Sunday, March 24, 2013

William Hartnell (career biography)


William Hartnell (The Doctor) Jan 8 1908 to Apr 23 1975 (heart failure after a series of strokes)

Doctor Who credits
Played: The Doctor in 100,000 BC, The Daleks, Inside the Spaceship, Marco Polo, The Keys of Marinus, The Aztecs, The Sensorites, The Reign of Terror, Planet of Giants, The Dalek Invasion of Earth, The Rescue, The Romans, The Web Planet, The Crusade, The Space Museum, The Chase, The Time Meddler, Galaxy 4, The Myth Makers, The Daleks' Master Plan, The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve, The Ark, The Celestial Toymaker, The Gunfighters, The Savages, The War Machines, The Smugglers, The Tenth Planet (1963-66).
William also made a return appearance in The Three Doctors (1972-73), and appeared in archive footage/ images in The Power of the Daleks (1966), Earthshock (1982), Mawdryn Undead (1983), The Five Doctors (1983), Resurrection of the Daleks (1984), The Next Doctor (2008), The Eleventh Hour (2010), The Lodger (2010), The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Death of the Doctor (2010), The Name of the Doctor (2013) and The Day of the Doctor (2013).
Played: The Abbot of Amboise in The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve (1966).

Pictures of a young William Hartnell (click to enlarge)

Career

William made his screen debut at the age of 24 in the British and Dominions Film Corporation's musical Say It With Music (inspired by Irving Berlin's famous song), released theatrically in November 1932. The 69-minute production starred bandleader Jack Payne, along with Percy Marmont, Evelyn Roberts, Sybil Summerfield, Anna Lee and Joyce Kennedy, and was directed by Jack Raymond. The only footage known to exist in the public domain is a poor quality trailer, which thankfully does feature William, albeit briefly. The picture quality is very poor, but if you look at the gentleman on the right providing harmonies during I'll Do My Best to Make You Happy (1m 03s), it's unmistakably Mr Hartnell!


William's next film gave him top billing. Called I'm an Explosive, this "quota quickie" was released in March 1933 by Nettlefold Studios and co-starred Gladys Jennings, Eliot Makeham, D A Clarke-Smith and Sybil Grove. The 50-minute comedy was written and directed by Adrian Brunel, based upon Gordon Phillips's novel, and William played Edward Whimperley, an inventor's son who unwittingly swallows a liquid explosive. The short was quite a hit, but sadly did not make William the star he wished for just yet. However, it's interesting to note how much more like the man we came to know he looks in this photo - quite a difference to the unruly-haired crooner in Say It With Music!

Hartnell, aged 25, in I'm an Explosive
Continuing his working relationship with Adrian Brunel, William co-starred once again with D A Clarke-Smith in the same year's Follow the Lady, which concerned a Frenchwoman (Marguerite Allan) attempting to blackmail a wealthy man. William played Mike Martindale. I can't find any footage or even pictures from this 49-minute "quota quickie", so if you're aware of any, please leave a comment!

William's third and final project in 1933 was in the August, The Lure, a 65-minute crime romance co-starring Anne Grey, Cyril Raymond, Alec Fraser and Philip Clarke, directed by Arthur Maude and based upon a play by J W Sabben-Clare. William played Billy. Again, I can't find any archival evidence of this production.

D A Clarke-Smith
In 1934 William appeared as Vickers in the 50-minute crime short The Perfect Flaw, co-starring his old friend D A Clarke-Smith, along with Naomi Waters, Ralph Truman, Wally Patch and Charles Carson. This was distributed by Ealing Films and concerned a clerk's foiled attempt to murder a stockbroker. Again, I can find no material to illustrate this film, but as an aside, pictured left, is William's regular (at this point) co-star D A Clarke-Smith. Born in Scotland in 1888, he made his first screen appearance in 1929 and worked pretty solidly until his death in 1959, aged 70, which means he sadly never got to see his old pal Billy play Doctor Who. Not sure what the "D A" stood for - sometimes he was credited as Douglas, others as Dick.

There was also the 63-minute comedy Swinging the Lead, in which William played Freddy Fordum, a member of a criminal gang which sells a drug that changes people's personalities (don't all drugs?). His co-stars were Moira Lynd, Gibb McLaughlin and Marie Ault.

Released in February 1934, again for British and Dominions, was Seeing is Believing, a 70-minute crime caper co-starring Gus McNaughton, Faith Bennett, Vera Bogetti and Fewlass Llewellyn, in which William played Ronald Gibson.

William went uncredited in November 1935's Gaumont picture The Guv'nor (aka Mr Hobo in the US), in which George Arliss played a British tramp who is accidentally mistaken for a member of the Rothschild family, and is made a bank director. The film was quite a big success, so much so that it was re-released in the UK in 1944 and 1949. William played a car salesman in the film.

In 1935 William started to go by the professional name of Billy Hartnell, a credit he kept on and off for the next decade. This new moniker made its debut in December 1935's Old Faithful, a 67-minute drama starring Horace Hodges and Glennis Lorimer, as well as Wally Patch, who he'd appeared alongside in the previous year's The Perfect Flaw. However, William had only a minor role in a film concerning a stubborn taxi driver who refuses to give up his old horse even though his business is being taken from him by modern day car drivers. After a short period appearing to climb the career ladder, this fall was a blow to William's profile.

While Parents Sleep was released in February 1936 and featured William in the small role of George, alongside Wally Patch once more, and stars Jean Gillie, Ellis Jeffreys, Enid Stamp-Taylor and Mackenzie Ward. This was another project directed by Adrian Brunel, based on Anthony Kimmins's hit West End play, and is a rare example of one of the director's films surviving to the present day (it was actually made at the same time as, and in the neighbouring studio to, Citizen Kane). However, there's no footage online, although (just for historical interest) there is a filmed excerpt of the stage play from 1932 by British Pathe from London's Royalty Theatre. The scene does not feature the character of George, sadly, so we're no closer to finding out what sort of role William played in the movie version.

Parisian Life (1936) was a French English-language musical starring Max Dearly, Tyrell Davis and Austin Trevor, as well as Neil Hamilton (best known 30 years later as Commissioner Gordon in the Batman TV series). It was based on the 1866 operetta La Vie parisienne by Ludovic Halevy and Jacques Offenbach. In August 1936 came The Crimson Circle, starring Hugh Wakefield, Alfred Drayton, Niall McGinnis and June Duprez, based on Edgar Wallace's 1922 novel. Again, William was in a minor role. Another uncredited performance came in March 1936's The Shadow of Mike Emerald, with Leslie Perrins in the title role.

Also in 1936 was Nothing Like Publicity, a 64-minute comedy again co-starring Moira Lynd, as well as Max Adrian, who would later appear as King Priam in the Hartnell Doctor Who story The Myth Makers (1965). It was another "quota quickie" directed by Maclean Rogers, with William in the role of Pat Spencer.

