The First Doctor was the first known incarnation of the Time Lord known as the Doctor. Most accounts of him were drawn from close to the end of his life.
Initially, he had as companions his granddaughter Susan Foreman and her kidnapped teachers, Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright. He bade Susan farewell to let her live a happier life with a man with whom she had fallen in love. Later, during a confrontation with the Daleks, the Doctor used one of their time capsules to return Ian and Barbara to their proper time - something he had been unable to manage with the TARDIS.
After Susan's departure, the Doctor gained a new companion in Vicki Pallister. She reminded him of Susan and the Doctor saw her as a surrogate to fill her spot in his travels with Ian and Barbara. Vicki left the Doctor's company, feeling her time with him was over and she needed to move on.
Soon after the departure of Ian and Barbara, the Doctor gained a new companion in Steven Taylor, with whom he had a relatively uneasy relationship. Steven was bitter towards him, blaming him for the deaths of Katarina and Sara Kingdom. However, the Doctor was forgiven and companion Dodo Chaplet joined them on their travels.
Ultimately, Dodo became injured in an adventure and decided to remain home in her own time, while Steven decided to stay and help a civilisation they had encountered.
Right before his battle with the Cybermen of Mondas, the Doctor had gained two new companions in Ben Jackson and Polly Wright, to whom he was much more kind to prevent them from leaving as Steven had.
The Doctor was born on Gallifrey, home planet of the Time Lords. (DW: The Three Doctors) He was born under "the sign of crossed computers," the symbol of the maternity service there. (DW: The Creature from the Pit) The infant Doctor slept in his cot under "his first stars" as Amy Pond pointed out. (DW: A Good Man Goes to War)
The Doctor was also a figure mentioned in a number of prophecies. One such prophecy, maintained as law by the Watch, was that after certain events came to pass, the Doctor was to be killed for the greater good of Gallifrey, (PDA: The Infinity Doctors) a prophecy the Twelfth Doctor technically fulfilled. (DW: The Regeneration of Gallifrey)
The Doctor had a Time Lord father called Ulysses (PDA: The Infinity Doctors) and a Victorian era Human mother called Penelope Gate. (EDA: The Gallifrey Chronicles) Friend of the family Patience was present at his birth. (PDA: The Infinity Doctors)
The Doctor lived in a house on the side of a mountain named Mount Cadon. (DW: The Time Monster) His home was called the House of Lungbarrow, he lived there along with his cousins (NA: Lungbarrow) and his brother, Irving Braxiatel. (BNA: Tears of the Oracle)
The Doctor remembered a time when his mother had been present and he had looked up to the stars to see several ships. He had wanted to ask where they were going, but didn't. His mother had an old Bible, something that left such an impression on the Doctor that he remembered it centuries later in his life when he compared the pages of a menu Omega gave him to his mother's Bible. (PDA: The Infinity Doctors)
The Doctor and his friend the Master used to play in the estates of the Master's father. (DW: The End of Time) The Master would often hypnotise others, and the Doctor would un-hypnotise them. (MA: The Dark Path) The Doctor and the Master were bullied as children and the Doctor found himself forced to kill the bully, Torvic, to save his friend's life. He was later confronted by Death, who insisted he become her disciple. The Doctor refused and asked for Death to take away his guilt, causing her to transfer the memory of committing the crime to the Master instead. The Doctor forgot he had ever made the deal. (BFA: Master)
As Romana would later note, the Doctor did not have an impressive career at school, passing his qualifying exams to become a Time Lord with only 51% - the lowest possible pass mark - on the second attempt. (DW: The Ribos Operation) He attended the Time Lord Academy under the tutelage of Borusa and was a member of the Prydonian Chapter. (DW: The Deadly Assassin) His student identification was δ³Σx². (DW: The Deca) When he was ninety he visited the Medusa Cascade, later describing himself as "just a kid" then. (DW: The Stolen Earth)
At the Time Lord Academy, the Doctor belonged to a clique of ten young Time Lords with the collective name of the Deca, a group which included the Master and the Rani. (PDA: Divided Loyalties) The Doctor spent "centuries" at the Academy. (DWM: Mortal Beloved) He was expelled for a time and relegated to traffic control for five centuries after his first encounter with the Celestial Toymaker in an act of youthful rebellion resulted in the 'deaths' of his friends Rallon and Millennia, but he returned to the Academy after receiving his doctorate in his spare time. (PDA: Divided Loyalties)
The Doctor was a father at one point in his life (DW: Fear Her), of both "sons and daughters". (PDA: The Eleventh Tiger) The Doctor had three known grandchildren, Susan, (DW: An Unearthly Child) John and Gillian. (TVC: The Klepton Parasites)
Final Years on Gallifrey
The Doctor taught at the Academy and inspired his students to think for themselves, again earning the ire of his colleagues.
