Terry Nation’s Daleks


Terry Nation is without doubt one of the most influential and important figures in not just the history of Doctor Who, but also in televisual science fiction and indeed British television itself. He not only created the Daleks, but he also wrote for many other iconic series such as The Avengers, The Saint and The Persuaders and created two iconic cult series The Survivors and Blake’s 7. Over the years his work has influenced such high profile figures as Stephen Fry, Joseph Michael Straczinski and even Dennis Potter!

Despite this however among Whovians at least he remains a somewhat divisive figure. Whilst many still revere him, (there was even recently an attempt to have a blue plaque placed outside his former house.) There are others who regard him as a hack who leeched off of the work of other people such as Raymond Cusick who actually came up with the iconic design of the Daleks not Nation. It is certainly true that Raymond Cusick was for decades criminally overlooked for his crucial role in the series success. Had it not been for Cusick then the Daleks, and by extension Doctor Who itself may not have become the massive successes that they were. Many argue that Cusick is the true creator of the Daleks and that all Nation really came up with was the name Dalek.

Whilst I do agree obviously that Cusick’s role should never be overlooked again, I don’t think it is right to entirely dismiss Nations contributions either. I think that Nation and Cusick should probably be referred to as the Co-creators of the Daleks.

The Daleks could not have been what they were without either man’s contributions. The Daleks would not exist at all, had it not been for Nation writing that first Dalek script, but in addition to this Nation established their characters and entire mythology as well.

Terry Nation wrote more Dalek stories than anyone else on television. Seven and a half over the course of seventeen years. Whilst it is true that he did have a tendency to reuse certain ideas and story lines, such as most notably in Planet of the Daleks, which was essentially a remake of the first Dalek story. He nevertheless still managed to reinvent the Daleks again and again, and keep them fresh. He wrote for them in a truly unique way which I personally found to be much more effective than subsequent writers.

Terry Nations Daleks were truly alien and inhuman monsters, not just the way they looked, but acted as well.

Most aliens in science fiction not only look human, but they act it too.

Take for instance the Klingons in the Star Trek franchise. They look like us and they also have their own art, literature, code of honour, religion, creation myths, opera’s even their own booze. They have a full culture we can relate to. It is a more barbaric culture yes, but it is still a society that is basically exactly the same as ours except that it is more brutal and warlike. The same applies for the Romulans, the Ferenghi, the Predators and within Doctor Who itself the Sontarans and the Ice Warriors who both also have their own code of honour and even the Time Lords. Their societies may be portrayed as corrupt and decadent, but they are all still relatable to ours. Indeed many of the problems the society of the time lords go through are comparable to the problems that we have faced throughout our history, just simply on a grander scale.

Other alien races meanwhile are simply either animals such as the famous Xenomorph, acting on instinct to kill and feed and protect their race. Or they are machine like creatures operating on pure logic, such as the Cybermen or the Borg. We can compare the majority of alien races in some way or another to something that we are familiar with whether that is an animal or a machine or even ourselves.

Terry Nation’s Daleks however do not behave in any way we can understand or relate too. They do not have a culture like the Klingons. There is no Dalek art, literature, poetry, philosophy, creation myths, religions or even laws. They are all faceless drones with no individual personalities of their own working towards a single cause. We never see a Nation Dalek that disagrees with the rest of its kind and repents its evil actions, but at the same time we never see a Nation Dalek that is even more fanatical than the rest of its kind. There is never a Nation Dalek that has its own personal agenda or lust for power and plans to overthrow the Dalek leaders. They all behave in exactly the same way from the lowliest drone to the Supreme Dalek.

Yet despite this however you could not compare them to the Cybermen as they are not simply emotionless machine’s operating on logic either. They are living breathing creatures who are actually driven by their emotions. They have an irrational fear and hatred of other life forms, and that is what drives them to kill and conquer. Their voices unlike the Cybermen’s are full of strong emotions such as anger, hatred and even fear.

They are also obviously not simply animals acting on instinct either. They are highly intelligent emotional creatures, yet they do not behave in any way that we can really understand.

This coupled with their completely inhuman appearance really makes them the only genuinely alien race in virtually all of science fiction.

