- The Daleks (aka The Dead Planet)
- The Dalek Invasion Of Earth
- Doctor Who And The Daleks
- The Chase
- The Curse Of The Daleks
- Mission To The Unknown & The Daleks' Master Plan
- Daleks: Invasion Earth, 2050AD
- Power Of The Daleks
- Evil Of The Daleks
- Day Of The Daleks
- Frontier In Space
- Planet Of The Daleks
- Death To The Daleks
- The Seven Keys To Doomsday
- Genesis Of The Daleks
- Reinventing Davros
I’ve been interested in Daleks since a very early age. In fact, I can remember seeing them on TV and being absolutely terrified of them and then the following day, being taken to my parents to the BBC Doctor Who Exhibition at Longleat where I recall I screamed the place down. I was only six!
But that weekend created a monster greater than anything that the might of the BBC could throw at the good Doctor. Well in the eyes of my parents at least. Not just a Dr Who fan, but a Dalek Fan. Ten times worse!
My world became pepperpot shaped. Dalek toys, pictures books, models. I wanted them all. That’s not to say I had them all… I didn’t! Far from it!
But during my childhood, and teens I, like many others, was truly captivated by them. I realised quite early on that my fascination with them went further than what we saw on TV (and in the cinema) and that the background of the Daleks was just as thrilling as their on screen creation. Dr Who Weekly became essential reading, not to mention countless fanzines.
In 1983 I made contact with a model maker who was producing Daleks as model kits and suddenly my interest moved to a newer level. I was working with someone who knew a lot about their creation and history and through him, I was lucky to meet other builders and people who shared the same degree of interest in them. Through this network of people I got to meet production personnel who had worked on the show, the original builders of the props, exchanged ideas and information and began compiling my first tentative Dalek History.
Of course, over 20 years later, its all changed. We have the internet for a start, and more websites and resource information about the Daleks than you could ever have imagined.
The first version of the Dalek History I contributed to was published on Dalek City – at that point run by builder Dave Muirhead. An amazing site, streets ahead of any other Dalek resource and a superb, very long and detailed History. At the same time I was asked to write a version for The Dalek Builders Guild which featured on their website.
That was almost three years ago now and my world is still dalek shaped... I’ve contributed to magazine and fanzine articles, DVD’s, and worked behind the scenes with a lot of people unearthing new information, facts and figures. In the last year or so, a lot more information has come to light regarding the creation of those early props and a re-write has been on the cards for a long time.
Writing this History its proving to be a long and slow process as I meticulously check every fact and figure, scrutinize every episode on DVD (the pause button on one machine is almost worn out) making notes as I go.
And still there are gray areas! Some of the facts just don’t add up. Some of the urban myths surrounding the Daleks are just that – urban myths. Yet whilst researching and debunking them, a new snippet of information comes to light and you realise that there may be truth in some of it after all, just not quite what you expected!
As the compiler and author of this version of the Dalek History, I’ve tried to be as open as I can about what’s known. That openness extends to where I am allowing the History to be published on the net. I’m not restricting where it will appear, but I do ask that if you want to borrow or reproduce sections for publishing elsewhere, that you drop me a line first
“In which Terry Nation invents a new word for the English Language, Ray Cusick creates a pop art icon and in deepest, darkest Uxbridge, Doctor Who’s ultimate villains take their first tentative trundles.”
In early September 1963, BBC staff designer Ray Cusick was appointed to oversee the scenic, prop and Special Effects requirements for the second story in Doctor Who's first season; The Dead Planet (a.k.a.: The Mutants, / The Daleks).
Nation's script called for a race of "super beings" who live in a city on an apparently dead planet. Due to high levels of radiation (the result of many centuries of war) these beings have mutated and survive in enclosed mobile life support units.
Nation's rather brief description highlighted at the top of this web page is almost of all the inspiration he gave designer Ray Cusick when describing the Dalek machines. It was only after struggling at the early design stages, that Cusick telephoned Nation to ask him for "some more to go on". Nation recounted seeing a performance of the Georgian State Dancers on the television the week before, and aligned the Daleks motion to the flared skirts of the female dancers as they glided around the dance floor. The way the skirts moved made it appear as if the dancers had no legs. It was this analogy that started the idea of the Daleks having smooth "skirts", with flashing lights inside them.
Having very little information to go on and very little time to create the Dalek casings in time for rehearsals, Cusick was understandably concerned. A meeting was called between Cusick, Verity Lambert, Mervyn Pinfield (Associate Producer) and the shows director Christopher Barry to discuss the shows visual elements. Mervyn Pinfield apparently suggested that the Daleks be made from pieces of cardboard tube painted silver, but Cusick knew even at this early stage that he didn't want just another actor in a rubber suit.
Cusick knew that to avoid complex mechanics, he would have to put an actor in the Dalek machine to operate the casing. Based on Nation's description of the Georgian State Dancers, he designed the first Daleks to be as tall as a man but with no visible appendages in the leg department. The very first scale measurements indicated this Dalek to be around five foot ten inches tall.
Cusick redefined the shape of the first Dalek when he realised that the actor operating the casing would need to be able to sit down in case he was inside the Dalek for long periods at a time. This reduced the overall height of the Dalek to four foot six inches. It's notable on the second design that the lower section of the Dalek resembles a 1960's BBC Canteen salt cellar - this having being influenced by a lunch meeting with Shawcraft's Bill Roberts where Cusick demonstrated the Dalek's proposed movement using the object to slide around the table.
Whilst the inverted hemispheres on the first design have been dropped, the "spikes" of the second drawing indicate the same level of external detail indicating that Cusick wanted more than just a plain silver classic robot look. The third and fourth designs concentrated on defining the shape of the Dalek, but with the practical requirements necessitated by movement built in. Initially a child's tricycle was to be used for the operator to pedal the casing in the appropriate direction, but even though Roberts and Cusick searched the high street stores for a suitable kiddies' ride, none could be found that fitted in with the casings design.
The overall size of the base of the Dalek was devised by sitting Bill Roberts in a chair in the workshop, and drawing an ovular design around him with chalk. This design was then transferred into a working model. It's reasonable to assume that as Shawcraft's Bill Roberts is a part of many of these early Dalek stories, his input was very much of influence to Cusick when finalising his designs.
It's assumed at this point, that Cusick drew up some final plans for the Dalek casing, and passed them on to Shawcraft for production of four working props. Quite what happened to original plans is unknown - there is even some contention as to whether final working drawings ever existed for the Daleks.
The first thing Robert’s Shawcraft team did was to create a scale model of the Dalek based on the revised blueprints. This model was 1ft tall and only roughly detailed, giving an overall idea of the size and shape. Next, they measured and scaled up the dimensions to create the plywood and plaster former from which they would cast the first moulds required to produce the identical props.
Cusick had envisaged the lower skirt section as a smooth round affair, unlike the slatted panel version we are familiar with now. Under the advice of Jack Kine of the Visual Effects Dept., he redesigned the skirt section as a series of panels so that it could be constructed in wood. Kine had informed him that it would be difficult and expensive to reproduce the smooth circular design in fibreglass. At this point the design supposedly altered to include the 56 hemispheres that adorn the skirt section. (Interesting to note that on the "official blueprints" the hemispheres are not featured on the rear skirt panels at all!)
BBC Effects Designer Ian Scoones recalled some years later that Shawcraft merely had the hemispheres left lying around in the workshop after a previous project and offered them as a proposed cheaper solution to the glowing illuminated circles that Cusick had incorporated in his earlier designs, and that these were ultimately used in the construction.
56 hemispheres (4 in a row) were pushed through holes cut in the skirt panels. From 1965 onwards these hemispheres were fibre-glassed into the rear of each panel to secure them. but back in 1963 they were simply held in place by lengths of 1 inch wooden struts. On occasion these struts were known to come loose making the hemispheres fall back inside the skirt section.
Inside each skirt section was tacked a piece of thin foam which saved the operators knees from bruises.
The shoulder sections of the original Daleks were also of fibreglass construction, with a wooden arm box being slotted into holes cut in the casing. More recent evidence tends to suggest that one of the original four casings may indeed have had shoulder section built entirely from wood.
(A fellow historian has told me of an original Dalek he has examined which did indeed sport a wooden shoulder section. He also believes this shoulder section to be recognisable as far back as the Dalek's second story "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" (1964). It is possible that this wooden shoulder section was a one-off, or (and most likely) that it was the original wooden plug used to make a mould from. Shawcraft may have utilised this piece to save time when constructing the Daleks)
Each shoulder section had two aluminium bands wrapped around it's centre. The lower band was deliberately fitted lower than the base line of the shoulders, so as to disguise the join between the skirt and body pieces. The belts were located in place with machine screws threaded through wooden spacers that brought them away from the body for approximately half an inch. The spacers were made cheaply by whatever was to hand. In photographs, its clear to see that these were simply small blocks of wood.
According to one source, William Hartnell - the actor who played the Doctor - complained about "sharp" edges of the shoulder collars, and BBC Effects staff were asked to apply Sellotape (clear sticky tape) to their edges in order to blunt them.
Two bolts were passed through the front of each weapons box. These were fastened inside to pieces of wood cut to match the size and shape of the front of the boxes. When clamped around a 4 inch sphere, these provided the ball joints used to operate the Daleks arms.
