Thursday 25 November 2010

003 An Unearthly Child Part 3: The Forest of Fear

EPISODE: An Unearthly Child Part 3: The Forest of Fear
TRANSMITTED: 07 December 1963
WRITER: Anthony Coburn
DIRECTOR: Waris Hussein
SCRIPT EDITOR: David Whitaker
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
FORMAT: DVD - The Beginning Boxset

So we escape from cave, with help from the old woman in the tribe who doesn't want the tribe to have fire who then becomes the first death in Doctor Who, struggle through jungle, reach Tardis and then get ambushed. Plotwise it doesn't advance the story much and effectively returns everyone to where they were at the start of the story.

A word for some of the behind the scenes personnel: Verity Lambert is both the only female and youngest producer at the BBC. Waris Hussein is the youngest and only Asian director on the staff. For 1963 this is a huge change from the norm at the BBC. For the writer, Anthony Coburn, this story is his only contribution to the series. Hussein would only direct one more story, though he was invited back to direct the 1983 anniversary special, and Lambert would be gone in two years to an illustrious television career including Euston films, Minder and Jonathan Creek.

The two talents that worked on An Unearthly Child that would be associated with Doctor Who for the longest period of time are the Script Editor, David Whitaker, who would write for the program many times after leaving his post, and the production assistant, Douglas Camfield, who would shortly find himself elevated to director. It's interesting that Hussein's production assistant is Camfield, who later directs many stories and uses Graeme Harper as his PA, who in turn directs for both the old and new series of Doctor Who. It's also interesting to note that Derek Newark, who plays Za, the lead caveman, returns to Doctor Who in a later Camfield production, Inferno.


  1. Isnt this the episode where the Doctor has to be stopped from killing a wounded caveman?

  2. Yes, I think it is. During the jungle bit.

  3. I don't think it is so surprising that Camfield went from Production Assistant here to a Director, and was followed down that road by Graham Harper. There was still a bit of the idea of mentorship in this period and I suspect it was quite common for production-side folk to be "brought along" by others, and later to return the favour by bringing others along.

    I love this episode by the way - the scenes in the titular forest pretty much layout the character dynamic of the original travelling companions perfectly - the Doctor a little amoral and willinbg to do whatever seems expedient, Barbara with her instinct to help no matter the cost, and Ian unable to turn away from the moral thing even when it is the harder (and Susan just sort of floating through things...).