save her family and friends under her arm, again to leave the safety of the TARDIS and return to the rather terrifying dead jungle where apparently horrid mutations called the Thals live in.

But when Susan steps back out there, preparing for the worst, she does meet a Thal, but not the kind of monster she’s expecting. Who she meets instead is al tall blonde adonis is probably the best way to describe Alydon. For a ‘mutated’ human he’s almost sickeningly kind, and Susan’s darling face lights up and comes to trust him and so do the audience in turn. It is after all much easier for us to trust this guy than the Daleks with their scary exteriors. It turns out that the Thals didn’t even know the Daleks still existed, and that they have been using the drugs to survive out in the jungle, something that they were kind enough to offer to our TARDIS crew.

Susan meets Alydon, one of the Thals.

She’s escorted by her new friend through the jungle to make it back to the city safely, and Alydon even gives her more drugs to make sure that there’s enough for the Daleks and her companions just in case they steal their stash. He explains that they hope to make a treaty with the Daleks because their race despite farming some of the land are running out of food and need help. Already we are sympathetic towards them and when Susan returns to her party she tells them all about Alydon.

The Daleks however, the cunning lot, have been listening in and we see for the first time their true intent when it comes to the Thals. Quite simply they want them dead. They want to trick them. It’s here we see the Dalek’s truest colours and it’s a colour we recognise every time we see them again. They hate everything that isn’t them, and their old enemy must be destroyed.

Susan is asked by the Daleks to write a message of peace for the Thals, to indicate that they will help them grow new food, and the Thal leader called Temmosus, is sure that this will lead to good fortune, but Alydon is suspicious, even with Susan’s signature at the bottom. They decide to meet the Daleks as planned, unaware of the fate that will before them.  

Susan writes a message for the Thals from the Daleks.

Meanwhile our main characters are no longer in a state of illness what’s left for them is curiosity and thirst to escape. Barbara, Ian and the Doctor come to the conclusion the Daleks were listening to their conversation about the Thals and how they wanted Susan’s help in the first place. It leads to a really fun scene where they pretend to have an argument and rip out the camera feed on the wall of their cell. For those just tuning in it could very well look like the Doctor being his arrogant self but fortunately even the Doctor sees that this is a bad sign. It means now they can talk together and work through an escape plan together without the Daleks noticing. So begins my favourite part of the serial.

The companions show their worth their weight in gold. In comes Barbara, cool as you please, taking mud off Susan’s shoes so they can create mud to blind the Dalek’s eyestalk. It’s even Ian that has the idea of how to stop The Daleks using Alydon’s cloak to cut off the Daleks connection to the floor. I fear that both these ideas would probably not be credited to a companion today and a far more Doctor-ish solution to a problem. Something that just shows really just how this television show has changed over the years. It’s the teamwork of this episode, that is really lovely to watch, even if for the time being is just because they need each other to survive.

Their plan to escape is a success of course! They capture a Dalek and with some very clever film making wrap the monster inside the metal casing in Alydon’s cloak so we never fully see what the Dalek looks like, before Ian steps inside to pretend. I still love that Ian Chesterton is still not only the first person to pretend to be a Dalek — something that becomes a recurring theme in New Who it seems — but as far as I’m currently aware, the only individual to be shot by a Dalek and live. He even has to do the horrid monotone voice, and despite themselves everyone laughs at his impersonation.

This leads us nicely into the next episode. The Thals on their way to meet the Daleks to sign this peace treaty whilst our TARDIS team try to escape. They’re able to convince the Daleks just long enough to get Barbara, Susan and the Doctor into a lift back up to the surface and away from their cells, but poor Ian is still in the Dalek casing, hoping to catch the lift after them.

For a few horrid and tense seconds, we don’t know what his fate will be, and they don’t want to leave him alone, but because the action man he was hired for is sticking round for a few adventures yet, he gets into the lift just in time and is met with a running hug by Barbara. What a sweet pair they make!

Now, to get out of the city, but Ian wants to warn the Thals they are walking into a trap, and just in the nick of time the science teacher is able to warn them of the Daleks betrayal, but not before Temmosus is killed in the process.

