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The Alt History First Doctor was a 37-year-old Welshman

Illustration for article titled The Alt History First Doctor was a 37-year-old Welshman

Yes, somewhere in a parallel universe, this man was the first Doctor.

Doctorwhonews.net has been running a lovely multi-part retrospective on the origins of the classic series, from its initial planning stages up through casting and production. As a Doctor Who history buff, I already knew quite a bit about these early days, but one thing I'd never heard before is that prior to casting William Hartnell, in situ producer-director Rex Tucker, (who was assigned to the project on a temporary basis several months before Verity Lambert was brought onboard), had at least tentatively offered the titular role to his friend Hugh David, a 37-year-old Welshman best known for his portrayal of Stephen Drummond in the Granada crime drama Knight Errant Limited.

Hugh turned down the role, and it's unlikely he would have actually been cast in the part considering that he clashed completely with Sydney Newman's vision of the character, but officially he goes down in history as being the first person offered the role of the Doctor. Had he somehow landed the part, he would have been the youngest actor to portray the Doctor until Peter Davison took over in 1981.


Interestingly enough, Hugh's association with Doctor Who didn't end there. He moved away from acting a short time later to pursue a career as a director— a career which saw him step behind the camera for two of Patrick Troughton's most memorable stories, The Highlanders and Fury From the Deep.

Alas, all but one episode of Knight Errant Limited suffered the same horrible fate as so many TV serials produced during that time, and there aren't any clips online, so you'll just have to imagine what a spry young 1st Doctor would have sounded like with a Welsh accent.

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