"Always search for truth. My truth is in the stars"
- The Doctor
The Doctor was either born (possibly from a union between a Time Lord father and a Human mother) (DW: Doctor Who) or Loomed into the House of Lungbarrow, possibly as a genetic reincarnation of sorts of the Other, one of the ancient and powerful Gallifreyans who had, with Rassilon and Omega, founded the Time Lords. (NA: Lungbarrow).
- The Other may have been Loomed previously, before the Doctor, and taken a bride known as Patience.
Though Time Lords of his era went through a Looming process, the Doctor claimed on a few occasions to have been born. Since the Doctor stated that he was born, this might discount the notion that he was "loomed". Once, to Sarah Jane Smith, he said his birth had occurred near Karn, a planet which had a history intertwined with that of the Time Lords. (DW: The Brain of Morbius) On another occasion, he said he was born "at the sign of crossed computers" (DW: The Creature from the Pit)
- The Sign of Crossed Computers is the name given to the maternity service on Gallifrey, in Part 3 of the televised serial, during the Doctor's conversations with Organon.
One account shows that the Doctor grew in the House of Lungbarrow along with Cousins, other Galifreyans also produced by Looms. (NA: Lungbarrow) Another account by the Doctor says that he knew and had a relationship with his father (DW: Doctor Who).
The Doctor was born and lived his early life on Gallifrey, home planet of the Time Lords. He lived in a house on the side of a mountain. (DW: The Time Monster") In his first eight years of his life he was friends with the Master. The seventh incarnation of the Doctor related a story which explained his origins, alongside the Master's. He said that both he and the Master had been mercilessly and viciously bullied as children. The youthful Doctor found himself forced to kill the bully in order to save his friend's life. He was later confronted by Death, who insisted he become her disciple. The Doctor refused and instead suggested Death make the Master her champion instead, to which she agreed. The Doctor said that, because of this, he always felt partly responsible for the carnage the Master would later cause. (BFA: Master)
- In a later incarnation, the Doctor would take on the role of Time's Champion.
Another story told by the Doctor said that like the Master, at the age of eight, he had stared into the Untempered Schism as part of a Time Lord initiation rite. While this had impressed upon the Doctor the importance of preserving all creation, this simply drove the Master quietly insane. (DW: The Sound of Drums)
At the Academy, the Doctor belonged to a clique of ten young Time Lords with the collective name of the Deca, a group which included Koschei (later the Master) and Ushas (later known as the Rani), among others (PDA: Divided Loyalties). When he was 90 he visited the Medusa Cascade. The Doctor described himself as 'just a kid' then. (DW: The Stolen Earth). The Doctor spent "centuries" at the Academy. (DWM: Mortal Beloved)
For five months, Susan and the Doctor lived in 1963 London to enable Susan to complete her education and so that the Doctor could find some missing components for the TARDIS (DW: An Unearthly Child); as later revealed, he was also finding a hiding place for the Hand of Omega, although this fact was not obvious at the time (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)
Two teachers, Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton from Coal Hill School, tracked Susan down to a junkyard in 76 Totter's Lane, where the Doctor and Susan had left the TARDIS. Afraid they would expose him, the Doctor kidnapped the teachers. The TARDIS dematerialised and landed in 100,000 BC. (DW: An Unearthly Child)
The Doctor remained unable to effectively pilot the TARDIS. Subsequently, the Doctor, Susan, Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright travelled throughout the Universe, trying to find a way back to 1963 Earth.