Terry Nation often enjoyed highlighting just how alien the Daleks were in his stories. Sometimes it was in little ways such as when the Daleks refer to our children as the descendants in the Dalek Invasion of Earth, showing us how the creatures cannot even begin to understand what children are. Or in The Mutants when they refer to Susan’s laugh as a “noise”.

However on other occasions it plays an important role in the story such as in Genesis of the Daleks where we see the monsters lack a concept of pity. Once again we see how the Daleks are not simply like the Sontarans or the Klingons, who know what pity is, but consider it a weakness, or even the Cybermen who have removed it, but still know what it is.

The Daleks cannot comprehend pity at all even with their advanced intelligence. Their brains are simply not wired that way. Trying to get a Nation Dalek to understand pity is like trying to get a cat to understand astrophysics. That final scene in Genesis where even Davros, a man guilty of wiping out his own people begs the monsters to show mercy to his loyal Kaled scientists, and they fail to understand what he means perfectly shows not only how alien they are, but how malevolent too.

Even the most twisted members of other races are capable of showing some compassion. The Ice Warrior commander Skaldak in The Cold War spares humanity, The Master sacrifices himself to save the Doctor in the The End of Time, even Davros manages to show mercy to those who have remained loyal to him. The Daleks however simply can’t because they literally don’t know the meaning of the word.

However at the same time whilst Terry Nation enjoyed making the Daleks as alien as possible, he also quite cleverly used them as a metaphor for the very worst of humanity.

Nation based the Daleks very much on the Nazi’s. He often wasn’t subtle in the comparisons he drew between the Daleks and the Third Reich with the Daleks even performing the Nazi salute in both The Mutants and The Dalek Invasion of Earth. Of course this wasn’t a bad thing. If anything it actually made them more effective. Viewers in 1964 so soon after the war could easily see that the images of Daleks gliding through familiar London landmarks in The Dalek Invasion were meant to evoke the widespread fear during the war of a Nazi occupation of Britain.

The fact that the monsters were a gruesome reminder of a real life horror made them all the more terrifying as villains. Indeed this often gave his Dalek adventures a somewhat greater edge and even depth to them than many other Doctor Who stories. Examples of parallels between Nations Dalek stories and the Second World War can be found primarily in The Mutants, The Dalek Invasion of Earth and The Genesis of the Daleks.

In The Mutants Nation creates a similar situation to the years leading up to World War Two. The Thals are in the same position as Britain was in before the outbreak of war, in that they are facing a powerful and dangerous enemy, but they do not wish to act due to the memory of a previous conflict. In Britain’s case the First World War, in the Thals their war against the Daleks that destroyed Skaro.

Both Britain and the Thals try a peaceful solution instead and try and appease their enemy, as they both feel that another large scale conflict is simply not an option.

Sadly however when dealing with an enemy like the Nazi’s or the Daleks the only option is to fight them. The Daleks and the Nazi’s cannot be reasoned with because they both hate their enemies simply for who they are. They fail to recognise other people’s right to exist and thus you cannot appease them, and try or try make concessions. You have to stand up to them. However still despite this no one wants too in both cases due to the memories of a previous conflict that was genuinely pointless and unjustified.

Gradually however the Thals come to learn that they need to fight against the Daleks just as Britain eventually learned after the policy of appeasement failed completely and utterly, that Hitler needed to be stopped. In this respect the Doctor and his companions who try and convince the Thals to fight the Daleks from the beginning, and eventually lead them to victory, can be seen as a metaphor for Winston Churchill’s role in the war.

Both recognise that this new enemy needs to be stopped from the beginning and has to convince everyone around them who cannot see the justification for another war to fight back before it is too late.

The first Dalek story does not glorify war at all. We see many innocent people killed pointlessly not even in the conflict against the Daleks, but just simply getting to the city, and we are not meant to celebrate the death of the Daleks either.

The leader of the Thals even comments bitterly after the Daleks apparent extinction. “If only there had been some other way”.

Ultimately the story shows us that sometimes war can be justified, that sometimes there are enemies who need to be stopped, namely those who would despise others simply for who they are, and it uses a similar situation to the Second World War with the Daleks standing in for the Nazi’s to get the point across.