William Hartnell and Patrick Barr in
Midnight at the Wax Museum
In June 1937, William (or Billy) played Stubbs in Midnight at the Wax Museum (aka Midnight at Madame Tussaud's), in which an explorer (played by James Carew) bets he can spend the night in Madame Tussaud's Chamber of Horrors. Meanwhile, a bunch of crooks tries to exploit his ward, Carol (Lucille Lisle), for her riches. The film co-starred Patrick Barr, who would later appear in Doctor Who himself, in the Troughton story The Moonbase (1967), and he can be seen here sharing a taxi with Hartnell. William was 29 here, and Patrick Barr was just a month younger! William's role is the comedy turn in the film, but it's also interesting to see how Madame Tussaud's looked in the 1930s, including a gruesome torture chamber!

After a minor uncredited role in the Leslie Banks and Flora Robson vehicle Troopship (1937), William's next role was a bus conductor in They Drive by Night, released in June 1939. It starred Emlyn Williams, Ernest Thesiger and Simon Lack (The Androids of Tara, 1978) and concerned a released convict getting implicated in a murder and going on the run. William has a very small role, which is unfortunately not seen in close-up and is quite dimly lit, but he can be seen (complete with Cockney accent) at 14m 44s.


In August 1939, just a few weeks before Britain declared war on Germany, the Sebastian Shaw vehicle Too Dangerous to Live was released. William only has a bit part in the film, but that same month he also appeared in the Jack Hawkins crime drama Murder Will Out, playing the character Dick. Sadly, this film no longer exists, and is actually one of the 75 most wanted films listed by the British Film Institute.

Wally Patch (1888-1970)
 co-starred in many of William
Hartnell's early films
It is thought William has an uncredited role in 1940's They Came By Night, but this is unconfirmed (although it does feature his old pal Wally Patch!). In February 1941's propagandist A Voice in the Night (aka Freedom Radio), William plays a radio operator. The movie was based upon a scenario partly written by Roland Pertwee (Third Doctor Jon Pertwee's father!).

In June 1942, William played Saunders in Suspected Person, a crime thriller in which an innocent man discovers some stolen money and is then chased by both the robbers and the police. It starred Clifford Evans, Patricia Roc and David Farrar, as well as Robert Beatty, who would go on to appear as General Cutler in William Hartnell's final Doctor Who story, The Tenth Planet, in 1966. Although William does not feature, here's a brief scene with Beatty released to publicise Network's DVD release in 2016.

After a couple more uncredited roles in 1942's Flying Fortress (as Gaylord Parker!) and the Will Hay comedy The Goose Steps Out (as a German officer), William played Scotty in They Flew Alone (aka Wings and the Woman), a biopic of Amy Johnson starring Anna Neagle, Robert Newton and Nora Swinburne.

William's last role for 1942 was as engineer Jacob Digby in the hour-long wartime whodunnit Sabotage at Sea (and hello to Wally Patch again!), while his next role was in The Peterville Diamond, released in early January 1943 and starring Renee Houston, Donald Stewart and Anne Crawford. It was a comedy in which the ignored wife of an industrialist hatches a plan to make him pay more attention to her. William (here credited as Bill) played Joseph. Amusingly, William tries on a tiara for size in this film!

William as Joseph in The Peterville Diamond

William as Brookes in The Bells
Go Down (1943)
In May 1943 William got to co-star with Tommy Trinder and an up-and-coming James Mason in The Bells Go Down, in which popular comedian Trinder actually plays it straight for once in a tribute to the wartime Auxiliary Fire Service. William plays Brookes, a veteran of the International Fire Brigade who has experienced the Spanish Civil War and saw their air raids on Madrid. Brookes acts as a stabilising rock to the troop of men being trained up for the AFS in London's East End. It's interesting that William was only 35 at this time but was already being cast in authoritative roles seemingly older than his true years.

William as Jim Towers in
The Dark Tower (1943)
October 1943 saw William play Jim Towers in the thriller The Dark Tower, directed by John Harlow and starring Anne Crawford, David Farrar, Ben Lyon and a mesmerisingly handsome but dangerous Herbert Lom. The film concerned a struggling circus which finds salvation in the form of an exciting new twist on their high-wire act. You can watch the whole film on YouTube here.

Next up was Headline, again directed by John Harlow and again featuring Anne Crawford and David Farrar, a film about a crime reporter who begins to investigate the disappearance of his boss's wife, who had been a witness to murder. Farrar plays reporter Brookie who is in a race against time with other news organisations to get the story, and William plays Dell, one of the rival journalists.

June 1945's The Way Ahead is one of the first films in which William really made a lasting impact, and it's also where his military typecasting may originate. Directed by Carol Reed, co-written for the screen by Peter Ustinov, and starring David Niven, Stanley Holloway and James Donald, the film is about a group of hopeless infantry conscripts during World War Two who are knocked into shape by their sergeant and lieutenant, before being stationed in North Africa. That sergeant is Ned Fletcher, played by William, alongside Niven as Lt Jim Perry. This film was for many years used as a training film for recruits at Sandhurst, the British Army's officer training school. You can watch the whole film on YouTube here.

William as Sgt Ned Fletcher in The Way Ahead (1945)

William had a starring role in his next film, Strawberry Roan, adapted from the 1932 novel by A G Street. William plays Chris Lowe, a farmer who marries beautiful chorus girl Molly (played by Carol Raye) and tries to help her become more settled on the farm by buying her a calf to look after. However, Molly begins to spend their money so quickly that Chris goes broke. Feeling guilty, Molly runs away on a horse, suffers a fatal fall and leaves her widower destitute and overcome with guilt. Not the happiest of tales! Also featuring in the cast were Kynaston Reeves, singer Petula Clark as well as Joan Young, who would later play Catherine de Medici in the Hartnell Doctor Who story The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve (1966). There was also a role for Walter Fitzgerald, who played Senex in the Troughton story The Dominators (1968). Unfortunately, this film is tricky to come by, which is a shame as it is a rare example of William in a headlining film of his own.

William as Chris Lowe in Strawberry Roan

William as firebrand socialist Peter
Pettinger in The Agitator (1945)
In September 1945 - the month World War Two came to an end - William had another of his own starring vehicles in The Agitator, co-starring future Dad's Army star John Laurie, Moira Lister and Mary Morris (Kinda, 1983), and again directed by John Harlow. Here, William plays fiery socialist Peter Pettinger, who inherits ownership of a major firm and begins wrestling with his beliefs. Amusingly, the opening credits feature William in silhouette, wearing a hat, and looking for the all the world like he's doing a Michael Jackson impression! You can see these titles, and the first 15 minutes of the film, on YouTube below...


A month later William appeared in writer/ director Montgomery Tully's Murder in Reverse (aka Query), alongside Jimmy Hanley, Dinah Sheridan (The Five Doctors, 1983), Petula Clark (again) and Kynaston Reeves (again!). William plays dock worker Tom Masterick who is wrongly convicted of murdering a London crimelord. His death sentence is commuted to a long-term jail sentence, and while in prison he learns that the gangster is not really dead, but merely wanted to "disappear" and so framed him for a murder that never happened. When he is released as an old man, Tom vows to have his revenge and kill the crimelord - hence, murder in reverse! It's a great premise and is another example of William playing older than his then 37 years. There's no footage of the film to be found, but these two publicity pictures show William as a young, and then an older, man...



