An amazingly rare artefact has surfaced in the collection of director Waris Hussein – his original, personally annotated studio floorplan for Doctor Who’s pilot episode from 1963. The document is dated “25/9” – 25 September, today’s date 50 years ago. This week, five decades ago, the cast and crew of Doctor Who were busy gearing up for episode one, An Unearthly Child, which would be recorded on Friday 27 September.
While the actors rehearsed in the less-than-glamorous Drill Hall in Uxbridge Road, London W12, the BBC design team and set builders were constructing the sets according to this floorplan at nearby Lime Grove Studios. The episode was written to be taped “as live”, with only one break in recording. “In those days,” says Waris, “we shot continuously on four cameras with very few breaks in the tape. You had to know exactly what you were doing. It was almost mathematical in its strategy.”