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1963 in

the DWU • production history • vital statistics • releases

Timeline for 1963
20th century | 1960s

• 1960 • 1961 • 1962 • 1964 • 1965 • 1966 • 1967 • 1968 • 1969

1963 was a year in which a number of events important to the production of Doctor Who and its spin-offs occurred.

  • 14 January - Sydney Newman took over the role of BBC Head of Drama.[1]
  • 29 March - C. E. Webber, on orders from Sydney Newman, sent a report to Donald Wilson, in which he described a potential science fiction programme which would eventually become Doctor Who. The report described suitable characters for the "five-o'clock Saturday audience": the handsome young man, the handsome well-dressed heroine aged about 30 and the mature man. The initial thought was of a laboratory-set programme with scientists for protagonists, although this was eventually scrapped in the next report.[2]
  • 16 May - A document, prepared by Donald Wilson and C. E. Webber and Sydney Newman, was submitted to Donald Baverstock which outlined the concept of a proposed programme called Dr. Who.
  • 24 June - David Whitaker appointed as script editor.[3]
  • 7 August - William Hartnell has his first costume fitting and make up test.[4]
  • 20 August - First filming on "An Unearthly Child", the first ever episode, began. The session at Stage 3A of Ealing involved the recording of some of the elements of the opening credits.[4]
  • 31 August - Further filming of opening credits elements at Studio 5 of TV Centre.[4] (Though the two sessions cover most of the elements used in the title sequence, some other howlaround elements would ultimately be used from a previous BBC production in 1960, Tobias and the Angel.[5][6][7])
  • 3 September - Title sequence assembled from the pre-existing and newly recorded elements by Richard Barclay at Ealing.[4]
  • 20 September - William Hartnell, Carole Ann Ford, Jacqueline Hill and William Russell all meet together for the first time, for a publicity photo shoot at TV Centre.[4]
  • 21 September - Rehearsals for "An Unearthly Child" began at a Drill Hall on Uxbridge Road.[4]
  • 27 September - The first episode, "An Unearthly Child" is recorded.[4] This version of the first episode was beset by technical problems, and the BBC subsequently rejected it for broadcast, authorising a rare "do-over" for later in the year. The outcome of these filming sessions was later dubbed "the Pilot Episode".[8]
  • 4 October - After viewing the pilot episode, Sydney Newman officially rejected the Pilot Episode in a lunch meeting with Verity Lambert and Waris Hussein and authorised a remounting of the episode.[4] According to Howe and Walker, this was a contingency that had been planned for.[source needed] Over the next couple of weeks, numerous revisions to the script and changes to costuming and characterisation were undertaken.
  • 9-11 October - Filming for "An Unearthly Child" restarted at Ealing Studios following September's false start.
  • 21 November - The first ever Doctor Who press conference was held to launch the new show. All four lead actors and David Whitaker attended the event at BBC Langham.
  • 21 November - Radio Times published an article announcing the debut of Doctor Who, dated 23 November. This was the first Doctor Who-related article ever published.
  • 30 December - The Audience Research Report on the first episode of Doctor Who was filed with the BBC.