William as Leo "the Lion" Martin in
Appointment with Crime (1946)
In Appointment with Crime (1946), again written and directed by John Harlow, William plays Leo Martin, an ex-con framed for a jewel robbery who seeks revenge on the friends who let him down. The film again co-stars Robert Beatty (The Tenth Planet, 1966), as well as Herbert Lom, the ubiquitous Wally Patch, Raymond Lovell and Alan Wheatley, who William would meet again in the 1963/64 Doctor Who story The Dead Planet, which introduced the Daleks, with Wheatley as Temmosus, leader of the peaceful Thals. You can watch the first four minutes on YouTube below...


Next came the British film noir Odd Man Out (1947), another film directed by The Way Ahead's Carol Reed, this time starring James Mason, Robert Newton, Cyril Cusack, Fay Compton and (again!) Robert Beatty. William is Fencie, landlord of a saloon bar which harbours Mason's wounded main character for a time. Although the bar set was filmed in England, it was based upon the real Crown Bar in Belfast, and exterior filming took place on location in West Belfast. The film did phenomenally well: as well as winning a BAFTA for Best British Film, it was nominated for an Oscar for Fergus McDonell's editing, and Reed was nominated for the Grand International Award at that year's Venice Film Festival. Roman Polanski has also cited it as his favourite movie. You can watch the full film on YouTube; William first appears at 1hr 17m.

William as Fencie the landlord in Odd Man Out (1947)

William as Jim Brown on the
poster for Temptation Harbour
Also in 1947, William appeared in director Lance Comfort's Temptation Harbour, about a signalman (played by Robert Newton again) at a dockside who sees a fight between two men. He witnesses one of the men pushed into the water, and although he cannot save him, he decides to keep his suitcase, inside which he finds £5,000 in bank notes. William plays Jim Brown, the man who pushes the other into the water. Coincidentally, Lance Comfort was also nominated for the Grand International Award at 1947's Venice Film Festival (as Carol Reed was for William's previous film, Odd Man Out - maybe William was good luck to have in your film?). Although I cannot find any footage of this film, William can be seen looking pretty villainous on an American film poster for it.

William's next film, released in December 1947, is a major landmark in his career - playing Dallow in John Boulting's Brighton Rock, adapted from the Graham Greene novel. Starring Richard Attenborough, Hermione Baddeley and Nigel Stock (Time-Flight, 1982), the film tells the story of small-town hoodlum Pinkie Brown whose gang runs a protection racket at Brighton racecourse. William's character Dallow is a member of that gang who rails against Pinkie's criminal ways, and finally alerts the police about his murderous intentions. The film also featured Alan Wheatley (The Dead Planet, 1963/64) and, of course, Wally Patch!

You can just recognise William in this
publicity shot for Brighton Rock at the
Garrick Theatre in 1944
William had played the part of Dallow in the stage version at London's Garrick Theatre in 1943-44, reprising it here to great acclaim (the film was remade in 2010 with Nonso Anozie as Dallow - fittingly, Nonso provided the voice of Hydroflax in the 2015 Doctor Who Christmas special, The Husbands of River Song). And if you listen to Morrissey's 1994 song Now My Heart is Full, you'll hear characters from the film mentioned in the refrain ("Dallow, Spicer, Pinkie, Cubitt, rush to danger, end up nowhere"). You can see William punch Pinkie to the ground in this very brief clip ("I told you not to touch that girl, didn't I?)...


Patrick Troughton and William Hartnell
in 1948's Escape. William was 40, Patrick
was only 28
In May 1948, William appeared as Inspector Harris in the film noir Escape, directed by Joseph L Mankiewicz and starring Rex Harrison as an escaped convict who goes on the run with a local girl (Dora, played by Peggy Cummins). Also on the cast list was Maurice Denham (The Twin Dilemma, 1984) and Stephen Jack (Terror of the Autons, 1971). However, most significantly, the man who would, in 1966, play the Second Doctor Who following William's departure - Patrick Troughton - also appeared, as shepherd Jim. Sadly, the two Doctors do not share a scene, although there is a rather amusing moment when Rex Harrison's Matt Denant says to Troughton: "Be a good fellow, won't you, and go get a doctor?". You can watch the whole film on YouTube here (Troughton appears at 54m 20s).


In May 1949, director Gordon Parry's Now Barabbas was released, which saw William play Warder Jackson. The film starred Richard Greene, Cedric Hardwicke, Kathleen Harrison, Richard Burton and Kenneth More, and told the story of the various inmates at a prison overseen by Hardwicke. Others in the cast included Leslie Dwyer (Carnival of Monsters, 1973) and Harry Fowler (Remembrance of the Daleks, 1988).

William (centre) as Jackson in Now Barabbas
This cartoon of William with Dennis
Price accompanied a review of The Lost
People in Punch in 1949
In August 1949's The Lost People, William plays Sgt Barnes in another film starring his Brighton Rock friend Richard Attenborough. The cast list also includes Mai Zetterling, who although never in Doctor Who, was married between 1944-53 to the Norwegian actor Tutte Lemkow, who actually appeared in no fewer than three of William's Doctor Who stories (Marco Polo, 1964; The Crusade, 1965; and The Myth Makers, 1965), as well as choreographing the dancing dolls in The Celestial Toymaker (1966). Also playing a part was Olaf Pooley (Inferno, 1970), as well as Herbert Lom and Carry On legend Charles Hawtrey! Although I don't have any images or footage from The Lost People, there is something far more interesting - a photograph of William meeting legendary director Alfred Hitchcock during the filming of the movie (not sure why!).

Hartnell meets Hitchcock!
Double Confession (1950) saw William play Charlie Durham, a local kingpin with the fabulous Peter Lorre as his henchman. The film also features Derek Farr, Joan Hopkins and Leslie Dwyer (Carnival of Monsters, 1973), and was directed by Ken Annakin. The uncredited role of Joe went to Peter Butterworth, who went on to play the meddling Monk in two of William's Doctor Who stories (1965's The Time Meddler and 1965/66's The Daleks' Master Plan). The film used to be on the British Film Institute's 75 most wanted lost films, having last been seen broadcast on ITV in 1962, but a print must have been discovered, as the film was remastered and released on DVD by Renown Pictures in 2013.

William on the
poster for The
Dark Man
Edward Underdown (Meglos, 1980) starred in 1951's The Dark Man (aka Man Detained), about a double murderer who tries to "deal" with an actress who witnessed his evil deeds. It also features Barbara Murray (Black Orchid, 1982), Harry Fowler (Remembrance of the Daleks, 1988), Norman Claridge (The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve, 1966) and Ewen Solon (The Savages, 1966), as well as the 1975 story Planet of Evil). In The Dark Man, William plays the Superintendent of Police, and although some footage of this film exists on YouTube, there's nothing with William in it, so we'll just have to settle for the drawing of him on the film's poster.

