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William Hartnell Interview Discovered In The BBC Archives

The Doctor Who Restoration team have confirmed a 1967 interview with William Hartnell has been unearthed, thought to be the only surviving in-vision interview with the First Doctor. Though audio interviews exist, the BBC Points West recording is the only on-screen interview now available.

Conducted in the dressing room of the Gaumont Theatre in Taunton, it took place less than three months after Hartnell finished filming on Doctor Who. Team member Richard Bignell explained precisely what the 3min 16sec interview contains.

A few years ago, I was doing research into the article I was preparing for Issue 3 of ‘Nothing at the End of the Lane’ on Hartnell’s rather disastrous performance as Buskin the Fairy Cobbler in the pantomime Puss In Boots, which toured around four different venues in December 1966 and January 1967, just three months after he had completed work on The Tenth Planet. 

Whilst doing some work at the BBC Written Archive Centre, I checked the respective Programme-as-Broadcast sheets for the period, looking specifically at the local BBC news programmes to see if Hartnell’s appearance in panto was deemed worthy of a television report. 

He was in fact interviewed twice. Once in the first week of the tour in Ipswich (shown on Look East on 27th December 1966) and again during the final week in Taunton for Points West, shown on 17th January 1967. As I’d built up some contacts in the BBC’s regional news libraries working on the DVDs, I dropped the respective archives a line to see if there was any chance the two interviews survived.

The first interview for Look East had long gone, but the ladies in the Bristol News Library very quickly got back to me to say that the interview done in Taunton still survived. We arranged for the footage to be sent over to London, where it was duly transferred. It shows Hartnell in his dressing room doing his make-up for one of his performances, with his ‘Doctor’s ring’ on the table and a Berwick Dalek playsuit stuffed in the corner. Hartnell speaks about his problems acting against the Daleks and how pantomime isn’t ‘legitimate’ theatre.

The interview will feature as an extra on the upcoming anniversary release of The Tenth Planet, Hartnell’s final regular story as the First Doctor. The DVD is scheduled for release on November 18th and is available to pre-order now.

[Source: Doctor Who News]