Doctor Who: The Tenth Planet (Story #29)

doctor who the tenth planet story 29 dvd william hartnell
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 6/10

End of the First Doctor and the first appearance of the Cybermen

William Hartnell's health led to a less satisfying send off than deserved.


All your TARDIS are belong to us!

The Doctor (William Hartnell), Ben (Michael Craze), and Polly (Anneke Wills) find themselves on Earth in 1986 in a remote base in charge of monitoring a spaceship’s flight.  At the Zeus IV travels into space, Earth faces a new threat with the appearance of tenth planet headed toward Earth’s orbit.  The planet is the home of a race called the Cybermen, and the Cybermen reveal that Earth and their planet Mondas cannot survive if Earth survives.  The Cybermen intend for Mondas to survive and the Doctor and his companions find they must not only save the Zeus IV but the world…and it could change the Doctor forever!

Doctor Who:  The Tenth Planet aired during the fourth season of the long running BBC series.  The serial aired in four parts from October 8, 1966 to October 29, 1966.  The serial features the first regineration of the Doctor and William Hartnell’s last appearance before being replaced by Patrick Troughton.  Following the missing serial Doctor Who:  The Smugglers, Doctor Who:  The Tenth Planet has been collected as part of The William Hartnell Years as Story #29.


This guy is far creeper than the current Cybermen…looks like the Gimp!

This is the granddaddy of Doctor Who episodes for many viewers because this was the serial that changed everything.  Unfortunately, like many Doctor Who series, the episodes were lost (except for the audio) and quintessential episode in which the Doctor regenerates for the first time is gone (a rotten version of the regeneration has been found).  There have been claims and rumors of versions appearing, but as of yet, the fourth episode is missing…but the BBC smartly decided to provide an animated version of the script based on still images from the episode to make it as close to the potential original as possible.

Hartnell’s Doctor isn’t actually in this script very much.  He was sick for a lot of the production and his role was written out for an increased role for Ben and Polly.  Hartnell wasn’t scheduled to die in the original script but a decision at some point was made to replace him and the idea of regeneration was born (though it was never called this at the time).  Unfortunately for Patrick Troughton, he even had less of his shows survive than Hartnell.


The death of the Doctor…animated! Goodbye, William Hartnell

In addition to the “death” of the First Doctor, the movie features the first appearances of the Doctor’s longtime enemy the Cybermen.  The goofy robot android creatures are quite basic in this outing and not entirely scary…something about a robot in the room that people just end up debating isn’t scary.  The Cybermen were redesigned slightly for their second appearance in Doctor Who:  The Moonbase (Story #33).

I was pretty hard on Hartnell at the beginning of his run.  He was cranky, crabby, and kind of a jerk, but he did soften over his run.  Hartnell possessed a bit of fun and it was always more interest when his sense of humor came out.  I don’t know that the Doctor would have survived with him in the role for longer, but with this strange turn of events in the series, a legacy was born that runs to this day.  Doctor Who:  The Tenth Planet is followed by the missing serial Doctor Who:  The Power of the Daleks (which was animated in 2016).

Preceded By:

Doctor Who:  The Smugglers (Story #28) Missing

Followed By:

Doctor Who:  The Power of the Daleks (Story #30)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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