The Dalek Invasion of Earth meanwhile serves as more of a metaphor for what life was like under Nazi occupation with the story not only playing on the fears of a German invasion of Britain during the war, but also serving as an allergy for countries that were actually invaded such as Holland and France.

We see how people who are forced to live under such a society react in different ways with the Dalek resistance fighters representing “La Resistance” and the women who hands Barbara and Jenny over to the Daleks representing Quisling and the other willing Nazi collaborators.

Genesis of the Daleks meanwhile shows us how if given enough power one man such as Adolf Hitler can corrupt and ultimately destroy an entire society. In this case it is Davros who succeeds much like Hitler not so much due to his own cunning, but also due to his enemies’ failure to act quickly enough to stop him. The Kaled government and even the Kaled scientists in the bunker all underestimate just how far Davros is willing to go and they all pay a price for it.

Whilst Nation’s Daleks were primarily a metaphor for the Nazis, they could also be seen to represent other examples of man’s inhumanity to man as well.

Their disregard for the Thals right to exist in The Mutants is comparable just as much to General Chivington’s attitude towards the Native Americans as it is for Nazi’s attitude towards the Jews.

One disturbingly close parallel between the Daleks and Chivington occurred in 1864 when Chivington was confronted at the Denver public Opera House by members of Congress, after he had just carried out the Sand Creek Massacre, where over two hundred people, men, women, children and infants were slaughtered.

Chivington was asked by the members of Congress in front of a public audience if it was better to either try and civilise or simply exterminate the Native Americans and the Congressmen were greeted instantly to cries of “exterminate them” by both Chivington and even by the members of the public.

There suddenly arose such a shout as is never heard unless upon some battlefield a shout almost loud enough to raise the roof of the Opera House ‘EXTERMINATE THEM! EXTERMINATE THEM! EXTERMINATE THEM!’”.

Now I am not saying that the Daleks were directly based upon Chivington and the Sand Creek massacre. Maybe they were though I have never read anything to suggest that and I think that Nation did intend for them to primarily to be based on the Nazis.

Still the way that Nation wrote them they could just as easily be seen as representing Chivington’s disgusting beliefs too, or indeed any example of race hatred throughout human history. As alien as they were, Nations Daleks in many ways represented the darker side of humanity overall.

The fact that we could actually draw parallels between the actions of Nations Daleks and real men from history such as General Chivington or Herman Goerring which made them far more terrifying than the Doctors other enemies.

Nation I feel also used the Daleks to comment on man’s destructive effect on nature too. The Daleks tampering with nature is a strong theme that runs throughout many of Nations Dalek stories, and indeed the Daleks themselves are a product of their humanoid ancestors disregard for the environment.

In their first story the Daleks plan to not only destroy the Thals with a radiation bomb, but to create a world where no Thals could possibly exist afterwards. By literally polluting the air they will make sure that the thals can never grow any food and their water supplies will be poisoned.

This is somewhat reminiscent of the much earlier attempts by the British in the 1950’s and the later attempts by the Americans during the Vietnam War (after the first Dalek story had been written, but it is comparable nonetheless) to use Agent Orange to destroy their enemies crops and bushes.

Much like the Daleks, the British and the American forces wished to poison their enemies’ environment to make sure they could not live there afterwards, even if they had survived their initial attacks.

The Daleks reflected the attitude of many people throughout the entire cold war who felt that they had the right to unleash devastating new weapons that sinned against nature itself such as Curtis LeMay who once said of Vietnam “we’re going to bomb them back to the stone age”.

The dead planet of the Daleks in The Mutants can be seen to represent what our world could have become had the cold war led to a Third World War. A barren, irradiated wasteland whose people, the few that had survived that is, had degenerated into primitives and mutations.

Bare in mind that the first Dalek story was also written not long after the Cuban Missile crisis when possibility of a third world war seemed very real.

Whilst the first Dalek story does draw strong parallels with the Second World War, it can also be seen to draw on fears surrounding the cold war and the threat of a nuclear holocaust that were present at the time Nation wrote it just as much.

The Second Dalek story The Dalek Invasion of Earth meanwhile continues the idea of the Daleks tampering with nature by having the monsters attempt to remove the magnetic core of the earth and “tamper with the forces of creation” itself.