In London during the time of the 22nd century Dalek invasion, Susan met David Campbell, a young resistance fighter against the Daleks. Recognising that Susan had matured from girl to woman, the Doctor left her behind. (DW: The Dalek Invasion of Earth)
He apparently succumbed to old age after his first meeting with the Cybermen, stating that "this old body is wearing a bit thin." Fortunately, the Doctor was able to return to the TARDIS in time to begin the regeneration process for the first time, transforming him into a new, younger body. (DW: The Tenth Planet)
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, The Tenth Planet) or a Panama hat (DW: The Chase, The Daleks' Master Plan). He also sometimes wore a cape (DW: Planet of Giants, The War Machines). Like his fifth incarnation, he sometimes used half-moon reading glasses (DW: The Time Meddler, The Daleks' Master Plan, The War Machines). He also occasionally employed a walking stick (DW: The Five Doctors), which sometimes made an effective weapon. (DW: The Chase) He also wore a blue signet ring which had special, if ill-defined, powers. (DW: The Daleks' Master Plan, The Power of the Daleks) However, on one occasion, the ring appeared to both facilitate hypnotism and protect the Doctor from electrical shock. (DW: The War Machines)
When adventuring in Earth's past, this version 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, The Reign of Terror, The Crusade) 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)
A mysterious character, the Doctor progressed from selfish anti-hero to a more noble figure, defending truth and the innocent. He was by turns casually disdainful yet formally gracious; easily exhausted while walking yet almost gleeful during a physical confrontation; seemingly wise yet prone to mistakes borne of arrogance and rash judgment.During this phase in his life, the Doctor was irascible, a brilliant but often short-tempered scientist. He refused to bend his knee to the Kublai Khan, giving rheumatic knees as the reason. (DW: Marco Polo). He would get particularly snappish with those who doubted the TARDIS could actually travel through space and time. He had no problem hitting a Viking when his own life was threatened. (DW: An Unearthly Child, DW: The Time Meddler)
At first he had a particularly selfish and duplicitous attitude. Having contempt for mere humans, he regarded them as primitives. He abducted Barbara and Ian against their will and set the TARDIS console to shock Ian into unconsciousness. Arguably, he even contemplated killing the mortally wounded Za so that he would not slow down the Doctor's party. (DW: An Unearthly Child) The Doctor also deliberately removed the TARDIS' fluid link so that he would have an excuse to explore the Dalek City on Skaro. (DW: The Daleks)
As time went on, however, he displayed great wisdom and a kind heart. Perhaps due to his age, he seemed more frail than his later incarnations. He also appeared somewhat absent-minded, but this may have been exaggerated to make his enemies underestimate him. The Doctor would, when pressed, resort to fisticuffs with an effectiveness which belied his age. (DW: The Romans, DW: The Chase) He claimed that a professional wrestler, the Mountain Mauler of Montana, had taught him some effective moves. (DW: The Romans)
Unlike his successors, he was often as reliant upon his companions as they were upon him—many times it was Ian or Steven who saved the day. Nonetheless, the First Doctor possessed an aura of power and intelligence which was impossible to ignore.
He often returned to Earth at various times in its history, apparently motivated by historical curiosity rather than a desire to preserve it against alien invaders. On his voyages to other planets, he was again motivated as much by curiosity as by a desire to help them.
It is notable that all of his future incarnations have a noticeably profound respect for the First Doctor, so much so that they dare not question his judgment. In DW: The Three Doctors the Time Lords used this to their advantage when the Second and Third Doctor were found incapable of working together. Even the First Doctor's presence on the TARDIS' monitor gave off enough authoritative aura to convince the Second and Third Doctor to work in harmony.
In DW: The Five Doctors the original Doctor again shows 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. These multiple-Doctor stories also seem to hint that regeneration comes with the cost of gaps in memory and intelligence as the First Doctor is often shown to be wiser, more intelligent, and quick witted than his future incarnations.
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. However, he found it difficult (or pretended to find it difficult) to remember Ian's last name. The TARDIS required expert piloting and guidance by the Doctor. Its systems often broke down, including the navigational systems. This would explain the difficulty the Doctor encountered in returning to 1963 London in order to return Ian and Barbara to their lives. The Doctor consulted a small handbook. The Doctor never even hinted at the nature of his own origins, other than to state that he and the Monk originated on the same world and to hint that Susan and himself were exiles from the same place and time. (DW: An Unearthly Child)
Mysteries and Discrepancies
Family and relationship to Susan
As mentioned above, one account explains that the Doctor rescued Lady Larna, a young Time Lady from the Doctor's own time, who he later called Susan. (RT: Birth of a Renegade) Another contradictory account states that the Doctor had gone back in time to the Dark Times of Gallifrey to pick up both the Other's granddaughter and the Hand of Omega from that time period. (NA: Lungbarrow)
This incarnation of the Doctor seemed unfamiliar with the Daleks, and seemed eager to explore their homeworld Skaro (DW: The Daleks). And yet he had, by this time, hidden away the Hand of Omega away on 1963 Earth, as part of an ongoing plan to defeat them. (DW: Remembrance of the Daleks)
- This is the only incarnation ever known to smoke, specifically a pipe (DW: An Unearthly Child).