The Magic Box (1951) reunited William with his Brighton Rock director John Boulting. The film was made to form part of that year's Festival of Britain and featured a plethora of acting stars in both lead roles and cameos - Renee Asherson, Richard Attenborough, Johnny Briggs, Michael Denison, Robert Donat, Joyce Grenfell, Kathleen Harrison, Joan Hickson, Thora Hird, Stanley Holloway, Michael Hordern, Sid James, Glynis Johns, A E Matthews, Bernard Miles, Laurence Olivier, Eric Portman, Dennis Price, Michael Redgrave, Margaret Rutherford, Ernest Thesiger, Sybil Thorndike, David Tomlinson, Peter Ustinov, Emlyn Williams and Googie Withers!

William in The Magic Box (1951),
now aged 43
Doctor Who fans will be interested to know it also featured Robert Beatty (The Tenth Planet, 1966), Martin Boddey (The Sea Devils, 1972), Marius Goring (The Evil of the Daleks, 1967) and Joan Young (The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve, 1966). The film is a biographical depiction of the life of British artist and inventor William Friese-Greene, a pioneer in cinematography. William plays a recruiting sergeant in The Magic Box, responsible for enlisting Friese-Greene's sons in the Army on the eve of World War One. The film was not a great hit, but was nominated for a Best Film BAFTA.

The 1952 adaptation of Dickens's The Pickwick Papers is a perennial favourite, and although William only had a small role in it, he was part of a brilliant cast, including James Hayter in the title role, plus Joyce Grenfell, Hermione Gingold, Hermione Baddeley, Donald Wolfit, Kathleen Harrison, Athene Seyler and our old friend D A Clarke-Smith. Notable Doctor Who names include Harry Fowler (Remembrance of the Daleks, 1988), Gerald Campion (Shada, unbroadcast), Walter Fitzgerald (The Dominators, 1968), Max Adrian (The Myth Makers, 1966), Alan Wheatley (The Dead Planet, 1963-64) and Raf De La Torre (The Keys of Marinus, 1964). William plays cabbie Sam in the first five minutes of the film (3m 01s) who transports Mr Pickwick to the Golden Cross. When he spots Mr Pickwick noting down his cab number (924) and every word he says, he feels "agitated into assault" and challenges him to a punch-up! William is great in this little cameo - well worth watching!



William with Dora Bryan in The Ringer
The Ringer (1952) was an adaptation of Edgar Wallace's play directed by Guy Hamilton, and starring Herbert Lom, Donald Wolfit and Mai Zetterling, as well as Denholm Elliott, Dora Bryan and two Doctor Who luminaries - The Dominators' Walter Fitzgerald, and Campbell Singer, who had multiple roles in Hartnell's story The Celestial Toymaker (1966). William plays cheeky Cockney villain Sam Hackett, and he can be seen in Network DVD's trailer for the film here ("I want bars - bars everywhere!").

Denholm Elliott also appeared in William's next film, The Holly and the Ivy (December 1952), featuring Ralph Richardson, Celia Johnson and Margaret Leighton. It concerned an English minister and his family being reunited at Christmas time and included reminiscences of their World War Two trials and tribulations. Predictably by this point in his career, William was cast as a sergeant major who busts National Serviceman Mick (Elliott) when he tries to get back into Barracks after hours.

William as the Company sergeant major in The Holly and the Ivy
On May 11th, 1953, William appeared in his first ever television, a 45-minute recording of the Apollo Theatre production Seagulls Over Sorrento (a 1950 play by Australian Hugh Hastings), directed by Wallace Douglas and co-starring Gerald Anderson, Robert Desmond, Gordon Jackson and Nigel Stock (Time-Flight, 1982). The story concerns a group of British sailors stationed on a Scottish island engaged in top secret research on a new and dangerous torpedo. The following year the play was made into a Hollywood film called Crest of the Wave starring Gene Kelly, John Justin and Sid James, with Patrick Doonan in William's TV role of Petty Officer Herbert (tragically, Doonan was to gas himself to death in 1958). Needless to say, the TV play no longer survives. Fabulously, you can see on the right a copy of the play's flyer signed by various members of the cast, including William!

The Michael Anderson comedy Will Any Gentleman...? is something of a landmark production in William's career - and another notable Doctor Who star's! William played Detective Inspector Martin in a story about a henpecked bank clerk (played by George Cole) who lives a dreary life in suburban London. After a mix-up at a music hall, he finds himself on stage with magician Mendoza (played by Alan Badel), who hypnotises him into losing all his inhibitions! The magical thing about this film is that it also stars Third Doctor Who Jon Pertwee - and they share a scene together! Pertwee (who plays Cole's brother in the film) actually tumbles downstairs when he lays eyes on Hartnell! It's a wonderful moment in British film history when two Doctors-yet-to-be meet, Pertwee acting remarkably like Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith throughout! The film also stars Joan Sims (The Trial of a Time Lord, 1986), Peter Butterworth (the meddling Monk to Hartnell's Doctor)... and Wally Patch! You can see the Hartnell/ Pertwee footage below these images:

The First and Third Doctors (William Hartnell and Jon Pertwee)
in Will Any Gentleman...?, a decade before Doctor Who was
even invented! William was aged 45 here, Jon was 34

William in Footsteps in the Fog (1955)
In May 1955 William appeared as Christy in The Auction, written by Stanley Mann (who went on to write the screenplays for 1978's Damien: Omen II and 1984's Conan the Destroyer) and directed by Bernard Knowles. The TV play also starred Adrienne Corri (The Leisure Hive, 1980). In the same year's Footsteps in the Fog, William shared billing with some big names, including Stewart Granger, Jean Simmons and Bill Travers. He played Herbert Moresby, while Erik Chitty (The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve, 1966, and The Deadly Assassin, 1976) played Hedges. The film also features Victor Maddern (Fury from the Deep, 1968).

Another Boulting-directed film (this time Roy, not John) was next, Josephine and Men, released in early 1956 and starring Glynis Johns, Jack Buchanan, Peter Finch and Donald Sinden. When not in military roles, William was often typecast as policemen, and here he plays Detective Inspector Parsons (although in the film's credits he is called Detective Sergeant). Co-stars include Victor Maddern again, plus John Le Mesurier, Gerald Sim and... Wally Patch!

The Inward Eye, broadcast on BBC TV in November 1955, was a Joseph Liss play, starring Patricia Owens, about a blind girl who is helped back to a more normal life with the aid of people at the Guide Dog Training Centre. William played Kenyon in the play, which co-starred Llewellyn Rees (The Deadly Assassin, 1976), as well as Graham Ashley (The Underwater Menace, 1966-67).

Richard Hearne as
Mr Pastry - not the Fourth
Doctor Who!
Tons of Trouble (1956) saw William play Bert opposite Richard Hearne's TV character Mr Pastry, a bumbling old man who in this film has a fascination for two boilers at the block of flats where he is the caretaker. In his TV show, Mr Pastry was often paired against Jon Pertwee, so it's amusing that William should co-star here. It's also worth noting that Hearne was considered for the role of the Fourth Doctor after Pertwee announced his departure from Doctor Who, but as he wanted to portray the Doctor as his Mr Pastry character, producer Barry Letts dropped the idea, and cast Tom Baker instead! Richard Hearne was born in the same year and month as Hartnell, and so was aged 66 at the time casting took place for the Fourth Doctor. As Hearne died in 1979, aged 71, it presents an interesting alternative reality for Doctor Who as it moved into the 1980s! Co-stars in Tons of Trouble included William Mervyn (The War Machines, 1966) and Neil Wilson (Spearhead from Space, 1970).

