To me the first Doctor was never just a ‘grumpy old man’,
Ok, so when we first meet him he kidnaps two human school teachers but this was in a desperate attempt to avoid being revealed to the world at large and protect Earth from being exposed to aliens and alien technology at a point in its time line where it was far from ready.
Of course that generated friction between the Doctor, Susan and the humans Ian and Barbara which would play out over the first three full stories.
The Doctor’s willingness to jeopardise the entire crew in order to see the Dalek city on Skaro further widens the divide between the travelers
After the events and accusations of ‘Edge of Destruction’ the relationship between them settles and Ian and Barbara become more than companions, they become friends, and from here on we start to see the true nature of the Doctor, when he has lowered his defences and starts to trust his fellow travelers.
In the case of ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ we even get to see his vulnerability as he realises Susan’s dilemma of wanting to be with him yet wanting to stay with David. The Doctor is once again the decision maker for her and takes the step he knows she never could. One of the first scenes of the following story ‘The Rescue’ carries that over nicely as he absent mindedly instructs the departed Susan to open the doors.
(I also love Barbara and Ian’s gentle understanding and dealing with his momentary lapse, a nice touch that speaks volumes.)
Now the first Doctor could be stern, yes, but only too happy to be witty, charming and caring in the same breath.
When I think of the first Doctor the first thing that comes to mind is his laugh. He chuckles relentlessly to himself, at his own cleverness, or when outwitting foes or even when he is just presented with the opportunity to explore and experience new things.
He could also be a man of action, never afraid to strike a physical blow where necessary. Personal favourites are the Labour gang boss getting a shovel upside the head in ‘Reign of Terror’ and the Doctor’s deft dispatching of a would be assassin in ‘The Romans’.
I think the reason I am writing this is because often in Facebook groups or pages, or indeed anywhere where the fandom comes together, I see the first Doctor dismissed, as though his stories aren’t important because they were so old, or in black and white, even that the show was still in its formative years and not the same as we see today. Often the ‘defence’ presented is that the find the First Doctor too grumpy, too angry and rude…… now to me that sounds like a description of our current Doctor at times. (in the best of ways of course).
So, if you can put up with that grumpy old man maybe you should try another……