The neck sections were constructed from Blockboard.- Indeed, an original movie Dalek prop as owned by veteran collector Mick Hall, displays wear and tear around the three neck rings, and the veneer and block strops can clearly be seen through the cracked and chipped paint. In order to hide the wood grain - filler was applied to the edges of each ring. The eight supporting rods that circled the mesh section, were made from a Trefoil or clover leaf style commercial dowel (no longer manufactured). Each piece of the "clover leaves" was approximately 6mm in diameter.
A fine grade of mesh was wrapped around a central drum (or bin) to form the area the operator would see out of, and the three rings and rods formed the "neck Cage which was fitted over the bin section. The rings were part of Ray Cusick's designs almost directly through the whole Dalek draft drawing process. One of the very last sketches indicates 5 rings surrounding the neck section. This was just another of the design features that were tweaked at Shawcraft during the construction phases of the first four props.
Four small rubber wheels were inset into the top of the neck section and held in place with pins. These were used to rotate the dome (head) section of the prop.
The domes were fibreglass. No other material was suitable for manufacturing them because of their complex curves. Slots were cut for the eye-stalk and (later) holes for the Christmas tree lights (see below) that would flash in turn with the Daleks voice.
The "sucker" or "plunger" arm as it has become known, was created from three lengths of metal rod arranged in a telescopic manner, which the operator could control from inside the casing. Cusick's original design drawings indicate a more much credible claw attachment rather than the common or garden sink plunger, but budget and available time to construct the props meant that this idea was dropped. (Note : The claw arm was later re-invented for the 1965 film "Doctor Who and the Daleks".)
In the very first episode of The Mutants entitled The Dead Planet, only the end of the arm and the plunger were seen in shot just as the episode ended. Viewers had to wait a full week before seeing the creature on the end of the sink plunger. In the week that followed Terry Nation were besieged with telephone calls from friends begging them to tell him what was on the other end of the arm.
The infamous gun was constructed from a piece of one inch tube, to which 8 rods were attached. Three octagonal brackets were arranged at equal lengths along the gun, which helped support the rods and made the weapon appear a lot more "high-tech".
Both arm and gun ran through the centres of two 4 inch spheres which formed the ball joints inside the weapons boxes.
The original Dalek eye was perhaps the most complex design seen on screen. It was constructed by using a narrowed shaft fastened onto a circular pivot that was fixed inside the dome section. This shaft ran directly into a one inch piece of hollow tubing. Nine circular discs, each arranged in a climbing/falling pattern away from the central disc which was the largest were fitted to the tube. The Eye Disks. These nine discs were each held in position by ten spacers made from transparent acrylic tubing. Once each spacer was pushed into position at each side of each disc, they were held rigidly in place.
The eye-ball itself was made from a circular sphere four inches in diameter. It is possible that this ball came from the same source as the skirt hemispheres and was simply two hemispheres attached together.
The iris end of the ball was given a "toffee-apple" shaped lip in which a white lens was fitted covered with a clear perspex cover.
The eye was operated from inside by the actor pulling on a control rod to make the stalk move up and down. Removing a Dalek dome for repair work is often difficult because the eye-stalk must be removed by unbolting it from the inside first. On these early Daleks, the simple push-on end of the shaft would allow it to be easily removed during filming, allowing the dome section to be accessed for repair work.
The base of the Dalek was "hollow" plywood. A large hole was cut into the bottom of the wood to allow the operators to push the Daleks along with their feet. Cusick recommended that "plimsolls" were worn by all of the actors operating the Daleks. Three rubber tired castors were fitted to the bottom of each base - two at the rear and one at the front.
Shawcraft originally constructed one dalek to show the BBC before producing the rest. Unlike a lot of TV props that would be seen on television once or twice, these Daleks needed to be substantial enough to be used for six consecutive weeks, be workable in the studio and look good on camera.
This first Dalek has been often referred to as “The Prototype” but this is an erroneous label. The word prototype suggests a trial build, and this was simply not the case. The Shawcraft team constructed the Dalek to the best of their abilities and when presented to Verity Lamberts team, although excited by the design they were disappointed by the standard of workmanship.
They were told by Lambert to improve upon the standard of workmanship for the remaining props required. Roberts and his team delivered four new improved props as ordered to the BBC, choosing to retain the original build at their workshops. (The prop would appear once in the series (in The Dalek Invasion of Earth as The Saucer Commander and The Black Dalek) and then be used during the 60’s and 70’s by Shawcraft for fundraising and charity appearances. It is currently owned by a private collector, but given its importance to Dalek Historians, was christened SC1 (ShawCraft One) for ease of reference.
During the construction of the Daleks, the original plans were damaged and lost.
The only "plans" ever viewed by the general public and historians, are Dalek designs drawn up after the first casings had been manufactured. Once the Daleks became popular following their first outing, Cusick had been asked to provide details of how they had been designed. A BBC draughtsman by the name of A.Webb then created some drawings with actual dimensions depicting the last two stages of the Dalek design. The first of these drawings depicted the weapons boxes on alternate levels). This was later re-defined to include weapons boxes on the same plane ...possibly because of input from Shawcraft.
During the initial rehearsal sessions for episode two that director Christopher Barry realised that he was unable to identify which Dalek was speaking. The solution had to be both visual and simple. A few moments of rummaging around in a prop box provided the answer for designer Cusick. As he recalled recently, The Daleks were fitted with two Christmas Tree lights, covered Ping-Pong balls, which were flashed by the operators in time to the off screen voices.
Even when not speaking, the Daleks still proved confusing to Christopher Barry, who was unable to identify one Dalek from another. Cusick had devised an ingenious way of identifying which dalek was which. On the rear of the shoulder sections, between the two aluminium collars, he had drawn a number of short horizontal lines onto the prop. One line for Dalek One, two lines for Dalek Two and so on.
This method of identification was adequate if the props were viewed from the rear, but face on they were creating problems. So Cusick slipped rolls of coloured gaffer tape behind the top collar of each prop - each one a different colour. (In later years it would be reported that the tape was used on the studio floor to show the Dalek operators where to move their machines, but the truth is less "interesting". The tapes actual purpose was in the marking out of studio sets prior to assembly, and also to highlight camera positions during recording, these positions determined during earlier blocking sessions with the director.)
Again, as rehearsals progressed, this worked well on the studio floor, but on the Gallery Monitors, the coloured tape showed up as shades of gray. As rehearsals continued, A4 sized sheets of card with large numbers 1 to 4 on them were stuck to the Daleks making it completely clear which Dalek was which.
To make it less apparent during the latter episodes that they only had four Dalek Props, one of the props was photographed and full size photographic blow up's of the Dalek appeared around the Daleks Control Room set.
In one sequence, in Episode Three, one of the Daleks is seen to cut through a door using a cutting flame. A special attachment was substituted in place of the usual Plunger, with a pyro fuse fitted to create the impression of a cutting flame. For close up shots, an oxyacetylene torch was used to burn through a prop door (from the blind side) and the insert sequence was filmed away from the VT Studio's at Riverside, at the Ealing Film Studio's. The flame was operated by a freelance artist under contract to Shawcraft and overseen by one of the BBC's own Health and Safety officers.
Back in studio, and it is interesting to note that the publicity photographs taken on set and subsequently distributed to product manufacturers clearly show the rolls of tape and numbered cards on the props, and that toy and packaging designers in turn interpreted these additions as "speaker Grills" and "rank insignia" in subsequent toys and artwork packaging.
“The Daleks come home to roost and master the art of Tricycles”
In the spring of 1964, Nation was contracted to write a sequel to The Dead Planet.
This time, he chose to set the story on Earth, in the year 2164.
Designer Spencer Chapman was given the task of returning the Daleks to the screen. His first task was to check the availability and condition of the Dalek props. The two remaining BBC props had been in storage at the Ealing stages. (Two props had been given to Doctor Barnardo’s Childrens Homes in London)
He looked into acquiring the Barnardo's props but found them to be in a damaged state. The props were returned to Shawcraft for some much needed maintenance work to make them ready for Location and Studio filming. (Interestingly, these two props would later be sold during fundraising events during the late 60's. Their whereabouts today are not known, nor if indeed both still survive, though unconfirmed rumors do tell of one that’s in the hands of a private collector)
Six Dalek’s were required for the story. He contacted Shawcraft to see if they still had the moulds for the original props. Sadly, though in storage, they had been damaged (all except the dome section) and so the BBC leant them one of the original batch for measuring up.
Thus another set of Dalek moulds was created resulting in new props being created.
Chapman was mindful that the props would be used extensively on location, and together with Bill Roberts, devised enlarged fender sections for the props to sit on.
These contained basic a tricycle set up (one of Cusick's original design ideas) with air filled tyres. The surviving two props had their castors removed and the props sat on the new bases. The steering Mechanism's or the Tricycle ran up into the main body of the Dalek Skirt with motive power provided by a pedal and chain arrangement. If you listen closely to the soundtrack you can hear the noise created by the pedals in some scenes, mainly where the Daleks have go go up any slight slope.
No substantial fixing or internal bracing was required and bar the addition of some small locator bolts to the underside pf the props, they were held in place by their own weight.