William in Doublecross
Also in 1956 was Doublecross (aka Queer Fish!), headlined by Donald Houston, Fay Compton and Anton Diffring (Silver Nemesis, 1988). It concerns wily poacher Albert Pascoe (Houston) who is enlisted by enemy agents to smuggle them across Europe before they are arrested for murder. William played a water bailiff called Herbert Whiteway in just a handful of scenes. It also featured Harry Towb (The Seeds of Death, 1969, and Terror of the Autons, 1971), Colin Douglas (The Enemy of the World, 1968, and Horror of Fang Rock, 1977) and Kenneth Cope (Warriors' Gate, 1981). I can't find any footage of this film, but I'm pretty sure the picture on the right is William playing Herbert.


William as Sergeant Sutton opposite
Ian Carmichael in Private's Progress
Private's Progress (1956) got William back into Army gear to play Sergeant Sutton in a war comedy directed by John Boulting. It starred Ian Carmichael as Stanley Windrush, who is selected by his Brigadier uncle to take part in a secret operation to recover looted artwork from the Nazis. Stanley teams up with wily wideboy Private Cox (played by Richard Attenborough) who shows him all the tricks of the trade to survive in the British Army! The film was a great success, being the second most popular film at the UK box office that year, and co-starred Dennis Price, Derrick de Marney, John Le Mesurier, Terry-Thomas, Thorley Walters, Ian Bannen, Wally Patch (!) and even an uncredited Christopher Lee. Doctor Who names included Victor Maddern (Fury from the Deep, 1968), George Coulouris (The Keys of Marinus, 1964), John Harvey (The War Machines, 1966, and The Macra Terror, 1967), Glyn Houston (The Hand of Fear, 1976, and The Awakening, 1984), Frederick Jaeger (The Savages, 1966, plus Planet of Evil, 1975, and The Invisible Enemy, 1977), Peter Stephens (The Celestial Toymaker, 1966, plus The Underwater Menace (1966-67)), Llewellyn Rees (The Deadly Assassin, 1976) and Roy Purcell (The Mind of Evil, 1971, and The Three Doctors, 1972-73).

In 1957 William appeared in a half-hour comedy mystery called The Red Geranium, also featuring Betta St John and Leslie Phillips, but there is little information on this production, even down to who William played. It was shown as part of Errol Flynn's Theatre series in the USA, and was filmed at Bray Studios for Motley Films, but other than that, the piece is a bit of a mystery itself.

William with future Doctor Who guest
star Richard Todd
Michael Anderson's war film Yangtse Incident: The Story of HMS Amethyst (aka Battle Hell) was released in the summer of 1957 and saw William form a main plank as part of a solid cast which included Richard Todd (Kinda, 1982), Donald Houston and James Kenney. It also featured Richard Leech (The Sun Makers, 1977), Ewen Solon (The Savages, 1966, and Planet of Evil, 1975), Kenneth Cope (Warriors' Gate, 1981), Anne Ridler (The Wheel in Space, 1968), Cyril Luckham (the White Guardian in 1978 and 1983), Edward Dentith (The Invasion, 1968) and even Bernard Cribbins (Wilf Mott in 21st century Doctor Who, in his film debut). William played Leading Seaman (Quartermaster) Leslie Frank. As this film was based on a true story, it was decided to use the real HMS Amethyst for filming, but after a special effects explosion blew a hole in the side of the hull, the ship had to be sent to the breaker's yard, and filming continued aboard HMS Magpie (the Amethyst actually sustained more damage during filming than it did in the war!). Interestingly, HMS Teazer stood in for shots of other ships in the film, the Teazer being the ship First Doctor companion Ben Jackson is attached to when we meet him in The War Machines (1966)! Apparently, Lord Mountbatten ordered that a copy of this film was sent to every training base as it showed "without frills how an ordinary seaman behaves under stress and adversity". Here's section of the film from YouTube, in which William's character is interrupted from giving advice about extra-marital activity by an attack from the enemy...


The honest owner of a second hand car business discovers he has employed crooks on his staff in Date with Disaster (1957), starring Tom Drake as garage boss Miles Harrington and William as the tough gangster Tracey, who plans to rob the business. However, all of the crooks are distracted by the beauty that is Shirley Eaton! This film is only an hour long and co-stars Richard Shaw (The Space Museum, 1965, plus Frontier in Space (1973) and Underworld (1978)). The whole film can be seen on YouTube here...


William in Hell Drivers (1957)
The screenplay for August 1957's Hell Drivers was nominated for a BAFTA, and starred Stanley Baker, Herbert Lom, Peggy Cummins and Patrick McGoohan, with William as Cartley, the manager of Hawletts, which transports track ballast from a nearby quarry. This film boasts a plethora of British acting names, including Sid James, Jill Ireland, Alfie Bass, Gordon Jackson, David McCallum and Sean Connery. You can watch the entire film on YouTube here.

In February 1958, director Montgomery Tully released his film The Hypnotist (aka Scotland Yard Dragnet in the USA), about a test pilot (played by Paul Carpenter) who is injured in a plane crash and is taken to see a psychiatrist (Ronald Culver) by his fiancee Mary (Patricia Roc). However, the psychiatrist is unhappily married and develops a crush on Mary, and attempts to hypnotise the pilot into murdering his wife! William plays Detective Inspector Ross, another policeman character in a long line of authority figures on his CV.

William in The Hypnotist

On Boxing Day, 1957, at 9pm, ATV broadcast the 90-minute drama A Santa for Christmas, written by Sid Colin and Jimmy Grafton and directed by Brian Tesler. Although now believed to be lost, the TV film had a roll call of names, including comedian Arthur Askey, Pat Coombs, Tommy Cooper, Hughie Green, Irene Handl, Arthur Haynes, Dickie Henderson, David Jacobs, Alfred Marks, Bill Owen, Johnnie Ray, Terry-Thomas and Norman Wisdom! And of course, William Hartnell, but sadly the character he played is not known, and the TV Times described it at the time as simply "a seasonal fantasy".

In 1958 William appeared in On the Run, written by Brian Clemens and Eldon Howard, about an ex-boxer (played by Neil McCallum) fleeing gangsters for refusing to throw a fight. He helps a garage owner and his daughter to boost their business. Surprisingly, William did not play one of the gangsters, but the garage owner, Tom Casey, whose daughter Kitty was played by Susan Beaumont. I can find no footage or images from this film, so if you can help, please leave a comment!