In The Planet of the Daleks we see the Daleks create a plague so dangerous that it will destroy even them if it is unleashed before they have a chance to immunise themselves, whilst in Death to the Daleks we see how the Daleks attempt to control a natural resource, the parrinium the only known cure to a space plague.

Nations Daleks always feel they have the right to control, tamper with or even destroy natural resources.

When they say in their first appearance “We do not need to change to suit the environment we will change the environment to suit us” we can see how in their arrogance they feel that their planet and indeed all planets are theirs to do whatever they want with; regardless of how devastating it would be to other life forms or nature itself.

Nations Daleks were not only a gruesome reminder of what had come before, but they also represented what we could become, if we continued to persecute others for being different, and have such a cavalier attitude to poisoning the environment. A stagnated, dead society devoid of any individuality or humanity living in a cold, dead world we destroyed in our arrogance.

Terry Nations Dalek stories were often very dark overall. Even more so than other writers. Nation’s Dalek stories didn’t just simply have a high body count, they also weren’t afraid to touch on issues like racism, genocide and the threat of an atomic war.

Nation was indeed arguably one of the darkest writers in the history of the series. He often enjoyed much like Robert Holmes in pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable.

Mission to the Unknown saw all of the main characters die gruesome deaths, The Daleks Masterplan saw two of the Doctors companions die violently (though Sara died in an episode written by Dennis Spooner) and in Keys of Marinus, one of only two non Dalek stories he wrote, a villain named Vasor actually attempts to rape the Doctors companion Barbara.

Even today never mind in 1964 when the story aired, such a scene where one of the Doctors companions is sexually assaulted would most certainly provoke extreme outrage.

Think of how many complaints there were about that scene in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship when Solomon the Trader stated that he was going to enjoy “breaking” Nefertiti’s spirit.

Even outside of Doctor Who Nations work pushed the boundaries. Blake’s 7 was famous for its controversial content such as being really the first science fiction and fantasy series, long before the works of Joss Whedon or George R Martin, to regularly kill off its main characters. The first episode of Blake’s 7 also sees the main character Roj Blake framed by his enemies for molesting children!

Nation often revelled in the controversy that some of his stories caused once commenting in an interview on Whickers World that he loved the fact that parents would be sending the BBC letters about the Daleks complaining about how could they put these horrible things on television, whilst children would be sending them letters at the same time saying please don’t stop.

With this in mind it is not surprising that Nations Dalek stories had a much darker edge to them than most other Doctor Who adventures. There was no subject from body horror, to race hatred, to genocide, to rape, to pedophilia that Nation was afraid to tackle throughout his long career.

Whilst Nations Daleks did have their roots in history and even real life events they also drew from literary sources as well, particularly the works of HG Wells. In many ways Nations Daleks are an amalgam of the Morlocks from The Time Machine and the Martians from War of the Worlds.

Much like the Morlocks in their first story which Nation had intended to be set in the future the Daleks are weak, frail creatures who are more technologically advanced than their peaceful humanoid neighbours, the Thals/Eloi whom they persecute with both the Thals and the Eloi refusing to fight back albeit for different reasons. However like the Martians from Wells War of the Worlds they are also octopus like mutants housed in robot like armour who come from a dead planet and seek to conquer the earth.

Of course this is not to say Nation’s Daleks are derivative of Well’s work at all. Like all writers he drew from many sources both fictional and real to create something new.

Arguably the biggest similarity between the Morlocks and the Martians and Nations Daleks was how weak they were.

All three monsters relied on their brains and technology and had virtually no physical power of their own. Unlike many later writers Nation did not write the Daleks as being physically unstoppable.

Nation actually always portrayed them as being frail and extremely vulnerable. In their first story the monsters can’t even leave their city, and they are extremely slow moving and can be killed just by being knocked over. In The Dalek Invasion of Earth they are shown to not even be powerful enough to rule over a devastated earth without the aid of their human servants the robomen. They also do not conquer the earth through force either.

