Classic Who for Beginners

if you’ve never delved into the world of classic Doctor Who then it can be a bit overwhelming. Where do you start? Only half of our time lady team (Kezia) has completed watching all of classic Who, while Beth is currently making her way through the Hartnell era.

Never fear though, because this week sees the launch of Doctor Who and Twitch’s classic series stream! From An Unearthly Child to Survival you’ll be able to watch it all.
We were lucky enough to be asked to appear on their Twitch Presents: Doctor Who chat show, talking all things Who! You can find Beth on the sofa discussing stories and Doctors between episodes on Twitch. In the meantime, if you’re not sure where to begin, we’ve created a beginner’s guide to Classic Doctor Who. We’ve picked a story from each Doctor that we think would be a great jumping on point, get your notepad ready…

The First Doctor

Top Pick: The Dalek Invasion of Earth

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Join the first Doctor and his friends as they take on The Dalek invasion of Earth! The second ever appearance of the Daleks brings them to 2160’s London, where the Doctor’s enemy is trying to blow up the earth’s crust and destroy the world. After the TARDIS is blocked by fallen girders, the team must find out what is going on and are unable to leave. This is an incredibly important story for the Doctor as well as the first TARDIS team as they battle the deadly Daleks. You’ll get a taste of black and white Doctor Who as well as some good old quality time with brilliant companions Susan, Barbara and Ian! The team get split up in typical classic Who style bringing different, exciting elements to the adventure as well as insights into each character. The story is filled with action, romance and even heartbreak as The Doctor says goodbye to his grand-daughter. We’re treated to a real insight into Susan’s life with The Doctor as she tells her new-found love interest, David, that she longs for a life in one place with one identity. After the team save the world from the Daleks, The Doctor realises that she deserves this life with the person she loves and leaves her forever. Your hearts will break as he says goodbye and William Hartnell delivers one of the most iconic speeches in Doctor Who’s history. If you want a first Doctor story to get you started, this is definitely the one!

We also recommend: An Unearthly Child, The Daleks, The Time Meddler, The War Machines and Tenth Planet.

 

The Second Doctor 

Top Pick: The Tomb of The Cybermen

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We actually think most of the second Doctor’s stories are excellent jumping on points, his Doctor and companions offer a lighter, more adventurous offering to the first so you’re in for a treat! If you want an overall flavour of his era we recommend the wondrous The Tomb of the Cybermen. Follow Jamie, the Doctor and Victoria on an adventure to unearth the secrets of a hidden away cave, discovered by an archeological trip on the planet Telos. They have no idea of what hides beneath the ground (but from the title I think you can guess). This is the first time we see the cyber mats and the first time the Cybermen make one of their infamous entrances, it really is iconic. There’s a brilliant mix of hilarity and big jump scares, but mostly adventure. Honestly, watch this and you’ll wonder why people call classic Who slow!

We also recommend: The Mind Robber, The Web of Fear, The Invasion, The Enemy of the World and The War Games


The Third Doctor

Top Pick: The Green Death

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A thoroughly modern story that still resonates with us today, The Green Death deals with environmental issues, giant maggots and heartbreak for the Doctor as he says goodbye to companion Jo Grant.

As a mysterious death at a coal mine attracts UNIT’s attention, the team head to South Wales to find out what’s going on. The Doctor and Jo are split up when he wants to go to Metebilis 3 and she wants to investigate the mine and meet Nobel prize winner Professor Clifford Jones. This brings them into the middle of a deadly polluted chemical company run by a mysterious super computer named BOSS who is intent on poisoning the earth. The Doctor uses his wit and cleverness as a disguise to infiltrate the company and find out what’s going on, all the while his beloved companion Jo is falling in love with Clifford and helping to save the day in the process.

The story is a beautiful character piece for the Doctor and features stunning performances from Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning as their final moments together play out. It feels modern and relevant in terms of character as well as the environmental sub-plot, something that affects the Earth even more today. Along with UNIT, giant maggots and a good old traditional setting of an underground mine, this adventure is the perfect start to a third Doctor watch.

We also recommend: Spearhead From Space, Inferno, The Sea Devils, The Three Doctors and Carnival of Monsters. 

