The First Doctor was a complex character. One moment, a kindly and forgetful grandad. Next, a cantankerous and arrogant army-major. Or, even a thoughtful – intuitive scientist.
One of his more recognisable character bents, was a mis-pronuncation of names, words and terms. He would frequently call Ian Chesterton; “Chesterson” or ‘Chessering”.
Whilst this quality became a part of the Doctor character, it also had a term coined for it; “Hartnellisms”. It actually stemmed from the way the show was filmed, rather than being – an intended flaw.
Doctor Who – in the 60s, was shot mostly ‘live’. Long one take scenes. Due to time and expense, retakes were very rarely used. The finished product can generally be thought of – as a recording pf a [nearly] live performance.
Hartnell himself, also suffered from a number of health ailments – some of which occasionally affected his memory (these eventually contributed to his exit from the show after 3 years). This, combined with the responsibility of providing the techno-babble explanations – meant Hartnell was sometimes forgetful – with his scripts and would ad-lib.
In The Daleks, the TARDIS crew were searching for some anti-radiation “drugs”. The Doctor told the group that they were infact; anti-radiation “gloves”, then quickly corrected – by saying “drugs”.
Of course this can be explained away somewhat – in story terms, by the fact that the group were suffering radiation poisoning. Which was affecting the Doctor, far more than it affected the others.
The Edge of Destruction had the Doctor tell Susan to “check the fault-locator”. Instead, he told her to “check the fornicator”. Sadly this gem (somewhat predictably) didn’t make the final cut.
In The Keys of Marinus, the Doctor scolded Ian for not wearing his shoes, because Ian could have lent Susan “hers” (not “yours”).
In The Sensorites, the Doctor intends to tell Maitland to stabilise his ship, but instead says “Stabilise us, Matron!”. Which was, maybe a nod to Hartnell’s carry-on days.
Perhaps the most famous of Hartnell’s fluffs, happened in The Chase. When the Doctor warned Ian and Barbara, that they could wind up as two “cinders floating around in Spain” – rather than “space”.
In Galaxy 4, when asked to help the Drahvins. The Doctor replied that he did not have “much ‘chance'”, rather than the scripted “choice”.
After being called a god, by Katarina in The Myth Makers. The Doctor corrected her, by telling her to call him “Doctor”, and then told her he wasn’t actually a “god”. However, Hartnell fluffed the line, saying “I am not a ‘Doc-‘” before quickly correcting himself with – “I am not a god!”.
In The Daleks’ Master Plan, Hartnell said that he had to hand the real ‘taranium’ core to “Magic” (Mavic) Chen, but he quickly corrected himself, saying Mavic.
There were many other Hartnellisms, throughout the series – as Hartnell stumbled upon certain words, as he struggled to remember his lines; often saying something strange and funny – instead.
It has now became a staple part of the First Doctor’s character – and to a small degree, an element of his future regeneration’s character. What was your favourite Hartnell-ism?