William Hartnell

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For the Californian, see William Edward Petty Hartnell.
William Hartnell
William Hartnell.jpg
William Hartnell in a publicity photo
Born William Henry Hartnell
(1908-01-08)8 January 1908
St Pancras, London, England
Died 23 April 1975(1975-04-23) (aged 67)
Marden, Kent, England
Cause of death
Heart attack
Years active 1925–1973
Spouse(s) Heather McIntyre (1929–1975; his death)
Children 1 daughter[1]
Parents Lucy Hartnell (mother)

William Henry Hartnell (8 January 1908 – 23 April 1975) was an English actor. Hartnell played the first incarnation of the Doctor in Doctor Who, from 1963 to 1966.

Early life[edit]

Hartnell was born in St Pancras, London, England, the only child of Lucy Hartnell, an unmarried mother. He was brought up partly by a foster mother, and also spent many holidays in Devon with his mother's family of farmers, where he learned to ride.[2]

Hartnell never discovered the identity of his father (whose particulars were left blank on the birth certificate) despite efforts to trace him. Often known as Billy, he left school without prospects and dabbled in petty crime.[1] Through a boys' boxing club, at the age of 14[3] Hartnell met the art collector Hugh Blaker, who later became his unofficial guardian and arranged for him initially to train as a jockey and helped him enter the Italia Conti Academy.[4] Theatre being a passion of Hugh Blaker, he paid for Hartnell to receive some 'polish' at the Imperial Service College, though Hartnell found the strictures too much and ran away.[2]

Career[edit]

Hartnell entered the theatre in 1925[2] working under Frank Benson as a general stagehand.[1][5] He appeared in numerous Shakespearian plays, including The Merchant of Venice (1926), Julius Caesar (1926), As You Like It (1926), Hamlet (1926), The Tempest (1926), Macbeth (1926). He also appeared in She Stoops to Conquer (1926) and School for Scandal (1926) and Good Morning, Bill (1927), before performing in Miss Elizabeth's Prisoner (1928). This play was written by Robert Neilson Stephens and E. Lyall Swete. It featured the actress Heather McIntyre,[6] whom he married during the following year.[4] His first of more than sixty film appearances was in Say It With Music (1932).[7]

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Hartnell served in the Tank Corps, but was invalided out after eighteen months as the result of suffering a nervous breakdown, and returned to acting.[4] In 1942, he was cast as Albert Fosdike in Noël Coward's film In Which We Serve but turned up late for his first day of shooting. Coward berated Hartnell in front of cast and crew for his unprofessionalism, made him personally apologise to everyone and then sacked him. Michael Anderson, who was the First Assistant Director, took over the part and was credited as "Mickey Anderson".[8]

Hartnell continued to play comic characters until he was cast in the robust role of Sergeant Ned Fletcher in The Way Ahead (1944).[5] From then on his career was defined by playing mainly policemen, soldiers, and thugs. This typecasting bothered him, for even when cast in comedies he found he was invariably playing the 'heavy'. In 1958 he played the sergeant in the first Carry On film comedy, Carry On Sergeant, and appeared as a town councillor in the Boulting brothers' film Heavens Above! (1963) with Peter Sellers. He also appeared as Will Buckley - another military character - in the film The Mouse That Roared (1959), again with Sellers.

His first regular role on television was as Sergeant Major Percy Bullimore in The Army Game from 1957 to 1961. Again, although it was a comedy series, he found himself cast in a "tough-guy" role. He appeared in a supporting role in the film version of This Sporting Life (1963), giving a sensitive performance as an aging rugby league talent scout known as 'Dad'.[5]

After living at 51 Church Street, Isleworth, next door to Hugh Blaker, the Hartnells lived on the Thames Ditton Island. Then in the 1960s they moved to a cottage in Mayfield, Sussex. He lived in later life at Sheephurst Lane in Marden, Kent.