William, here aged 50, in Carry On
Sergeant as Sgt Grimshawe
The year 1958 was the starting point for one of the most popular and successful film franchises in British history - the Carry Ons - and William was there from the outset. As he was well known for his tough Army roles, he was cast as Sergeant Grimshawe in the first ever Carry On film, Carry On Sergeant, released in August 1958. Although William would not appear in another Carry On (but Third Doctor Jon Pertwee would appear in three), he made his mark by forming the centre of the cast and featuring heavily on the film posters. Grimshawe gives new recruits Bill Owen, Charles Hawtrey, Kenneth Connor, Bob Monkhouse and Kenneth Williams a tough induction into the Army. Doctor Who names included Gerald Campion (Shada, unbroadcast), Martin Boddey (The Sea Devils, 1972), Bernard Kay (The Dalek Invasion of Earth, 1964; The Crusade, 1965; The Faceless Ones, 1967; Colony in Space, 1971), Leon Eagles (The Face of Evil, 1977), Norman Hartley (The Time Meddler, 1965; The Invasion, 1968) and even Derek Martinus, who would later train up as a director and oversee William Hartnell's Doctor Who swansong, The Tenth Planet, in 1966, including the groundbreaking first ever regeneration scene! You can see William in the trailer for the film here...


William as Grimshaw in
Strictly Confidential (1959)
Next, William played another character called Grimshaw in Strictly Confidential, an hour-long comedy in which two con men (William Kendall and Richard Murdoch) are released from prison but who get straight back to their old tricks. The duo are offered work as managing directors of a company which makes stomach pills, and William, as the manager, is their principal foil in these escapades. The comedy also featured Neil Hallett (Timelash, 1985) and Llewellyn Rees (The Deadly Assassin, 1976).

William appeared in a handful of television series between 1958-60. In 1959, he filmed an episode of the Anglo-Australian TV series The Flying Doctor, starring Richard Denning. In The Changing Plain, William played Abe McKeller, an old prospector who has struck it rich after 30 years of digging, but who falls desperately ill on site, with a rainstorm on the horizon threatening to obliterate his discovery. The episode was not shown in the UK until May 1960, and co-starred John Lee - who would later go on to play Thal Alydon in Hartnell's second Doctor Who story, The Dead Planet (1964) - and Alan White, who appeared in Hartnell's Doctor Who swansong, The Tenth Planet (1966). The regular cast of The Flying Doctor also included James Copeland as Alec Macleod (and who later appeared in The Krotons, 1968-69).

Another TV series William guest starred in was Probation Officer, made by ATV and the first hour-long drama screened on ITV. The episode William appeared in was episode 28 of Series 1 (broadcast March 1960), playing Greg Miller, but there is scant detail as to what the episode was about. It co-starred Emrys James (State of Decay, 1980) and Neil Wilson (Spearhead from Space, 1970).

William Hartnell as Jeff Richards in Dial 999: 50,000 Hands
William also appeared in two episodes of Dial 999, a series about Canadian Mountie Mike Maguire (played by William's old friend Robert Beatty), who is assigned to Scotland Yard to learn about British crime-fighting techniques. The first episode William guest-starred in was the series' first ever instalment, The Killing Job, which aired in July 1958 and was directed by Alvin Rakoff, husband to William's future Doctor Who companion, Jacqueline Hill. William played Joss Crawford, the head of a protection racket, and the episode also featured Duncan Lamont (Death to the Daleks, 1974). The second episode William was in was called 50,000 Hands, broadcast the following year, in which he played Jeff Richards, a crook who gets attacked during a job at United Plastics. Also on the cast list was Bill Fraser (Meglos, 1980, and K9 & Company, 1981), but appearing uncredited as a tramp was a certain Patrick Troughton - the Second Doctor Who! This was the second time the two future Doctors had appeared in the same production (the other being 1948's Escape) but sadly, the two actors do not share screen time. Stills from this production were used many decades later when Doctor Who Magazine pretended that test footage had been found for aborted location filming for Hartnell's regeneration into Troughton (it was an April Fool's joke!). When you see the footage, it works really well! You can watch the whole episode on YouTube (not great picture quality though)...


Patrick Troughton as a tramp in Dial 999: 50,000 Hands
William appeared in two more TV productions in 1960, both of them in the ITV Television Playhouse strand. First up was Granada TV's Place of My Own (June 17th 1960) in which William played Tom Reynolds alongside co-stars Paul Farrell, Bryan Pringle and Dudley Sutton. Four labourers working on a half-built house are preoccupied with their dreams and ambitions. Their foreman Ken is determined to make them see that their dreams will never be fulfilled and sets out to shatter their dreams one by one (cheery!). His second play was Associated Rediffusion's After the Party (July 7th 1960) in which he played Jim, but I can't find any more out about this except that it co-starred Arthur Lowe and Joan Hickson, as well as Doctor Who luminaries Hugh David (director of The Highlanders (1966-67) and Fury from the Deep (1968)) and Derek Francis (Emperor Nero in The Romans, 1965).

Of course, all these TV appearances were guest star roles, but the fact is that between 1957-60 William appeared as part of the regular cast of the ITV sitcom The Army Game, about National Service conscripts. Naturally, William played Sergeant Major Percy Bullimore and appeared in seasons 1, 2 and 5 of the show. Series 1 was 13 episodes and broadcast between June and December 1957; series 2 was 26 episodes and broadcast between December 1957 and June 1958; while the fifth series was 39 episodes and was broadcast between September 1960 and June 1961. William appeared in 78 of the 154 episodes made; only 52 are thought to survive. The series co-starred Geoffrey Sumner, Michael Medwin, Alfie Bass, Norman Rossington, Charles Hawtrey, Bernard Bresslaw (The Ice Warriors, 1967) and Bill Fraser (Meglos, 1980, and K9 & Company, 1981). The sitcom was inspired by the 1956 film Private's Progress, which William also appeared in. You can watch an episode on YouTube...


William (left) with James Cagney (in
black) in Shake Hands with the Devil
Let's get back to William's prolific film appearances, however. In June 1959 he played Sergeant Jenkins in Shake Hands with the Devil (aka The Raging Men), a Michael Anderson film about the conflict between the IRA and British troops in 1920s Ireland. It starred James Cagney plus a plethora of other popular and well-known faces, including Glynis Johns, Michael Redgrave, Sybil Thorndike, Cyril Cusack, John Breslin (Spearhead from Space, 1970), Harry H Corbett, Allan Cuthbertson, Richard Harris, John Le Mesurier, Niall McGinnis, Clive Morton (The Sea Devils, 1972) and Alan White (The Tenth Planet, 1966). Irish actor T P McKenna (The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, 1988-89) also apparently has an uncredited role. You can watch the whole film on YouTube here...


In The Mouse That Roared, William played another sergeant, Will Buckley, who helps Peter Sellers' Tully Bascomb to lead the 20-strong army of the fictional European duchy Grand Fenwick to war with the United States. It's a comedy directed by Jack Arnold, and Sellers appears as three different characters in the film. Doctor Who luminaries include Timothy Bateson (The Ribos Operation, 1978) and Colin Gordon (The Faceless Ones, 1967). Watch the trailer here.

