Doctor Who (1963–1989)
14 user 10 critic

An Unearthly Child 

Two schoolteachers investigate the personal life of one of their brilliant students and her mysterious grandfather.


Waris Hussein, Douglas Camfield (uncredited)


Anthony Coburn, David Whitaker (story editor)

On Disc

at Amazon




Episode complete credited cast:
William Hartnell ... Dr. Who
William Russell ... Ian Chesterton
Jacqueline Hill ... Barbara Wright
Carole Ann Ford ... Susan Foreman


Two schoolteachers, Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright, become concerned by the unusual behavior of their fifteen-year-old student, Susan Foreman. When they follow her home, they meet her mysterious grandfather, the Doctor, and find themselves unwilling passengers on his time ship, the TARDIS... Written by Sarah Hadley

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Release Date:

23 November 1963 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


In the original script, the "PRIVATE" notice at the junk yard was originally supposed to appear significantly newer than the lettering on the gates. The junkyard was also supposed to contain: "a broken-down old shed". See more »


After entering the TARDIS the top of the set is visible above and behind Ian as he says "you can't keep us here." See more »


The Doctor: [to Ian] You still think it's all an illusion?
Ian Chesterton: I know that free movement in time and space is a scientific dream I don't expect to find solved in a junkyard.
The Doctor: Your arrogance is nearly as great as your ignorance.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Four versions of this episode exist. Besides the final broadcast version there was also a trial pilot run-through that was not broadcast initially due to technical problems. The 2006 DVD release "Doctor Who: The Beginning" contains an unedited version of this pilot, with several different takes of the TARDIS sequence. A specially made re-edited version of the pilot is included for the first time in this set, using the best takes and digitally manipulating others to remove errors. Previously, an alternate edit of the pilot -- which included dialogue and prop errors -- was broadcast on the BBC and released on VHS. See more »


Featured in Inside the Spaceship: The Story of the TARDIS (2006) See more »


Three Guitars Mood 2
Composed by Derek Nelson and Arthur Raymond
Performed by The Arthur Nelson Group
(playing on Susan's radio)
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User Reviews

A Great Start to a Long Running Series
5 April 2015 | by brian_m_hassSee all my reviews

While growing up, the only "Doctor Who" episodes which I had ever seen were from the 1970's and early 1980's. I did not get a chance to see the earliest episodes of the show until the late 1980's. When I finally had the opportunity to watch "An Unearthly Child," I was thrilled!

"An Unearthly Child" did not disappoint me. The episode started with a mystery. When the two school teachers began to investigate the matter, they had no idea of where their inquiries would lead them. The episode featured an excellent story with great characters. It also contained a lot of atmosphere. The ending of this episode was the beginning of one of television's longest-running adventures.

For fans of the later episodes of the "Doctor Who" series, "An Unearthly Child" is something of a curiosity. For a television phenomenon which has endured for more than five decades, there is the question of how it all started. I highly recommend "An Unearthly Child."

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