Doctor Who (1963–1966)[edit]

Hartnell's performance in This Sporting Life was noted by Verity Lambert, the producer who was setting up a new science-fiction television series for the BBC, Doctor Who. Lambert offered him the title role. Although Hartnell was initially uncertain about accepting a part in what was pitched to him as a children's series, in part due to his success in films,[9] Lambert and director Waris Hussein convinced him to take the part, and it became the character for which he gained the highest profile and is now most remembered. Hartnell later revealed that he took the role because it led him away from the gruff, military parts in which he had become typecast, and, having two grandchildren of his own, he came to relish particularly the attention and affection that playing the character brought him from children.[10]

Doctor Who earned Hartnell a regular salary of £315 per episode by 1966 (in the era of 48 weeks per year production on the series), equivalent to £4,050 a week in modern terms.[11] By comparison, in 1966 his co-stars Anneke Wills and Michael Craze were earning £68 and £52 per episode at the same time, respectively.[12] Throughout his tenure as the Doctor, William Hartnell wore a wig when playing the part, as the character had long hair.[13]

According to some of his colleagues on Doctor Who, he could be a difficult person to work with. Others, though, such as actors Peter Purves and William Russell, and producer Verity Lambert, spoke glowingly of him after more than forty years. Among the more caustic accounts, Nicholas Courtney, in his audio memoirs, recalled that during the recording of The Daleks' Master Plan, Hartnell mentioned that an extra on the set was Jewish, Courtney's inference being that Hartnell was slightly prejudiced. In an interview in 2008, Courtney claimed that Hartnell "was quite nationalist-minded, a bit intolerant of other races, I think."[14] However, he always got on extremely well with his first companion, played by Carole Ann Ford, who is Jewish.[15]

Hartnell's deteriorating health (he suffered from arteriosclerosis, which began to affect his ability to say his lines), as well as poor relations with the new production team on the series after the departure of Verity Lambert, ultimately led him to leave Doctor Who in 1966.[13][16]

When he left Doctor Who, the producer of the show came up with a unique idea: since the Doctor is an alien, he can transform himself physically, thereby renewing himself. William Hartnell himself suggested that Patrick Troughton should be cast as the new Doctor, stating that "There's only one man in England who can take over, and that's Patrick Troughton".[17] In the fourth episode of the serial The Tenth Planet, the First Doctor regenerated into Troughton's Second Doctor.[18]

Portrayals in fiction[edit]

Hartnell appears as a character in the Doctor Who audio drama Pier Pressure, which stars Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor.

For the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who in 2013, the BBC broadcast An Adventure in Space and Time, a dramatisation of the events surrounding the creation of the series; David Bradley portrayed Hartnell.[19][20][21]

Later life and death[edit]

Hartnell reprised the role of the Doctor in Doctor Who during the tenth anniversary story The Three Doctors (1972–73). When Hartnell's wife Heather found out about his planned involvement, she informed the crew of the show that his failing memory and weakening health prevented him from starring in the special. An agreement was made between the crew and Heather that Hartnell would only be required to sit down during the shoot and read his lines from cue cards.[22] His appearance in this story was his final piece of work as an actor. His health had worsened during the early 1970s, and in December 1974 he was admitted to hospital permanently. He lived in later life at Sheephurst Lane in Marden, Kent. In early 1975 he suffered a series of strokes brought on by cerebrovascular disease, and died in his sleep of heart failure on 23 April 1975, at the age of 67. He was cremated and is buried at the Kent and Sussex Crematorium and Cemetery.

A clip of a scene starring Hartnell from the end of the Doctor Who serial The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964) was used as a pre-credits sequence for the twentieth anniversary story The Five Doctors (1983). However, Richard Hurndall portrayed the First Doctor for the remainder of the story, in Hartnell's absence.[23] Colourised footage of Hartnell in The Aztecs was meshed with new footage of actress Jenna-Louise Coleman and with body-doubles for the First Doctor and Susan, to create a new scene in 2013's "The Name of the Doctor".

Hartnell was married to Heather McIntyre from 9 May 1929 until his death. They had one child, a daughter, Heather Anne,[1] and two grandchildren.[12] His widow, Heather, died in 1984. The only published biography of him is by his granddaughter, Judith "Jessica" Carney, entitled Who's There? The Life and Career of William Hartnell. It was originally published in 1996 by Virgin Publishing, and to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who, Carney, with Fantom Publishing, revised and republished the book in 2013.

