Memories of the Sixties

Seasons 1-6: An Unearthly Child - The War Games

Wendy Toynton

The earliest episode I remember watching was The Seeds of Doom for the first time when I was about five. I was eating my dinner at the time, and to my dismay the plate was filled with cabbage. To my utter astonishment a cabbage-shaped thing was on Doctor Who. What a marvellous excuse for not eating my cabbage. "Mum," I said, "I can't eat this, it's going to turn into a Krynoid."

One thing I noticed in Doctor Who is the under-scripting and the degrading lines given to companions. In fact most of the companions seem to have been created for the specific purpose of screaming and stating the obvious. Fortunately this is sometimes compensated for by the verbal sparring that takes place between the Doctor and the bad guys.

I can't describe the sixties era well, because that was a wee bit before my time, but I do know that they never should have allowed Peter Cushing to act in The Dalek Invasion of Earth.

Paul Scoones

I'll probably be burnt at the stake for saying so, but I'm not particularly fond of the Sixties episodes of Doctor Who. It's not just that the acting was poor, the sets cruddy, the modelwork laughable and the monsters decidedly fake, but the stories themselves were considerably more juvenile than those that came later, and on top of that were often rushed and hashed. Watching these episodes on video only serves to remind me how far Doctor Who has come since its monochrome beginnings. There's a quantum leap in just about every field between The War Games and Spearhead From Space. As much as I'd like to, I cannot get enthusiastic over watching Hartnell and Troughton material; although the lead actors (the Doctors) were themselves brilliant and often carried the show single-handedly. My opinions must be entirely attributed to the fact that prior to 1985, I had not seen a single sixties episode; well at least not one I can remember. Had I grown up with those early episodes, I have no doubt that I would be a lot fonder of them, such as my older associates like Jon Preddle and Cornelius Stone are. The fact remains however, that had Doctor Who ended with The War Games, as was planned, then I would not be the follower of the show that I am. To my mind, the fame of the sixties episodes comes from being the foundations on which the excellence of the seventies was built. I shall even go as far as to further endanger my reputation by suggesting that much of the acclaim over the sixties episodes is indirectly due to the large percentage of missing material. If it's not there to prove fans wrong, than they can declare it to be as brilliant as they like!

Jon Preddle

The 1960s eras of Doctor Who had the greatest impact on me as the fan I am now. In particular, the Patrick Troughton episodes stand out in my mind the most, which is why I consider him to be the best Doctor.

I was only two months old when An Unearthly Child screened in Auckland in 1964. It wasn't until 1968 that I probably started to watch TV. I do not remember having watched many of the Hartnell stories, but one scene I do recall: the Doctor and his companions climb down a huge plughole, which is soon filled with water and emptied. The plug is pulled, and water gurgles down the hole. The Doctor and his friends stand in a pipe and watch the water pour past them. The story: Planet of Giants episode 3. There is only one other segment from a William Hartnell episode - the Doctor is lying on the floor of the TARDIS. His two companions enter and they kneel down beside him. The camera closes on the Doctor's face, and in a blur of light his features change ... A week later the new Doctor stands up and gazes into a mirror. The face that stares back is that of a white-haired old man. This fades to show the new face. The second Doctor had arrived!

Looking at the Fan of the Month column in TSV, it seems that there are very few readers who could have seen this historical event. I was only five and as far as I was concerned, what I saw on TV was real. This strange transformation really had an impact on me. But the new Doctor - in actual fact, although I hardly recall the actual Doctor, it is the monsters that I remember - had an eerieness about him.

It is the Cybermen of the Troughton era (not the gaudy ones of recent years) that gave me nightmares, with their skull-like faces and metallic voices. The Moonbase, The Tomb of the Cybermen and The Wheel in Space are the three Troughton stories that I can remember in the most detail. Watching from behind a sofa as the Cybermen blasted their way into the dome of the moonbase, or hatching out of the tombs, or bursting out of their eggs and floating through space towards the Wheel - wow!! This is the stuff that made Doctor Who as popular as it is/was. I wonder now if the programmes of the 1980s have the same effect on five-year-olds today.