Through years of arguments and cowboy diplomacy the Doctor managed to get the Rutans and the Sontarans to sit down and discuss a ceasefire. Sadly, this met with stonewalling from both sides and opposition from the Time Lord Council necessitating the Doctor to take more radical actions in order to force a peace.When the Time Lords faced the Effect, the Doctor realised that he could use it to change the past and save his wife. He arrived on the Needle and encountered the Needle People. He went through the door which led to the anti-matter universe. There he found Omega and Patience.
With the Doctor in the anti-matter universe and able to keep it in existence, Omega could return to the matter universe and possess a copy of the Doctor which had been created when the Doctor programmed a transmat bracelet not to destroy his original body when he was teleported. The Doctor was content to live in the anti-matter universe with Patience. However, he eventually returned to the matter universe to stop Omega, who was trying to gain control of the Eye of Harmony. The Doctor could leave the anti-matter universe because Omega had exposed the raw singularity in the Eye of Harmony, through which the Doctor could return to the matter universe. The Doctor brought his anti-singularity into contact with Omega's singularity, and Omega vanished. However, the Doctor had made up the concept of an anti-singularity, and didn't know what had happened to Omega.
War with the Toymaker
. (DW: The Deca)
The Doctor broke the Time Lords' law on non-interference (NA: Lungbarrow) and faced being erased from history by his brother Braxiatel. Braxiatel allowed the Doctor to run, giving him the chance to steal a Type 40 TARDIS and escape Gallifrey. (BFG: Disassembled) He took with him the Hand of Omega and his granddaughter, Susan. (PDA: Legacy of the Daleks) He grew a bond with this TARDIS that would last for centuries. When the Doctor first entered the TARDIS, he described it as "the most beautiful thing he ever saw". (DW: The Doctor's Wife)
Exploring the Universe
Hiding on Earth
After several adventures in time, in which he met Henry VIII and visited the French revolution, among other things, the Doctor settled in 20th century London. For five months, Susan and he lived in 1963 London to allow her to complete her education and let him build missing components for the TARDIS. (DW: An Unearthly Child) Meanwhile, he found a hiding place for the Hand of Omega. (DW: Remembrance of the Daleks)
By this time, a Dalek had already discovered him. The Doctor's seventh incarnation also appeared in his past self's life on a mission from the White Guardian, to steal the TARDIS Instruction Manual. (DWM: Time & Time Again)
At an unknown point afterwards, the Doctor had his first encounter with River Song, but he was unaware of her identity. He caught her sneaking around the junkyard where the TARDIS was located. River ran off when she heard Susan, later writing in her diary that it was a conversation for which she was unprepared. (VG: Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock)
Ian and Barbara
Whilst Susan attended Coal Hill School, the Doctor and she lived at 76 Totter's Lane. Two of Susan's teachers, Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright, followed her home and confronted the Doctor. He kidnapped them so they couldn't tell anyone about Susan and him. They went to 100,000 BC.