Now we have these two groups together, The Doctor with his companions and The Thals in their camp, making decisions on how to proceed. They know now to what lengths the Daleks will kill the Thals, but they are no longer a warrior race and stick with pacifism. Also, The Doctor explains that the fluid ink, the piece of machinery the Doctor originally claimed was needed to be filled with mercury and his fake reasoning to get into the city was now in the Dalek’s possession and without it they can’t leave in the TARDIS.

Either way, they have to go back into the city, but they still have to convince The Thals to help them.

IAN: I will not allow you to use the Thals to fight for us.
DOCTOR: Are you challenging me?
IAN: Yes, I am.
BARBARA: Do I have any say in this?
IAN: Of course you do.
BARBARA: Well I think the Doctor’s right and I want to get out of here.
IAN: I am sorry, I’m not having anyone’s death on my conscience.
BARBARA: Except mine and Susan’s and the Doctor’s?

These scenes are fascinating to watch because it’s Ian and Susan who stand opposed to Barbara and the Doctor in the argument. Ian doesn’t want to ask pacifists to fight if they don’t want to, whilst Barbara and the Doctor point out that without their help they are probably going to be killed. It’s the first time we see Ian and Barbara on opposing sides, considering how they’ve already been supporting each other previously, and for the first time sees Barbara in a vein of self interest we’ve never seen before. Ian’s morally good action hero hat hasn’t wavered but also knows that without their help, the deaths of his friends and himself is also on the line. It is a very difficult choice to make.

The Doctor and his companions bickering in the Thal Camp.

Finally, because the bickering is getting them nowhere, Ian decides that the only way the Thals will help them is if they see there’s something in it for them.  Ian uses the Thal’s emotions against them. He claims that maybe they could trade one of the Thals, Dyoni for the fluid ink they need instead of any fighting needed. As Dyoni is Alydon’s intended partner, this makes him angry, and he hits Ian in the face and Ian shows them that fighting to protect their loved ones is something they must do because the Daleks will find a way of destroying them. It’s a powerful trick, but it works. Soon, they groups are working together to get into the Dalek City.

Now for me, this is where the serial starts to fall down a tad. There’s been a lot going on, a lot of intensity and darkness and worry for our characters, but when this plan starts to unfold for me it takes a long time. Also, because of the necessary inclusion of the Thals to the story, I feel like the separation of Susan and the Doctor and thus Ian and Barbara going on the expedition to find another way into the city means it loses the charm of their interactions.

Though that might be my bias, but even Ian and Barbara seem split even whilst they explore, as Barbara seems to spend time with another Thal, Ganatus, than with Ian, almost as though they’re trying to make a point but haven’t expressed what the point was? Perhaps they didn’t want to see Barbara who at this point is a strong independent woman be reliable on her friend, and want her to be helped by dashing alien instead? Either way, the change in dynamic seems strange, and despite a number of Thals being killed in the episodes that follow on the journey, I suspect it’s that feeling of watching a red shirt in Star Trek, if someone’s going to get the chop it’s not going to be our leads so each death doesn’t hit that hard because of it. It doesn’t help that their side of the journey doesn’t fully conclude until our last episode aswell so everything is still dragging out until then, which seems strange after the time jumps previously with Susan in the jungle and her journey to the TARDIS.

Whilst The Expedition is happening, The Daleks who took some of the anti radiation medicine are falling ill, proving their theory that they actually thrived off the radiation now instead of becoming sick by it. That they could radiate the planet again with another bomb and wipe out the Thals entirely. Meanwhile, The Doctor and Susan get themselves kidnapped by the Daleks whilst they’re out breaking their short circuits and causing trouble to be the decoy for the other party, with the hope of being the Daleks main focus they won’t notice Ian, Barbara and the Thals coming in the back door.

We finally come to the final chapter of our story, Ian and Barbara’s team run into Alydon’s team of Thals in the city, and they all decide to save the Doctor and Susan together in the control room. A fight ensues, and the Daleks overcome with surprise are defeated, but not without causing more Thal deaths. The TARDIS team are reunited and unharmed and have the fluid ink and they can finally leave Skaro.