William Hartnell with Peter Sellers in The Mouse That Roared
The Night We Dropped a Clanger (aka Make Mine a Double) (1959) is a comedy which starred Brian Rix in twin roles as a WW2 British spy and an airman who get mixed up in a scheme in occupied France. The Rix comedies were popular around this time, and William played Warrant Officer Bright, alongside Leslie Phillips, Liz Fraser, Arthur Brough (who went on to become Mr Grainger in the sitcom Are You Being Served?), Sheila Mercier (later Annie Sugden in soap Emmerdale Farm), Hattie Jacques, Patrick Cargill, Andrew Sachs (later Manuel in sitcom Fawlty Towers) and Irene Handl. By this point William really was typecast as no-nonsense military officers, probably due to him being in The Army Game week after week for several years. If William wanted to get away from this type of casting, he wasn't helping himself - although, to be fair, maybe that was all that was being offered. It's notable that his television roles steered away from the army roles, so perhaps he had already identified the TV medium as a way of getting different character parts. Nevertheless, these roles were still a similar vein: crooks, gangsters and heavies.

The Desperate Man (1959)
William's final film work in the 1950s was the hour-long The Desperate Man, and proved that if he wasn't playing soldiers or policemen, he was playing criminals! He is Smith, a vicious thug who stashes valuable jewels in a remote Sussex castle and later abducts one of two journalists on the case. The reporters are played by Conrad Phillips and Jill Ireland, and the play co-stars Charles Gray and Patricia Burke.

As the 1960s kicked in, William's career was to take the most dramatic turn of his life, but the role of Doctor Who was still three years ahead. In the meantime he continued to enjoy success in character roles in films, beginning with Jackpot (1960), written and directed by Montgomery Tully. The plot concerned an ex-convict enlisting the help of a former safe-cracker to help him rob a nightclub. There's very little information or material online about this film, in which William plays Superintendent Frawley. His co-stars include Eddie Byrne, George Mikell, Michael Ripper, Betty McDowall and Victor Brooks, as well as Howard Lang, who would appear as a caveman in his very first Doctor Who story, 100,000 BC (1963).

Next up was comedy film And the Same to You, in which Brian Rix plays a man called Dickie Dreadnought who feels forced into a career of boxing simply by his name! To satisfy his vicar uncle, he pretends to be the picture of religiosity, while his tough-talking boxing manager Wally Burton (William Hartnell) poses as a man of the cloth. The film was a remake of a 1958 ITV Playhouse of the Week called The Chigwell Chicken, and co-starred Leo Franklyn, Tommy Cooper, Vera Day, Sid James, Arthur Mullard, Terry Scott, Shirley Anne Field and Tommy Duggan (The Mind of Evil, 1971). The screenplay was written by John Paddy Carstairs, from a play by A P Dearsley, with additional material from none other than Dalek creator Terry Nation! The whole film can be seen on YouTube (William appears at 4m 53s)...


In Piccadilly Third Stop (1960), William played the fastidious Colonel, an over-the-hill safe-cracker who joins playboy Terence Morgan's gang of criminals to rob a foreign embassy's safe. Also on the cast list was Mai Zetterling, Yoko Tani, John Crawford, Dennis Price and Ronald Leigh-Hunt (The Seeds of Death, 1969, and Revenge of the Cybermen, 1975). You can see William in the following clip on YouTube (it's great to see him in the tunnels of the London Underground, as if he was in The Web of Fear!)...


William in Ghost Squad
On September 30th, 1961, William appeared as a guest star in the TV series Ghost Squad, starring Donald Wolfit and Michael Quinn as Scotland Yard officers who investigate crimes outside the police's usual remit. In the episode High Wire, William plays Fred Rice, the manager of a travelling circus that is always located nearby when a wave of bank robberies sweeps across Western Europe. William reportedly got very wet while filming an underwater escape as there wasn't a body double or stand-in. The episode also featured Tom Adams (Warriors of the Deep, 1984) and Andre Maranne (The Moonbase, 1967).

As 1963 arrived, William was busier than ever in films, something that was soon to change, of course. His first film of the year was To Have and to Hold, directed by Herbert Wise and written by Jimmy Sangster, based upon the Edgar Wallace novel The Breaking Point. William plays Inspector Roberts, the boss of the main character Sgt Henry Fraser, and the film also starred Ray Barrett (The Rescue, 1965) and Nigel Stock (Time-Flight, 1982).

William as "Dad" Johnson in
This Sporting Life (1963)
In February 1963 there was the role that made fledgling BBC producer Verity Lambert think of William for the part of Doctor Who. In This Sporting Life, written by David Storey and directed by Lindsay Anderson, William plays "Dad" Johnson, a boxing scout who gets star Richard Harris's character signed up. It is a small but well-considered role that proved what a great character actor William could be out of uniform. He shared the cast list with Rachel Roberts, Arthur Lowe, Leonard Rossiter and Alan Badel, as well as George Sewell (Remembrance of the Daleks, 1988) and Frank Windsor (The King's Demons, 1983, and Ghost Light, 1989). The film attracted plenty of awards too, including Oscar nominations for Harris and Roberts, Golden Globe nominations for Best Film and for Roberts, and a BAFTA Best Actress win for Roberts. Harris also won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival, and director Anderson was nominated for the Palm d'Or. You can see the entire film on YouTube (William has a lovely scene at 39m 22s).


On May 20th, 1963 William had a guest spot on an episode of The Plane Makers, a series focusing on the disputes between trades unions and management at an aircraft factory. The episode was called One of Those Days and featured William as Wally Griggs, but sadly this no longer survives in the archives. It co-starred Rex Robinson (The Three Doctors, 1972-73; The Monster of Peladon, 1974; The Hand of Fear, 1976) and Malcolm Taylor (The Ice Warriors, 1967).

William as Major Fowler in
Heavens Above!
Three days after this broadcast, William's latest film was released, Heavens Above!, directed by the Boulting brothers and starring Peter Sellers as the Reverend John Smallwood, who is appointed to a conservative upper-crust parish and causes ructions with his socialist beliefs (for example, he appoints a black dustman as his churchwarden, and takes in a gypsy family). William played Major Fowler, one of many outraged villagers who rail against Smallwood's ideas. Other character actors on the bill included Cecil Parker, Ian Carmichael, Bernard Miles, Eric Sykes, Irene Handl, Miriam Karlin, Eric Barker, Roy Kinnear, John Hickson, Kenneth Griffith, Derek Nimmo, Cardew Robinson, Gerald Sim, Thorley Walters and Arthur Mullard. There were also plenty of Doctor Who names, including Mark Eden (Marco Polo, 1964), Colin Gordon (The Faceless Ones, 1967), Rodney Bewes (Resurrection of the Daleks, 1984), John Harvey (The War Machines, 1966, and The Macra Terror, 1967), Richard McNeff (The Dalek Invasion of Earth, 1964) and Gilbert Wynne (The Krotons, 1968-69). It's worth noting also that the film score was composed by Richard Rodney Bennett, who also provided the incidental music for the Hartell Doctor Who story The Aztecs (1964).

William in Tomorrow at Ten
On June 23rd, 1963, Tomorrow at Ten was released, directed by Lance Comfort and starring John Gregson, Alec Clunes, Robert Shaw and Helen Cherry. The thriller is about a kidnapped boy who is imprisoned with a time bomb, and how the police have a race against time to find him after the abductor dies without revealing his whereabouts. William plays Freddy Maddox, father to the criminal Marlow (Shaw) and husband to Renee Houston. It's not a big role, but it's a delightful little cameo, alongside the likes of Harry Fowler (Remembrance of the Daleks, 1988), Alan Wheatley (The Dead Planet, 1963-64), Kenneth Cope (Warriors' Gate, 1981), Alan Curtis (The War Machines, 1966), Kenneth Gilbert (The Seeds of Doom, 1976) and Norman Hartley (The Time Meddler, 1965).

