DOCTOR WHO: Hartnell & Capaldi - Two Of A Kind

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Christopher Morley compares the many similarities between the First and Twelfth Doctors.


With the arrival of Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor, could it be time to go back to where it all began, in a sense? He is, after all, the ' first' in a new cycle of regenerations...throw in the fact he'll be returning to Coal Hill School & have two teachers, Clara Oswald & Danny Pink, as companions & you'd be forgiven for experiencing a little temporal deja vu! For that's exactly the situation William Hartnell's First Doctor found himself in that fateful first Saturday tea-time's worth of Who ( An Unearthly Child).

Throw in Danny's little sister, Courtney, potentially coming aboard & Twelve could have himself a Susan-surrogate. Treat yourself to a little refresher course, or if you've not seen the original start of 50 years' worth of time/space travelogues ( you'll see why a re-shoot was ordered) enjoy that first stopover in I.M Foreman's scrapyard...



Ian Chesterton & Barbara Wright were, of course, the first to swap the classroom for what looked like a Fifties police box. Unlike them though, Clara knows rather a lot more than they did, having been splintered throughout all the Doctor's past lives, including meeting the First moments before he made the decision to leave Gallifrey...



Her forebears were aboard when he left Totter's Lane for the Stone Age, though...



We might also stop to take a look at their initial personalities. When we meet the Doctor that first time he's wary, curmudgeonly. In effect his companions teach him humanity- Ian stopping him whacking a caveman over the head with a rock is probably the defining moment of their journey to the dawn of man. From then on he becomes more like the stereotypical Earthly grandfather, adding a little warmth to the mix.

Could there be parallels with his newest incarnation here? We've been promised the most alien of the lot when he makes his big d├ębut in Deep Breath, raising the possibility that Clara & the Paternoster Gang might have to pull a Chesterton & do for him what Ian did for his earliest self ( helped by a very special cameo if rumours are true)!

Turning to the matter of how they'll both get from temporal point A to B, its worth noting that both the First & Twelfth appear baffled by the workings of the TARDIS in their initial adventures. The newest Doctor forgets how to fly the thing, while the First doesn't appear very knowledgeable about its workings even if it/she did ' steal' him to escape & see the universe alongside her ' beautiful idiot' ( The Doctor's Wife). We even get a handy explanation as to just why its stuck in police box form- the chameleon circuit's broken.

If that weren't enough, the third story of Season 1 offers us the first chance to see more of the machine the Doctor will later dub ' Sexy'. The Edge Of Destruction is set entirely within the transdimensionally engineered walls of the TARDIS, as the ship offers a first demonstration of its sentience- attempting to warn Gallifrey's youngest grandpa & chums that something's wrong. Years before Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS, there was this...



And the cause of all the trouble? The Fast Return Switch was stuck all along! Happily it gets sorted in time for the first ' pure historical', which arrives in the form of Marco Polo.......

A glance at the ring fingers of both these incarnations of the Time Lord reveals another similarity...


The First's signet ring was shown to have several special functions beyond being a natty piece of finger adornment. Whether handy power supplier & Zarbi controller ( The Web Planet, which incidentally Peter Capaldi remembers very well. Note also the clever pinching of that lapel gesture at his unveiling), TARDIS locking mechanism unjammer ( The Daleks' Master Plan), or protection against electric shocks ( The War Machines) it could do a fair bit. Turning to Capaldi's ring finger...


...whether Twelve will need it to do any of the above once more nobody knows as yet, but it could be a nice nod to the Hartnell years! Whether there's any room for the brooch Cameca gave him in The Aztecs as well is another one to mull over.




Early indications seem to show the Twelfth as going ' into darkness', suggesting a flinty personality- more common ground with the First. He could be brilliantly rude when irked, which might allow Capaldi the chance to make the best of certain qualities of his foul-mouthed spin doctor Malcolm Tucker, of The Thick Of It. Of course he won't be allowed to swear, but anyone who enjoyed the political satire will have noted his big, bulgy-eyed raging stare well before The Time Of The Doctor.



Watch his body language in the role of Tucker & you might just see why his co-star Chris Addison has said Peter will be brilliant as the Doctor-
"I think they’ve all been great since it came back. But what I’ve really missed is the mercurial, unknowable, frightening side of the Doctor. And Peter will give it that, I bet you anything. He looks like he has seen the twelve hundred years of the Doctor’s existence."
Its also worth noting that first Who producer Verity Lambert cast Bill Hartnell as the First off the back of his performances as older sergeant- majourly types ( take a look at him in The Army Game or Carry On Sergeant for the best examples of that).



The event is re-staged in Mark Gatiss's An Adventure In Space & Time, the Doctor sold to Billy as ' HG Wells meets Father Christmas'. Can any of us say we've had the man who tried to be old & important in his youth fall down the chimney at Yuletide yet? Regardless, its not too much of a leap to suggest that the man who, in his own words, watched him from ' year dot' might have remembered rather a lot of those Saturday evenings in front of the telly in the early Sixties.
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