The TARDIS experienced faults at this point in its chameleon circuit and its ability to indicate its space/time coordinates. Kidnapped by a tribesman named Kal, the Doctor was brought to the Tribe of Gum. Susan, Ian and Barbara saved the Doctor, but Za caught them and placed them all in the Cave of Skulls. The Doctor thanked Old Mother when she freed them, but grew miserable whilst trekking through the Forest of Fear. When Za was wounded by a Tiger, the Doctor initially refused to help him and considered killing him so the rest of the travellers wouldn't slow their escape trying to help Za. (DW: An Unearthly Child) However, a meeting with his eighth incarnation in a time bubble- created when the two Doctors met- convinced him otherwise. (EDA: The Eight Doctors) Recaptured and placed back in the Cave, he tricked Kal into revealing he had killed the Old Mother. The Doctor helped Ian with an escape plan to get back to the TARDIS. (DW: An Unearthly Child)
The Doctor soon realised Ian and Barbara bore him no threat, but being unable to accurately pilot the TARDIS, he was unable to return them to their original place and time. When the TARDIS landed on Skaro, he sabotaged it in order to study the planet more closely, a decision he later regretted. This led him to his first contact with the race called the Daleks. The Doctor assisted the Thals in their attack on the Dalek city. (DW: The Daleks)
When the TARDIS began to malfunction, the Doctor was quick to lay the blame upon Ian and Barbara. It became clear the problem was purely mechanical and the Doctor corrected the fault. (DW: The Edge of Destruction)
The TARDIS, still heavily damaged and malfunctioning, landed in the Plain of Pamir in 1289. There, he and his companions met Marco Polo, who took the TARDIS and its keys on his caravan the breadth of Cathay to hand to Kublai Khan as part of a bargain for his return to Venice. Along the way, the Mongol warlord Tegana, also part of Polo's caravan, tried to take the TARDIS for Nogai as part of his plan to assassinate Kublai. In the chaos of Tegana and Polo's duel in Peking, the Doctor and his companions escaped in his repaired TARDIS. (DW: Marco Polo)
Over the next few months, the Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan had adventures that took them to different planets, (DW: The Keys of Marinus) and to different periods in Earth's history. (DW: The Aztecs)
The Doctor and his companions also travelled into Earth's future; in London during the time of the 22nd century Dalek invasion, Susan met David Campbell, a young resistance fighter against the Daleks. Realising she would be better off not facing the dangers of travel, and recognising she was no longer a child, the Doctor reluctantly left her behind. (DW: The Dalek Invasion of Earth) Although he later reunited with her briefly for an adventure on Gallifrey, (DW: The Five Doctors) he continued to regret this decision for centuries to come (IDW: The Forgotten) and even slept through a materialisation because of his sorrow (DW: The Rescue)
The Doctor and his companions continued to explore alien worlds and Earth's past. On one occasion they landed on Xeros, only to find their future selves exhibits in display cases. They then began trying to avoid this version of the future. The Doctor was taken by the Moroks to be prepared for the exhibit but he was rescued by Ian. They were recaptured but the Xerons rebelled and freed them. Thus they prevented their own future. (DW: The Space Museum)
Following another encounter with the Daleks, the Doctor successfully programmed a Dalek Time Machine to take Ian and Barbara back home. Around the same time he gained another new companion in Steven Taylor. (DW: The Chase)
. (DW: I am the Doctor)
. (DW: I am the Valeyard)
While his relationship with Vicki remained warm, the Doctor's relationship with Steven tended to be stressed at times. After Vicki's departure, a young woman from Troy named Katarina joined the Doctor and Steven. (DW: The Myth Makers)
The Dalek's Master Plan
Soon after, the Doctor entered into an epic struggle against the Daleks that saw the deaths of two of his companions, Katarina and Space Agent Sara Kingdom. (DW: The Daleks' Master Plan) This added additional strain to his relationship with Steven, who briefly left the TARDIS following a subsequent bloody adventure. Steven almost immediately returned however, and with new companion Dodo Chaplet, the Doctor continued their travels. (DW: The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve)
Steven eventually left the Doctor, albeit on better terms. (DW: The Savages) Soon after, the Doctor was forced to leave an injured Dodo on modern-day Earth, where he picked up what the final companions of his first incarnation, Polly Wright and Ben Jackson. (DW: The War Machines) His travels eventually led him to Earth in the late 20th century, and his first encounter with the Cybermen. (DW: The Tenth Planet)
With his ancient body wearing thin due to his encounter with the Time Destructor on Kembel (DW: The Daleks' Master Plan, The Deaths of the Doctor), the increasingly frail Doctor matched wits with the Cybermen for the first time, an encounter which physically drained him. Hurrying back to the TARDIS he collapsed, having lost the energy needed to keep such an old body going since. Before the astonished eyes of his companions, the Doctor regenerated for the first time, transforming into a new man. (DW: The Tenth Planet)