- When the Doctor, Vicki, Barbara and Ian 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 stolen (EDA: The Gallifrey Chronicles) (DW: Planet of the Dead (TV story)); it has also been suggested that the TARDIS was grown, rather than built (DW: Rise of the Cybermen, The Impossible Planet). While the TARDIS could have been both grown and stolen, it is difficult to see how it could also have been built by the Doctor. Susan has made the claim that she coined the acronym TARDIS (DW: An Unearthly Child), leading to the possibility that the Doctor was somehow involved with the development of the TARDIS. The Eighth Doctor revealed that he had made various additions to the TARDIS in The Taking of Planet 5 to replace the need for a direct symbiotic link to control the TARDIS and thus make it harder for the Time Lords to find him, suggesting that, while the Doctor did not build the TARDIS from the beginning, he made significant alterations to it after it came into his possession.
- The computer WOTAN referred to the Doctor as "Doctor Who". Exactly why the computer would give the Doctor this name when he is never referred to as such is unknown. (DW: The War Machines)
- See separate article.
- The matter of this incarnation's age and how long this incarnation lived is unclear.
- See The Doctor's age.
Key Life Events
- Exiled (or escapes) from Gallifrey with his granddaughter, Susan, and a TARDIS. (DW: An Unearthly Child)
- Arrives on Earth in 1963 and sets up a home in London, hiding the TARDIS in a scrapyard. (DW: An Unearthly Child) During this time, the Doctor hides the Hand of Omega (DW: Remembrance of the Daleks)
- Kidnaps Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright and takes them away from earth. (DW: An Unearthly Child)
- Meets the Daleks for the first time (DW: The Daleks)
- Begins to accept the idea of travelling with non-Gallifreyan companions. (DW: The Edge of Destruction, et al)
- Leaves Susan to live out her life on Earth with David Campbell (DW: The Dalek Invasion of Earth)
- Gains a new companion, Vicki (DW: The Rescue)
- Returns Ian and Barbara to their homeworld and era, having long made peace with them for kidnapping them; immediately gains a new companion in Steven Taylor. (DW: The Chase)
- Meets the Mechanoids and is taken prisoner by them but escapes.
- Encounters The Meddling Monk, another Time Lord, for the first time. (DW: The Time Meddler)
- Through Time Lord intervention, encounters his Second and Third incarnations. (DW: The Three Doctors)
- Vicki leaves to make her place in human history; Katarina, believing the Doctor to be a god, joins him in his travels. (DW: The Myth Makers)
- During a single tragic adventure, suffers the death of two companions, Katarina and Sara Kingdom. (DW: The Daleks' Master Plan) and the death of friend Bret Vyon.
- Relationship with Steven Taylor begins to break down, with Steven leaving the TARDIS in anger, only to soon return. Dodo Chaplet accidentially joins the TARDIS crew. (DW: The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve)
- Steven Taylor leaves the TARDIS, this time for good, in order to help rebuild a civilization. (DW: The Savages)
- Dodo Chaplet is forced to stay on Earth due to injury; the Doctor gains two new companions, Polly and Ben Jackson (DW: The War Machines)
- Meets the Cybermen for the first time, an encounter that physically drains the increasingly frail Doctor. (DW: The Tenth Planet)
- Collapses in the TARDIS and regenerates for the first time. (DW: The Tenth Planet)
Behind the Scenes
Actors considered for the role of the Doctor (not the "first" at this point) included Geoffrey Bayldon, Cyril Cusack, Hugh David and Alan Webb. 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.