Doctor Who – the original pitch to BBC


I really hope this phenomenon some call the Internet takes hold as there is some great stuff out there if you know where to look. Now that we are two weeks in to what, already, has become the best Doctor Who season ever, I thought it would be interesting to see if there was any hint as to how this program came to be some 47+ years ago and why it has remained a constant (with a bit of an interruption along the way) for several generations of television viewers around the world.

Seems as though the original pitch to the BBC commissioners back in 1962, was done in five stages with the first being the Sci-Fi – BBC Report, an analysis of the state of science fiction and its’ relevance to television.

The second document, the Sci-Fi Follow-up Report, clearly stated that in order to make science fiction suitable for television you must adhere to the concept that stories “...do not include Bug—Eyed Monsters” and “…the central characters are never Tin Robots.” It was also noted that plot dealing with time traveling would be outstanding.

Next up, the Concept Notes for New SF Drama, put pen to paper and provided a rough sketch for a science fiction series with, initially, “…three characters – the handsome young man hero, the handsome well dressed heroine age about 30, and the maturer man, 35 – 40, with some character twists were partners in a firm of scientific consultants who specializing in troubleshooting. “

The fourth document, Background Notes on Doctor Who, was the first attempt to bring the Doctor to life by introducing the five main characters: Bridget, Miss McGovern, Cliff, Dr. Who, and Dr. Who’s Machine.

The fifth and final document, An Audience Research Report, was created post-Doctor Who premiere of “An Unearthly Child” on 23 November, 1963. Their conclusion? “...it was in the grand style of the old pre—talkie films to see a dear old Police Box being hurtled through space and landing on Mars or somewhere. I almost expected to see a batch of Keystone Cops emerge on to the Martian landscape.

We’ve come a long way since that fateful day in 1963. Thanks to the Between the Pages blog for doing all the legwork in finding these classic documents from the BBC archives.