Another addition to the props was the fixing of a flat "radio / radar" disk to the rear of the shoulder sections. The idea behind this was twofold. One: It assisted communication between the Daleks and their ship, and Two: It was a collection point for the Daleks power - in the original story they could only move on metal, drawing their power (static electricity) through the floor.
The story also called for a new Dalek hierarchy to be introduced - the Supreme Commander and The Black Dalek.
Chapman had Shawcraft repaint one prop for each appearance (as the Supreme Commander in Episode two, and as the Black Dalek for the remaining episodes)
The prop as it appeared in Episode two, featured alternating skirt sections in Matt Black paint (hand painted) with the Dome and shoulder box fronts also in Black - though some fans maintain that the colour used was in fact Red Primer.
The Dalek appeared from Episode Three as The Black Dalek, hand painted in Matt Black, with Blue Hemi's and Aluminium collars.
As well as these "two new daleks", this story again makes use of a great many life-size photographs of the Dalek props. In dimly lit scenes, these photographic blow-ups work well, but sadly, they are all too obvious throughout the rest of the adventure.
During the story narrative, one prop was required to emerge from the river Thames at the climax of episode one. This sequence was a two part affair, with a model created intercut with an actual Dalek prop emerging out of the murky waters of the Thames. This was achieved by simply laying boards down at low tide and, at high tide, lowering a prop onto them. The Dalek was then towed out of the water simply by attaching one end of a rope to the underside of the base section, the other end to a car! Actor Robert Jewell was inside the prop moving the eye, Gun and Sucker arm.
The prop was hosed down, dried out and cleaned before appearing in later studio scenes.
One Dalek, during the location shoot for the Minors Revolt in Episode 6 (on location at Johns Hole Quarry) was bolted together and had its enlarged base removed. The prop was carried through the scene where the minors revolt, echoing a similar scene with the Thals in the final episode of The Daleks the previous season.
Incidentally the prop that appears in the river at the end of episode one (and the reprise of episode two) is not the same prop that menaces Hartnell on the riverbank, despite (in the narrative) being a continuation of the same scene.
“In which The Daleks take a trip to the Cinema, meet a screen legend and visit a Technicolor world”
At the time of the Dalek Invasion Of Earth's transmission, Film Financier and Producer Milton Subotsky had signed a deal with the BBC for a series of three Doctor Who films. (Though as we know, only two of the series were ever made)
Rather than produce all new adventures, Subotsky opted to remake The Dead Planet as Doctor Who and the Daleks.
The film called for bigger and colourful sets, and as the Daleks were the stars of the film, they had to be bigger and better than their Television Counterparts.
Rather than reinvent the wheel, the films production team (Aaru / British Lion) commissioned Shawcraft Engineering to create eight fully functional new dalek props for the production.
As with everything on the film, the new Daleks were made to be bigger, bolder and brighter than their television counterparts. This entailed a number of changes to the design….
To ensure a clean set of fibreglass castings were created, Shawcraft returned to the most recent set of Dalek Blueprints and borrowing a television Dalek, began to create a new, highly detailed former. Two sets of moulds were produced
The dome was the same moulding as used on the television daleks, although it was dressed with very different features. The ping-pong ball lights were replaced with large plastic beakers, upturned and secured over a white plastic bulb holder. The eyestalks of the movie Daleks were slightly shorter than the then current television Daleks with the eyeball taking on less of a toffee apple profile.
The shoulders were for the first time made entirely from fibreglass. Whilst the TV Daleks sported right-angled, plywood gun boxes bolted into the fibreglass shell, the new movie Daleks had the boxes moulded integrally. For this reason, the shape had to be adjusted slightly to make the moulding process easier. This entailed replacing some of the difficult right-angled joins with soft, obtuse angled joins. These new angles allowed the shoulders to be released from the mould with little trouble. Whilst the front of the box remained squared, the sleeker angles of the rest of the box give the movie shoulders a unique look.
A new skirt former was made up by Shawcraft. Based upon the dimensions of a television Dalek, it remained similar in shape with only negligible differences.
The BBC later acquired several of these props for use in the Television series, after which the Daleks seen on screen became a mixture of parts made originally for the series or for the film. One easy way of distinguishing the movie skirts from the Television versions are the clumsy misaligned hemispheres at the rear of the movie version.
Its said that the misalignment of hemispheres was due to the use of wooden templates showing the positioning of the pilot holes prior to trepanning the skirt holes out. (enabling the hemispheres to be slotted in from behind)
The story says that each template was numbered for easy reference, but the templates for the rear left skirt panel were numbered upside down. The Dalek builders had split the base sections into three groups - left, right and back, and all of the props were trepanned at the same time. With the left and right sections completed, the team set about working on the back panels. How nobody noticed that the panel had been inverted it a total mystery, but the holes were cut too high on the real left panel.
The most noticeable difference between the TV and Movie Dalek props is the enlarged bumper at the base of each build.
The large fenders as seen in the film was something of a progression from the then current television daleks seen in The Dalek Invasion of Earth. In this serial, the Dalek props were required to move about on location on rough, uneven ground for the first time. New, ‘dodgem’ style bumpers were fitted to the props consisting of a curved fibreglass base, with black rubber skirting secured all around.
The same fibreglass moulding was used for the new movie Dalek bases. However, since they were only required to move across a smooth studio floor, the rubber skirting was omitted and the fibreglass moulding extended to the desired height.
Whilst some of the daleks in the first film feature the familiar sink plunger arm, several of the props sport an impressive mechanical claw. Some of these were non-functional dummies made from plywood and sheet metal, although there are at least two daleks featuring a working version. The Dalek operator was able to grip and release the claw on cue!
The claw consisted of two wooden halves, which were both pivoted on a central plate. In order to get the two halves of the claw to close or 'grip', the operator would pull back a control tube/rod, which ran through the whole length of the Dalek arm. This had a small circular cap attached to it that would pull the two halves of the claw into closed position. When the operator released his grip from the control tube/rod the claw would return to the open position thanks to a spring positioned on the back half of the claw This spring is clearly visible when the Dalek attempts to strangle Ian in the prisoner's cell.
With the bigger budget of a feature film, the simple TV 'positive-negative' death ray effect was not used. As a striking (although slightly dangerous) alternative, provision was made to fit the props with working flamethrowers!
The gun barrels were made fatter than the Television versions and prepared for use - eagle eyed viewers of the film may spot the presence of a starter burner on the inside of the gun barrels.
Due to the heat of the flame, the plastic octagons seen on the TV guns were omitted.
In the finish, due to a worry that the film would not achieve its family-viewing certificate, the flame guns were shelved and replaced with carbon dioxide fire extinguishers!
As this was the first time the Daleks had appeared in colour, the props were finished in striking multi coloured paint schemes. The standard ‘soldier’ Dalek were realised in Silver and Blue colours, although two command ranks were also created in black and red.
In addition to the eight hero props of the first film, a number of additional Daleks were created at the same time.
Around ten dummy props were moulded up by the Shepperton Studio Plaster Workshops, purely for use as background/stunt props. These are approximately the same size, shape and colour as the hero props, but of much cruder quality and featuring fixed position antennae and (most strangely) moulded on shoulder collars... with the angled edge around the gun/arm boxes reversed!
Three further props were (its said) built by Shawcraft to help promote the film on tour around the country.
An interesting thing to look out for is the Daleks' flashing lights. During the first week of filming, the lights were set to flash regularly. It was then realised that the lights should only flash to indicate which Dalek was speaking, and so this was changed. Rather than go back and re-shoot the scenes already in the can, it was decided to alter the script and re-pace the Daleks speech. If you watch the film closely, you can see which scenes were recorded first because of the slow and plodding nature of the Daleks delivery!
The film opened on June 24th 1965
“A solar paneled makeover, a chase through space and a new Mechanical Terror, but still time to make a trip to the Theatre!”
Back at the BBC, the third Dalek serial was underway, called The Chase.
The BBC had five fully working props and one FX prop, and all of these would be recalled back from storage at Ealing for refurbishment.
Ray Cusick was the appointed designer for the story, and the first thing he did was to order the removal of the enlarged bases fitted for the Dalek Invasion of Earth. Whilst he appreciated the addition of a "radar dish" to the back of the props, he felt that he, as the creator of the Daleks visual appearance, could do better.
He devised an arrangement of coarse mesh and aluminum panels to be fitted around the top collar on all of the props. He claimed that as the Daleks required a power pick up, and that the "collection dishes" on the backs of the props had proved ineffective (no doubt influencing the outcome of the story), that these "future" Daleks had harnessed the power of the sun and that these were in fact Solar Panels!
The additional work on the props was carried out once more by Shawcraft Engineering, who also provided a number of attachments to be used during the story instead of the Sink Plunger arm. These additions included the "Perceptor Disk", "Seismic Detector" and "Electrode Unit"
At the climax to Episode One, a Dalek is required to emerge from the sand on Planet Aridius. The production team elected to produce this as a physical effect using one of the Dalek props, and buried the Dalek completely in the sand on location, attempting to tow the Dalek out of the sand with a Land Rover.
The effect was abandoned as the Dalek, weighed down by over a tonne of sand refuses to budge. The effect was realised by the use of models on the sound stages at Ealing during the first week of May ’65.
