was most famous for his portrayal of the first incarnation
of The Doctor
in Doctor Who
. Hartnell's Doctor was rather different to some of the later incarnations: unlike the Tom Baker
and Patrick Troughton
who were portrayed somewhat as friendly joker
s, he portrayed The Doctor as an arrogant
, somewhat grumpy
old man: this is particularly evident in the first episode
of Doctor Who, An Unearthly Child
, though in later episodes these properties are played down. He is somewhat absent minded
but nonetheless cunning
and quick witted
(for example, see the scene in The Dalek Invasion of Earth
where he escapes from the Dalek Prison).
Hartnell played The Doctor for three years from November 1963 to October 1966, where Patrick Troughton took over the role due to bad health. He reappeared in The Three Doctors but only briefly, also due to health problems. The Five Doctors was filmed after he passed away and in it his incarnation was played by Richard Hurndall.
In non-Doctor Who roles, William Hartnell came to fame in the 1943 film The Way Ahead where he played an Army Sergeant. He later appeared in several notable films such as The Yangtse Incident, Carry On Sergeant, Brighton Rock, Hell Drivers and This Sporting Life. He died in 1975.