On This Day – 23 November 1963

The first episode of what would become the Doctor Who franchise aired in Britain. The first series consisted of four episodes aired over a period of four weeks and introduced William Hartnell as the first Doctor.

Even though the launch of the first episode was overshadowed by the assassination of JFK the day before, the episode received good reviews and attracted more than 4 million viewers.

The Doctor’s first companion, Susan Foreman, played by Carole Ann Ford, was not originally scripted as the Doctor’s grand-daughter but this was changed before production to avoid any perception of sexual impropriety that might be implied by having a young girl travel with an older man.


The first episode was originally scheduled to be aired on the 16th of November 1963 but a number of serious technical issues forced the re-shoot of the first episode, which also allowed for a number of other changes, that arguably contributed significantly to the tone and style of the series, including a complete change of costume for the doctor from a contemporary jacket and tie to a more extravagant Edwardian costume.