As a serial, it’s not bad. I really loved watching the first three episodes again, but by the time I was watching the final three it all really seemed to drag for me. The Daleks are worth it however, a really awesome introduction to these horrid creatures, and such a massive part of their mythology as time continues the Daleks are seen twice more in William Hartnell’s era, and though I have yet to watch them they play a massive part in the rest of the Doctor’s classic era stories. I am more than just a little excited to see how these mutations continues to entertain and terrifying children throughout the classic era.

Next week tune in as we discuss The Edge of Destruction! What exactly is Susan doing with those scissors? What is going on with the TARDIS and why does it feel like we’re watching a very surreal one act play?

Also, my doodle for this week is again very quick I’m afraid, this is due to the fact I’m not actually with my drawing materials at the moment, but here’s a snapshot of Susan outside the TARDIS!

Soph Watches Classic Doctor Who – The Daleks (Part 1 of 2)

By Sophie Iles

This week in this series we get to our first really meaty serial of Doctor Who, which to this day leaves a lasting mark on our favourite Time Lord as this serial introduces us to Terry Nation’s Daleks for the very first time. As this is a seven episode epic, I’m going to only talk about the first two episodes, which I think considering the fact the rest of serial drags out a lot and the story dynamic changes from the beginning of episode three it’s a good place to stop. This means in this article I will be talking about The Dead Planet and The Survivors and even with just these two episodes there is a lot to talk about…

The Dead Planet is as creepy as it’s supposed to be, an introduction to what in the future will be classed as the planet Skaro, the home planet of the Daleks. The episode is also as simple as it sounds, introducing what will be quite a formulaic approach to Doctor Who in the future, landing on a planet, exploring it and getting into trouble. Something that happens here for the first time.

Not without a little meddling from the Doctor however, but I’ll get to that soon enough…

When they first arrive Ian, Barbara, Susan and the Doctor are fascinated and terrified admittedly by the place and its stone cold death like manner. They are unaware that the radiation on the planet is incredibly high and causing them to slowly become sick, and discover that there is a city past the jungle they had landed in. With some meddling from the Doctor, they decide to go take a look in the city, but not before Susan believes she was touched by someone in the forest, and that a strange box of vials was left outside their TARDIS…something unfortunately they put on the ship before continuing their adventures.  

It is in this city we meet the Daleks, a race that Whovians need no introduction to these days. They have been in the show many times in the last fifty years but now is the first time the Doctor meets them on screen; the metal casing and the balls formed on the outside, the toilet plunger tool for a weapon and of course the blaster gun and its creepy eyestalk — and that’s without the voice barking in a vibrating tone ordering about our heroes. I’ll be honest, the point of view shot cliffhanger when a Dalek is heading towards Barbara is one of my favourite cliffhangers in the entirety of Doctor Who.

Barbara Wright meets a Dalek for the first time.

Before I skip on to the story chunks of the next episode I really do love the first episode because there are some beautiful character moments in The Dead Planet with each character, so let’s have a good look at those.

Firstly, The Doctor’s curiosity is something that we are familiar with in the show. This is the first time we really see it in action. At first, the Dead Planet interests him but not enough to stay for a long period — until they see the city off into the distance. This changes everything. This even leads the Doctor to even temporarily break the TARDIS on purpose, and lie to all his passengers so they are all forced to go explore the city just for his gain. If only he had checked the radiation counter again, there wouldn’t be the certain danger that followed…perhaps he’d might not be so foolish…

Meanwhile Ian and Barbara’s moment come two fold in this episode over two conversations, firstly, Ian’s bold acceptance that this is how it’s going to be whilst travelling with the Doctor is apparent. Compared to the first time he steps out of the TARDIS, dazed and bewildered and completely skeptical, here he is taking the new adventure in his stride. Barbara is less enthusiastic this time. She had obviously hoped for Earth, she clearly hopes for something she is able to recognise. After all their first adventure was cavemen and no matter how foreign they seem, it is something she had probably read about as a history teacher. Dying planets and metal creatures are something far out of her understanding and it puts her at a disadvantage.