Five complete Daleks are used during the filming of the story, plus two appearances by the FX Dalek from Invasion. This prop would appear briefly in Episode three - destined for a watery grave once more as it falls from the side of the sailing ship Mary Celeste, and again at the climax of Episode six, where it meets its ultimate end at the er… hands of the Mechanoids.
The now unusable prop was junked after filming.
The BBC also "borrowed" three Daleks from the makers of the Doctor Who and The Daleks film. (an interesting aside here, but when most people view the chase they say "A-ha, there's two movie props" but eagle eyed viewers will spot, on one shot, the edge of a third fenderless movie dalek to the extreme left of the Dalek Time Machine Control Room set. Did YOU spot it?)
Appearing before the film had opened at the cinema, the props had their large bumpers removed and were positioned around the interior of the Daleks time machine. The props were returned to storage after filming was complete. The props would at a later date be bought by the BBC for use as FX dummies as and when required.
The next Daleks to be worked on did not appear on television, or on film, but live on stage at the Wyndham Theatre in London.
Curse of the Daleks featured 5 Daleks in total - one black Dalek and four standard silver and blue versions. Looking the same as the props that appeared in the debut story "The Dead Planet", many people have assumed these props to be a new build, based on the earlier design.
Shawcrafts Bill Robets recalled that ever mindful of cost, the producers of the play, John Gale Productions, contacted Aaru / British Lion, the film company responsible for the Dr Who and the Daleks film, and asked if they could hire a number of props. Aaru, still unsure that a second film would be made, sold the props to John Gale, and it was these daleks that were ultimately used in the production.
The producers explained that due to space restrictions, the bases would need to be made smaller. Roberts and his team set to work and one week later, returned the props to the rehearsal rooms. Not only had the bases been removed, but also the props had been made near identical to the TV originals. The only visible difference is that each prop suffers from misaligned hemispheres - as do all the movie props!
The reason for restyling the Daleks to the original TV design lay in the script, which was in turn a direct continuation of the story from the end of the Dead Planet.
It concentrates on a team of astronauts whose sabotaged ship crash-lands on Skaro, many years after the Doctors first television visit.
The story follows the Daleks re-animation by one of the ships crew in the hope that they will travel with him to overthrow the leaders of the "Earth Empire" and help him become Controller of the System.
Although planning to go on tour around the provinces, the play closed after just two weeks.
After the play closes, the BBC are offered the props, and whilst its said they purchased them (three being bought by the publicity department) there is no known evidence to back this up.
“In which The Daleks get their own episode minus The Doctor, take to TV screens in a tale of epic proportions and find time to pop back to the Cinema. Pass the popcorn!”
Mission to the Unknown was the next Dalek episode to be filmed. Featuring none of Doctor Who's regular "human" cast, this single episode as a "prequel" to the next production, The Daleks Master plan. Mission made use of the five existing television props, with their sink plungers reinstated.
Sporting the same colours as in their previous TV outing, one of the props is fitted with the Seismic Detector attachment for a couple of scenes.
The Daleks' Master Plan was a story on a massive scale. Written by Terry Nation and Dennis Spooner, it spanned an incredible 12 episodes!
The same number of props appeared throughout the story - again, one fitted with the Seismic Detector.
During the course of the production, three of the props were fitted with "flame-throwers". Propane burners were installed, igniting a Bunsen burner type affair in place of the usual sink plunger. These additions only appeared in one episode, where the Daleks clear jungle foliage. The scene was shot on the stages at Ealing.
During the course of the story, Daleks were seen to be destroyed, however, rather than disassemble and rig the props to explode, an assortment of pyro-fuses and "smoke pot's" were attached to the outside of them - requiring only minimal cleaning up after the effect.
However, during the climax of the final episode, the script called for the dreaded Time Destructor to be activated, and knowing that a spectacular effect was required, one of the Dalek props was cut and rigged to explode. The only surviving sections were the base, gun, arm and dome. The shoulders and neck were totally destroyed.
This left the BBC with a total of four complete TV originals, one original base section, two Curse/Movie props plus the option on the three film Daleks in storage.
Whilst Master plan. was in production, another Dalek build was underway, again at Shawcraft Engineering.
With the first film a commercial success, the option on the second film had been taken up by Milton Subotsky. With a bigger budget, and a script based on the second TV story, Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150AD went into production at Shepperton Studio's.
The crew initially looked to see what props were held in storage to discover that out of the 18 originally created for the first film, they only had two in storage. The others had either been sold on or given away.
Despite the bigger budget, the script required only 12 fully working props.
As the Daleks in the second film were more or less a clone of a prop from the first, many of the measurements are the same, save for a few cosmetic differences detailed below.
The second movie Daleks feature the mesh and slat ‘waistcoat’ around the shoulder section. This was a feature that had been added to the Television Daleks since the first film had been made and was now considered to be the ‘current’ dalek design.
There are two different grades of expanded mesh seen on the dalek shoulders in the film. Some of the props (such as the gold Dalek) feature a coarse mesh, not unlike that used on the Television props of the time. Most of the Daleks however sport a much finer grade shoulder mesh. Although it was not as fine as the neck mesh used in the film(which was a perforated metal), it was similar in grade to the mesh used on the neck sections of Television Daleks in later years.
The slats were cut from aluminium sheet (a departure from the acrylic versions used on the Television props), which were pop-riveted onto the aluminium collars, beneath the mesh.
There is a small amount of variance between the eye/arm attachments seen in the two films, with the second movie versions becoming more simplified. Several daleks in the second film have simple five-inch spherical eyeballs in contrast to the standard four-inch chamfered versions, for instance.
Other variations included a mixture of Claw’s and Suckers fitted to the end of the Dalek Arm - one of them in one scene appearing with a smaller diameter silver "plunger" for no apparent reason whilst another sported a claw that owed more to a commercially available grabber than to a familiar Dalek style of claw.
As these props were intended to move on location, the ‘solid’ fibreglass bumpers of the first film could not be used. Instead, the bases were made up in the same way as they had been done for Television serial “The Dalek Invasion of Earth”.
Only the top two inches of the base was moulded up in fibreglass. Six inches of black rubber skirting was then attached to the base, all round. This brought the bumper up to it’s full height of eight inches.
The rubber skirting enabled the props to move over uneven surfaces without the fibreglass base scuffing or scraping the floor.
A number of lightweight props were also created for the film, and featured in the "Dustcart" sequence. It was planned that the cart would strike only these dummy props, but during the actual take, two of the main props were damaged.
Use was also made of model Daleks. These sequences were Dortmund's suicide attack on a lone Dalek in a London street, the Red Dalek falling down the bomb shaft (realised as a Louis Marx toy repainted to match the prop) and a Blue/Silver Dalek that is destroyed when a section of wall explodes.
A half size prop was also created from very lightweight plastic around a balsa wood frame and rigged to collapse on itself during the scene where Earth's Magnetic field wreaks havoc with the creatures.
The final shot using the props was the scene where the Daleks explode the hut that our heroes have been hiding in at the Mine. The hut was packed with a large amount of explosives and the resulting blast caused a great deal of damage to three of the props. These were junked almost straight after.
Although the film was a success, it did not perform as well as expected and a third film option (titled Doctor Who's Greatest Adventure) was not made.
In a case of history repeating itself, the surviving Daleks were used in a UK wide promotional tour to publicise the film. Three were then given away as prizes in a Sugar Puffs Competition (the brand being the films main sponsor - an early example of product placement in British films!) and two were acquired once again by Terry Nation.
The last few were sold off to collectors.
“A new Doctor Who faces the might of a new Dalek Army on the Planet Vulcan and the use of Model Daleks give a Toy Manufacturer free advertising!”
In mid 1966, Dr Who producer decided that it was time for William Hartnell to relinquish the role of the Doctor, and the brave decision was taken to replace the lead actor - the man chosen being Patrick Troughton.
To give the new actor a good start it was elected to use the Daleks in his debut story.
Due to Terry Nations commitments on other series, the original Who script editor, David Whitacker, was brought in to write the new serial, and he produced what is now thought of as being a particularly strong vehicle for the creatures.
Although Derek Dodd was responsible for designing the story, it was the Visual Effects department that did some minor renovation on the four existing Dalek props.
The most obvious change were the newly designed guns which, whilst similar in most other respects to the earlier versions, omitted the perspex octagons that supported the gun rods. Similarly, minor changes were made to the Daleks eyesticks, including the fitting of a dilating iris on one, as a prop had in 'The Daleks'.
The casings were also, as usual, given a new coat of paint, though in photographs taken at the time, it appears that a darker shade of blue was used on the skirt balls.
The other modification of note was the application of new dome lights. Whilst the same in shape to those light covers used in The Chase, Mission, and Master plan., the new ones kept a 'rim' around the edge. These lights were commercially available egg cups, which came in both white and orange shades - the orange shade being the ones used again.
The four casings' body components featured were all from props built between 63 and 65, inclusive of elements made for 'The Daleks', 'The Dalek Invasion of Earth' and the first Dalek movie.
Interestingly, whilst all Daleks has sported 'TV' domes until now, one Dalek now featured a movie dome, possibly due to irreparable damage to the old one.
To generally round up there were 3 TV's skirts and 1 movie skirt, 2 TV shoulders/necks and 2 movie shoulders/necks and 3 TV domes and 1 movie dome.