If it were the Daleks during the Russell T Davies era, a mere one of them would have been enough to conquer the earth, but Nations Daleks instead have to use more sneaky, underhand methods. They have to launch plague missiles to kill off most of humanity before they can invade, as there is no way they can take the earth through force alone. In The Daleks Masterplan we see a Dalek get killed by Egyptians wielding rocks and spears. In Death to the Daleks we see how vulnerable they are without weapons with one Dalek being unable to hold off a group of primitive Exillons on its own.

This does not make Nations Daleks any less frightening however, as whilst Nation often made them weak physically he made them terrifying in other ways such as through their inhumanity, ruthlessness and cunning.

Nation also often got round the fact that the Daleks were so weak by having lots of them. He never went for the Dalek approach of only having one or a few Daleks being a threat. Instead he would portray them more as a line of endless storm troopers. If you killed one of them, then there would always be another one nearby.

The idea of the Daleks being incredibly weak was also quite a nice irony as well considering how they believed themselves to be the Master race.

The Daleks themselves were in actual fact, truly pathetic, fragile, vulnerable creatures who often needed the aid of supposed lesser beings such as the Robomen, Varga’s and Spirodons to conquer planets, or even just to do the simplest things in Nations stories.

They certainly were not anyone’s idea of the perfect race physically either. They were repulsive, slimy little mutants hidden inside cumbersome, ridiculous looking robots.

In this respect the Daleks once again serve as a good metaphor for weak, pathetic, repulsive, useless little men like Klaus Barbie, Herman Goerring, and even today Nick Griffin who ironically despise others as they view them as inferior.

Davros can also be seen as an example of this too. He is a weak, cowardly, weasly person who can’t survive on his own without people to help him, yet he believes that only the strong deserve to survive. Nation used the design of the Daleks to his advantage in this way as he used the fact their design was not particularly threatening looking to further reinforce the great irony of these weak, ridiculous looking creatures viewing other races as inferior.

The fact that Nations Daleks were so vulnerable also served as quite a good explanation as to why they hated other life forms as they were scared of them. They are creatures who in their first appearance can be killed by being pulled over a rug so it makes sense that they would be afraid of even the Thals.

This served as their motivation for many years until Terry Nation reinvented them in Genesis of the Daleks. In that story Nation showed us how they had been created simply to hate by Davros.

Whilst Genesis did provide some continuity problems with the first Dalek story it actually at the same time provided an explanation for the Daleks behaviour. It explained why we had never seen a Dalek that had behaved differently, as they were all conditioned to behave in exactly the same way.

It also showed us how nothing like the Daleks could evolve or happen naturally. They could only be created to be the way they are. In a way it almost makes you feel sorry for them.

They started out as humanoid creatures who had the ability to tell the difference between right and wrong, and who could actually interact with the world around them, but now because of Davros, they are all monsters who actually have no choice in what they do and spend their lives locked in a cold metal cage.

In a later story Destiny of the Daleks we see how the Daleks take a particular pleasure in persecuting humanoids, with Romana speculating it is because they were once humanoids themselves.

This adds yet another reason dimension to their characters that they hate us because we are a reminder of what they once were. We are a reminder to them that they were once “lesser creatures”, yet at the same time we are also perhaps a reminder of what they have lost. The ability to think for themselves, to interact with the world around them, even just to enjoy their lives and feel something other than hatred, and thus they hate us for that as they are perhaps, deep down, somewhat jealous of the fact that we still get to experience all of these things that Davros took away from them.

Nation was always finding new ways to reinvent the Daleks. He initially portrayed them as creatures who hated the rest of the universe because they were seemingly scared of it, and then in Genesis reinvented them as monsters who had been created to feel nothing but hatred, and then later portrayed them as being perhaps somewhat jealous of us due to the fact that they had once been like us.

He also always managed to do something new with the Daleks in virtually every story he wrote.

In their first story he shows us the Daleks on their home planet, in their second he shows us their invasion of the earth and brings them into familiar everyday surroundings, which in turn sets the template for all subsequent invasion earth stories that bring monsters into everyday surroundings such as the Yeti in the London Underground, the Cybermen in front of St Paul’s Cathedral, Daleks flying outside Canary Wharf and a Racnoss above the Thames.