IAN: Try not to be too upset
BABARA: I counted so much on just going back to things I recognise and trust. But here there’s nothing to rely on. Nothing.
IAN: Well, there’s me. Barbara, all I ask you to do is believe, really believe, we’ll go back. We will, you know.
BARBARA: I wish I was more like you. I’m afraid I’m a very unwilling adventurer.
IAN: I’m not exactly reveling in it myself.

It’s the conversation about trust that I love so much in this episode. They can’t trust in anything but each other in that moment. They can’t even trust the Doctor yet (which he’s obviously made apparent the cheeky alien that he is) and Susan is still learning so they can go in blind to these exploits but at least they’re not alone and I think in some mad way — this is something I love about having more than one companion in the TARDIS, and something that I think sometimes lacks in the New Who series, that feeling of togetherness. The Doctor is an alien, and no matter how many pop culture references he makes or how much he will eventually love Earth, the companion is always the one who has to be on the back foot and so the idea that it’s okay to be scared and at least we have each other feels like a very powerful message to me, for all age groups and all different types of relationships. That, or I’m really just a big softie myself.

Lastly we have Susan and her adoration of the nature that she finds on the planet which is another favourite moment of mine; not to mention her sadness when Ian breaks said flower, accidentally when Barbara screams in fright at a dead metal creature. We are so focused on Ian and Barbara’s fear about not getting home and here is Susan finding beauty even on this sad and lonely planet. Basically what I’m saying here is Susan Foreman must be protected at all costs and her role only gets better as the episodes go on.

The Dead Planet leads neatly into the next episode The Survivors, where we watch as the TARDIS team are captured by the Daleks and are all suffering from radiation sickness, the Doctor more than the others. It finally comes out that he was lying to get the team in the city in the first place and Ian and Barbara don’t even have the energy left to be upset. The Doctor is basically dying for all of the episode and the feeling of intensity just grows and grows as it’s unsure how any of them will survive.

It becomes clear that the Daleks believe they are something to do with The Thals, a ‘mutated’ race that live out in the jungle. But The Doctor explains to their captors they are just travellers and so The Daleks confirm that the box that was left near their TARDIS is the drugs they need to survive. They decide they will let one of them go to get the item in question so they can cure their ailment and protect themselves against the radiation. Ian wants to go of course, but thanks to his being a heroic fool at the beginning of the episode, the Daleks shot at him and temporarily paralyzed his legs. Despite Ian’s displeasure at doing so, and Barbara’s insistence that she’s just a child, Ian tells Susan it is up to her to save the day. This young time lady who before this point has probably not had to do anything like this before, scared to death and visibly shaking, as her teachers and her grandfather are dying in a Dalek cell has no choice but to take up the mantel. She goes back out into the terrible jungle to try and get back to the TARDIS and get the vials they need.

The Doctor being interrogated by the Daleks for the first time.

As Ian recovers with his legs, he like Barbara and the Doctor continue to suffer with the radiation sickness and its dark nature actually made me cry at the screen for Susan to succeed like I was watching a football game. Susan runs through the forest for a few screen minutes before to everyone’s relief she gets to the TARDIS, gets the drugs and almost decides to wait there. We hear Ian’s sick voice as a memory to tell her to come straight back and then she opens the doors again and leads us straight into another cliffhanger moment, back out into the jungle.   

You can’t help but be hooked by this point, even though I have seen this episodes that follow, the questions still fall on the tip of my tongue: What will happen next? Will she meet the ‘mutated’ Thals? How will they escape the Daleks? Will the drugs actually help or will it make things worse? Will Susan get back in time? You can’t help but wonder what the families thought as they watched this for the first time around their television sets in the 1960s and it’s that sort of intrigue and passion that I believe keeps these stories alive fifty years later.

Next week, we learn about how Daleks hold objects, we meet the Thals, we watch our favourite TARDIS crew trick a Dalek and watch as we get a tiny glimmer of what the original Dalek mutation looked like and see just how they get away from Planet Skaro together out of the firing pan and into another proverbial fire that is The Edge of Destruction.

