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The Beginning Box Set

This contains, on 3 discs, the first three stories of Doctor Who.   The set consists of an outer cardboard box that contains two plastic cases inside

which are of the type we’re used to on Doctor Who DVDs. 


All star William Hartnell as Dr. Who, William Russell as Ian Chesterton, Jacqueline Hill as Barbara Wright, and Carole Ann Ford as Susan Foreman.


On Disc 1:

Serial: A   Episode Nos. 1,2,3, and 4.  Title: An Unearthly Child

Two London schoolteachers intercept their strangest pupil, Susan Foreman, at her home which appears to be a junkyard, whereupon she seems to disappear.

An old man appears, and the teachers force their way into the strange police public call box he tries to guard against them entering, within which they find Susan...

and a fantastic, futuristic ship that’s bigger on the inside than on the outside.  The old man is Susan’s grandfather, who calls himself simply “Doctor,” and

to protect their secret, he uses the ship, the TARDIS, to take the four of them on a journey back through time to 100,000 B.C., where they are all captured by a

tribe of primitive cavemen who have lost the secret of fire and who demand that the travellers make it for them or die.


Written by Anthony Coburn, Associate Produced by Mervyn Pinfield, Produced by Verity Lambert, and Directed by Waris Hussein.

Originally transmitted from 23 November 1963 to 14 December 1963 on BBC1.


[The main program on this disc actually contains 5 episodes.  The first episode is a newly-made compilation of the best material that was recorded

for the rejected pilot episode of Doctor Who that was never broadcast.  Following that is the “official” version of An Unearthly

Child’s first episode (which was broadcast), and then the remaining three episodes of the story (the ones with the cavemen).]



On Disc 2:

Serial: B   Episode Nos. 5,6,7,8,9,10, and 11.   Title:  The Daleks

The TARDIS next takes the travellers to a petrified jungle on a planet that appears to be dead.  Nearby lies a gleaming metal city with no initial sign of life.

By tricking his companions, the Doctor contrives a need to explore the city.  Within, they find evidence of high radiation levels which are making them all

deathly ill... but this is nothing as compared to the mutated survivors of an atomic war that devastated the planet centuries earlier... a “people” known as

the Daleks...


Written by Terry Nation, Associate Produced by Mervyn Pinfield, Produced by Verity Lambert, and Directed by Christopher Barry and Richard Martin.

Originally transmitted from 21 December 1963 to 1 February 1964 on BBC1.



On Disc 3:

Serial: C  Episodes Nos. 12 and 13.  Title:  The Edge of Destruction

An explosion rocks the interior of the TARDIS while it’s in flight, and the travellers are all knocked unconscious.  When they begin to recover, they

suffer from strange moods and paranoia, and the ship itself is only partly functional, at times working with them... and at other times seeming to work against

them.  The Doctor accuses Ian and Barbara of sabotage, and while he threatens to throw them off the ship entirely, he remains oblivious to the true brink

of disaster that surrounds them...


Written by David Whitaker, Associate Produced by Mervyn Pinfield, Produced by Verity Lambert, and Directed by Richard Martin and Frank Cox.

Originally transmitted from 8 February 1964 to 15 February 1964 on BBC1.


The DVD features for this title are as follows:

-         Graphical menus, episode selection features, scene selection features and subtitles for the hearing impaired. 

-         VidFIRE video-look processing of all the episodes.  VidFIRE is a computer process developed by the BBC Restoration Team that restores the original almost-live videotape look that these episodes had when first shown in the UK.  For more information on the process, visit and click the VidFIRE icon.  Please realize that this truly is a _restoration_ technique that really does return the episodes to near the state they were in when first broadcast.  (I’ve seen it myself now and it looks fantastic, almost like it was shot very recently.)  More routine restoration of the film has also been applied.

-    Special Features menus that contain the following:

     On An Unearthly Child

            - Pilot Episode Studio Recording.    This presents all of the material that was recorded during the pilot episode’s studio session,

                        including fluffs and retakes and the TARDIS’ doors refusing to close.  The picture has been cleaned-up but the presentation

                        is otherwise as it originally was, without other editing and CGI tools.  This lasts about 36 minutes.

            - Theme Music Video.  This plays the full-length original title music in one of three user-selected ways: as a newly-made Dolby

                        Digital 5.1 surround mix, a Dolby 2.0 stereo mix, or the original mono mix made by Delia Derbyshire from Ron Grainer’s

                        score at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop back in 1963.  This is accompanied by elements and test footage from the original

                        title graphics.  This lasts 2:36.

            - Comedy Sketches.   The user has the option to play all four of these comedy sketches at once or to select one from a menu.

                        Three of these sketches were made as part of a special 1999 Doctor Who night of repeats that ran on BBC2 and feature

                        British comedy stars Mark Gatiss (from The League of Gentlemen, and he’s also a real Doctor Who writer) and

                        David Walliams (from Little Britain).   The first of these is The Pitch of Fear which purports to show series creator

                        Sydney Newman trying to sell the idea of the show to his boss.  The second of these (but presented third) is

                        The Web of Caves, which features two rather pathetic alien villains confronting the Doctor in an alien quarry.  The third

                        of these (but shown last) is The Kidnappers which features David kidnapping the real Peter Davison (the Fifth Doctor)

                        and delivering him to the apartment/flat he shares with Mark.   These sketches are all almost 4 minutes in length.