I find the Daleks boring. I remember only one scene from The Evil of the Daleks, and that is of a Dalek blowing up and what looked like spaghetti flowing out of the dome. It is possible that I missed the other episodes. We only had a rented TV during winter and so I missed a lot of episodes.

The next monsters that I vividly remember are the Macra. I didn't know them by that name then. They were the crab-thingys. I recall the cliffhanger ending of episode 2. The people are watching a giant screen mounted on a wall, and an old man is talking to them on it. Suddenly a giant claw appears from the right side of the screen and pulls the old man away. Terrific stuff! Next I remember someone in a dress (Jamie) in a dark tunnel being chased by giant lobsters and being engulfed by foam.

Here come the Yetis. Although The Abominable Snowmen was shown, I can only remember the Yeti from The Web of Fear. I particularly remember the Doctor sitting inside a large glass pyramid wearing a metal helmet and shouting a lot!

So for someone who spent most of their time hiding behind a sofa when watching TV, I certainly remember the best ever period of Doctor Who...

Although I have seen the few Troughton episodes that still exist - especially the Cybermen episodes, I find it hard to believe that the tackiness of the sets and costumes were the things that gave me nightmares all those years ago. I wouldn't change it for the world!!!

Ken Tod

Not too many memories of the earlier stories of this era as I was only four when I first saw the programme, but here goes.

The Celestial Toymaker - the discovery of lots of TARDISes by Steven and Dodo, who can't tell which is the real one.

The Tenth Planet - The Doctor is rescued along with Polly from the Cybermen's ship by Ben and they return to the TARDIS. The Doctor collapses at the control console and regenerates.

The Power of the Daleks - The regeneration scene again (I think) and the 'new' Doctor playing a tune on his recorder. The Doctor puts on his hat after the TARDIS had landed and hops and skips away from the TARDIS playing a tune on his recorder. (I remember feeling particularly concerned about this new Doctor, who was totally unlike the previous one, but I soon grew to like him and he is one of my favourites to this day). The production line of Daleks being assembled, stretching away into the distance.

The Moonbase - The scene where 'Ralph' is attacked by the Cyberman in the storeroom (very scary if my memory serves me correctly and at the end of episode 1?).

The Evil of the Daleks - The TARDIS being driven away on the back of a lorry. The Dalek materialising in the room at the end of episode 1, and then exterminating the person who was in the room. The Daleks chasing the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria through the house. Professor Waterfield being exterminated by the Daleks. The Doctor and companions are brought before the Dalek Emperor. The Doctor converts Daleks with the 'human factor'. They become very friendly and he plays 'trains' with two of them. The final battle between converted Daleks and 'normal' Daleks and the Emperor is destroyed. As the TARDIS dematerialises a Dalek which appeared damaged beside the TARDIS slowly raises its eyestick as the TARDIS disappears.

The Tomb of the Cybermen - The tombs are unfrozen by Kleig who is warned by the Doctor not to do it. Viner reverses the process and is gunned down by Kleig. Kleig restarts the unfreezing process and gradually the Cybermen emerge from their tombs. They escape from the Cybermen and start to close the hatch. The Doctor is caught by a Cyberman but is released. They start to close the hatch again and the Cyberman tries to hold the hatch open, but slowly the hatch closes. Toberman is converted into a Cyberman, partially. The Cybermats are released. The group is attacked by Cybermats which are destroyed by the Doctor. Toberman fights the Cyber-controller. Jamie and the Doctor escape from the damaged Cyber-controller. Toberman closes the doors to the Tomb and dies in the attempt.

The Abominable Snowmen - I remember asking my mother what abominable snowmen were, before watching episode 1. A Yeti is captured and examined by the Doctor. The sphere from the Yeti is trapped in the mud outside the monastery and sends out a signal. A sphere inside the monastery sends out a signal and starts rolling along the floor. Victoria finds the sphere by the Yeti and is made to replace it into its chest. The Yeti breaks its bonds and escapes. The Doctor locks wills in a battle with the Great Intelligence / Padmasambhava who moves the model Yeti on the board. Having left the monastery the group pass a Yeti lying on the ground. Travers then spots a real Yeti and chases after it.