The Fourth Doctor

Top Pick: Genesis of The Daleks

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Genesis of The Daleks introduces one of Doctor Who’s most iconic villains; creator of the Daleks, Davros. In the first of many appearances in the show, we are treated to the beginning of the Daleks story and just what drove them into being created. Alongside this we’re treated to appearances of their home planet, Skaro and an iconic TARDIS team adventuring upon it without the TARDIS…

On a mission for the Time Lords, The Doctor and his companions must complete a deadly task: Stop the Daleks from ever being created. This story deals with themes of morality, death, power and responsibility with the Doctor put through a difficult test. It’s one of the fourth Doctor’s most loved adventures and hold significant importance in terms of the show’s canon. With an appearance from the Time Lords and a look into the Daleks’ origins, it’s an exciting window into classic series Doctor Who. As well as this, it features the wonderful Sarah-Jane Smith and Harry Sullivan to help the Doctor with his mission, giving us the perfect introduction to Tom Bakers era of the show and all of its most famous elements.

We also recommend: The Ark in Space, The Brain of Morbius, The Seeds of Doom, The Hand of Fear, The Robots of Death, The Ribos Operation, City of Death
and The Keeper of Traken.


The Fifth Doctor

Top Pick: The Caves of Androzani 

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This pick isn’t necessarily representative of the fifth Doctor’s era but The Caves of Androzani gives a taste of him at his absolute best. In this incredibly dark story the Doctor and new companion Peri are stuck on mining planet Androzani Minor where let’s say, the Doctor has got himself into quite a pickle! A story of kidnap, blackmail, politics and warfare take place underground as the truly terrible people (essentially tories), ruin the lives of everyone in their shiny offices far away. It’s some of the most absorbing Doctor Who and amazing storytelling.

A Doctor couldn’t go out on a higher note, there’s a reason this is consistently voted as one of the best Doctor Who stories of all time.

We also recommend: Castrovalva, Four to Doomsday, Kinda, Snakedance, Black Orchid and The Five Doctors.

 

The Sixth Doctor

Top Pick: Vengeance on Varos

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Another dark story to add to your list, in Vengeance on Varos the Doctor and Peri arrive on a planet which feels very much like our potential future. In a heightened game of what feels like Big Brother, the public lives through the screens in their homes to vote for what happens to the people within ‘the game’. Imagine casually voting on someone’s life? Or worse still, your whole day revolving around that act? That’s where we’re at in this episode! You’ll get to watch the iconic, repulsive Sil *tongue waggle* and see Colin’s Doctor in action man mode as he leaps over fiery pits and more! The darker stories in the sixth Doctor’s era are definitely his best, and definitely worth the watch.

We also recommend: Attack of the Cybermen, The Mark of the Rani
and Revelation of the Daleks.

 

The Seventh Doctor

Top Pick: Remembrance of the Daleks

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Remembrance of the Daleks is the perfect episode to introduce you to the seventh Doctor’s era. The story brings the Doctor to a very important time indeed; 23rd November 1963. The TARDIS lands back on 76 Totter’s Lane where the Doctor’s adventures began 25 years before, and there’s trouble at coal hill once more. Not only is the adventure a 25th anniversary extravaganza but it is also the Dalek’s last television appearance before the new series revival of the show.

On the hunt for some Time Lord technology hidden on Earth by the Doctor, two fractions of opposing Daleks fight to secure it and wreak havoc on time and space. With the whole universe in danger and a Dalek civil war unfolding, how will The Doctor and Ace save the day? Baseball bats, flying Daleks and coal hill nostalgia make this a fun and exciting adventure to jump into.

We also recommend: Paradise Towers, Delta and the Bannermen, Silver Nemisis, Battlefield, The Curse of Fenric and Survival. 

3 Replies to “Classic Who for Beginners”

  1. Time Ladies,
    I think this article is an excellent start for any Doctor Who fan who wants to delve into Classic Who. Off and on I have been working on my Classic Who watch since 2006 (?), almost twelve years now! Wow! And I still have 17 entire episodic stories of Classic Who to watch to complete the entire available Classic Who stories. Whew! Maybe I can complete it BEFORE I reach retirement age?!

    Like

  2. Dear Time Ladies,
    A great choice of Classic episodes for anyone to start delving into Who before the Christopher Eccleston and RTD version burst onto our TV’s. Not so sure about Pat Troughton’s War Games as a start point in the recommendations though – probably a bit of a marathon for someone new to the Doctor! Loved your new podcast (Ep. 1) as well and would like to suggest the Mind Robber which is a bit off the wall, for your next discussion. Sorry, no condoms used in the Mind Robber as far as I know 😉

    Like

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