For the filmed scenes requiring massed numbers of Daleks inside their capsule, photographic blow ups were used, occasionally with crew hidden behind them with bits of string to give the static items movement!
Pre filming took place in late September at Ealing film studios, and used all four props.
Ironically, given the fact that the casings had just been renovated, one sequence filmed was the spectacular destruction of the Daleks at the end of part 6.
As well as dummy sections, explosives were often draped over the actual operational Daleks. Hence, once the Daleks got into the videotape studio, they appeared quite battered once again!
For this sequence a number of lightweight Dalek sections were constructed by visual effects, who also handled the pyrotechnics.
The end sequence cut together at almost a minute of Daleks exploding - at the time this was particularly impressive.
Infamously, during one take, when two Daleks were supposed to career down a corridor, belching smoke, crash into each other and explode, a nearly disastrous mishap occurred.
Using WWII gas masks to protect them from the smoke, the two operators set off at speed down the corridor, only to discover that they were still inhaling smoke. The two Daleks hit each other, and the top lifted off one casing - just as the pyrotechnics detonated.
The stray sparks set fire to operator Kevin Manser's shirt, and panic broke out in the studio. Once everyone's safety was ensured, director Christopher Barry briskly said 'Right then, take two!'.
Daleks were filmed crashing into computer banks, spinning crazily, totally exploding, foam spurting out of their tops.
PA Micheal Briant recalls getting into trouble for getting foam all over the floor at Ealing.
One of the most famous set pieces from the story is the Dalek production line - essentially a conveyor belt constructing Daleks.
On a raised area, a Dalek with a sieve type attachment would scoop up a Dalek mutant from a large perspex globe, move over to the conveyor belt and deposit the creature into the bottom half of the casing. The top half of the Dalek, minus gun and arm, was then lowered down, and off the conveyor belt rolled a complete Dalek.
The method of raising the Daleks top half up was particularly ingenious.
A replacement dome was substituted for the normal one with four holes drilled into it. Angled lengths of steel were attached to the inside of the shoulder section and threaded through the dome, and the whole assembly was attached to the lifting mechanism. The lifting arm was hoisted up, complete with the top half of the prop, which could then be lowered down on cue.
Both full sized Daleks and model 'Hertz' toy Daleks were used for this sequence, the latter very basically made up to match their full size counterparts.
The Dalek creatures themselves were gray blobs of latex, trailing tentacles. Shaving foam was smeared over them, and the perspex globe they are held in contained a white liquid.
Later at the videotape studio, for the best part of the duration of the story, the Daleks have their guns removed. Occasionally the Daleks are also scene holding trays and power cables. Also of note is the destroyed Dalek that appears next to the TARDIS on the very last scene.
Visual effects provided a melted mid section, shoulders and dome, on top of a regular skirt. The eyestick itself actually worked so that the Dalek could look up as the ship dematerialises.
“In which Terry Nation has plans for the Daleks to conquer the States and The Daleks make their last appearance in Doctor Who…”
With the release of the second Dalek film, the continuing popularity of Doctor Who both at home and with a growing audience overseas, Dalek Creator Terry Nation, now a very successful TV drama writer, decided that the time was right for The Daleks to conquer the States in their own TV show. As Dalek Creator, he co-owned his creations likeness with the BBC whilst holding the intellectual rights to them, and he decided that the time was right to construct a self contained Dalek TV serial, uncomplicated by the restrictions of the Doctor Who format.
He devised a series called The Destroyers, which would depict a future world faced with the Dalek threat. Each week, the Daleks would conquer, destroy and create intergalactic mayhem only to be thwarted by the Space Security Service, in the form of a preciously used character Sara Kingdom (The Dalek Master plan.) and her android colleague Mark Seven.
With storylines underway and tentative interest from the US networks, Nation devised a final Dalek serial that would see The Doctor taken to the Dalek home world of Skaro and face the Emperor Dalek in a bid to stop the implementation of the Daleks newest weapon – The Human Factor.
Daleks would be ‘infected’ with human emotions to make them more illogical, cunning and devious, whilst at the same time willing to take risks that their battle computers would not normally allow the logical race to take. Of course the plan would backfire and the Daleks would take on a more playful nature and question their deadly role and civil war ensued. With Dalek fighting Dalek, their race would be wiped out in a cataclysmic firestorm…. leaving Nation free to take his creations on to their own TV serial without the good Doctor.
Although the script called for an army of Daleks, the BBC made use of the standard props as last seen in the preceding story Power of the Daleks.
The same four Daleks as previously seen were reused, with an additional ‘new’ Dalek making its debut. This Dalek was briefly seen in Episode Two (which is the only episode from the serial that still exists in the BBC Film and Television Library) and was another Dalek “Oddball” prop. The top half of the Dalek was a standard Movie Prop that had been altered by the BBC to match the others held by the BBC, however the base section was slimmer than the other props and notably featured a single line of Hemispheres running down the centre of the rear panel.
There are various stories as to how this prop ended up with a slimmer skirt and an unusual rear panel. These range from needing a Dalek that was slim enough to fit through doorways, to damage repair, to inexplicable modifications by the fx team. In a candid discussion with Dalek Builder Bill Roberts of Shawcraft Engineering, he recounted to a researcher that a number of these Daleks were constructed, but this cannot be verified nor confirmed.
Its also interesting to note that in the present day, very few original Daleks exist in complete form. Those that do are secreted away in private collections. However, there is one, now owned by designer Martin Wilkie and previously owned by Visual Effects Designer Bernard Wilkie (his father) which is regularly on display (at the Dr Who Dapol Exhibition and, at the time of writing, at the Brighton Exhibition) and it is this very Dalek.
Back to the sixties, and this story required two Dalek armies to battle against each other at the climax of the story. The Humanised Daleks were seen on screen as the standard props and those loyal to the Emperor Dalek were shown with black Domes instead of the normal Silver.
To achieve the appearance of a multitude of Daleks fighting each other, the production team simply filmed sequences featuring the silver domed Daleks first, before painting one of the domes black. They then proceeded with filming before painting another dome black. In the end three of the Daleks sported black domes. Given the speed at which the show was recorded, the paint on these domes was still wet during the actual filming.
Two of the props were fitted with pyrotechnic charges at the top of the neck section and lightweight dome sections fitted to the top of the Daleks. In the recess at the top of the neck sections, the effects team positioned bags of dyed wallpaper paste and chopped furniture foam. As the domes were blown off, the operators inside would rhythmically push their hands up against the bag and on screen, the dalek ‘brains’ were seen to pulsate!
The Visual Effects crew also made use of a number of Model Daleks to show scenes of Dalek Carnage. Louis Marks Friction Drive Toys were painted to match the full size props and let loose in model recreations of the Emperors chamber and the Dalek City on Skaro in a blaze of Pyrotechnic glory.
This model footage was inter cut with shots of the three lighter weight Visual Effects Daleks exploding on set and created the illusion of a Dalek Armageddon.
The only other Dalek to appear on screen during the story was the Emperor Dalek Prop. The character of the Emperor has first featured in the TV21 Comic Strips and this was its first inclusion in a Doctor Who serial. However, whilst the Comic Strip Dalek was a smaller Golden Dalek with a large sphere for a head, the TV Emperor was a giant prop built into the very fabric of the Dalek Control Room. Standing some 20 feet in height, its massive domed head sported six flashing lights and a massive eyestalk, whilst heavy duty cables snaked from the walls and into the sides of its casing. Completely immobile, the operator inside was able to move the eyestick and domed head when required.
As mentioned above, only one episode of this story exists in the archives, however 8mm cine footage taken on set by the Effects Crew recently came to light and provided a fascinating insight into the filming of the final battle. It has been released in edited format on the DVD release The Seeds Of Death, and in its full form, complete with commentary on the DVD Box set “Lost I Time”
This chapter of the History of the Daleks started with Terry Nations plans to launch the Daleks in their own TV series in that states. Evil was transmitted and the Daleks departed from Doctor Who, save for a small cameo appearance at the end of The War Games.
This could have bee the end of the story. But it was just a pause in the Dalek Domination of our television screens. The initial interest in The Destroyers was dealt a blow when the second Dalek Movie failed to perform at the box office, taking less than its predecessor, and the moneymaking phenomena of Dalekmania was on the wane. By the end of the 1960’s Nations plans to take The Daleks to the states were forgotten. He returned to scripting and penned a number of shows for ITC (The Avengers, The Persuaders, Randall And Hopkirk (deceased) etc).
At the BBC, Doctor Who continued and in 1970 made its debut in colour,with a new production team and with a new Doctor. However it was to be another year until the Daleks were to return.
“In which The Daleks return to the small screen in Colour and an invading army totals three!”
The advent of the 1970’s saw a new era for Doctor Who begin. Not only was there a new Doctor in the form of Jon Pertwee and a new format which saw the Doctor exiled to Earth and working as Scientific Advisor with The United Nations Intelligence Taskforce – UNIT for short - but for the first time the series was being transmitted in Colour!
During pre production on Pertwee’s third season, producer Barry Letts and Script Editor Terence Dicks were becoming aware of a growing number of fans asking when the Daleks were going to battle with the Doctor once more.
With all of that seasons scripts commissioned, they made tentative enquiries with Terry Nations agent and arranged to visit him on set at Pinewood Studio;’s where he was script editing the ITC series The Protectors.
