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TME > Video > Commercial Releases

An Unearthly Child [100, 000BC]

The first ever story of the world's longest-running science fiction series comes to DVD for the first time!

Susan Foreman is a mystery to teachers Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright, seemingly knowing more than she should about the past... and the future. Their curiosity leads them to follow her home one night, only to find that her 'home' appears to be a deserted junkyard. In the junkyard, they discover a police telephone box and a strange old man, who claims to be Susan's grandfather, and calls himself the Doctor. The journey of a lifetime is about to begin.

    -- from the DVD release, 2006

Initially released with very little remastering (and with the final moments cut to remove the last "Next Episode" caption, as one of the earliest black and white stories in the video range, this story also almost formed a part of a boxed set called "The Beginning" on video in November 1999.

Fans reacted badly to this, as the set would also have included the only VHS release of Inside the Spaceship, and they felt they were being forced to buy a story they already owned.

The remastered version would, therefore, be released by itself in 2000, and the notion of a box set would not be revisited until 2006's DVD set of the first three stories - also entitled "The Beginning".

Episode timings on DVD: 23'20", 24'35", 23'34", 24'23"
Episode timings on PasB: 23'10", 24'35", 23'38", 24'23"

VHS releases


05/02/1990: UK - BBC Enterprises - BBCV4311 (repriced 14/2/1994, deleted 2/12/1994)
01/07/1990: Aus/NZ - PolyGram - BBC43112
??/??/1991: US - CBS/Fox - 3401 (renumbered by Warner Home Video to E1096 in 2000)

None of these releases were remastered and all were missing their "Next Episode" captions at the end of the final part. Cover by Alistair Pearson, originally created for the reissue of the Target novelisation that occurred that year,which also appeared as a poster in Doctor Who Magazine (see right).

In order to comply with BBFC guidelines, the video opened with a caption, displayed left.

04/09/2000: UK - BBC Worldwide - BBCV6959
??/??/2000: Aus/NZ - Roadshow Entertainment - 6959

This was fully remastered by the Restoration Team, for intended including in the abortive "The Beginning" box set. Cover art by Black sheep.

In order to comply with BBFC guidelines, the video opened with a caption.

DVD releases

30/01/2006: UK - 2Entertain - BBCDVD1882(A) - Part of "The Beginning" BBCV1882
28/03/2006: US - Warner Home Video - Unknown Cat Number - Part of "The Beginning" [not pictured]

In order to comply with BBFC guidelines, the Play All feature led first to an 18-second caption (right).

Box set images


Cover art for the UK/Aus by Clayton Hickman. An early version of the UK release looked somewhat different...:


DVD Bonus features

Pilot Episode (25'05")
Available as part of the "Play All" feature, and also in the "Episode Selection" menu (as opposed to the "Special Features"), this is a brand new edit of the studio recording of the Pilot episode. It has been fully remastered, VidFIREd, and cuts together the best elements of each take of the second half (watch the length of Hartnell's scarf to spot the join!), as well as corrected some of the better known goofs (such as Susan's "they've gone from two to nintee-teen to two"), although allowing many of Hartnell's to pass uncorrected.
Pilot Episode Studio Recording (35'38")
The full unedited (barring a long sequence of black in the middle) recording of the pilot, including all 3 takes of the second half of the TARDIS scene (2 full takes and 1 outtake).
Theme Music Video (22'35")
A compilation of the build-up footage created for the Hartnell title sequence, along with some clips from the first episode, backed by a 5.1 Surround remix (or Dolby Digital 2.0, or Mono) of the theme tune.
Doctor Who Theme Composed by Ron Grainer
Realised by Delia Derbyshire, BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Graphic Designer: Bernard Lodge
Remix Produced by Mark Ayres
BBC Worldwide (C) BBC MMVI
Comedy Sketches (3'43", 5''53", 3'50", 3'38")
Four comedy sketches. The Pitch of Fear had been written for Doctor Who Night in 1999 by Mark Gatiss, and featured David Walliams pitching the idea of the series to him - Gatiss requested that the other two sketches made for the night (The Web of Caves, in which Gatiss played the Doctor to Walliams' distinctly un-evil mortal enemy, and The Kidnappers, in which Walliams abducts Peter Davison for Gatiss' amusement) also be placed alongside it, and that a joke at the expense of the 80s Doctors ("But I'm telling you now, I don't want to do this show unless we get the most charismatic talented actors to play the Doctor" / "What, for the whole 30 years?" / "Nah, towards the end just any old f**ker with an Equity card") be removed, as Gatiss had regretted the offence it had caused Colin Baker in particular.
The Corridor Sketch was created for Reeltime Pictures, and featured a collection of fans re-enacting the atmosphere behind-the-scenes of the original recordings. An end credits sequence was added for this DVD release:
Cast, in order of appearance: Nicholas Briggs, Gary Russell, Stephen Mansfield, Heather Barker, Alistair Lock, Tim Burgess, J. Jeremy Bentham, Jan Burgess, Steve Arnott, Claire Brialey, Noel Collyer, Alison Gabriel, Julie Davies, Andy Sturgess, John 'Grandad' Philpott, Andrew Beech, John Ainsworth, Jackie Rowe, Jackie's Friend, Nicholas Courtney
Edit Facilities: Gateway Films Ltd
Make-Up: Susan Moore
Cameraman/Editor: Dave Hicks
Gag Writers: The Cast & Crew
Script Editor: Kevin Davies
Producer: Keith Barnfather
Directed by Kevin Davies
Copyright Reeltime Pictures MCMXCI

Gallery (6'03")
70 b/w photos, plus 5 colour photos of the commentary recording.
With thanks to: Barry Newbery, BBC Photograph Library, Doctor Who Magazine, Derek Handley, Tony Clark
BBC Worldwide (C) MMV

Pilot Episode Studio Recording (Verity Lambert & Warris Hussein)
An Unearthly Child (William Russell, Carol Ann Ford & Verity Lambert)
The Firemaker (William Russell, Carol Ann Ford & Waris Hussein)
All moderated by Gary Russell
(As this was part of a box-set release, budget would not stretch to a commentary for every episode)

Production Subtitles
By Martin Wiggins

Restoration Notes

For the 2000 VHS rerelease, around 20 instances per episode of dirt, sparkle and blobs were removed.

For the DVD release, Mark Ayres remastered the audio from the optical soundtracks (using the magnetic track where necessary to correct some faults), reducing the talkback and occasionally retiming mis-timed sound effects, and a major error in The Forest of Fear to Ian's line "Back! Go back!" in which the first "back" had been lost in pre-transmission edits. Very little remastering was needed for the video side of things.


08/02/1990 - Story passed as 'U' by the BBFC for the UK
28/03/1990 - Story passed as 'PG' [Occasional Low Level Violence] by the OFLC for Aus/NZ
12/04/2000 - Studio recording passed as 'PG' [Low Level Violence] by the OFLC for Aus/NZ as part of the 'Inside the Spaceship' classification
19/04/2000 - Studio recording passed as 'U' by the BBFC for the UK (originally for 'Inside the Spaceship' VHS)
23/08/2000 - Story repassed as 'PG' [this time Low Level Violence] by the OFLC for Aus/NZ
02/12/2005 - Pilot re-edit passed as 'U' by the BBFC for the UK
04/11/2005 - Some DVD bonuses for 'Tbe Beginning', including the sketches, passed as '12' [due to one use of strong language, most likely] by the BBFC for the UK. The rest, including the photo gallery for this story, passed as 'PG'.
20/01/2006 - Story, and DVD bonuses for disc 1, passed as 'PG' [Mild Violence] by the OFLC for Aus/NZ
Story was NOT repassed in in the UK in 2000 for the VHS rerelease or 2005 for the DVD release, despite being a few seconds longer

Due to an error in the cover art, the case for An Unearthly Child features the U that was intended for The Daleks, and the latter takes on the 12 that the bonus features for the former disc earnt.
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