                        The remaining sketch, which is shown second, is called The Corridor Sketch and was made by Reeltime Pictures and

                        shows what it might have been like in the corridors outside the studios of the BBC when Doctor Who first went before

                        the cameras.  This one is 6 minutes long.

             - Gallery.   A 6-minute photo gallery of stills from An Unearthly Child.

            - Audio Options.  This allows you to switch on the commentary tracks that are available.  These are:

                        - on the unedited pilot recording in the special features menu, producer Verity Lambert and director Waris Hussein;

                        - on the finished official version of the first episode of An Unearthly Child, Verity Lambert and actors William Russell

                                    (Ian Chesterton) and Carole Ann Ford (Susan Foreman)

                        - on the final episode of the story, Waris Hussein, William Russell, and Carole Ann Ford.

                        - the commentaries are moderated by Gary Russell

            - Information Text option.  This turns on production notes subtitles throughout the episodes.   There are no production notes on

                        either version of the pilot episode of An Unearthly Child.


     On The Daleks  (Disc 1 of the second box)

            - Creation of the Daleks     A new 17-minute featurette that documents the development from script-to-screen of the Doctor’s

                        most famous monstrous villains, the Daleks.  Features interviews with Doctor Who co-creator Sydney Newman,

                        director Richard Martin, producer Verity Lambert, production designer Raymond Cusick, Dalek Operator actor

                        Michael Summerton, BBC Radiophonic Workshop sound designer Brian Hodgson, and Dalek Voice actor David Graham.

            - Gallery.  A 5-1/2 minute photo gallery of stills from The Daleks.

            - Audio Options.  This allows you to switch on the available commentary tracks.  These are:

                        - on episode 2, director Christopher Barry and producer Verity Lambert;

                        - on episode 4, Christopher Barry, and actors William Russell (Ian Chesterton) and Carole Ann Ford (Susan Foreman)

                        - on episode 7, director Richard Martin, William Russell, and Carole Ann Ford.

                        - the commentaries are moderated by Gary Russell

            - Information Text option.  This turns on production notes subtitles throughout the episodes.      


      On The Edge of Destruction (Disc 2 of the second box)

            - Doctor Who: Origins    A new 54-minute documentary that tells the whole story of the conception and initial production of

                        the series itself and of the first story, An Unearthly Child.  Narrated by Terry Molloy, it features interviews with

                        co-creator Sydney Newman, producer Verity Lambert, directors Waris Hussein and Richard Martin, actors

                        William Russell (Ian) and Carole Ann Ford (Susan), Delia Derbyshire, Brian Hodgson, and Desmond Briscoe of the BBC

                        Radiophonic Workshop, graphic designer Bernard Lodge, and historian Marcus Hearn.            

            - Over the Edge   A new 29-minute documentary that tells the behind-the-scenes story of the making of The Edge of Destruction.

                        Interview subjects are Richard Martin, Verity Lambert, Waris Hussein, William Russell, Brian Hodgson, Carole Ann Ford,

                        Raymond Cusick, director Frank Cox, and noted fan writers Jeremy Bentham, Richard Landen, and Peter Anghelides.

            SPOILER WARNING!!!   Over the Edge  contains footage and important story points from the final episodes of the 

                        2005 series of Doctor Who.  If you haven’t seen them yet, DO NOT WATCH THIS DOCUMENTARY UNTIL YOU HAVE. 

            - Inside the Spaceship   A new 10-minute documentary that tells the story of the concept and design behind the TARDIS.

                        Interview subjects are the same as Over the Edge but without the fan writers.

            - Masters of Sound  A new 12-minute documentary that profiles the famous BBC Radiophonic Workshop and its composers and

                        performers, Delia Derbyshire, Brian Hodgson, and Dick Mills.  Also features producer Verity Lambert.  Special emphasis

                        is given to the making of the theme music and of the TARDIS sound effects.  

            - Marco Polo    The story that comes next in the series, the 7-part Marco Polo, is one of those missing from the BBC Archives.

                        This 31-minute featurette presents a condensed version of that story using the surviving off-air recordings of the soundtrack,

                        off-air “telesnap” photo stills, and behind-the-scenes production stills. 

                        Marco Polo was Serial D, Episode Nos. 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, and 20.  Written by John Lucarotti, Associate Produced by

                        Mervyn Pinfield, Produced by Verity Lambert, and Directed by Waris Hussein and John Crockett.  Originally transmitted

                        from 22 February 1964 to 6 April 1964 on BBC1.

            - Gallery.   A 5-minute photo gallery of still from both The Edge of Destruction and Marco Polo. 

            - Audio Options.  This allows you to select an optional Arabic soundtrack for episode 2, an example of foreign-dubbed soundtracks

                        that were put onto the film prints that went to former British colonies in the sales cycles of the 1960s.

            - PDF Documents.   Placing this DVD into a DVD-ROM drive on a PC or Macintosh allows you to look at .pdf files that contain

                        the contemporaneous Radio Times listings for all of the episodes in this box set, and one that contains the complete script

                        of the first episode, An Unearthly Child. 

            - Information Text option.  This turns on production notes subtitles throughout the episodes.