The role of the Doctor in an Unearthly Child.
We are meant to dislike him in this episode. He is the man whose first appearance is to completely antagonise the characters that we’ve come to understand over the last eleven minutes. We see the Doctor through Ian and Barbara’s point of view because there are no scenes with the Doctor as a character on his own. There is no connection between the audience and this alien.This is what they wanted. They wanted that disconnection between you and the Doctor because they wanted us as an audience to see it exactly the way Ian and Barbara do.
The Doctor is completely unable to behave on a rational human level. When Ian and Barbara question him, they do not get angry but he is annoyed. Outside the TARDIS he looks at a picture frame instead of answering their questions. Inside the TARDIS he does the same thing when he becomes pre-occupied with the clock having stopped rather than what Ian is asking. To him, Ian and Barbara are less interesting than inanimate objects. He could have been fascinated by them and even politely sent them away but it’s like he’s afraid of them. He has no idea at what humans are like at this point, he doesn’t understand them.
Many of the shots show the Doctor, unable to face them, he has his back turned away and rattles off a load of explanations, knowing they won’t understand him. When he turns to face them, it’s always to accuse them or antagonise them. In the junkyard he looks directly to camera like he is talking to the audience as well. It’s like he’s saying ‘Think what you like about me, do your worst.’ It’s frightening.
And he shuts them in the TARDIS and berates their intelligence. No matter what, he feels that everything is their fault and they deserve their fate. Outside the ship, Ian begs the Doctor to open the doors to search for Susan, he refuses. Then inside it mirrors this as Ian begs the Doctor to open the doors to let them out. He refuses to do anything that a human is asking him. If they ask questions, he mocks them.
It’s really interesting to see the Doctor’s behaviour in the episode, it makes the journey he goes on even more important. He doesn’t care about them and why should he? He doesn’t know them. In his mind, his actions are right and he believes that they are going to reveal his secret. Susan suggests they would keep quiet but the Doctor cannot see that trust. It’s up to Ian and Barbara to show him how to trust and love. The Doctor may not be likable here but he’s a hell of a great character.