Filmography[edit]

Hartnell acted in numerous British films,[7] as well as having many stage and television appearances, though he is most well known for his role in Doctor Who.[1]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1932 Say It with Music Unknown
1933 I'm an Explosive Edward Whimperley
Follow the Lady Mike Martindale
The Lure Billy
1934 Swinging the Lead Freddy Fordum
The Perfect Flaw Vickers
Seeing is Believing Ronald Gibson
1935 Old Faithful Minor role credited as "Billy Hartnell"
While Parents Sleep George
The Guv'nor Car salesman uncredited
1936 Nothing Like Publicity Pat Spencer credited as "Billy Hartnell"
Parisian Life Unknown
The Crimson Circle Minor role
The Shadow of Mike Emerald Unknown uncredited
Midnight at Madame Tussaud's Stubbs credited as "Billy Hartnell"
1937 Farewell Again Minor role uncredited
1938 They Drive by Night Bus Conductor credited as "Billy Hartnell"
1939 Too Dangerous to Live Minor role
Murder Will Out Dick
1941 Freedom Radio Radio Location Aerial Operator
1942 The Peterville Diamond Joseph credited as "Bill Hartnell"
Flying Fortress Gaylord Parker uncredited
They Flew Alone Scotty credited as "Billy Hartnell"
Suspected Person Saunders
The Goose Steps Out German Officer at Station uncredited
Sabotage at Sea Jacob Digby
1943 The Bells Go Down Brookes credited as "Billy Hartnell"
The Dark Tower Jim Towers credited as "Bill Hartnell"
1944 Headline Dell
The Way Ahead Sgt. Ned Fletcher credited as "Billy Hartnell"
1945 The Agitator Peter Pettinger
Strawberry Roan Chris Lowe
Murder in Reverse Tom Masterick
1946 Appointment with Crime Leo Martin
Odd Man Out Fencie
1947 Brighton Rock Dallow
Temptation Harbour Jim Brown
1948 Escape Inspector Harris
1949 Now Barabbas Warder Jackson
The Lost People Barnes
1950 Double Confession Charlie Durham
1951 The Dark Man Police Superintendent
1952 The Magic Box Recruiting Sergeant
The Ringer Sam Hackett
The Pickwick Papers Irate Cabman
The Holly and the Ivy the Company Sergeant-Major (C.S.M.)
1953 Will Any Gentleman...? Detective Inspector (D.I.) Martin
1955 Footsteps in the Fog Herbert Moseby
Josephine and Men Detective Sgt.(D.S.) Parsons
1956 Tons of Trouble Bert
Private's Progress Sergeant Sutton
Doublecross Herbert Whiteway
1957 Hell Drivers Cartley
Yangtse Incident: The Story of H.M.S. Amethyst Leading Seaman Frank
The Hypnotist Inspector Ross
Date with Disaster Tracy
1958 Carry On Sergeant Sergeant Grimshawe
On the Run Tom Casey
1959 Strictly Confidential Grimshaw
The Desperate Man Smith
The Night We Dropped a Clanger Sergeant Bright
Shake Hands with the Devil Sergeant Jenkins
The Mouse That Roared Sergeant-at-Arms Will Buckley
1960 Jackpot Superintendent Frawley
And the Same to You Walter "Wally" Burton
Piccadilly Third Stop Colonel
1963 The World Ten Times Over Dad
Heavens Above! Major Fowler
This Sporting Life 'Dad' Johnson
1964 Tomorrow at Ten Freddy