There’s no doodle this week, but instead have a picture of me pretending to be Ian in The Survivors holding my legs back in April at the Doctor Who Experience:

Soph Watches Classic Doctor Who – An Unearthly Child (Part 2 of 2)

by Sophie Iles

I have a confession to make about the Unearthly Child Serial now we’ve moved on from the first episode which you can read my article on here. if I’m honest, the first time I watched this serial I didn’t like it very much. This wasn’t recently, probably about three years ago during the fiftieth anniversary and after the initial TARDIS interaction in the first episode I was bored and listless through the rest of the episodes.

But this was also a person who had not dealt well previously with anything black and white and anything older than a 1970s seems alien to her. Luckily for everyone involved, my taste improved.

When I rewatched it again last year when my real love for Classic Who started, and then again last week to write you this article I must also admit it is now one of my favourite serials. Why? Because it really sets up it’s characters for us and here’s just how it does it.

For those who need to recap lets walk through the basics of the rest of this four part story before we focus on some of my favourite moments and why I consider it one of my favs. After arguing with Susan in their space ship about whether to let Ian and Barbara leave, The Doctor tricks Susan into thinking he will let them go before sending them all back in time with a flick of a few switches and a bit of an evil chuckle.

IAN: I don’t believe it.
THE DOCTOR: You really are a stubborn young man, aren’t you?
IAN: All right, show me some proof. Give me some concrete evidence. I’m sorry, Susan. I don’t want to hurt you, but it’s time you were brought back to reality.

Ian, Barbara and Susan outside the TARDIS during the Stone Age

When they land, Susan and the Doctor, seemingly unshaded by their initial argument and instead are eager to prove to the humans that they really have travelled backwards. They open the TARDIS doors to reveal a barren desert landscape thereafter established to be the Stone Age. The audience, much like Ian Chesterton slowly step out to look at what might as well be an alien world to two Sixties teachers, before discovering that the Doctor has been kidnapped by a caveman called Kal and they set off to find him.

This leads into the set up that Kal, a newly adopted member of a paleolithic tribe is trying to establish himself as leader to a now leaderless band of early humans. The son of the previous leader Za is also trying to do the same, and they both come to the conclusion that providing fire is what will win their tribe over, something that Za’s father had been able to do before and something they believe was granted to them by Sun Gods.

Enter the Doctor, who was only kidnapped by Kal and brought back to the tribe due to his use of a match to light his pipe. Believing that he can spark fire from his fingers, Kal demands to produce fire for him but the Doctor, now run out of matches, tells them he cannot and is about to be killed for his refusal. Fortunately, or unfortunately as the case may be: Ian, Barbara and Susan turn up before the Doctor can be stoned for his unwillingness to help and they are all taken away to an early prison, known only to us as the Cave of Skulls.

Over the rest of the four parter, the party escape with the help of an old woman but when Za pursues them through the Forest of Fear but he is cut open by a beast. They know they should just run to the TARDIS but Barbara cannot leave a man to bleed to death, to the Doctor’s frustration. Both the teachers start to try and help with his wounds so he will live. Of course in a land where kindness is not valued, when Za is well again, they are once again put in the Cave of Skulls and even when Ian is able to produce fire for them, Za is not willing to let them leave. This after all has made him leader, and he is not willing to let his Fire-Makers disappear.

With a clever trick with some meat fat, a skull and some fire they are able to set up a terrifying display for the tribe and make their escape back to the TARDIS, in the hope that their adventures are over.

The TARDIS Team looking back after running from the Cavemen Tribe

The story itself is pretty simple, it is clear what everyones motivations are and that’s not just the cavemen but our main characters too. Ian and Barbara just want to get back to the TARDIS, and by this point, the Doctor and Susan aren’t eager to hang around either, even if they are used to adventures at this point.

For me what makes this whole serial my favourite is this is the Doctor before he becomes this heroic persona that we know today. This is a Doctor who spent the entire serial only thinking about himself and Susan. Even at the beginning when Ian was so unable to believe that the TARDIS had really gone back in time, his ego got in the way of just telling the truth and just giving snide remarks and half truths until he opened the doors to prove his point.

DOCTOR: One minute ago we were trying desperately to get away from these savages.
IAN: All right, now we’re helping them. You’re a doctor, do something.
DOCTOR: I’m not a doctor of medicine.
SUSAN: Grandfather, we can make friends with them.
DOCTOR: Oh, don’t be ridiculous, child.