The Chase meanwhile creates the Doctor/Dalek feud. Up until that point the Daleks were merely monsters the Doctor ran into, but the Chase establishes that they know who he is and even take the fight to him. It also establishes their ability to travel through time as well.

In The Daleks Masterplan we see how the monsters are able to manipulate people for their own purposes such as Mavic Chen and don’t just always simply invade. They can be subtle tacticians too.

Planet of the Daleks is probably Nations weakest work and is really the only story where he does not bring anything new to them. As most critics point out it is simply a rehash of their first appearance, however in his following three Dalek stories he would still manage to do something new with them.

In Death to the Daleks he showed us how the Daleks cope when they are vulnerable.

In Genesis he showed us where the monster had come from and even answered some questions about their behaviour, whilst in Destiny he showed us how ironically even the Daleks feel that there are some areas where they can improve, such as their reliance on logic.

Though he has often been accused of recycling his own ideas I think it is fair to say that Planet of the Daleks aside Nation always sought to do something new with the monsters, and managed to not only change their characters somewhat over the years, but also bring them into new environments and situations in every one of his stories.

Of course in the years since his passing in 1996 the Daleks characters have continued to change to the point where the monsters nowadays in some ways unrecognisable from the ones Nation created way back in 1963 in many ways.

Modern Daleks are virtually completely indestructible, a far cry from Nations Daleks who were beaten up with sticks and stones, and they are also somewhat more human. In the new series we have seen Daleks with their own parliament, their own concept of beauty, their own myths and legends, such as those surrounding the Doctor, whom they refer to as “the oncoming storm”, their own cults, and even their own religion (with the Emperor of the Daleks calling himself the “God of Daleks” and the destruction of earth his heaven.)

We have even seen Daleks gain actual proper human emotions and repent their evil actions and turn against other members of their kind such as Dalek Sec and Dalek Caan.

No writer has portrayed the monsters as being truly alien like Nation did. Of course this is not to say that other writers, both before and after Nation’s passing have not brought a lot to the Daleks, or that Nations influence on and characterisation of Skaro’s finest has completely vanished.

Whilst the Daleks have changed greatly over the years one characteristic that has remained constant and that has really linked all of the different interpretations together is their hatred of other life forms, which is a characteristic that Nation gave them.

Nation also created virtually their entire mythology too, their home planet of Skaro, their creation, their creator Davros, their ability to time travel, their feud with the Doctor, even their feud with the Time Lords has its roots in Genesis of the Daleks, which marks the first time the Time Lords consider the Daleks a potential threat to them enough to break all the laws of time and erase them from history if need be, something which they have never been prepared to do to their other enemies. Thus Terry Nations influence is still very visible on the Daleks even after all these years.

Whilst I have enjoyed other writers such as David Whitaker, Nicholas Briggs, Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat’s interpretations of the Daleks, Terry Nations is still the most effective for me. I think he was right when he said that he understood his creations better than anybody else.

He understood that what made the Daleks not only frightening, but truly unique was their inhumanity. They were the only truly alien race in all of science fiction. They weren’t just alien in the sense that they had funny names or strange customs or weird table manners like most aliens do. They didn’t have any customs, table manners or names because they didn’t have anything that we could relate too. I also found the themes of race hatred to be far more powerful in Nations Dalek stories than in other writers.

Terry Nation really did push the boundaries and the likes of The Mutants and Genesis of the Daleks are among the darkest and most ground breaking Doctor Who stories of all time. Whilst I do definitely enjoy and appreciate other writers versions of the Daleks, I still don’t think anyone has ever captured their menace quite as well as Terry Nation did. I also feel that Nation to this day has still written the greatest Dalek story of all time, Genesis of the Daleks and thus he is without doubt my favourite Dalek writer.

Best Dalek Moment/ The Daleks Turn on Davros/ Genesis of the Daleks

This is not only Terry’s best Dalek moment, but the best Dalek moment in the entire history of the show for me. This moment demonstrates not only how alien, but also how truly malevolent they are too. Here we see that Davros has removed all concepts of pity and remorse from them as he believed such emotions were weaknesses.

