Richard Hurndall

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Richard Hurndall
Actor Richard Hurndall.jpg
Richard Gibbon Hurndall

(1910-11-03)3 November 1910
Died13 April 1984(1984-04-13) (aged 73)
London, England
Alma materRADA
Notable work
The First Doctor, Doctor Who

Richard Gibbon Hurndall (3 November 1910 – 13 April 1984) was an English actor.[1][2][3]


BBC radio[edit]

Hurndall was born in Darlington and he attended Claremont Preparatory School, Darlington and Scarborough College,[4] before training as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.[5] He then appeared in several plays at Stratford-upon-Avon.[3] Hurndall acted with the BBC radio drama repertory company from 1949 to 1952.[5] In 1959, he played Sherlock Holmes in a five part adaptation of The Sign of Four [1] He continued to play roles on BBC radio until about 1980, often as the leading man.[6]

Radio Luxembourg[edit]

In 1958 he became the third host of the Radio Luxembourg program called This I Believe. (This show had originally been hosted by Edward R. Murrow on the U.S. CBS Radio Network from 1951 to 1955 and it was then edited in London for rebroadcast on 208 with a British style of presentation at 9:30 PM on Sunday evenings.)[citation needed]

Television work[edit]

Hurndall appeared in numerous radio and stage plays, films and television series over the course of his lengthy career. He appeared in ‘Someone at the Door’, a 1949 live broadcast TV comedy / thriller, which also featured Patrick Troughton (with whom he was later to appear in Doctor Who – see below).[7] Other television shows of the era that he appeared in include The Avengers, The Persuaders!, Blake's 7, Whodunnit! and Bergerac.[8] He played the suave London gangster Mackelson in the gritty 1968 drama series Spindoe and the following year had a recurring role as flawed senior civil servant Jason Fowler in the final series of The Power Game.[9] He appeared in the comedy series Steptoe and Son in 1970 as Timothy, a gay antique dealer who takes a shine to Harold Steptoe, in Any Old Iron (series 5 episode 3, 20 March 1970).[10] He appeared twice in the series Public Eye, first playing a distinguished entomologist who is unwilling to trace his missing son in "The Golden Boy" (10 January 1973) and later a priest in "How About a Cup of Tea?" (13 January 1975).[11][12] He was Lord Montdore in Love in a Cold Climate (1980).

Doctor Who[edit]

In 1983, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who, producer John Nathan-Turner planned a special event, The Five Doctors, a 90-minute episode to feature four of the five actors who had at that point played the role of the Doctor.[13] William Hartnell, the actor who originated the role, had died in 1975.[14] Hurndall eventually won the role of the First Doctor, playing him as acerbic and temperamental but in some ways wiser than his successors. His casting in the role was approved[clarification needed] by Hartnell's widow, Heather.[15] When Tom Baker, who played the Fourth Doctor, declined to appear in the programme, Hurndall's role was expanded slightly to have the First Doctor take a greater part in the action.[16]


His films included Joanna (1968), Hostile Witness (1968), Some Girls Do (1969), Zeppelin (1971), I, Monster (1971),[17] Lady Caroline Lamb (1972), Royal Flash (1975), and Crossed Swords (1977).[2]


In April 1984, Hurndall died of a heart attack at the age of 73 in London, less than five months after the first broadcast of The Five Doctors.[5] Many sources, including Elisabeth Sladen's autobiography, state that he died before being paid for the role.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Scott, Cavan; Wright, Mark (18 September 2017). "Who-Ology: The Official Miscellany". BBC Books – via Google Books.
  2. ^ a b "Richard Hurndall".
  3. ^ a b "Richard Hurndall – Theatricalia".
  4. ^ Chris Lloyd (12 May 2010). "Of Escomb, Eden and the Darlo Doctor Who".
  5. ^ a b c "Richard Hurndall obituary (1984)". The Daily Telegraph. 14 April 1984.
  6. ^ "BBC Radio Times Archive – Richard Hurndall".
  7. ^ "Someone at the Door · British Universities Film & Video Council".
  8. ^ "Richard Hurndall".
  9. ^ "Richard Hurndall".
  10. ^ "Any Old Iron? (1970)".
  11. ^ "Public Eye: S".
  12. ^ "How about a Cup of Tea? (1975)".
  13. ^ "Errors 500 – Doctor Who". Doctor Who.
  14. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Hartnell, William (1908–1975) Biography".
  15. ^ "Richard Hurndall (1980's)".
  16. ^ "The Five Doctors ★★★★".
  17. ^ "I, Monster (1971) – Stephen Weeks – Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related – AllMovie". AllMovie.
  18. ^ Simon Brew (18 February 2008). "Doctor Who: The Five Doctors Special Edition DVD review".

External links[edit]