The worst part for me in this venture, was when the Doctor had no sense of kindness for the injured Za.  In fact he would have, if not for Ian noticing, have beaten the man’s head with a rock so as to keep him quiet and that they could have just rushed back to the TARDIS and not face the consequences of the crime.

We also see just what a manipulative and cunning man he can be in one of my favourite sequences involving the first Doctor. After the old woman allowed them to escape, Kal killed her with his sharpened knife and tried to frame Za for the death. However, The Doctor rightly so pointed out that Za’s knife did not have blood on it for it to be the culprit and he had not seen such a fine knife before. Furious and eager to prove as he has the entire serial that he is better than Za, Kal brandishes his knife to prove himself, forgetting in the process that his knife is covered in blood and the Doctor doesn’t let him forget it. So much so it is the Doctor who is manipulating the surrounding tribe to cast Kal out by starting to chuck stones at him as punishment. It really does show just how far The Doctor will go to make sure he makes out of a situation unscathed.

There are some other great moments of course. Barbara and Ian’s relationship only seems to strengthen throughout the episode, as they are quite literally all that holds the other up. Barbara is utterly terrified (as I think most would be in this situation) and Ian is trying to assure her that everything is going to be fine as he comes to terms with science as he knew it is completely wrong.

Though is isn’t a very Barbara or Susan strong episode mostly due to their characters not being well established yet, though don’t worry, there are plenty of moments coming to show them off as a more than capable companions. It is Ian who gets to shine here as the action man he was undoubtedly cast as. He’s able to think on his feet, is able to fight with the Doctor on morales of right and wrong, and of course, despite the fact he in the eyes of the cavemen should be leader, denounces himself as such and tells them all that the Doctor is in charge of their tribe. A rather humble approach to the situation he is in.

That’s that for this serial, and it really is one of my favourites. It is not perfect. The cavemen can be a bit stilted and some of the camera angles are choppy but it’s the imperfections and knowing that this was created unaware of just how big it was going to be that make it a really good serial in my eyes.

Next week I take on looking at the Daleks, again we’ll split it into two because it is a wonderfully epic six parter. We’ll take a look at the how Terry Nation introduced his ‘bug eyed monsters’,  we ask ourselves why the Doctor didn’t check the radiation counter again and how lucky Susan is to get the only chair in Skaro.

As per my last post, I will also be adding my silly doodles, so here’s The First Doctor brandishing a knife.

Soph Watches Classic Doctor Who – An Unearthly Child (Part 1 of 2)

Sophie Iles

And here we are presenting another new column! Sophie Iles is going to be regaling us of her adventures into Classic Doctor Who every Saturday with some insight as recent lover of the new 2005 series. Expect to being taken along for the ride as she discovers each fun development of the show from the very start to hopefully, the very finish of its 26 year run… 

It’s a strange sensation watching a TV series from the beginning when its been around for so long. Usually in the days of modern television when you watch a series for the first time, everything is being established for a long run if it can get the go ahead. The audience get to meet the principle cast and the ideas about them are already being set out. Who’s the hero? who’s the villain? who’s the relatable every day character you latch onto? Of course, every series is different, every story is different, but no matter the set up, you’re sure of the roles that these characters play and that there are twists and turns to watch out for.

However, back in 1963 when Doctor Who was created and The Unearthly Child was pitched it had an air of mystery around it as much the Doctor himself. Both actors William Hartnell and Carole Ann Ford, playing the Doctor and his granddaughter Susan even revealed they made up their own back stories because they didn’t know anything about their characters….that was part of the whole point. Doctor Who?

Ian Chesterton (William Russell) and Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill) searching the junkyard in Totters Lane

When I was asked to write this series of articles I was thrilled, partly because I’ve not written an article before for anyone except in the odd test situation and because I really wanted to look at the episodes as I discovered them. Though this isn’t my first venture looking at the First Doctor Era, it’s certainly fun to rewatch and relearn.

My aim is to really look at these stories and characters and their historical merit today, how their stories are told, and how I, a rather fresh faced wanderer in the Doctor Who Fandom, reacts as we go back in time to see just what the appeal was for Dr. Who.

