DOCTOR WHO - The most memorable cliffhangers of the 60s - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

Home Top Ad

Post Top Ad

DOCTOR WHO - The most memorable cliffhangers of the 60s

Wil serves up another collection of classic Doctor Who cliffhangers, this time it's the turn of the first two Doctors, William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton.

The cliffhanger served the purpose of making sure everyone came back for the following episode, and although there were some very solid ones during the 1960s often the resolution the next week would be a little unsatisfactory (this could be true of later eras, but I don't feel it happened with the same frequency as the 60s).

Now if I'd had the chance to watch these episodes live then no doubt I'd feel different, but watching them on video and DVD with mere seconds, instead of 7 full days, between episodes gives you a completely different perspective of the story.

Still, we are looking at memorable cliffhangers, and for me these are the ones that always come to mind from the William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton years.

An Unearthly Child - Episode 1
Here's a perfect example of my point above. Watching this episode live in 1963 must have been amazing. After some impressive special effects (for the time of course) the TARDIS leaves the 20th Century and materialises on a barren landscape. Then this weird elongated monster shadow appears. "Blimey Guv'nor. Those chaps have got 'emseves in a right ol' palaver, and no mistakin.'" people up and down the country no doubt commented. Seven days of worrying that some long-necked monster creature was going to attack our newly discovered heroes. But it turned out to be the shadow of a regular shaped caveman, just misshapen from the studio lighting.

The Daleks - Episode 1
Now this is more like it. The first truly amazing cliffhanger Doctor Who delivered, along with a game changing reveal. This still takes some beating today, if I was putting these all in order this cliffhanger would be right behind The Caves Of Androzani (episode 3) for me. It was so cleverly done, with the camera taking the POV of the Dalek itself. As Barbara reaches a dead-end we get our first glimpse of a Dalek's 'arm' and Barbara's piercing scream. If they'd been using the 'cliffhanger sting' back in 1963 then I've no doubt children across the country would've been in need of fresh pants at 5.40pm that day.

The Dalek Invasion of Earth - Episode 1
Another Dalek cliffhanger - it won't be the last! After arriving in a post-apocalyptic London, the Doctor and Ian are having a spot of bother with some Robomen, they try and make a run for it but as they turn round the familiar shape of a Dalek rises from the River Thames. Dun, dun, dah......

The Tenth Planet - Episode 4
How could I not include this? The first "Whuck?" moment in Doctor Who. Honestly, could anyone have predicted that the Doctor was capable of changing his appearance like that? This is arguably the most important cliffhanger in the history of Doctor Who. If they'd just replaced the actor without explanation (as was the plan at one time), would the show have survived much longer? Maybe not. This 'rejuvenation' injected new mystery into the character of the Doctor, and kept the country interested.

The Power Of The Daleks - Episode 4
Until CGI bought us huge armies of pepper-pots, Dalek stories featured no more than a handful of Davros' finest creations - budgets being what they were, you see! Sometimes the Beeb got round this with some clever editing, or a well placed mirror, but the Power of the Daleks went one further and introduced a Dalek production line, capable of cranking out dozens of them.

The Tomb Of The Cybermen - Episode 2
After a whole army of Cybermen are thawed-out from their cold storage tomb on the planet Telos, the Cyber-Controller announces that all the humans, the Doctor and Jamie included, belong to the Cybermen. Th camera goes to a close up on his face, as the metallic voice announces "You shall be like us."

The Mind Robber - Episode 1
Something for the Dads! The Mind Robber is a strange little story, elements are just plain farcical but episode 1 presents a tremendous cliffhanger. After the TARDIS explodes, the Doctor, Jaimie and Zoe are left floating in a black void, clinging on to bits of the ship - kinda like James Cameron's Titanic 30 years later! Before she screams her little lungs out, Zoe's lycra clad arse lingers on the screen a little longer than she'd probably have liked, but the Dads across the country weren't complaining "Cor blimey Guv'nor, she's a right fine piece of crumpet and no mistaking" they probably announced, whilst sucking on a Fisherman's Friend and stuffing a pipe full of 'Baccie'.

The War Games - Episodes 9 and 10
I'd argue that The War Games is the only Doctor Who serial that is more than 4 installments long which doesn't feel like it needs a good trim. And yet, after 8 great episodes, they sure saved the best for last. Episode 9's cliffhanger teases the introduction of the Doctor's own race, after he realises that he has no choice but to contact the Time Lords for help. It all goes into slow motion, and the Doctor passes out whilst trying to get into the TARDIS.

Then there's episode 10, where the Time Lords sentence the Doctor to exile on Earth, and induce a regeneration. It's a truly memorable cliffhanger as Patrick Troughton's face spins around a black screen, it's part Phantom Zone from Superman and part Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, and it's quite creepy. Imagine having to wait 6 and a half months to discover he'd turned into a Dandy!

Well that's my memorable cliffhangers from the 1960s, what ones always spring to mind for you? 


The 1970s
The 1980s

Follow Wil on Twitter

Post Top Ad