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William Henry Hartnell (8 January 1908 – 23 April 1975), also known as Billy Hartnell or Bill Hartnell, was an English actor. Hartnell played the first incarnation of the Doctor in Doctor Who, from 1963 to 1966. He was also known for his roles as Sergeant Grimshaw, the title character of the first Carry On film, Carry On Sergeant in 1958, and Company Sergeant Major Percy Bullimore in the sitcom The Army Game from 1957 until 1958, and again in 1960. Hartnell entered the theatre in 1925 working under Frank Benson as a general stagehand. He appeared in numerous Shakespearian plays, including The Merchant of Venice (1926), Julius Caesar (1926), As You Like It (1926), Hamlet (1926), The Tempest (1926) and Macbeth (1926). He also appeared in She Stoops to Conquer (1926), School for Scandal (1926) and Good Morning, Bill (1927), before performing in Miss Elizabeth's Prisoner (1928). This play was written by Robert Neilson Stephens and E. Lyall Swete. It featured the actress Heather McIntyre, whom he married during the following year. His first of more than sixty film appearances was in Say It With Music (1932). Hartnell continued to play comic characters until he was cast in the robust role of Sergeant Ned Fletcher in The Way Ahead (1944). From then on his career was defined by playing mainly policemen, soldiers, and thugs. Hartnell's performance in This Sporting Life was noted by Verity Lambert, the producer who was setting up a new science-fiction television series for the BBC entitled Doctor Who; and, mainly on the strength of that performance, Lambert offered him the title role.
January 8, 1908, St. Pancras, London, England, UK
April 23, 1975
? Doctor Who: Twice Upon a TimeThe Doctor (archive footage) 1944 The Way AheadSgt. Ned Fletcher 1947 Odd Man OutFencie - the barman 1948 Brighton RockDallow 1951 The Magic BoxRecruiting Sergeant 1955 Footsteps in the FogHerbert Moresby 1956 Private's ProgressSgt. Sutton 1957 Hell DriversCartley, Hawlett Manager 1957 Yangtse IncidentLeading Seaman Leslie Frank 1958 Carry On SergeantSergeant Grimshawe 1959 The Mouse That RoaredWill Buckley 1959 The Night We Dropped a ClangerSgt. Bright 1963 This Sporting Life'Dad' Johnson 1963 Heavens Above!Major Fowler 2013 The Day of the DoctorThe Doctor (archive footage)Limited to the 15 most popular items