July 17th, 2012

A Glimpse Of The Hartnell Era

I'm sorry, but William Hartnell's Doctor annoys me. He can be fierce, commanding, sinister, but then he'll go off on his silly old man riff- humming and hawing and cackling and repeating himself and calling people "my boy" and "my dear"- and I just can't stand it. 

I started watching The Time Meddler because the premise looked good.  The Meddling Monk is a rogue Time Lord, holed up in the 11th century, who broadcasts plainsong through the horn of an ancient gramophone to make the scruffy local Saxons think he's got his brothers with him- which is cool. Also he's played by Peter Butterworth- an engaging, minor funnyman who did a lot of kids' TV and appeared in most of the Carry On films- and that's cool too. (I looked Butterworth up on Wikipedia. He was a wartime naval officer- and a persistent escaper from German prisoner of war camps.  He auditioned for the movie The Wooden Horse- about a famous escape he took part in- and they wouldn't have him because he was too tubby and genial to play a war hero. That generation really was a bit special.) 

I was right about Butterworth: He's a good actor; he underplays.  Maureen O'Brien as Vicki, the female companion, is fine too. But then there's Peter Purves (later a Blue Peter presenter) as the male companion- a modern young man with a quiff and too much testosterone- and he's ghastly. I watched a couple of episodes and nothing much happened and the scruffy Saxons were tiresome and Hartnell and Purves were given lots of space to be annoying in. Then the Vikings turned up- at long last (what kept them?)- but I'd had enough and really couldn't be bothered to watch any more.