Doctor Who: director Waris Hussein’s hand-annotated scripts from 50 years ago

In an RT exclusive, the original director shows how he altered and influenced Episode Two, The Cave of Skulls, aired on 30 November 1963

Caves top image

First published in November 2013


To mark today’s 50th anniversary of Doctor Who’s second episode, The Cave of Skulls, its director Waris Hussein has kindly allowed to show some of his workings on the rehearsal scripts.

This is the top page (below) of an early draft with a note to play a musical cue (Q6) over the recap of the previous week’s cliffhanger – an image of caveman Kal’s shadow as he watched the ship (the Tardis):

Caves rehearsal script page 1


Page 2 (below) shows how Waris completely reworked the establishing shots of Scene 1 set in the cave people’s encampment. His handwritten remarks are on the left and his thoughts on the incidental music on the right.

Caves rehearsal script page 2


Page 3 (below) continues the scene with the first few lines of dialogue. At this stage, it’s clear that Za, the would-be leader of the tribe, is the son of the Old Mother. A detail dropped in later revisions.

Caves rehearsal script page 3


This page 2 (below) is a later revision of the opening scene with Waris’s first marks on the action included and typed up. The new handwritten marks indicate his thoughts for how best to capture the action on camera. The red mark Q7 indicates the musical cue chosen.

Caves rehearsal script revise page 2


Here are pages 11 and 12 (below) from the same revised script (amended on 4.10.63). Again the handwriting on the left shows Waris’s ideas for his camera script, cutting between cameras 2 and 4.

Caves rehearsal script revise page 11
Caves rehearsal script revise page 12

This is a section of the scene when the time travellers emerge from the police box onto a barren palaeolithic landscape. For schoolteachers Ian and Barbara, it’s their first proof of the Tardis’s capabilities. It contains several crucial lines of dialogue about the series, but Doctor Who fans, who have watched this episode many times, will quickly note how the dialogue varies from what was transmitted.


Page 9 (below) of yet another revision shows how the dialogue was tightened up, much closer to what was transmitted, with the memorable line “Who is he? Doctor who?” now transferred from Barbara to Ian, and typed in over a 1960s version of Tipp-Ex.

Caves revisions p9
Caves Doctor Who?

This episode was eventually recorded at Lime Grove Studio D on 25 October and transmitted on 30 November 1963.


Our thanks to Waris Hussein for his help with this article.