Doctor Who: The Problem of Peter Cushing Resolved

Categories: Doctor Who

The Peter Cushing Appreciation Society UK
Sadly, Steven Moffat didn't get his wish. The celebration of 50 years of Doctor Who contained no references to the strange spin-off Doctor played by Peter Cushing in the '60s. However, Moffat's words do possibly clear up one of the great faux pas in the show's history.

First, some background. Peter Cushing played a version of The Doctor in two films in the '60s. These were Dr. Who and The Daleks and Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. The films, which were actually the first Doctor Who to be colorized and the first presented in widescreen as well, were meant to capitalize on the huge popularity of the Daleks and possibly make some inroads in America, where Doctor Who was still completely unknown.

The first film was more or less a remake of the second William Hartnell serial, "The Daleks." At this point it is impossible to overstate how popular the Daleks were, in many ways overshadowing the rest of the show entirely. Terry Nation, the creator of the Daleks, agreed to license his most famous creations to be adapted as long as longtime script editor David Whitaker (author of the novelization of "The Daleks") was hired to adapt.

The films featured a much different Doctor from the one we currently know. First off, he is entirely human. Barbara Wright is no longer his granddaughter's teacher, but another granddaughter of The Doctor himself. Ian Chesterton becomes Barbara's boyfriend, and it is he who sends the four to Skaro when he accidentally activates The Doctor's latest invention, TARDIS.

Otherwise, the plot is much the same as in "The Daleks," and if the film isn't exactly better than the television serial, it is at least no worse. William Hartnell was thoroughly annoyed at being passed over for a film credit for Peter Cushing in the role, but Cushing was seen as a better known face to the cinematic world and therefore more capable of launching The Doctor to a wider audience. He does play the part with more warmth and childish humor than the famously grumpy Hartnell, and is for all intents and purposes a fantastic Doctor.

Except they don't really call him that.

This is one of the few times in the course of Who history that the character is definitely referred to as Dr. Who. He's almost never called The Doctor. "Who" is his last name (His first is never revealed in either film or the rare appearances Cushing's Doctor has made on the fringes of the expanded universe).

Cushing himself always maintained that his Doctor was a proper Doctor, though not necessarily the First as he was so clearly based on. In his mind, the Dalek films represented a future incarnation of The Doctor forced to relive previous adventures by a foe like the Celestial Toymaker. Actually, that's a pretty good idea. Someone should get on that for Peter Capaldi.

Cushing's theory aside, it's long been held in fan theory that Dr. Who is not as proper part of the lineage of the Time Lord. Instead, the hypothesis goes that the Dalek films actually exist within the context of the show. Possibly they are based on stories told by Ian and Barbara after they ceased traveling with the First Doctor, making their way onto the silver screen in mangled forms from the true ones. Moffat's plan to include posters of the Dalek films in the black archives lends considerable weight to this theory.

It also clears up the only other time The Doctor is ever referred to directly as Doctor Who in the course of the regular show.

This story continues on the next page.

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I like that  idea, I did have my own theory that the two Dalek films were in an alternate reality, thus could be crossed over... great way to bring back the Dalek at full power eh? also taking this from another p.o.v., they could have a new Dr Who film that ties with the Peter Cushing ones though slightly updated in visual and special fx but keeping the spirit of them, perhaps a remake of the Tenth Planet would be good with the Daleks making a cameo at the supposed end ("Ben... Polly... Meet the Daleks...")   then revealing the whole thing was a actually a film being made within a film, so to speak, with the actual (TV) Doctor watching it being made, or something along those lines


Hmmm...a way that Moffat could effectively tie Cushing`s version of the Doctor to continuity it by drawing it in to Capaldi`s version. If you compare screengrabs of Cushing and Capaldi, they possess similar facial and body structure that could easily pass them off as one and the same Doctor. (just slap on a moustache on Capaldi!)


This article confused me. Personally I like to put both Cushing and Moffat's theories together- Moffat believes them to be distorted versions of early adventures- Cushing believed it was the Celestial Toymaker wiping the Doctor's memory and making him relive earlier adventures. would make sense to me that the Doctor at some point was made to relieve distorted versions of earlier adventures.

Does that make sense to anyone?

Brian Tapparno-Clark
Brian Tapparno-Clark

No idea, the films are nothing to do with the programme; The man was a scientist called Doctor Who, Susan and Barbara were his granddaughters and Ian was dating Barbara.


@superbigkid except that the movies very clearly made him human and not alien.  He built the TARDIS from scratch instead of stealing it.  There is a reason they weren't in canon.

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