Doctor Who: An Unearthly Child (pilot) (1991)


UK, 26 August 1991
pilot episode, 25m
black and white, 1.33:1
mono, English
Next Serial: An Unearthly Child (1963)
Series: Doctor Who (1963-1989)

A British science fiction television episode directed by Waris Hussein. An early version of the first episode of An Unearthly Child which was recorded on 27 September 1963 but which was rejected by producer Sidney Newman who described it as “the worst piece of work I’ve seen in a long time.” 1In Their Own Words Volume One The episode was edited at least five times and the first edit was eventually broadcast on BBC Two on 26 August 1991 as part of The Lime Grove Story. Two alternate edits were also released on video (on The Hartnell Years videotape) and as an extra on the video release of The Edge of Destruction. The versions included in the DVD box set The Beginning are a version containing all takes (complete with errors) and a new edit made to smooth out some of the technical and performance errors.

Plot Summary

School teachers Ian and Barbara are puzzled by one of their pupils, the unusually intelligent Susan. Following her home one night they find themselves in a junkyard where they meet a strange old man who not only claims to be Susan’s grandfather, but also to be not of this Earth…


* = uncredited

Directed by: Waris Hussein
© [not given on screen]
Producer: Verity Lambert
Associate Producer: Mervyn Pinfield
Written by: Anthony Coburn
Story Editor: David Whitaker
Studio Lighting: Sam Barclay *
Film Camera: Robert Sleigh *
Film Editor: John Griffiths, John House [both uncredited]
Incidental Music by: Norman Kay
Title Music by: Ron Grainer with The BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Title Music Arranged and Performed by: Delia Derbyshire *
Studio Sound: Jack Clayton *
Special Sound: Brian Hodgson *
Make Up: Betty Blattner *
Costumes: Maureen Heneghan *
Special Effects by: The Visual Effects Department of the BBC
Designers: Peter Brachacki, Barry Newbery *
Production Assistant: Douglas Camfield *
Assistant Floor Manager: Catherine Childs *

William Hartnell (Doctor Who)
William Russell (Ian Chesterton)
Jacqueline Hill (Barbara Wright)
Carole Ann Ford (Susan Foreman)
Reg Cranfield [policeman – uncredited]

See also
Doctor Who: An Unearthly Child (1963)



  • Doctor Who The Television Companion pp.6-7 – credits, review (by David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker), synopsis