Opinion: A “Jolly Good Smacked Bottom”

Recently our podcast covered “The Dalek Invasion of Earth.”

At the time, there was some discussion about the “What you need is a jolly good smacked bottom!” line that the First Doctor says to Susan, his granddaughter.

In this situation, though, we did kind of just move on from it: given the way the Doctor says the line it seems quite obvious he has no intention of doing it, and is more concerned and scared for Susan’s safety. It is still sexist and not a good line.

It’s hard to find out where this line came from; it is claimed it is not in the original Terry Nation script, and is generally attributed to an ad lib by William Hartnell.

Now the First Doctor, as we have discussed, does have a lot of British paternalistic qualities and sexist elements. A lot of this does come from the time but it is still there. However, as we have also discussed, the show notices these and generally shows more nuance than you would expect with the character especially given that it was produced in the 1960s.

But if it isn’t that big of an issue in the episode, why do I feel the need to bring it up? Because on Dec. 25, 2017, more than 50 years later, the line came up again in Peter Capaldi’s final episode as the Twelfth Doctor and Steven Moffat’s last episode as showrunner, “Twice Upon A Time.”

In “Twice Upon A Time,” the First Doctor (played by David Bradley) and the Twelfth Doctor meet, right before they both are to regenerate. Moffat did intend this to be a cyclical thing showing how the character has changed and how they haven’t. Additionally, this episode wasn’t meant to happen when it did — Moffat wanted to complete his run with the end of Capaldi’s final season.

However, Chibnall did not want to start with a Christmas special, and if the show didn’t have a Christmas special, Doctor Who would have lost the Christmas special slot permanently. This meant Moffat had to rush to write and record a whole extra episode while still having basically wrapped the Twelfth Doctor’s story at the end of his final season. Meanwhile, Paul Cornell was writing the novelization at the same time the episode was being written, and they had to cut 30 minutes from the final episode.

Some of the issues I have can thus be explained, but I am judging based on what we got on screen.

The portrayal of the First Doctor that ended up on our screens for this episode seemed to be based fully on the “smacked bottom” line and sexist attitudes of the 1960s. They even had the First Doctor say that line to a woman he was not related to and had just met.

This is played as a joke in the episode, and it isn’t the only one. One of the only character traits Moffat plays up in the aired episode is how sexist and out-of-touch with the modern day the First Doctor was. Which is certainy an aspect of the character having been written and portrayed in the 1960’s we can’t ignore that aspect of the character,however Moffat exxaggarates an highlights no other aspects of the character.

In other post-Hartnell appearances, the First Doctor has often fared better; for example, in “The Five Doctors,” he is portrayed as being the most knowledgeable and experienced of all the incarnations.

This may have been Moffat’s way of popping that fan view… which is a complete misunderstanding of who the First Doctor is.

Even this one line was not as bad as it sounds, as I explained earlier, and while the First Doctor certainly comes across as paternalistic, sexist, and from the 1960s there is more equality there that Moffat in the aired episode seems to ignore, basically boiling it down to the Twelfth Doctor being embarrassed by this sexist, rude past version of himself that is completely out of touch with current attitudes.

This is completely unlike any other portrayal of the First Doctor, and bordering on an insult in how it is handled.

While it has been argued that instead of just the First Doctor, Moffat was portraying the attitudes of the 1960s show in general, there was also racism then and the episode really doesn’t deal with that at all. Also, putting all that on the First Doctor still makes it a terrible characterization.

As I mentioned earlier, Cornell was working on a novelization at the same time as Moffat was writing the episode, and at least 30 minutes of the episode didn’t make it to the final version on screen.

Some of the problems with the rushed episode are fixed in the novelization. For example, in the book it is explained the First Doctor acted sexist and out-of-character to annoy the Twelfth Doctor because he didn’t like him, and in the book he tones it down as he begins to like this other incarnation of himself.

Whether or not this was the intention of Moffat’s on-screen version, it does not come across that way when watching the episode.