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1955 Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Presents Christy Season 3, Episode 28: "The Auction"
London Playhouse Kenyon Season 1, Episode 7: "The Inward Eye"
1956 The Errol Flynn Theatre Himself Season 1, Episode 13: "The Red Geranium"
1957 A Santa For Christmas Unknown TV movie
1957–58
1960
The Army Game Company Sergeant Major
Percy Bullimore
Series 1 (3 episodes)
Series 2 (2 episodes)
Series 5 (8 episodes)
1958
1959
Dial 999 Joss Crawford
Jeff Richards
Season 1, Episode 1: "The Killing Job"
Season 1, Episode 16: "50,000 Hands"
1959 Probation Officer Unknown Season 1, Episode 28
The Flying Doctor Abe McKeller Season 1, Episode 9: "The Changing Plain"
1960 ITV Television Playhouse Reynolds
Jim
Season 5, Episode 41: "Place of My Own"
Season 5, Episode 44: "After the Party"
1961 Kraft Mystery Theater Unknown Season 1, Episode 11: "The Desperate Men"
Ghost Squad Fred Rice Season 1, Episode 4: "High Wire"
1963 The Plane Makers Wally Griggs Season 1, Episode 15: "One of Those Days"
The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre Inspector Roberts Season 4, Episode 9: "To Have and to Hold"
1963–66
1972–73
Doctor Who The Doctor Season 1 (42 episodes)
Season 2 (39 episodes)
Season 3 (45 episodes)
Season 4 (8 episodes)
Season 10, Serial 1: The Three Doctors (4 episodes)
Several other appearances
1967 No Hiding Place Impey Season 10, Episode 2: "The Game"
1968 Softly, Softly Henry Swift Season 3, Episode 13: "Cause of Death"
1970 Crime of Passion Henri Lindon Season 1, Episode 6: "Alain"

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Meyrick, Robert (2004) "Hugh Blaker: doing his bit for the moderns" Journal of the History of Collections 16 (2):173–89 ISSN 0954-6650
  2. ^ a b c Carney
  3. ^ Retter, Emily (22 November 2013). "William Hartnell: Original Doctor Who transformed himself from a poverty stricken illegitimate child and hard-drinking womaniser to one of television's most iconic characters". The Mirror. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c "Hartnell, William Henry (1908–1975)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. September 2004. Retrieved 2 November 2007. (subscription required (help)). 
  5. ^ a b c "Obituary: Mr William Hartnell – An actor of varied talents", The Times, 25 April 1975.
  6. ^ Craig Cabell Who Were the Doctors (John Blake, 2013)
  7. ^ a b Internet Movie Database. "William Hartnell". Amazon. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  8. ^ Hoare, Philip (1995). Noël Coward: A Biography. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-80937-0. 
  9. ^ Mulkern, Patrick (16 October 2013). "Doctor Who's Waris Hussein on William Hartnell, Bette Davis, & Peter Cook loathing David Frost". Radio Times. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  10. ^ 2|entertain (2006). Doctor Who: Origins. YouTube. Retrieved 28 July 2013. 
  11. ^ The National Archives. "Currency converter". Ministry of Justice. Retrieved 27 July 2013. 
  12. ^ a b Howe, David J.; Stammers, Mark; Walker, Stephen James (1994). The Handbook: The First Doctor – The William Hartnell Years 1963–1966. London: Virgin Publishing. ISBN 0-426-20430-1. 
  13. ^ a b Doctor Who. "A Brief History of a Time Lord.". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 28 July 2013. 
  14. ^ Mulkern, Patrick (1 April 2008). "Interview: Nicholas Courtney". Retrieved 27 July 2013. 
  15. ^ Hickey, Andrew (25 November 2011). "Doctor Who: Fifty Stories For Fifty Years – 1963". Mindless Ones. Retrieved 27 July 2013. 
  16. ^ Haining, p. 39
  17. ^ Howe, Stammers and Walker, p. 68
  18. ^ The Tenth Planet. Doctor Who. 8 October 1966–29 October 1966. BBC.
  19. ^ Jones, David (29 January 2013). "Doctor Who: Mark Gatiss reveals casting for An Adventure in Space and Time". Radio Times. Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  20. ^ Zemler, Emily (24 July 2013). "'Doctor Who' celebrates 50 years with biopic". CNN. Retrieved 27 July 2013. 
  21. ^ Cornet, Ron (22 July 2013). "Comic-Con: Doctor Who's 50th!". IGN. Retrieved 27 July 2013. 
  22. ^ Doctor Who (7 February 2012). "Exclusive First Look: Hartnell's perseverance - Doctor Who - The Three Doctors". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 28 July 2013. 
  23. ^ "The Five Doctors". Doctor Who. 23 November 1983. BBC.

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]