Only now does he realise his mistake. All creatures, even the most despicable and wretched can and have to experience pity of some kind. Even Davros himself ironically discovers that he has compassion to those who have remained loyal to him. The Daleks don’t however. They can’t even for practical reasons spare scientists who could aid them they are so lacking in mercy.

Thus they are more evil than even Davros. Nothing like the Daleks, a creature so lacking in even the smallest compassion has ever existed before, and when Davros realises what a true Monster he has unleashed, and how all of his sacrifices have been for nothing; it is a classic Frankenstein moment.

Worst Dalek Moment/ Daleks Get Beat Up By Fun Fair Robots/ The Chase

Terry’s worst Dalek moment from one of his worst Dalek stories. I do find The Chase to be a fun romp, but still it sadly undermines the monsters menace quite a bit, and whilst there are many poor moments from the story, such as the Dalek forgetting his words, the Dalek crashing over the balcony of the Mary Celeste etc, the worst is definitely the Daleks getting beaten up by fun fair robots.

Its hard to describe how stupid this part of the story is. The idea of Dalek weaponry not working on attractions designed to scare kids is ridiculous.

Also the idea that these attractions can then rip a Dalek in half is even more ridiculous! One wonders why we didn’t ever use these robots in the many Dalek invasions of earth?

The Daleks of course reach an all time low when they run away from these robots chanting “embark, embark, embark, embark”. It reminds me of “run away, run away” from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.


On the popularity of the Daleks in the 1960’s.

After the Daleks, I was for a short time the most famous writer on television. The press interviewed me, there was mail arriving in great van loads. There was stuff coming to my house that said ‘Dalek Man – London’, and I was getting lots of them. Almost all the kids wanted a Dalek, and nobody was quick enough. The BBC, not being the great commercial operator, wasn’t ready, so there was no merchandising, there were no plastic Daleks, there were no buttons, there were no anything. My God, was that to change! Within the year, there were Dalek everythings.”

On Raymond Cusick’s contribution to the Daleks

Raymond Cusick made a tremendous contribution, and I would love to be glib enough to put it into percentage terms, but you can’t do that. You start with something that’s a writer’s dream, that he’s put down in words, and amended, and added to in conversations. Something starts there. Cusick didn’t get anything, to my understanding. I think they may have given him a hundred pound bonus, but he was a salaried employee, and I think he knew the nature of his work, and it was what he did every week. The copyrights resided with the BBC and myself, and there were lovely legal words to cover these things, so that before they could merchandise anything, they had to have my agreement. I was very lucky. The salt cellar part is the legend: that gave Raymond Cusick the idea for the shape. He was restricted by budget, obviously – it wasn’t a big budget show we were doing. But yes, he made a tremendous contribution. Whatever the Daleks are or were, his contribution was vast.

On The Dalek Invasion of Earth

“You’ll recall that we killed the Daleks, so we had to use the logic that this was trillions of years into the future, and we could now go back in history and find out whatever they did. We had seen them in that city, and they could only travel in that city, so the next generation of Daleks had to have something attached to them. I thought if the menace could be brought to modern-day Earth, it would really make the Daleks supreme in the minds of the public; actually bringing them in so we could see them crossing London Bridge, we could see them coming out of the Thames, that was the idea.

You don’t kill off Carole Ann Ford! Didn’t she marry, or meet someone? That was ‘happily ever after’ and off we go again.”

On Dalekmania vs Beatlemania

They were so hot at that time, you couldn’t avoid The Beatles. I remember with great pride that the commercial channel was running the Beatles when they were really at their peak, at the same time as a ‘Doctor Who’ episode with the Daleks, and ‘Doctor Who’ got the ratings. I was pretty pleased with that.”

On David Whitakers interpretation of the Daleks.

I didn’t like ‘Power of the Daleks’, and I responded very badly to them. The Daleks were something that I understood better than anybody else. It appeared that they were simple robots, and all you’d have them do was say ‘Exterminate’ and you’d have it made. They were very much more complex in the way they should be presented. I didn’t like David’s episodes, where he had them being very sweet, and very polite; that seemed totally alien to me. This is not to say that they were not good episodes; this is just my personal opinion.

Join me tomorrow when I will be looking at David Whitakers take on the Daleks and how it differed greatly to Nations.

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