Doctor Who’s Genesis: The Myth vs. Reality

A significant fact of Doctor Who history could actually be, after almost sixty years, a myth. Paul Hayes, author and broadcaster, who’d previously penned The Long Game in 2021, a book that chronicled Doctor Who’s absence and eventual revival between 1996 and 2003, has written another, Pull To Open, a story that documents the show’s development between 1962 to 1963, the year it first aired on our screens.

In an interview with Cultbox (per a story from The Radio Times), Hayes stumbled upon a small detail that could rewrite our understanding of how Doctor Who came onto our televisions. A piece of information that for several years, it seems, had gone unnoticed. The opening serial of Doctor WhoAn Unearthly Child, started filming on August 20, 1963, yet new evidence suggests it did not – implying filming could have commenced at a different time. 

“Interestingly, given that those documents I mentioned have been open to researchers for thirty years now and have been used as sources many times, I did find something lurking within them which revealed that one oft-stated piece of information was actually mistaken,” Hayes explained his findings.

“It’s mentioned in various places that the first ever shooting specifically for Doctor Who took place on August 20 1963, for the opening titles. It’s certainly true that a piece of paper exists in the files booking a filming session at Ealing for that date… But there’s also another piece of paper from eight days later cancelling it, so it never actually happened.” the author added. 

“As far as I can tell, nobody had ever spotted that before, although it’s understandable – there is a lot of information on a lot of pieces of paper in those files!” Hayes said. 

Doctor Who can be streamed on the BBC iPlayer, and classic episodes are available on Britbox.

Matt Bailey

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