Immediately, even without the spooky titles it all feels like it’s grounded in reality somehow. The school feels real, and Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright, the two teachers that will soon become companions of the Doctor feel like real teachers, and in turn real friends. Ian Chesterton is clearly used to his friend barging into his room whilst marking to listen to her worries and concerns. Clearly the subject of this particular student has come up before, Susan Foreman, a girl of mystery. We are completely on the teacher’s side due to the way it’s been filmed, from their point of view, as we see Susan’s errors first hand and they just can’t help their concern.

BARBARA: Too many questions and not enough answers.
IAN: Stupid? Or just doesn’t know. So we have a fifteen year old girl who is absolutely brilliant at some things, and excruciatingly bad at others.

So, spurred by their worries and their insatiable curiosity, they drive to her supposed destination and wait for her to arrive before following her inside the junkyard where she’s supposed to live and stumble across not only the truth, that inside this junkyard lies an alien spaceship disguised as a 1950’s police box and that this is where she has been living all this time with her grandfather.

When we do finally truly get to know Susan Foreman in this episode she is a wonderful mystery, perhaps more so than the Doctor in my opinion as we start off on this journey. From what we gather she doesn’t seem to have friends easily as per Ian and Barbara’s flashbacks of her at school. She often gets things wrong about the culture she’s pretending to be in and yet in her short scene in the school she thrives off what she’s learning. She clearly wants to fit in, have a place in the universe. Something that we can see with her interactions later she’s probably not had in a long while in her explorations with her grandfather….

The Doctor’s first incarnation, played by William Hartnell

And speaking of Grandfather, The Doctor is a very different man (or woman thanks to our newest showrunner Chris Chibnall) that the current fandom are used to. When he is introduced to us, catching these two teachers looking for Susan, he’s not only short tempered, but comically amused at their worry about her safety. Already we can see he’s pompous and self serving or at least, in the case of him and his granddaughter most certainly doesn’t care about much else. If not for Susan’s calling out, Ian and Barbara would have never headed inside the TARDIS in the first place and we’d have not had the adventures that followed.

Before I press on, the TARDIS itself is another marvel. Using a police box as a spaceship — not only to save on budget but also as a fantastic idea to claim it as a chameleon and fit in its surroundings — and a broken one at that. It’s clearly it’s all designed in a rush but its gorgeous simplicity and stark white imagery really does make the real world out in the junkyard feel more like Earth. The wonderful humming noise, which is used to suggest the ship is alive does wonders to keep that illusion going even with some of the odd cuts between characters as they discuss the situation they find themselves in.

The Doctor telling his granddaughter Susan (Carole Ann Ford) that he found her two teachers looking for her in the junkyard.

We discover, as do Ian and Barbara, that Susan and her grandfather the Doctor, are aliens from another world and time, exiled from their own people.

When her grandfather tells Susan that her teachers were following her, she wants them to understand that what she’s saying is true and when she senses her grandfather’s plan she wants to be let go because in her own words ‘they are good and kind people’. However, this is not a Doctor we are used to seeing on screen, it’s this Doctor that decides they are safer taking them away from 1963 akin to the BFG’s reasoning for taking Sophie from the orphanage in Roald Dahl’s classic tale. Fearing that these simple humans won’t be able to keep their mouth shut.  

IAN: You’re treating us like children.
DOCTOR: Am I? The children of my civilisation would be insulted.

With the teachers refusing to believe what we as an audience are now sure to be true, even with Susan’s protests they are swept away into space and time, the now infamous title sequence used to show the passage of time without much other fanfare. Then we cut to the police box on what appears to be an alien world, on a crisp desert landscape, and a foreboding shadow coming forwards stage right.

The adventure certainly doesn’t end there, the beginning of a lifelong adventure has only just begun.

Next time, tune in for part two of this wonderful caper; for the Stone Age, The Doctor’s truer colours, and how important it is to bring your matches with you to meet some hungry cavemen.

Also, as a bonus for these articles, I’ll be doing doodles and such like, so here’s my coloured up doodle I drew of Ian and Barbara, during one of my favourite moments before the teachers are snatched away into time and space.