- For some reason, the First Doctor attended the funeral of Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, even though he had not met him yet. (ST: The Gift, DW: The Five Doctors)
- The First Doctor visited Mondas, ancient Rome, Antioch, Jerusalem, (PDA: Byzantium!) Dido (DW: The Rescue) and Akhaten. (DW: The Rings of Akhaten)
- The First Doctor camped out on Mars, but had to leave the camp material there when the TARDIS had a malfunction and almost left without him. (ST: Please Shut the Gate)
- The First Doctor met Winston Churchill in 1911, stepping out of the TARDIS to tell Churchill it was an honour to meet him. When Churchill informed the Doctor they had met before, the Doctor chuckled and said "That's the trouble with time travel". (REF: The Brilliant Book 2011)
- River Song met the First Doctor while time travelling, noting in her diary that he was "boring" because he was hanging out with some teachers. She wiped his memory with mnemosine recall-wipe vapour to maintain the timeline. (VG: The Eternity Clock)
- The First Doctor argued with Henry VIII and was sent to the Tower of London, where he could escape in the TARDIS. (DW: The Sensorites)
When he first met Ian and Barbara, he abducted them and set the TARDIS console to shock Ian into unconsciousness. He justified this by claiming he was keeping himself and Susan safe. He regarded humans as primitives and, arguably, even contemplated killing the mortally wounded Za so that he would not slow down the Doctor's party. When Ian caught him apparently ready to bludgeon the man with a rock, the Doctor explained he merely wanted Za to draw him a map. However, this explanation seemed somewhat improvised. Despite Ian's apparent hostility towards him, the Doctor was quick to bargain for his safety. (DW: An Unearthly Child)
The Doctor deliberately removed the TARDIS' fluid link so that he would have an excuse to explore the Dalek City on Skaro. He went so far as to offer the Daleks the secrets of the TARDIS in return for Susan's safety and took it upon himself to ensure the Thals were not threatened with extinction. (DW: The Daleks)
After the TARDIS became faulty, the Doctor took Ian and Barbara to be saboteurs and accused them as such. They refuted his claim but he insisted they were trying to blackmail him into returning them home. Barbara confronted him, saying "gratitude is the last thing you'll ever have or any sort of common sense either". When proven wrong, the Doctor apologised and spent some time trying to win Barbara over. (DW: The Edge of Destruction) Together with Vicki, he admitted that he would miss both Ian and Barbara after they had left. (DW: The Chase)
The Doctor refused to bend his knee to the Kublai Khan, giving rheumatic knees as his excuse. He seriously suggested that, faced with a bandit raid, he and his companions, along with Tegana, should leave in the TARDIS. (DW: Marco Polo)
On Marinus, he belatedly only agreed to help Arbitan restore the Conscience of Marinus after he was blackmailed. Despite earlier claims that he never gave advice, the Doctor took Sabetha aside and told her only man could preserve justice, and therefore could never be ruled by machines. (DW: The Keys of Marinus)
The Doctor came to the defence of established history when Barbara attempted to alter the nature of the Aztec civilisation. Nevertheless, he was not averse to having a personal relationship with one of its respected female elders. (DW: The Aztecs)
Despite his earlier lectures against altering history, he used first aid - including drugs- upon the injured de Tornebu. He proceeded to justify stealing clothes based on the fact they were already stolen and found his shoplifting abilities hilarious. Although he knew that it wouldn't work, the Doctor tried to convince King Richard to carry out his peace plan. (DW: The Crusade)
The Doctor would, when pressed, resort to hand-to-hand combat with an effectiveness which belied his age. A professional wrestler, the Mountain Mauler of Montana, had taught him some effective moves. (DW: The Romans) At other times, however, the Doctor revealed age-related vulnerabilities. For example, he suffered from rheumatism that flared up if he was exposed to cold. (DW: The Space Museum)
The Doctor was frequently sarcastic towards those around him, seemingly to elevate himself above lesser intellects. (DW: The Time Meddler) He once stated his belief that there was a reason for everything in the universe and claimed to have "the directional instinct of a homing pigeon". (DW: The Chase)
Upon witnessing the persecution of the so-called "savages", the Doctor was quick to ally himself with them against the Elders. He defied their suggestions that progress was based on exploitation, branding it murder. Despite this, the Elders recognised him as a man of infinite wisdom. (DW: The Savages)
Several of his future incarnations had a noticeably profound respect for the first incarnation, so much so that they dared not question his judgment. The Time Lords used this to their advantage when the second and third incarnations were found to be incapable of working together. (DW: The Three Doctors) In another meeting, the Doctor again showed his position of authority over his future selves by deducing the truth about Rassilon's gift of immortality before the others and taking action without their input or objections. (DW: The Five Doctors)
Habits and Quirks