William with his "daughter" Sylvia Sims
in The World Ten Times Over
In July 1963, Doctor Who producer Verity Lambert approached William to ask if he would consider playing the lead role in the BBC's new Saturday teatime sci-fi series. He was initially reticent, having not worked for the BBC in some years, but came round when he read the script. He was finally contracted for a 52-week commitment on July 31st... and the rest is history! There was one more film to go before William's career took a small-screen diversion. On Hallowe'en 1963, The World Ten Times Over (aka Pussycat Alley in the US) was released, written and directed by Wolf Rilla. It starred Sylvia Syms (Ghost Light, 1989) and June Ritchie as two single girls sharing a flat in London who work as hostesses in the same Soho nightclub. William plays Sylvia Sims' father who comes down to London to take her back home, but the two are too distanced from one another (he does try though, by buying them tickets to see Coriolanus at the Old Vic!). It is a beautiful little turn from William, again showing how much of a character actor he was when he was allowed to be, and also demonstrating how much of the doddery bluster in his Doctor Who was performance and not real (although it must be admitted that toward the end of his tenure, his illness was affecting his performance). You can see the whole film on YouTube (William first appears at 20m 28s)...


William had begun filming Doctor Who's first story - 100,000 BC - more than a month before this film was released. Doctor Who was originally to have debuted on Saturday, November 16th, but due to technical issues recording the first episode, the schedule was pushed back a week. In the event, William's time as Doctor Who - which he adored, likening it to being a cross between Father Christmas and the Wizard of Oz - lasted just shy of three years, from November 1963 to October 1966 (after which he passed the role to old friend Patrick Troughton, who was approached in June 1966 to see if he'd be interested in taking over). On July 16th, 1966, William informed his wife Heather that he'd agreed with Doctor Who producer Innes Lloyd to leave the series after recording one more story. William's departure was announced by the BBC on August 6th, 1966, the same day that Troughton was contracted for his first 22 episodes. William's final day on the series was October 8th, with the recording of episode 4 of The Tenth Planet.

Poster for Puss in Boots
at Cheltenham's Odeon
After leaving Doctor Who, suffering, unbeknownst to him, from the effects of arteriosclerosis, William continued to take work both on stage and television, but never on film again. His last stage appearance was in pantomime over the festive period 1966-67, playing Buskin the Fairy Cobbler in Puss in Boots at the Gaumont Theatre in Ipswich, and the Odeon Theatres in Southend, Cheltenham and Taunton. On January 17th, 1967 he appeared in a short news item on the BBC's regional news programme Points West to talk about the role and life after Doctor Who. It is a rare example of William as himself, and can be seen as a special feature on the DVD for The Tenth Planet.

William Hartnell interviewed for Points West, January 1967

His earliest TV work after leaving Doctor Who was an episode of the police series No Hiding Place called The Game, broadcast on March 23rd, 1967. The plot involved an extortion racket involving illegal Pakistani and Indian immigrants, and featured William as Impey. Sadly, this episode is missing from the archives. It also featured series regular Sean Caffrey (Horror of Fang Rock, 1977) and George A Cooper (The Smugglers, 1966).

William as Cliff Richard's dad in
Life with Johnny (1969)
William next appeared in an episode of police series Softly Softly called Cause of Death, broadcast on January 4th, 1968. This too is missing, sadly. William played a character called Henry Swift, and shared billing with series regulars Frank Windsor (The King's Demons, 1983, and Ghost Light, 1989) and Stratford Johns (Four to Doomsday, 1982), as well as Eileen Helsby as Mrs Swift (The Ark, 1966). It was written by Elwyn Jones (credited as writing The Highlanders, 1966-67) and directed by Terence Dudley (a regular Doctor Who director and writer between 1980-83).

In July 1969, at the age of 61, William had a guest part in the first of a new Tyne Tees series called Life with Johnny, a vehicle for the pop star Cliff Richard, who played Johnny. In the episode Johnny Come Home, William plays Cliff's dad, while Una Stubbs plays his girlfriend. The production also features music from Cliff and the band The Settlers. Although the picture quality is poor, the sound is fine, and William's performance is gentle and warm. He appears at 4m 22s into the first part, and 4m 41s into the second part, both posted below. His last line is "We've got a wonderful celebration laid on for you", giving way to a performance of Celebrate!



William's penultimate screen acting work was for an episode of the series Crime of Passion, a courtroom drama set in France concerning the trials of murderers who commit crimes of passion. A total of 32 episodes were made, and only three are missing from the ATV archives - and you guessed it, William's episode is one of them! In Alain, broadcast on April 27th, 1970, William played Henri Lindon, alongside Desmond Cullum-Jones (The War Machines, 1966), Inigo Jackson (The Ark, 1966), Denis Lill (Image of the Fendahl, 1977, and The Awakening, 1984) and Jonathan Newth (Underworld, 1978).

United with Patrick Troughton and Jon
Pertwee in a publicity shot for The
Three Doctors
William's final acting work before his death was reprising his role as the First Doctor in Doctor Who's tenth anniversary serial, The Three Doctors (1972-73), alongside Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee. Contracted on September 21st, 1972, he was not well enough to feature very heavily, and recorded his scenes using cue cards at Ealing Film Studios on November 6th. Three days later a photo-shoot took place at Summerfield Bungalow in Rickmansworth with the three Doctors together, which is also where footage of William in a country garden was filmed for use on screens in episode 1 of The Three Doctors. You can watch William's first appearance in The Three Doctors here...


Hugh Blaker, William's
adopted father
Facts
William was born out of wedlock (a social taboo at the time) but was adopted in 1924 by art connoisseur Hugh Blaker, who became his guardian and sent him to acting school. Five years previously, Blaker had famously found a painting of the Mona Lisa in the home of an English nobleman, giving rise to the belief that Leonardo Da Vinci actually painted more than one portrait of Lisa del Giocondo (the other is in The Louvre, but we all know what happened with that).

William and his family (he married actress Heather McIntyre in 1929 - she can be seen in the 1954 film Bless This House) continued to live in one of Blaker's properties in Isleworth after the art expert died in 1936.

William became very ill in the late 1960s with arteriosclerosis, and was admitted to hospital in December 1974, suffered a series of strokes in January 1975 brought on by cerebrovascular disease, and died in his sleep of heart failure on April 23rd in Marden, Kent, aged 67. He was cremated and his ashes are buried at the Kent and Sussex Crematorium and Cemetery.

His granddaughter Jessica (born Judith) Carney wrote a book about his life entitled Who's There? (1996). She now works as a talent agent for a company her father Terry Carney helped set up (Terry married William's daughter, also called Heather, in 1952, while Terry's brother was John J Carney, who appeared in 1973-74's The Time Warrior). Heather Hartnell died in 1984.

William and wife Heather with their grandchildren, Paul and Judith
William Henry Hartnell, pictured in 1966

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