The meeting went well and Nation expressed an interest in penning a script himself, however working with ITC would mean that he would not be free for another year.
Eager to incorporate The Daleks into the new season, they spoke with writer Louis Marks who was scripting the opening story entitled The Years Of Doom. The story concerned a group of freedom fighters from the future who had traveled back to the present day to assassinate a diplomat who’s actions would lead to a third world war and the invasion of Earth from an alien space power.
Dicks had already suggested taking the Doctor and companion Jo Grant to the future to battle the aliens, but felt that the alien menace was somewhat lacking. He and Letts suggested to Marks that he replace his alien race with The Daleks. Marks realised that the already established Daleks required no back story to introduce them thus ensuring a faster pace to the adventure. The story was re-titled Day of the Daleks and with script approval given by Nation on July 20th 1971, and with pre production underway, the serial went into production on the 13th September 1971
Designer on the production was David Myerscough-Jones and the Visual Effects were handled by Jim Ward. The script had made mention of a control centre on 22nd century Earth that was manned by “20 to 30 Daleks” and with this in mind, the two of them visited the BBC Visual Effects Workshops to check on the number and condition of the Dalek props.
They found that there were a number of Dalek sections in storage, all in varying conditions and found that by swapping the sections around, they had three basic Daleks which could be refurbished to form complete props. There was also one Base section that required minimal work that could be used to depict an exploded Dalek in one of the episodes.
They informed Director Paul Bernard (fresh from working on the ITV Children’s Science Fiction series The Tomorrow People) of the number and condition of the props and he conceded that the ambitious production could not afford new casings and that clever camera angles and editing would disguise the fact there were only three fully operational Daleks.
In the August of 1971, the Daleks were refurbished by Wards team. The lead Gold Dalek featured a TV Daleks Base and was topped by one of the Movie Daleks upper sections whilst, whilst one of two the Gray Daleks featured a TV prop upper section on a Movie Dalek base! The remaining Gray Dalek was comprised from TV prop sections.
All of the sections were stripped down, refurbished and repainted, the leader Dalek appearing in a Gold colour scheme with Black Hemispheres, and the remaining two painted Gray with Black Hemispheres. The remaining Movie Base was also repainted Gray. The Daleks were also fitted with an oval panel between the two boxes on the shoulder sections.
It is said that during their time away from the series, they had been used in a BBC exhibition and speakers installed to the front of the props resulting in a hole that needed covering, but as with most stories regarding the props, there is no documentary evidence to back this up at present.
New lights were also fitted to the tops of the Dalek Domes. The domed “Eggcups” of the 1960’s saw sleeker auto lenses used for the first time, in the form of Land Rover side light
On the four day location shoot, wooden boards were placed on uneven surfaces and grass lawns to enable the Daleks to move smoothly about, low camera angles disguising the fact. The third day of location work saw the filming of a guerrilla attack on the Dalek Base. Rather than blow up one of the few Daleks he had, Ward detonated a charge on the Dalek Base that had been refurbished along with the three main props and fast editing of the footage gave the appearance of one of the Gray Daleks exploding off camera, and its smoking remains on camera.
The serial was transmitted on January 1st 1972 and opened the ninth season of Doctor who. It immediately spawned a second, short lived wave of Dalekmania, with Daleks appearing on various television shows, and in competitions where entrants could win one of a number of specially commissioned "Mark 7" Daleks. There were roughly two feet tall and operated from behind using a number of levers.
However the Public wanted more Daleks and they reappeared the following year providing the cliffhanger ending in the adventure Frontier In Space!
“In which The Master teams up with the Ogrons, there's a lot of running about, and then, just when you think its all over….. A huge surprise Cliffhanger Ending”
Whilst planning Season Ten of Doctor Who, Producer Barry Letts and Script Editor Terrance Dicks were back in negotiations with Terry Nation to provide them with a new Dalek Tale. The was commissioned to write a six parter which was initially called “Destination: Daleks” and he was requested to follow the story directly on from the cliffhanger ending in Frontier In Space, which would see the Doctor gunned down in cold blood by The Master whilst making his escape from the Planet of the Ogrons.
Frontier in Space was written by Malcolm Hulke and was an epic space adventure depicting an intergalactic war between the Earth Federation and the Empire of Draconia. In original drafts, the villain of the piece was the Doctors arch enemy, The Master. (Played by Roger Dalgado – who would be killed in a car crash in Turkey some months after completing filming on the story).
The Master has employed the services of The Ogrons as his guerilla force, and in the original storyline, he was solely responsible for setting the two empires at war with the aim of taking control of both after the war.
However, with the Ogrons appearing as the Daleks' hired help in The Day of the Daleks, it was felt that The Master should be seen to be working for a higher authority, so the Daleks were introduced into the final episode, providing a link between this and the next story.
Three Daleks were used during the filming of this story and were the same three props that appeared on Day of the Daleks. They are first seen on a cliff top with the master, with fast editing making it appear that there are five Daleks (one Gold and four Gray) instead of just three.
Effects designers Bernard Wilkie and Rhys Jones had the three props repainted for this story, as they had become a little battered and scratched whilst in storage and their appearances on other TV shows and events held by The BBC.
The Gold Dalek was repainted Gold, but this time a darker shade and sported new eyedisks whilst the two gray Daleks remained relatively unaltered. On the Gold Dalek we see the first evidence of inward bowing of the wire struts on the Gun, caused by scene hands moving the Dalek around by firmly grabbing the gun and dragging the prop around. This action would cause the wire struts to be compressed, and bend. Very soon, most Daleks sported “crimped” or compressed gun fatigue.
The Daleks appeared on screen (voiced by “Davros to be” Michael Wisher) for just under three minutes, but their line regarding an army of the Daleks set the scene for an adventure the following week of an epic scale!
“Doctor Who returns next Saturday at the same time on BBC one, in the Planet of the Daleks”.
“In which we don’t see the invisible Daleks, nor do we see the invisible native Spiridons, but we do get to see some new Dalek props”
Dalek Creator Terry Nation returned to the fold with this, his first new story for Doctor Who in eight years. As previously mentioned, Nation has been unable to contribute a script for the shows ninth season, but now, free from his script editing work with ITC, he threw himself into creating a Dalek Adventure on an epic scale.
The original title for the story was “Destination: Daleks” – a reference to the scripted requirement to pursue the Daleks to where their new Dalek Army was located in the cliff hanger ending to the preceding story Frontier in Space.
Nations script featured the return of the Thal People – not seen since the first Dalek adventure “The Dead Planet”. Many years have passed since the Doctors first visit to Skaro and now the Thals are a space faring people. Their fight against the Daleks continues and based on their intelligence reports, there is Dalek Activity on the planet Spiridon. A reconnaissance mission to the planet crash lands and the survivors learn that not only are the Daleks conducting invisibility experiments, but that somewhere on the planet lies an army of 10,000 Daleks in cryogenic suspension.
Visual Effects Supervisor on this story was Clifford Culley. He and his team looked at the script requirements and found this particular story to be very effects heavy, from moving Eye Plants to the creation of the Ice Volcano at the heart of the Daleks Cryogenic suspension system. However their biggest challenge was the requirement to realise an army of Daleks on screen.
They decided that whilst the shots of the army in cryogenic suspension could be realised by the use of models, to create an effective Dalek force would require the building of a number of new Dalek Props.
The BBC’s three Daleks had been repainted for their appearance in the preceding story, and the only work required was to paint the Gold Lead Dalek Gray to match the other two.
To create the new Daleks, (referred to by fans in the 80’s as “Goons”, but these days as NSC Daleks – Non Shawcraft Daleks) Cullys team measured up an existing Dalek Prop and created six new Daleks for the serial. Instead of using the methods employed by Shawcraft Engineering on the original TV and Movie Daleks, rather than use Fibre Glass, these new Daleks were constructed using Plywood for the bases, sheet Aluminium and Plywood around a wooden frame for the shoulders, whilst the Neck and Dome followed the same earlier construction methods (Block board Neck Rings, wooden Neck covered in gauze and mesh and a fiberglass Dome)
The construction of the NSC Daleks was not as detailed as the original builds, with the Hemispheres in particular stuck on rather haphazardly onto the wooden base, with some rows of hemispheres rising up towards the front of the base section or being positioned too high on the Dalek.
Looking back at the serial, it appears that some of these new Daleks were repainted following their use on a particularly wet and muddy location shoot prior to going into studio, and the colour of some of the props varies in the shade of Gray used. (Lighter Metallic gray on location, darker gray in studio)
During the location shoot, one original Dalek was used for close up shots, appearing as a number of different Daleks during the narrative, but when the Daleks are plunged into the Ice Pool, it’s the new builds that were used. Both Daleks were fitted with hinged to the rear of each Dome (and connected to the top of the neck bin) to enable the actors to open the Dalek Machines and remove the Kaled Mutant within.
As mentioned above, the script tells of the Daleks experiments with invisibility, and at the climax to Episode One, an invisible Dalek breaks down (suffering from “Lightwave Sickness”) and its form is revealed by the Doctor and the Thals using aerosol Paints on the creature. To achieve this effect, one of the Daleks was painted Chromakey Yellow and placed onto a yellow set. The actors positioned on the same set were keyed into the main TV image and as they spray painted the Dalek, the paint adhering to its yellow surface made it appear as if by magic. (Cue cliffhanger end titles!)
