Prop-maker Jason Onion unearthed them while researching the town’s links with the series – the brainchild of BBC head of drama Sydney Newman – as part of a plan to build a TARDIS to raise money for Children in Need.
The works had laid undiscovered in a box of paperwork by writer Anthony Coburn, who devised the concept of the TARDIS at his Herne Bay home after seeing a police box near BBC headquarters.
He said: “With the consent of Anthony’s wife, Joan Coburn-Moon, and other family members, the family lent me a box of his work and I saw the scripts, but put them to one side. When I scanned the cover later I realised it didn’t have the right title for the first episode.
“I had a look and as soon as I saw the first few pages I knew it was not the episode that had been televised. I just sat there, and stared and stared. I wanted to cover them with glass. They are unbelievably precious, and I had them in my hand.”
The scripts were early drafts for the first episodes – the collection includes two versions of the first episode and an alternative episode two, and another three scripts as well as the Masters of Luxor stories, which were replaced by the original Dalek serial.
Mr Coburn had rewritten them after he felt the background would not fit with the first four episodes.
Mr Onion said: “You can see that the template for the Daleks came from Anthony. You can see in these episodes a device to unlock Tardis, which became the sonic screwdriver, and the science and regeneration and renewal of the body, which were all created in Anthony’s mind. This find completes the genesis of Doctor Who from Anthony Coburn’s imagination. The drafts explain the mystery of Doctor Who, his origins, his people and all the background.
“It explains the TARDIS’s original name, the planet Doctor Who came from and that his granddaughter – Susan in the programmes, but Suzanne in the scripts – was a princess saved from another world.
“He created the cornerstones of Doctor Who that have been expanded and built on ever since. It was all devised in Herne Bay, and he should never have been forgotten like he has.”
Mr Onion has the family’s agreement to keep the scripts in a secure location, and is discussing plans for a permanent exhibition to commemorate Mr Coburn, possibly linked to the workshop where he builds TARDISes under an official BBC licence.
He said: “It is possible, with continuing support and consent from the Coburn family, that these scripts could be seen publicly and displayed somewhere.
“It may be possible to arrange something for the 50th anniversary of the series in November. It would be fantastic to celebrate Herne Bay’s connection and give Anthony Coburn the credit he deserves.”
Mr Onion will unveil his TARDIS, for Children in Need, tomorrow (Friday) at the Herne Bay bandstand at 1pm . It will remain on display until 7pm for fans to have their photos taken with in return for donations. There will also be a Doctor Who-themed fancy dress competition, live music and entertainment.
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