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William Hartnell

William Hartnell

Birthday: 8 January 1908, St. Pancras, London, England, UK
Birth Name: William Henry Hartnell
Height: 173 cm

William Hartnell was born on 8 January 1908, just south of St. Pancras station in London. In press materials in the 1940s he claimed that his father was a farmer and later a stockbroker; it turns out ...Show more

William Hartnell
You know, I couldn't go out into the high street without a bunch of kids following me. I felt like t Show more You know, I couldn't go out into the high street without a bunch of kids following me. I felt like the Pied Piper. Hide
[on the Daleks] They were difficult to play to. Because you're not looking into human eyes, you know Show more [on the Daleks] They were difficult to play to. Because you're not looking into human eyes, you know what I mean. You're looking at a metal object moving about, with a voice-over. Hide
[on children] They find me a cross between the Wizard of Oz and Father Christmas. [on children] They find me a cross between the Wizard of Oz and Father Christmas.
It may seem like hindsight now, but I just knew that Doctor Who (1963) was going to be an enormous s Show more It may seem like hindsight now, but I just knew that Doctor Who (1963) was going to be an enormous success. Don't ask me how. Not everybody thought as I did. I was universally scoffed at for my initial faith in the series, but I believed in it. It was magical. Hide
People really used to take it literally. I'd get letters from boys swotting for O-levels asking comp Show more People really used to take it literally. I'd get letters from boys swotting for O-levels asking complicated questions about time-ratio and the TARDIS. The Doctor might have been able to answer them - I'm afraid I couldn't! But I do believe there is life on other planets - and they know there's life here but don't have the technology to get through. Hide
Space travel? Quite honestly, it scares me to death. I haven't the slightest wish to get in a rocket Show more Space travel? Quite honestly, it scares me to death. I haven't the slightest wish to get in a rocket and zoom through the stratosphere. Somebody else can be the first man on the moon. It doesn't interest me at all. I do, however, believe that there is life on other planets - and that they know we're here but haven't got the technology to get through. Hide
I was so pleased to be offered Doctor Who (1963). To me kids are the greatest audience - and the gre Show more I was so pleased to be offered Doctor Who (1963). To me kids are the greatest audience - and the greatest critics - in the world. Hide
At one time (in late 1964) I thought we might extend the series and I suggested giving the Doctor a Show more At one time (in late 1964) I thought we might extend the series and I suggested giving the Doctor a son and calling the programme The Son of Doctor Who. The idea was for me to have a wicked son. We would both look alike, each have a TARDIS and travel in outer space. In actual fact, it would have meant that I had to play a dual role when I 'met' my son. But the idea was not taken up by the BBC so I dropped it. I still think it would have worked and been exciting to children. Hide
[on Doctor Who (1963)] We did it forty-eight weeks a year in those days and it was very hard work. B Show more [on Doctor Who (1963)] We did it forty-eight weeks a year in those days and it was very hard work. But I loved every minute. Hide
Doctor Who (1963) is certainly a test for any actor. Animals and children are renowned scene-stealer Show more Doctor Who (1963) is certainly a test for any actor. Animals and children are renowned scene-stealers and we had both - plus an assortment of monsters that became popular in their own right. Look at the Daleks. They started in the second series and were an immediate success. Hide
I don't like anything blue or salacious or suggestive because I'm not that type of actor. I don't like anything blue or salacious or suggestive because I'm not that type of actor.
Before the part came along I'd been playing a bunch of crooks, sergeants, prison warders and detecti Show more Before the part came along I'd been playing a bunch of crooks, sergeants, prison warders and detectives. Then, after appearing in This Sporting Life (1963), I got a phone call from my agent. He said, "I wouldn't normally have suggested you work in children's television, Bill, but there's a sort of character part come up that I think you'd just love to play. My agent said the part was that of an eccentric old grandfather- cum-professor type who travels in space and time. Well, I wasn't that keen, but I agreed to meet the producer. Then, the moment this brilliant young producer Miss Verity Lambert started telling me about Doctor Who (1963), I was hooked. I remember telling her, "This is going to run for five years." And look what's happened. Hide
I'm a legitimate character actor of the theatre and film. I'm a legitimate character actor of the theatre and film.
Memories? There are so many. There was the occasion when I arrived at an air display in the TARDIS a Show more Memories? There are so many. There was the occasion when I arrived at an air display in the TARDIS and the kids were convinced I had flown it there! On another occasion I went by limousine to open a local fete. When we got there the children just converged on the car cheering and shouting, their faces all lit up. I knew then just how much the Doctor really meant to them. Hide
We did Doctor Who (1963) for forty-eight weeks a year but I loved it. I couldn't go out into the str Show more We did Doctor Who (1963) for forty-eight weeks a year but I loved it. I couldn't go out into the street without a bunch of children following me, like the Pied Piper. People used to take it terribly seriously. I'd get letters from boys swotting for exams, asking me complicated questions about time ratios and the TARDIS. I couldn't help them. A lot of the script writers used to make the Doctor use expressions like 'centrifugal force' but I refused. If it gets too technical, the children don't understand and they lose interest. I saw the Doctor as a kind of lama, one of those long-lived old boys out in Tibet who might be anything up to eight hundred years old but only look seventy-five. Hide
William Hartnell's FILMOGRAPHY
as Actor (30)
Gomovies