The Enemy of the World - Salamander impersonates the Doctor on board the TARDIS and is ejected out the open doors into space.

The Web of Fear - The TARDIS is caught in space by the Web. The three find a dead newspaperman covered in web. A sphere smashes through a window and is placed in the immobile Yeti. Someone standing in front of it turns around as it moves and is smashed down with a single blow. Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart's convoy is attacked by Yeti. A trolley is dragged out of the Web in a tunnel and a soldier's body is on top of it. He is covered in web and his mask has been pulled off. The Yeti attack the control centre and kidnap Travers who is dragged away by the two Yeti. The Doctor finds a model Yeti in a dead soldier's pocket and destroys it in a vice. Sgt Arnold emerges from the Web in a tunnel with a blank, expressionless face. Cpl. Evans, a little Welsh chap, is chased by a Yeti and captured by another. I seem to remember him being as scared of the Yeti as I was. The actor who played him re-appeared in The Green Death. The Doctor is rescued from the helmet he was attached to, only to tell everyone off as he was successfully dealing with the Intelligence! The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria rush away to get to the TARDIS before the trains start up again.

The Wheel in Space - Two 'eggs' are on board a rocket and a Cyberman emerges from one. Two Cybermen confront the Doctor in the power room and he destroys one and the other backs away.

Well, that's all for my memories of the Sixties. My favourite stories of those shown in New Zealand are all of these ones I have memories of. If all stories are to be measured against a yardstick then these are the ones, even if Season 5 was the 'Monster Season'.

Unknown (sorry, whoever you are, we lost your name)

My earliest memory of Doctor Who is from The Power of the Daleks. I seem to remember someone holding a Dalek gun and telling someone else that Daleks are not dangerous when they are unarmed. I also vaguely remember some battle scenes in part 6, such as one Dalek losing its head casing.

I also remember pieces from The Web of Fear and The Wheel in Space - to this day Cybermen are my favourite 'monster'. These three stories are probably the main reason for my interest in the programme - at the time there was nothing on TV to compare with it.

Murray Jackson

I did not see a Hartnell story until three years ago when I first saw An Unearthly Child. I must admit to being bored by a lot of Hartnell stories which have lost a lot of dramatic impact with the passing of 25 years. Out of the 29 Hartnell stories I have seen either all or the existing episodes of 22 of them. Out of those there are only three that I would sit down and watch again with any interest. They are The Dead Planet, The Keys of Marinus and The Dalek Invasion of Earth. Obviously the limits of a small budget held back and hampered many plotlines.

Troughton is the Doctor that I first saw, when I was four years old. The story was The Evil of the Daleks and the Dalek battle at the end, plus the Emperor Dalek had me scurrying behind the couch. It is the earliest Troughton story I remember seeing until I saw The Faceless Ones episode 3 in 1984. Since then I have seen every existing Troughton episode and in my opinion any story with a Troughton era Cyberman can't be beaten. Troughton's years were obviously integral in cementing Doctor Who as a television institution.

Paul Kelly

I am not overly familiar with the sixties, mainly because I have only seen two stories from this period, The Mind Robber and The Krotons. But what I have seen from these stories is that they were very innovative in terms of ideas. I can remember the part in The Mind Robber where the Doctor has to save Jamie by solving the jigsaw puzzle of Jamie's face. I thought that was very funny and inventive.

Stephen Murray

Unfortunately for me the Hartnell era seems dated and dull in comparison to the mysterious, spine-chilling monster season of Patrick Troughton. It was here that we were told that the Doctor has stolen his TARDIS to escape the boring, bureaucratic Gallifreyans. We learnt that he had two hearts, that he's hundreds of years old, that he has met many of Earth's most famous people, etc.

This item appeared in 25 Years of a Time Lord (January 1989).

Related Items: Memories of the Seventies, Memories of the Eighties