A police officer conducts his rounds on a foggy London night, passing I.M. Foreman’s junkyard at 76 Totter’s Lane. A strange-looking police box emits an ominous hum in the junkyard.

Another day of classes at Coal Hill School has concluded. Barbara Wright, a history teacher, and Ian Chesterton, a science teacher, share notes on an interesting pupil named Susan Foreman. Her understanding of history and science exceeds that of the rest of the class and possibly the teachers. She does, however, have some odd gaps in her knowledge of modern cultures, such as forgetting that the United Kingdom has yet to adopt a decimal currency. Barbara has pushed her to specialize in history, but Susan is adamantly opposed to her offer of in-home tutoring, claiming that her grandfather, with whom she lives, dislikes strangers. Barbara tells Ian that the school secretary gave her Susan’s address, 76 Totter’s Lane. She got there and discovered a junkyard rather than a residence. They track down Susan for Barbara to lend her a book about the French Revolution. Susan declines Ian’s offer of a ride. Ian and Barbara decide to follow her home. Susan opens the history book after they leave the room and exclaims, “That’s not right!”

Ian and Barbara arrive by automobile at 76 Totter’s Lane and witness Susan enter the junkyard alone. They explore the junkyard, and Ian is mesmerized by a humming police box nearby. When he touches it, he exclaims, “It’s alive!” They flee when they hear footsteps approaching. An older man comes and unlocks the police box. Susan’s voice appears to greet him from within the classrooms. They confront the elderly guy, who slams the door shut and refuses to acknowledge anyone within the box. When they threaten to call the cops, the older man rejects their charges calmly. The door swings open from the inside. The teachers push past the man after hearing Susan’s voice again. They are taken aback to discover that they have entered a considerably larger chamber, complete with futuristic electronic panels and a central hexagonal control station. Susan is surprised to see her instructors there. Her grandfather, the old guy, is enraged by their premature arrival.

Susan and her grandfather, who goes by the moniker “the Doctor,” claim that the police box is a camouflage for their spaceship, the TARDIS. They are alien exiles from another planet and another epoch. Despite Susan’s concerns, the Doctor prepares the TARDIS for flight, claiming that he needs to capture Ian and Barbara to protect Susan and himself. The rapid takeoff knocks out the two schoolteachers. The TARDIS appears on a Palaeolithic landscape with a man’s shadow falling over it.

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