The First Doctor punctuated his speech with, "Hmmmm...?", exasperated sighs and snorts and the occasional mangled phrase or word. He would address young women as "child" and younger men as "my boy", or in Ian's case by his name. (DW: An Unearthly Child)
The TARDIS required expert piloting and guidance by the Doctor. (DW: An Unearthly Child) Its systems often broke down, including the navigational systems. (DW: The Daleks) This, combined with the fact the TARDIS was designed for six pilots, (DW: Journey's End) would explain the difficulty the Doctor encountered in returning to 1963 London in order to return Ian and Barbara to their lives. (DW: The Daleks)
The Doctor never even hinted at the nature of his own origins, (DW: An Unearthly Child) other than to state that he and the Monk originated on the same world (DW: The Time Meddler) and to hint that Susan and himself were exiles from the same place and time. (DW: An Unearthly Child)
In his early life, the Doctor had a long oval face, an aristocratic nose, and a full mouth. He wore his hair close-cropped. He wore glasses, a battered cashmere jacket, pressed silk shirt and tailored tan trousers. He wore his old college scarf when greeting the Sontarans and Rutans on Gallifrey. (PDA: The Infinity Doctors)
In his later life, the Doctor had shoulder length, greyish-white hair. He had piercing brown eyes. The Doctor affected a slightly eccentric Edwardian dress sense, wearing a frock coat and tartan trousers. Occasionally he wore an Astrakhan, (DW: An Unearthly Child) or a Panama hat. (DW: The Chase) He also sometimes wore a cape. (DW: Planet of Giants). He also used a smoking pipe on at least one occasion. (DW: An Unearthly Child)
Like his fifth incarnation, he sometimes used half-moon reading glasses, (DW: The Time Meddler) although a later incarnation would call into question whether he actually needed them. (DW: Time Crash) He also occasionally employed a walking stick (DW: The Five Doctors) made of ebony (ST: Nothing at the End of the Lane) which sometimes made an effective weapon. (DW: The Rescue) He also wore a blue signet ring which had special, if ill-defined, powers. (DW: The Web Planet) On one occasion, the ring appeared to both facilitate hypnotism and protect the Doctor from electrical shock. (DW: The War Machines) On one occasion, he did not wear his ring, and wore fingerless gloves on his hands. (DW: The Five Doctors)
When adventuring in Earth's past, this incarnation of the Doctor, in contrast with most that followed, sometimes made significant changes to his wardrobe, in an attempt to blend in with the local population. (DW: The Romans) However, he usually made at least a token alteration to his "standard" outfit wherever he went in Earth's past, as when he wore a cowboy hat in 19th century Arizona. (DW: The Gunfighters) More rarely, he would gladly accept the vestments of extraterrestrial societies, as when he proudly wore the ceremonial garb of the Elders. (DW: The Savages)
Behind the scenes
- Actors considered for the role of "Doctor Who", as he was then known, included Geoffrey Bayldon, Cyril Cusack, Hugh David and Alan Webb. Leslie French was also considered for the role.
- William Hartnell had, up until that point, mainly played small-time thugs and other unsympathetic parts in crime films and humourless military men in comedies. Producer Verity Lambert was inspired to ask him to accept the role after seeing him in his well-known role in This Sporting Life, which convinced her that he could play a tough, yet shaded and sympathetic character.
- When the time came for the First Doctor to appear in the 1983 Children in Need anniversary special DW: The Five Doctors, actor Richard Hurndall was hired to play the role, standing in for William Hartnell, who had died in the mid-1970s. A clip of Hartnell as the Doctor from The Dalek Invasion of Earth preceded the opening titles, and Hartnell's name appeared amongst those of his fellow Doctors in the end credits.
- This Doctor was one of only two incarnations ever known to smoke, (DW: An Unearthly Child) the other being the Eighth Doctor, although this only took place when the Doctor's mind and personality were briefly 'mixed up' with traits from his companion Fitz Kreiner. (EDA: Halflife)
- When the Doctor, Vicki Pallister, Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton were being chased by the Daleks through time, he claimed to have built the TARDIS. (DW: The Chase) This statement stands in stark contrast with later incarnations and Time Lord authorities who claimed that the TARDIS was "borrowed" and "stolen" respectively, (EDA: The Gallifrey Chronicles) an account the TARDIS itself agrees with, except with respect to who stole whom. (DW: The Doctor's Wife) It has also been suggested that the TARDIS was grown, rather than built. (DW: Rise of the Cybermen)
- The computer WOTAN referred to the Doctor as "Doctor Who". Exactly why the computer would give the Doctor this name when he was never referred to as such is unknown. (DW: The War Machines)
- This incarnation of the Doctor seemed unfamiliar with the Daleks, and demonstrated eagerness to explore their homeworld Skaro. (DW: The Daleks) However, he revealed in his seventh incarnation that he had already, by this time, hidden away the Hand of Omega on 1963 Earth, as part of an ongoing plan to defeat them. (DW: Remembrance of the Daleks) In addition, the Eleventh Doctor revealed that as a child, he was fond of a children's story called The Emperor Dalek's New Clothes among others. (DW: Night Terrors)