The 6th Doctors only outing on tv against the Daleks. Revelation was also the last story to be produced before the show’s initial 18 month cancellation.
Though controversial at the time due to its excessive violence. Revelation of the Daleks has since become regarded as one of the most innovative and intelligent scripts the series ever produced.
The Doctor and Peri arrive on the planet Necros. Necros is a planet where the bodies of the terminally ill are placed in suspended animation until a cure can be found for their condition.
The Doctors old friend Arthur Stengos has placed himself in suspended animation which according to the Doctor isn’t like him at all, so the Doctor wants to investigate.
Along the way to the facility, Tranquil Repose, where the frozen bodies are kept, the Doctor and Peri are attacked by a strange mutant, who Peri is forced to kill to save the Doctor.
With his dying breath the mutant regains control of himself, and actually thanks Peri for freeing him.
He tells the Doctor that the great healer did this to him and that he is using the frozen bodies on this planet for his own experiments. Before he can reveal more however the mutant dies.
Meanwhile Arthur Stengos’ daughter Natasha and her friend Grigory break into Tranquil Repose and discover what has happened to her father.
The Great Healer is actually Davros, and he has been turning the frozen bodies here into his new race of Daleks who are completely loyal to him.
Stengos is half way to becoming a Dalek, but he manages to regain his composure long enough to beg Natasha to kill him before he becomes a monster which she reluctantly agrees too.
Unfortunately Natasha and Grigory are soon captured by two of the staff at Tranquil Repose.
There is descent in Davros’ ranks meanwhile. Kara who owns the company that distributes the food Davros sells to pay for equipment, wants to dispose of Davros to gain all of the profits for herself. She hires a knight named Oricini and his quire bostock to dispose of him. Kara however ultimately intends to betray them once they have killed Davros and gives them both a secret bomb that will go off once they have disposed of Davros.
The Doctor and Peri after discovering a false grave of the Doctors 6th incarnation, encounter a perverse, lecherous man named Jobel and his assistant Tasambeker who is in love with Jobel (despite the fact that he treats her appallingly.)
Peri is sent off to meet the local DJ, whilst the Doctor investigates what’s going on. Unfortunately the Doctor is led into a trap by Tasmebeker and captured by Davros’ Daleks.
The Doctor is placed in a cell with Natasha and Grigory, and all three are freed by Orcini.
Davros however being aware that the Doctor is on the planet and that Kara has sent assassins after him dispatches Daleks to capture Kara and Peri. The DJ attempts to protect Peri, but the Daleks kill him.
Oricni meanwhile fails miserably in his attempts to kill Davros. Kara is then brought before Orcini where Davros reveals that she intended to betray him. Oricini stabs Kara to death as a result.
Davros also monitors Jobel and discovering that he too is planning to betray him. He orders Tasembeker to kill Jobel, but instead she tries to help him escape. Jobel however refuses to believe her that Davros wants him dead and cruelly mocks her, which angers her enough to stab him to death with a syringe.
The Daleks then exterminate Tasembeker, whilst the Doctor is captured yet again. Natasha and Grigory meanwhile are exterminated whilst trying to sabotage the Daleks incubation chambers.
Davros reveals to a captive Doctor that he escaped from the prison ship when they last met, and that he has acquired the equipment to build his new army of Daleks by turning several of the bodies frozen into food and selling them to the outer planets that are starving for a healthy profit..
Those he judges to be the higher intellects he has turned into his new race of Daleks who will soon be ready to wage war against the rest of the galaxy.
Unfortunately for Davros however one of the staff at Tranquil Repose named Teker, realises what Davros is doing and summons the original Daleks from Skaro.
These Daleks exterminate Davros’ new Daleks that are active and before Davros can activate his army they corner him. The Daleks decide to take Davros back to Skaro to stand trial for his crimes against them. Davros vows to the Doctor that he will return, but the Doctor states that he will be waiting for him.
The Doctor manages to destroy the Skaro Dalek on guard. (The Skaro Daleks intend to take control of Davros’ army and use them in their conquest of other planets.)
Oricini however uses his bomb to destroy Davros’ dormant army of Daleks first, sacrificing himself in the process.
The Doctor tells the staff at Tranquil Repose that they need to continue the demand for food this place has created for the starving planets, and gives them an alternate solution of harnessing the flowers that grow on the planet as a food source.
Revelation of the Daleks is more of a Davros story than a Dalek one. Really this story more than any other turns them into Davros’ mooks, and their screen time and interactions with the Doctor are very limited.
Still in spite of this drawback, Revelation is deserving of its status as a classic. Terry Molloy gives an absolutely stellar performance as Davros.
Molloy is able to show a completely new side to Davros through his twisted sense of humour. There are some wonderfully dark, yet genuinely funny lines such as Davros’ “consumer resistance” gag. I never thought I’d giggle at a joke about cannibalism of all things.
In Resurrection whilst Molloy was good his performance was just a retread of Michael Wishers, IE loud and screaming one minute, but then calm and eerie the next.
Here however Molloy completely makes the role his own and instead portrays Davros his own way.
Davros is really at the top of his game in this story. He completely and utterly outsmarts the Doctor throughout it. At no point does the Time Lord have the better of his archenemy. Furthermore its interesting watching how all of these other people like Jobel, Kara and Orcini all completely underestimate Davros, and how Davros is able to turn people against each other such as Orcini and Kara and Tasembeker and Jobel.
We get to see Davros be manipulative in a more complex and detailed way than before. Here he doesn’t just lie or trick people or hypnotise them like in Resurrection. We see Davros get under people’s skin, play on their resentments and emotions and attempt to make them genuinely loyal to him such as with Tasembeker.