Also, I want to be clear: none of this is on David Bradley, who has portrayed Hartnell brilliantly in the Big Finish audios and in the docudrama “An Adventure in Space and Time.” Moffat may have intended to show a more nuanced version at some point but what came across was an awful “joke” that really did not work and instead came across as the worst interpretation of the First Doctor in a canon appearance.

Let me know if you agree or disagree, and either way, I hope you join us by listening to future and past episodes of Daleks Aren’t Robots!?


Sources: What Did People Think About Doctor Who in 1964?

An interesting summary to start with. This article feels like not only has the reviewer not watched the episode, but the author also seems to think Ian Chesterton is the focal character. https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/A_new_adventure_on_a_strange_planet_begins_today
The news really was pushing at the time that the Voords would be more popular than the Daleks. As you can tell by the fact that you almost never hear about the Voords, they were wrong. They also barely appear in the serial that was their debut, and as yet their only, onscreen appearance. https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/New_TV_monsters_will_rival_the_Daleks , https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/After_the_Daleks_a_new_horror%E2%80%94_VOORDS
Here are some promotional pictures of Carole Ann Ford with a Voord. This monster was pushed quite hard for being just someone in a modified wetsuit. https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/In_the_grip_of_a_Voord! , https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/My_word%E2%80%94it%27s_a_Voord
An interesting background piece on William Hartnell, especially for us nowadays who may not know that he was often typecast as a military actor. The Doctor was very much outside the normal roles that he got, and in my opinion he did it amazingly. https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/The_Man_Who%27s_Who
And so pretty much from the start the legend of Dr. Who causing kids to watch from behind the sofa even hits some newspapers. It may not seem like it with today’s eyes but back in the 1960s this really was frightening but engaging for children. https://wordpress.com/post/daleksarentrobots.com/552
This one is more tangential; however it addresses an important issue then and now — representation in all aspects of any business but particularly women in entertainment. And none of these writers interviewed here seem particularly bothered by their attitude and of course none of the writers are women. https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Why_can%27t_they_write_for_women%3F
A nice picture of the main cast of the first season with Verity Lambert. It’s a sign of how worldwide the show would end up going, to Canada and Australia even then. https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/The_cast_of_BBC-1%27s_Dr._Who
To end on for now, an odd one loosely tied to “The Sensorites” by the Daily Mail. It’s about scientists developing a “thought machine.” I have searched and this is the only record I could find of it; still, it illustrates the show’s influence in that the go-to in 1964 for a telepathy comparison was Dr. Who. https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Scientists_invent_a_thought_machine#tab=Description

Sources: When Steven Spielberg Didn’t Direct Doctor Who, and the 1996 TV Movie

An article from December 1993 when Steven Spielberg was still potentially looking to get involved in a Dr. Who production. This is where the animation of a spider Dalek comes from, because they did get into early production before the whole project fell through. https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Spielberg_resurrects_%27Dr._Who%27, https://tardis.fandom.com/wiki/Spider_Dalek_(TV_story)

In 1994, a female Doctor was a possibility being considered. As we know, this did not pan out, but it would have been interesting to see what they did. https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Dr_Who%27s_sex_change#tab=Citations
What was Steven Spielberg thinking about doing for Doctor Who? Well, it seems he was intending to stick to classic storylines, though we do not know exactly what that means or what it would have looked like. https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Dr_Who_gets_Spielberg_call_to_Hollywood
And of course here we see how long the idea of a female-led Dr. Who movie in the 1990s lasted. Which is unsurprising and this iteration of a Doctor Who movie never got made anyway. https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Python_Eric_is_Dr_Who
And here we see the end of Steven Spielberg’s version of Doctor Who, which as previously stated would have starred Eric Idle and also Pamela Anderson. Though it does come with an introduction to the idea of a cheaper TV movie… https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Dr_Who_travels_back_to_his_TV_future
An announcement of the budget and some of the actors who were being considered for the role of the Doctor for the TV movie that did end up getting made… with Paul McGann in the starring role. https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Gay_actor_set_to_play_Doctor_Who, https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Doctor_Who_returns_with_a_hi-tech_Tardis
Fans lost it over a kiss, I can’t imagine their reaction if this had happened! As we know there were still multiple kisses, and a lot of subtext with Eric Roberts’ Master.