The Dalek was then painted completely black for the reprise in Episode two (painted during a break in the first studio session) and appeared in some scenes in the background, before being repainted for the later studio sessions involving the Cryogenic Unit.
The final episode of the story introduced viewers to a new Dalek, in the form of the Dalek Supreme. This was a spectacular Dalek sporting a black body and gold Hemispheres, Collars, Slats and Dome. Rather than build a completely new prop, the production team borrowed one of Terry Nations own Dalek Props which he had been given following the second Dalek film in the 1960’s.
Culley and his team completely refurbished the Movie Dalek, including a completely new Neck section (without support rods and with straight edged neck rings), a new eye piece – in reality a commercially available torch which lit up when the Dalek spoke) and much larger Dome Lights – bigger than those seen on the original movie props, and created by fitting two inverted Jam Jars onto the Dome. Purple lighting Gel was fitted to the inside of each light. This Dalek only ever appeared in this one Dalek story and was returned to Terry Nation when filming commenced.
However, this was not the last the public would see of this Dalek. It would appear some months after transmission of the story during the publicity drive for a new Doctor Who stage play – The Seven Keys to Doomsday!
“Space Plagues and Sandpits… Pertwee faces the Daleks for one last time!”
1974 was to be another eventful year for the Daleks. Not only would they appear in the TV series once more, but they would take to the stage in a specially written stage show in the heart of London’s theatre land.
Death To The Daleks started life on Dalek Creator Terry Nation’s typewriter as “The Exillons” in the summer of 1973.
A four part adventure, it saw the Doctor stranded on the planet Exillon with his companion, the Tardis drained of all of its energies. Also stranded on the planet is an expedition from Earth, desperate to find Parrinium, a rare mineral which will cure a virulent space plague and a substance which Exillon has in abundance.
Whilst the Doctor determines that the power drains are caused by a power in the mysterious Exillon city, a task force of Daleks lands on the planet, also looking for the same mineral to combat the plague which is also affecting their race.
With their blaster weapons affected by the same energy loss, the Daleks and the Humans form an uneasy alliance to mine the mineral. But the tables are turned when the Daleks substitute their defunct ray weapons with old-fashioned projectile weapons.
Location shooting for this story took place in November of 1973 at the Amy Roadstone gravel pits at Binnegar Heath, Dorset.
Three fully working Daleks were used in the story and these were repainted and upgraded. The director Michael Bryant preferred the silver look of the 1960’s to the gray and black appearance of the Dalek Props in their 1970’s adventures and the props were repainted. The Domes, Neck, Gun & Arm Boxes, Slats, Lower Collar and bases were painted silver, whilst the Shoulder Section, Upper Upper Collar and Hemispheres were painted in black.
Whilst this new colour scheme looked impressive, the actual condition of the Dalek Props was poor, many of them showing signs of age and maltreatment, with buckled and misaligned Neck Rings, not to mention misaligned slats around the mid rift.
The style of suckers used on the prop's also varied from Dalek to Dalek, as did the configuration of the Daleks Eyestalks, with variations in the shape of the eyeball and the eye shaft length.
Its been mentioned that over the years, the individual sections that made up each complete Dalek were mixed and matched between stories, but in this adventure, this reaches an all time low with the individual sections being swapped between scenes both on studio and on location making the identification of the props used very haphazard indeed. Of the three main Daleks used, its easy to say that two were complete TV Daleks and one was a complete converted Movie Dalek, but that the sections were continually mixed and matched throughout.
A fourth Dalek appeared during this story also. This Dalek was a static prop and was one of the NSC Daleks constructed for the previous story The Planet of the Daleks. It, like the others was repainted for its appearance in the programme.
Another change in the Daleks appearance was the substitution of projectile guns during the story in place of the normal Ray Guns they normally featured. Sleek, detailed and with a flared, finned end, these single firing guns had triggers inside which produced a loud “cap gun” style bang. Operator John Scott Martin remembered the tremendous noise within the Dalek casing whenever the gun was fired, and sounds of bullets ricocheting around the studio were dubbed on to make the guns appear more powerful.
It was identified early on that when on location, the Daleks would struggle to move across the sandy ground within the gravel pit, and instead of the usual method of laying boards down for the Daleks to trundle upon, Michael Bryant suggested that the crew lay camera tracks down on the sand and that the Daleks be mounted onto camera dolly’s.
Whilst this proved effective on screen, with the Daleks gliding effortlessly over the sandy wasteland, it meant that they could not be shown in high shots otherwise the tracks would be seen. Additional lengths of black material were draped around the Daleks Fender sections to hide the dolly’s and the operators feet, even though these would not be in shot.
It was this location shoot that provided Bryant with one of his favorite “convention tales”. During one rehearsal for a take, John Scott Martin was sitting in his Dalek and Bryant was explaining what he was trying to achieve with the shot. He slapped the Dalek playfully on the back and instead of it rolling forwards on its heavy castors and stopping after a few feet, the unfortunate Dalek shot off down the incline of the Camera Track. Inside, Scott Martin tried frantically to stop the Dalek by placing his feet on the ground, but was unable to due to the sleeper bars every few feet on the track. Unwilling to risk a broken ankle, he clung on for dear life. At the end of the track, there was a sharp angled right hand turn and the crew watched in stunned silence as the Dalek arced gracefully in the air, flying off of the dolly and onto the sandy ground, with a stunned operator climbing out to a loud and very relieved round of applause!
An additional fifth Dalek was also required on location. This Dalek was one of the NSC Daleks constructed for Planet, and would be used on screen to show two Daleks meeting grisly ends. Firstly, the Dalek was placed on a cliff edge overlooking a pool. The Visual Effects Team had rigged a giant mechanical Snake to attack the Dalek (operated from a crane out of shot) and had replaces the usual fibre glass dome with a lightweight Vac-formed one packed with pyrocharges. As the snake swooped forward, the charges were detonated and the Dalek propelled forward by an operator, (also out of shot behind the Dalek) and into the water below.
The same Dalek was also used on screen when a group of native Exillons attack a Dalek who unexpectedly and out of character panics and charges headlong into an ambush. For close up shots, one of the main three Daleks is used, but for the detonation the Daleks Dome is again replaced with a plastic formed one and is spectacularly blown off. Smaller charges in the neck, shoulder and base section are detonated at the same time with destructive results.
Death to the Daleks was transmitted in February 1974 achieving healthy ratings of around the 10 million mark. The second wave of Dalekmania was on the wane by now, but viewers did not have to wait until the following year to see their mechanical favourites once more. Away from the BBC, the Adelphi Theatre was about to be transformed into a Dalek base.
At the climax of the eleventh season of Doctor Who, the title character as played by Jon Pertwee was seen to regenerate into a new form. Appearing on screen for around a second, it was this cue that the producers of the Doctor Who Stage Play “The Seven Keys To Doomsday”, presenting theatre audiences with a new incarnation of the timelord. And of course, where the Timelord went, the Daleks were soon to follow.
The Doctor Who production office had been contacted early in 1974 by theatrical producers Robert De Wynter and Anthony Pye-Jeary, who wanted to bring the Doctor and the Daleks to theatre audiences.
Written by the then Script Editor of the show, Terrence Dicks, the play saw the newly regenerated Doctor (played by Trevor Martin) and companions Jimmy and Jenny (played by Wendy Padbury – Zoe from the TV series) in an intergalactic race to stop the Daleks from collecting the seven segments which formed the Crystal of all power. A simple plot line, with most of the action taking place on the planet of Karn (a desolate planet that Dicks would reuse in his 1976 adventure the Brain of Morbius).
The production was ambitious, with state of the art atmospheric & laser effects and extensive back projection, but the real stars of this costly production were The Daleks.
Five Daleks were required for the production, and designers John Napier and James Acheson checked the availability of the Daleks with the BBC, only to find that the props were due to be overhauled in readiness for their appearance against the new Doctor Who in the forthcoming season. They turned to prop builder and costumier Alistair Bowtell (who was already constructing the other monsters for the production) to supply the Daleks required.
Already working hands on in the construction of a number of characters, Bowtell and his team took their design cues from the Dalek Supreme that appeared in the adventure “The Planet of the Daleks. This particular Dalek was a reworked prop from the second Dalek film, and owned by Terry Nation. They arranged to borrow the Supreme prop from Nation and set about devising their own design of Dalek.
The Planet Supreme prop appeared at the press call (some weeks before the show opened) together with another battered Movie Dalek, though neither appeared in the actual production.
Constructed from wood and fiberglass, these new Daleks were chunkier than both their TV and movie counterparts and featured an enlarged fender section – larger than the TV props but smaller than the Movie Daleks. Curiously, the team took the one off design of the Supreme’s neck section to be the norm (non beveled edges and no vertical neck rods) to be the standard or current design at that time and all of the Daleks appearing in the show featured this peculiar design quirk.
In the build up to the shows opening, the Dalek Supreme appeared in photo shoots with Trevor Martin at the Adelphi theatre, but contrary to a lot of popular opinion, it never actually appeared in the production.