Its such a wonderful little insight into how vicious Davros is when he tells Tasembeker that if someone had treated him, the way that Jobel treated her, he would have killed them!
Whilst Davros is the star of the show, the Daleks are not completely overlooked. Saward still does do a number of interesting, new things with them.
The idea of humans being turned into Daleks is a both a fascinating and horrifying concept.
It opens up several new avenues for the Daleks, namely body horror and the fear of being turned into a monster which is brilliantly demonstrated in the sequence where Natasha discovers her father has become a Dalek.
The make up for Stengos is effective. I love the way the rotting and disgusting flesh actually throbs on Stengos’ brain. Its a nice little touch that does genuinely make it seem organic. Its also disturbing watching the Dalek conditioning slowly take over Stengos’ mind, whilst he is still aware of what a monster he is becoming.
The idea of humans being turned into Daleks would resurface many times in New Who and various Big Finish stories, but to be honest I don’t think its ever been as effective as it was in this story. In The Parting of the Ways and Asylum of the Daleks for instance they don’t actually show us the half human, half Dalek hybrids in any detail. We only see Clara as a human, and a tiny fleeting glimpse of a Dalek mutant with two eyes in The Parting of the Ways.
Saward and John Nathan Turner really had more guts to show us the gruesome aspects of the change, much like they did with Cyber conversion in Attack of the Cybermen.
I also like the way that Davros’ Daleks are ultimately shown to be nowhere near as effective as the original Daleks.
The reason for that is because they are literally just mooks who do everything that Davros says and can’t think for themselves.
Ultimately Davros can never win. If he creates a race of Daleks who are merely his slaves like the Necrosian Daleks, then they will be nothing but mindless drones, but if he creates a race of Daleks like the originals then they will eventually realise they don’t need him like at the end of Genesis.
Its also a nice twist to have the Daleks unwittingly save the day for once. They are still as ruthless and evil as ever, but what Davros is doing is so heinous, you don’t care who stops him, even if its the Daleks!
Aside from the Daleks and Davros, Saward’s script benefits from a strong cast of supporting characters.
Jobel played by Clive Swift is a big favourite of mine. I love the way that there is absolutely nothing redeeming about him at all. When Tasembeker is breaking down in absolute distress, he is having a great time.
Of course the brilliant irony is that EVERYBODY despises Jobel apart from Tasembeker. The Doctor and Peri regard him as a filthy little grotesque, whilst even his own co-workers find him repugnant.
Notice how NONE of them come to his aid after Tasembeker stabs him in the chest? They all just carry on as usual. They don’t even try and apprehend Tasembeker for killing someone right in front of them, as hey its Jobel.
Jobels wig falling off his head as he dies is another brilliant moment of dark comedy. Apparently it was on the suggestion of Clive Swift himself that Jobel wear a wig and that if fall off when he dies. He said that he wanted the nasty little man to be humiliated as much as possible in his final moments.
Even Jobel’s actor hated him!
Kara meanwhile is an interesting foil for Davros. In any other story she’d be the main villain. She is a greedy, ruthless, woman who is happy for people to literally eat each other if it can make her a profit.
However she is completely and utterly out of her league when it comes to Davros, and its brilliant watching all of her clever little schemes just completely backfire on her.
Orcini and Bostock are also a brilliant double act too. They are a great new twist on the Don Quixote and Sancho Panza idea. Like Don Quixote and Sancho Panza they are delusional, but rather than just be two idiots who think they are great warriors, they are two men who refuse in spite of what they say, to acknowledge that they are no longer capable of being the great warriors they once were. Their best days are behind them and they suffer a humiliating defeat at Davros’ hands as a result.
Still Orcini redeems himself in more ways than one with his final action in destroying Davros’ new army of Daleks. Oricini clearly knows that he will most likely never get a chance for an honourable kill again, and so rather than live a life of needless violence, he goes out as a hero.
There’s also the fact that his only friend Bostock is gone too, and its somewhat moving watching him hug his lifeless corpse in his last few moments.
Colin Baker also puts in a fine performance here too. Some have criticised the fact that the Doctor doesn’t do much in this story, and I can agree with that complaint to some extent, though I think it has been a bit exaggerated over the years. Critics always seem to forget that the Doctor does fix the famine crisis that is affecting hundreds of planets across the universe.
Still its true that he generally seems to be on the outside to the main action for the most part. Nevertheless Colin does get some great moments that show a softer side to his Doctor such as his compassion for the dying mutant and Orcini.
You can see how this was clearly the beginning of the production team making the 6th Doctor into a softer figure. Its just such a shame that they were never able to complete this story arc properly.
Overall whilst it might have some flaws, Revelation of the Daleks is still a classic adventure and moves the Davros story arc along excellently.
- At the end of this story the Doctor says he wants to take Peri somewhere nice, but it cuts off before we can find out where he wants to take her. This was intended to lead into the first story next series Nightmare Fair where the Doctor would take Peri to Blackpool and encounter the Celestial Toymaker. Sadly however the 1985 cancellation botched these plans, though Nightmare Fair would later be made as a Big Finish audio story.
- In the 40th anniversary poll for the fans favourite stories, this was the 3rd highest ranked Dalek story on the list after Genesis of the Daleks and Remembrance of the Daleks, at number 11.
- Laurence Olivier was originally going to appear in this story. He was a Doctor Who fan and had apparently been annoyed that he had never been asked to guest star in the series. Sadly however his busy schedule prevented this from happening. Olivier would have played the dying mutant.
- This was the last Doctor Who story produced in the 45 minute format until the shows revival in 2005.
- Eric Saward said he based this story on the novel The Loved One.