We still have never had even an implied sex scene to my knowledge on screen with any Doctor.

And here’s a quote from The Mirror’s interview with Jon Pertwee (who played the Third Doctor) a couple months before the TV movie came out, on the Doctor having sex: “It goes against the spirit of the original series but it was obvious when they cast a handsome young man they would involve him in romance. I don’t know what kids will make of it. It’s a sign of the times I guess,” sighs 76 -year-old Jon Pertwee. .https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Look_Who_Gets_A_Bonk! https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/My_Dr_Who_Had_No_Time_For_Sex#tab=Text
An article about Paul McGann that was published 3 months before the movie aired. Tt again hints at a romantic relationship, and has Mcgann drop the half-human line well before the movie came out. McGann also mentions how he was initially reluctant to take the role. https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/So_Who%27s_a_pretty_boy_then,_Doctor%3F
One more pre-release article. This one covers a lot of the same ground but does specifically discuss how fans might react to the slick look and better sets. In the future, we’ll post some reviews and articles about the fan response to the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie. https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/A_blast_from_the_past_and_the_future_-_it%27s_Doctor_Who

Sources: Dalekmania Strikes in 1964 Britain!

So to start, here we have one of the guest stars of The Daleks, who really did not get that much screen time and many people probably do not remember. She would later get bit roles appearing in some Hammer films, but Wetherell is most well-known a small role in “A Clockwork Orange.” https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/A_Down-to-Earth_pose_for_a_TV_Space_girl, https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0923145/
Here’s a nice touch– the BBC donated two of the Daleks to a children’s home so children could, I guess, roll around pretending to be Daleks. It’s great that they didn’t just dispose of them, though the production probably regretted it when they did indeed bring the Daleks back. https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/TV_Daleks_go_to_the_orphans
One of the donated Daleks is shown being played with by some of the children at one of the homes. https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Picture_parade
Here, the BBC publicly started realizing they could market the Daleks. It’s interesting that they come right out and claim that they completely own the design of said monster. https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/If_you_want_to_buy_a_Dalek_try_the_BBC
As you can see, it was no time at all before people started making their own versions of Daleks or Darlek in this case, This one was even useful! Also neat that this article also thinks that Daleks are Robots. https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Robot_to_sell_rag_magazine
A rather rare thing–a picture of Carole Ann Ford with her daughter, paired with a nice story about having her daughter watch the show. https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Guess_Who_..
As is seen here, the public demand was so intense that Verity Lambert agreed to bring the Daleks back. For the first monsters to appear in the show, they made an impressive impact on the British public. https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Coming_Back_–_The_Daleks!

Sources: What Did People Think of Doctor Who in 1963?

Here’s an example of an article written before Doctor Who came out, detailing the setup and the people behind the show. https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/ITV_can_expect_a_jolt_when_the_BBC_launches_its_%27Dr._Who%27
The reaction to JFK’s death led to the first episode of an Unearthly Child being aired again the following weekend. https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Circumstances_were_hardly_favorable_for_the_An_Unearthly_Child_of_the_B.B.C.%27s_space_satellite_Dr._Who
A brief but interesting scientific-minded comment on the first episode of Doctor who, referencing an educational show hosted by Professor Hermann Bondi of E=mc2. https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/High_camp_for_kiddies , https://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/cb5a826e73d749e68cd46bd51642f05e
Here’s a rather amusing review from Variety where the writer messes up the relationship between Susan and the Doctor, referring to her as his daughter. This reviewer certainly does not seem impressed by the first episode. https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Dr._Who_(Variety)

A discussion of the very iconic Doctor Who theme and how it was made! Of course it would be decades before Delia Derbyshire would get the public acknowledgement she deserved for her work on the theme. It wouldn’t really get widespread attention till after her death in the early 2000s. https://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Verity%27s_tune_is_way_out_of_this_world! , https://www.openculture.com/2016/01/the-fascinating-story-of-how-delia-derbyshire-created-the-original-doctor-who-theme.html