William Hartnell

Last updated on the 26 March 2024 by Evandrus

William Hartnell

Mini Biography

Born: 8 January 1908, London, England. 

One of William Hartnell’s first notable roles came in the form of Sergeant Grimshawe in “The Army Game.” This popular sitcom that aired from 1957 to 1961 showcased his comedic prowess as he portrayed the humorous trials and tribulations faced by conscripted soldiers. The show became a significant success and further solidified Hartnell’s reputation as a talented actor capable of bringing laughter to audiences.

In 1958, Hartnell continued his successful streak with “Carry On Sergeant,” where he played the role of Regimental Sergeant Major Bullimore. This comedy film became one of the most beloved entries in the iconic Carry On series. With its witty script and hilarious ensemble cast, including some actors from “The Army Game,” it delighted audiences worldwide while showcasing Hartnell’s ability to deliver comedic timing with finesse.

Hartnell also ventured into dramatic roles throughout his career. In films like “Brighton Rock” (1947), he demonstrated his versatility by portraying complex characters involved in dark and morally ambiguous storylines. His performance as Dallow, one of Pinkie Brown’s henchmen in this gripping crime drama based on Graham Greene’s novel, showcased his ability to bring depth and intensity to challenging roles.

Another notable mention is Hartnell’s portrayal of Prime Minister Count Rupert Mountjoy in “The Mouse That Roared” (1959). This satirical comedy followed a small European country declaring war against the United States with unexpected consequences. As part of an ensemble cast featuring renowned actors such as Peter Sellers and Jean Seberg, Hartnell added charm and wit to this delightful political farce.

Moving to the small screen, Hartnell’s most iconic role came in 1963 when he was cast as the First Doctor in “Doctor Who.” This groundbreaking science fiction series revolutionised television and became a cultural phenomenon. As the original incarnation of The Doctor, Hartnell captivated audiences with his unique portrayal of an enigmatic time-traveling alien. His contribution to this enduring franchise laid the foundation for its immense success and longevity.


Suggested viewing


Doctor Who (1963)

William Hartnell Doctor Who poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 8.4

“Doctor Who” is a long-running British science fiction television series that follows the adventures of the Doctor, a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. The Doctor travels through time and space in their spaceship called the TARDIS, often accompanied by various companions, as they battle villains and save civilizations across the universe.”

Top cast: William Hartnell, Carole Ann Ford, Jacqueline Hill, William Russell, Maureen O’Brien, Peter Purves, Adrienne Hill, Jean Marsh.

The Mouse That Roared (1959)

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 6.9

“The Mouse That Roared” is a 1959 British satirical comedy film based on Leonard Wibberley’s novel. The story revolves around the fictional Duchy of Grand Fenwick, a tiny European nation that declares war on the United States with hopes of losing and gaining financial aid. However, things take an unexpected turn when they accidentally capture a powerful weapon.”

Top cast: Peter Sellers, Jean Seberg, William Hartnell, David Kossoff, Leo McKern, MacDonald Parke, Austin Willis, Timothy Bateson.

Brighton Rock (1948)

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 7.3

Brighton Rock is based on the dark and gripping novel by Graham Greene that takes place in the seaside town of Brighton, England. It follows the ruthless teenage gang leader, Pinkie Brown, as he seeks revenge and navigates the criminal underworld, exploring themes of violence, morality, and redemption.

Top cast: Richard Attenborough, Hermione Baddeley, William Hartnell, Harcourt Williams, Wylie Watson, Nigel Stock, Carol Marsh, Alan Wheatley.

This Sporting Life (1963)

This Sporting Life

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.5

“This Sporting Life” is a 1963 British drama film directed by Lindsay Anderson. It explores the life of Frank Machin, a young coal miner who becomes a rugby league star. As he rises to fame, Frank struggles with his personal relationships and the challenges that come with success in the sporting world.”

Top cast: Richard Harris, Rachel Roberts, Alan Badel, William Hartnell, Colin Blakely, Vanda Godsell and Anne Cunningham.

The Army Game (1957)

The Army Game

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.5

The Army Game is a British sitcom set in fictional Hut 29 at the National Service Depot. It humorously portrays the lives of conscripted soldiers and their misadventures while serving in the army. The show explores the clash of personalities, military discipline, and comical situations that arise within this unique setting.

Top cast: Alfie Bass, Bill Fraser, Bernard Bresslaw, Charles Hawtrey, Michael Medwin, Norman Rossington, William Hartnell, Geoffrey Sumner.

Carry On Sergeant (1958)

Bftv 8.0 / IMDb 6.2

Carry On Sergeant is a classic British comedy film that follows the misadventures of a group of National Service recruits in the army. It humorously depicts their struggles, clashes with authority, and attempts to avoid military duties. This lighthearted movie showcases the comedic talents of its ensemble cast while exploring themes of camaraderie and resilience.

Top cast: William Hartnell, Bob Monkhouse, Shirley Eaton, Eric Barker, Kenneth Connor, Charles Hawtrey, Bill Owen, Hattie Jacques.

Full filmography (@Wikipedia)


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