5for5: Things You Might Not Know About….William Hartnell



Welcome to a new section of our little blog! It’s been a pleasure sharing posts with all of you over the course of our first year, and to help honor the memory of those who made Doctor Who (and thus, this blog) possible, we’ve developed this new title to compliment our 5for5 category…5 Things You Might Not Know About.

We’ll be featuring mini-biographies and fun facts about producers, actors, writers and anyone else that has played a signficant role in the Whoniverse since it’s inception.

And we want to hear your suggestions! Please feel free to let us know what you think, who you think should be featured and if you’d be interested in contributing!

And where better to start than with the man who made The Doctor come to life on our screens all those years ago. “The original, you might say” William Hartnell…


  • He was raised by his single mother, Lucy Hartnell and at age 16 was adopted by a art agent named Hugh Blaker. He never discovered the identity of his father, whose information was left blank on Hartnell’s birth certificate. Despite efforts made by him in later years, his absentee father was never located.


  • Served in WWII but was invalided out due to a nervous breakdown


  • He was a trained horse jockey


  • In 1942, he was cast as Albert Fosdike in Noel Coward’s film In Which We Serve but turned up late for his first day of shooting. Coward berated Hartnell in front of cast and crew for his unprofessionalism, made him apologize to everyone and then fired him.


  • At one time he shared the same agent as Nicholas Courtney, who later played Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart


  • BONUS! There is some debate as to the circumstances surrounding his departure from Doctor Who; some commentators contend that he had no desire to leave and that reports of his failing health were exaggerated by producers to justify their attempt to remove him from the show. Other sources claim it was a mutual decision and that Hartnell even approved of Patrick Troughton’s casting. The scant amount of first hand biographical information about Hartnell means that we likely never know, to any degree of certainty, the full truth surrounding his exit from the series.




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