A Surprising History
In 1925 a Scottish man invented the television.
In 1936 another Scottish man started a regular service of TV programming at the BBC.
In 1963 a TV science-fiction programme was commissioned by a Canadian man which the BBC had so much faith in that they gave it to a young twenty-something woman to produce and a young twenty-something Indian man to direct. The Canadian man was so concerned that the programme should be educational that he declared it should have no “bug-eyed monsters”.
The programme was to be about an alien who travelled through time in a large bubble, which had a door in it, although as the budget couldn’t afford this the first likely thing that came to hand from the props department – a Police telephone box – was used instead.
A theme tune was composed on paper by an Australian man and given to a young twenty-something woman to realise. As she was interested in electronic music, many years ahead of her time, she went and created one of the first television themes to be produced entirely by electronic means.
One of the young twenty-something woman’s main tools to effect this was the very long corridor in her building where, after everyone else had gone home, she used to physically line up all the different tapes unfurled from one end to the other.
When the Australian man heard the finished result he was so amazed that he exclaimed: “Did I really write this?” It’s credited as being one of the most recognisable theme tunes of all time.
The programme was contracted to run for just 13 weeks although it got off to a bad start when the opening episode was delayed, as a result of breaking news, because it just happened to coincide with the assassination of President Kennedy.
It took getting sacked by Tony Hancock for a Welshman with no interest in writing for children to come crawling back to see if the job he’d turned down on this new programme was still on offer and, after an adventure with Prehistoric cavemen, via Shoreditch, written by another Australian, it was the Welshman who got to write the second story where, despite everything, he went and introduced the most famous bug-eyed monsters of all time.
As the Welshman had had the foresight to hold onto the rights of these “bug-eyed monsters” they went on to make him his fortune.
The Canadian man was so apoplectic with what he saw appearing on his TV that he called the young twenty-something woman producer into his office to shout at, the way management likes to do, although this was only up until he saw the ratings and that Dalekmania had begun.
The Canadian man then told the young twenty-something woman that it was clear that she obviously knew what she was doing and that she should probably just get on with it.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Although they did manage to crowbar an English man somewhere into all of this when they cast William Hartnell in the lead role. Originally apathetic he came to love the role and after three years it was only ill health that forced him to stand down. He said: “I think that if I live to be ninety, a little of the magic of Doctor Who will still cling to me”. He died aged 67, but if he were still alive today he’d be over a hundred, and surely not even he could have begun to imagine how true a sentiment that would be.