Why “An Unearthly Child” is absent from iPlayer can be attributed to rights and licensing issues pertaining to the show’s content, rendering it unavailable for streaming on the BBC platform.
Why is “An Unearthly Child” missing from iPlayer?
In October 2023, the BBC announced that the classic Doctor Who episode “An Unearthly Child” would not be accessible on its iPlayer service in the following month, along with other Doctor Who episodes. This decision was made due to the BBC’s incomplete copyright ownership of the episode. Stef Coburn, the son of the show’s original writer, revealed that he revoked the licensing rights because of disputes regarding compensation.
Previously, he had requested recognition and compensation for his father’s work, but he hadn’t withdrawn the rights at that time. In 2023, Stef Coburn strongly voiced his disapproval of the show’s direction and criticized the casting of certain actors, stating that his father would have been unhappy with the changes made over the years.
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Where to View “An Unearthly Child”?
To watch “An Unearthly Child,” the inaugural Doctor Who story, you have several options. It is not accessible on BBC iPlayer. You can locate it on BritBox and access it through an ITVX plugin. Additionally, individual episodes can be purchased on the Apple Store for £1.89 each, which includes “An Unearthly Child,” “The Cave of Skulls,” “The Forest of Fear,” and “The Firemaker.”
Furthermore, it is available on Amazon’s Prime Video, where you can buy individual episodes for £1.89 each or the entire season for £5.99. However, “An Unearthly Child” is not accessible on Netflix, as Doctor Who content is currently not offered on that platform.
An Unearthly Child
“An Unearthly Child,” also known as “100,000 BC,” stands as the inaugural narrative of the British science fiction TV series, Doctor Who. It originally aired in four parts from November 23 to December 14, 1963. The story, crafted by Australian writer Anthony Coburn, introduces William Hartnell as the First Doctor, accompanied by his original companions: Carole Ann Ford as Susan Foreman, and Jacqueline Hill and William Russell as schoolteachers Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton.
The opening episode unveils how Ian and Barbara stumble upon the Doctor and his time-traveling ship, the TARDIS, in a junkyard in London. The remainder of the narrative unfolds amidst warring Stone Age factions that have forgotten the art of fire-making. Doctor Who was conceived to bridge the gap between children’s and young adult TV programs, with Canadian producer Sydney Newman at the helm and contributions from Donald Wilson and C. E. Webber.
Verity Lambert served as the groundbreaking producer of the show, while Waris Hussein directed the serial. Despite encountering challenges and delays during production, it eventually premiered, albeit overshadowed by the Kennedy assassination. Initial reception was mixed, but in hindsight, it garners more favorable recognition, with adaptations and home media releases over the years.
Plot of “An Unearthly Child”
In the storyline of “An Unearthly Child,” teachers Ian and Barbara become concerned about their pupil, Susan, whose behavior appears unusual. Upon visiting her home, they stumble upon a peculiar police box and hear Susan’s voice emanating from within. An elderly man, Susan’s grandfather, prevents them from entering the police box.
However, they manage to gain entry and discover a vast control room inside the diminutive box. Susan discloses that the object is a time and space machine named the TARDIS, and they are exiles from their own planet. The Doctor, as they address him, initiates the TARDIS’s departure, and it journeys back in time to the Stone Age.
There, they encounter a primitive tribe led by Za, who struggles to create fire. If he fails, another tribe member named Kal will assume leadership. The Doctor is apprehended when he attempts to assist with fire-making, and Ian, Barbara, and Susan are also taken captive. They eventually break free with the assistance of Old Mother but are subsequently recaptured.
The tribe threatens to sacrifice them if they cannot produce fire. Ian ultimately succeeds, and Za becomes the leader. Susan discovers a method to make skulls appear animated with fire, and they employ this technique to escape to the TARDIS. Their journey takes them through time and space to an enigmatic forest, unaware that the radiation meter in the TARDIS displays a “Danger” warning.
Review of “An Unearthly Child”
The assessment of “An Unearthly Child” is predominantly positive. Although it received a mixed reception during its initial broadcast, it is now regarded with favor by many. This inaugural Doctor Who tale introduces the iconic TARDIS and the Doctor’s adventures in time and space.
Despite facing production challenges and being overshadowed by significant historical events like the Kennedy assassination, it has evolved into a cherished part of the show’s history. The narrative’s blend of a school setting, a mysterious time-travel device, and a journey back to the Stone Age makes it a memorable and pivotal start to the enduring Doctor Who series.
FAQs on Why “An Unearthly Child” is Absent from iPlayer
1. Why is “An Unearthly Child” not on iPlayer?
The absence of “An Unearthly Child” on iPlayer is primarily due to rights and licensing issues concerning the show’s content.
2. Where can I watch “An Unearthly Child”?
You can watch “An Unearthly Child” on BritBox, purchase individual episodes on the Apple Store, or find it on Amazon’s Prime Video for individual episode or full-season purchase.
3. Is “An Unearthly Child” available on DVD or Blu-ray?
You can obtain “An Unearthly Child” on DVD as part of a trilogy boxset featuring the first three Doctor Who stories. However, it is not available on Blu-ray, as the first season has not been released in that format.
4. Is “An Unearthly Child” accessible on streaming platforms like Netflix?
No, “An Unearthly Child” is not available on Netflix, and Doctor Who content is not currently offered on the platform.
5. Is the unaired pilot of “An Unearthly Child” viewable?
Yes, the recorded unaired pilot of the first episode is accessible on BritBox, along with the remainder of the serial.