The Seven Keys to Doomsday opened on the evening of Monday December 16th 1974. Whilst the reviews were very positive, audience attendance was low due to a sustained series of IRA Terrorist attacks in and around the capitol in the build up to Christmas, and the show closed after just four weeks.
Plans to remount the show in a provincial tour early in 1975 were never followed up although the show briefly resurfaced in November 1984 when a group of fans in New Zealand presented their version.
Less than a month later, at the BBC the Daleks were once more trundling around the studio's of Television Centre. But this time they were not alone.
“In which The Doctor meets the Creator of the Daleks… only to find its not Terry Nation nor Ray Cusick”
A new season, a new Doctor. Tom Baker took to the controls of the Tardis, appearing to viewers in his first full adventure on Saturday, December 18th 1974, at 5.25pm. And where a new Timelord treads, you can be sure that The Daleks would not be far behind him.
Genesis of Terror, as writer Terry Nation’s synopsis was titled, would see The Doctor sent back in time by the Time Lords, returning to Skaro at a point just before their creation. His mission, quite simply, to stop the Daleks from being created.
This was to be the third time that Nation had visited The Daleks creation. In the TV21 comic strips of the 1960’s (which he storyline and scripted with Who Script Editor David Whitaker) we were introduced to the scientist Yarvellig, a Dal scientist who created a robotic travel machine. Following the Nutronic War with the Thals, the Dal Mutants utilised these machines to increase their mobility and the Daleks were born. Jumping forward to 1973, and Nation wrote a short story detailing the War and its resulting mutations which were to become the Daleks in the Radio Times Tenth Anniversary Special – the story was entitled “We Are The Daleks”
Genesis of Terror, or as it was to be re titled, Genesis of the Daleks, featured the War between the Thals and the Kaleds (as the Dals were to be renamed) but as far as that plot point, the creation of the Daleks was radically rewritten.
Taking his cue’s from the Daleks militaristic approach, and their total subjugation and extermination of lesser races, Nation chose to present the Kaleds as dedicated soldiers, modeled on a Nazi style ideology.
This analogy was not lost on the viewers and resulted in many complaints to the press office following the story’s transmission.
The leader of the Kaled Scientific Corp was the brilliant Kaled Scientist Davros. Crippled when a Thal missile exploded on his laboratory, he fiercely clung to life, designing a mobile life support unit which would give him mobility and allow him to carry out his researches. He realised that the high levels of radioactive fallout from the bombs and missiles used in the war would result in genetic mutations, he took living Kaled cells and exposed them to high amounts of radiation, accelerating the mutation process. The Kaled Mutants were born.
These defenseless mutations lacked mobility and he turned his attention to developing a mobile travel for the mutations to survive in independently, with built in defensive capabilities . The Mark One and Two prototypes were largely unsuccessful,. However, he achieved his goal with the Mark Three Travel Machine. With the mutants installed within them, he gave his creations a name. The Dalek.
Despite its epic scale and variety of locations (The wastelands of Skaro, two domed cities, an underground bunker etc) the serial had a budget average for Who at the time. With an eye on cost, rather than build new Dalek Props similar to those seen in the first serial, The Dead Planet, Designer Derek Spode and Visual Effects team Leader Peter Day looked at their existing Dalek Props in storage and arranged to have them refurbished for the adventure.
By this point in the Dalek Prop Timeline, the props had been mixed and matched quite extensively, with sections of the original TV Daleks having been mixed with the movie props acquired in the 1960’s, plus of course the additional props constructed for Planet of the Daleks two years earlier.
Looking at the script, they realised that they only required three fully functional props, and a number of crowd fillers. Day’s team collected together all of the Dalek props and prop sections and selected the best sections available. When fitted together, these became the three hero props for the story. Four other Daleks were created using the remaining sections and these would be used as static props.
All of the props were refurbished. The misaligned slats and uneven Neck Rings that were so obvious in the preceding story were corrected. Given the militaristic storyline, the Daleks were repainted Gray and Black. As the Dalek Props were by this time quite battered, they realised that they could no longer spray paint the Daleks, and so the Bases, Shoulders, Neck Cages and Domes were hand painted in a thick gloss Gray. The Base Hemispheres were painted in Black, and the fender sections were given new aluminium surrounds to their upper edges, with the whole fender sections being painted Gloss Black. New rubber surrounds were fitted to the underside of the fenders.
The Eye Sticks seen in the preceding stories were reused, resulting in the usual variations that viewers had become accustomed to. The Daleks Sucker Arms were painted Gunmetal Silver and the props sported a number of rubber plungers of differing sizes. The Guns were painted Gloss Black, as were the retractable firing mechanisms within the guns themselves.
One of the Daleks in Episode Two was seen to be gun less. This prop simply had its gun retaining plate removed inside of the prop, and the Gun removed. When the gun was seen to be fitted to the prop during the episode, actor Peter Miles (Playing Nyder) simply pushed the gun into position on the outside of the prop, and the actor within help it in place for the duration of the scene.
Its interesting to note that this exercise in “making do and keeping costs down” resulted in the most popular Dalek colour scheme from the original series run.
As is mentioned above, the Dalek Creator Davros makes his first appearance in this adventure. In the script, Davros is described as being a withered husk of a man, seated in a futuristic wheelchair. Taking this description one stage further, Day and his team designed and constructed a mobile life support unit not to dissimilar to the base of a Dalek.
Rather than cannibalize an existing Dalek Base, they elected to construct an all new prop. They took the Dalek Plans which featured in the Tenth Anniversary Special and used these as the basis of Davros’ chair.
When seated on a chair, they realised that Actor Michael Wisher (who was to play Davros) would sit quite low within the base unit. They briefly considered raising the actor up to that he was more visible, but this would mean that he would be too high to remain seated and move the prop with his feet. So the simply shortened the height on the plans to accommodate the actor and constructed the new prop.
Under the studio lights and seen on television, the prop looks to be a stunningly crafted piece of engineering. But as with the original Daleks, it had quite a rough and ready finish. Constricted out of plywood flats and given a thick coat of matt black paint, close up you could still see the wood grain and uneven finish. But on television, the effect was stunning.
The upper surface of the prop was fitted with a series of switches and lights – representing the controls to not only Davros’ life support unit but also the ht Daleks themselves.
The costume department supplied the black PVC jacket for Wisher to wear, but it was the mask created by Visual Effects designer John Friedlander that made the image of evil complete.
Its long been believed that Friedlander worked from a life cast taken from Actor Michael Wishers head but this was not the case. Basing the design of the head on the Mekon (from the Dan Dare comic strips of the 1950's, Friedlander commenced work on the sculpt before Wisher had been cast in the role, working on the build during his lunch breaks as he was already working on another project at the time. When wisher was cast in the role, the resulting mask was retrofitted to fit the contours of his head, ensuring a comfortable fit.
With its brown wizened skin, empty eye sockets and electronic eye embedded into the forehead, the prop, costume and mask was a stunning triumph and a showcase of three departments (Make Up, Visual Effects and Costume) working together. But combined with the outstanding and chilling performance of Michael Wisher, the nation was gripped by the battle between Davros and The Doctor.
At the end of the story, we see the Daleks defeated, but still very much alive, Davros apparently dead, and The Doctor traveling onto adventures new.
But the Daleks, and their creator, would be back.
The following article and images appeared on the Daily Telegraph's website this week, and is reproduced here for reference only.
Doctor Who’s arch-enemy hasn’t been seen for 20 years. Andrew Pettie reports on how a team of special effects experts resurrected him
Davros, in case you’ve spent the last week holidaying in another dimension, is back. Doctor Who’s most menacing adversary - a prune-faced genius of eyeless, shrivelled evil - returned at the fingernail-shredding climax of last Saturday’s penultimate episode.
As the series finale opens, Davros and his creations the Daleks are once again on the brink of world domination. Worse still, it is prophesied that one of the Doctor’s companions will die.
No wonder the Doctor looked petrified. Davros had not been seen in an episode of Doctor Who since Remembrance of the Daleks in 1988. But as Neill Gorton, the man who built him, reveals the new Davros was inspired by an even older incarnation.
"The first thing we did was to go back to the 1970s version played by Michael Wisher," says Gorton, "We all agreed the very first Davros was somehow creepier - more sinister."
Alterations were made, of course, partly because modern audiences expect a superior brand of alien mastermind. (Search on YouTube for a clip of 1980s Davros and you’ll gasp at the Hallowe’en clunkiness of his costume.) "We couldn’t use a hokey rubber mask," Gorton says, "but we also had to make Davros recognisable. When he first trundles into view we can’t have people saying, 'Who’s that bloke?'"
The next generation Davros began life in the imagination of concept artist Peter McKinstry. While remaining faithful to the original "iconic design", McKinstry had two key aims: to make Davros bigger and scarier.
"We wanted to get away from the slightly flimsy look of the earlier series," he says. "So I beefed Davros up, made him more sturdy. I also think that the reinvented Davros is unusual for the new Doctor Who because he is genuinely grotesque. Sometimes we’ve held back a bit with the ugliness of the monsters. But Davros is a very unpleasant looking character, which makes his return all the more powerful."
It took McKinstry a week of 12-hour days to finalise his design. Then the baton passed to the man who would build Davros: Neill Gorton. You may not have heard of Gorton until now, but you have almost certainly marvelled at his work. It was Gorton who created, in the prosthetic sense at least, Catherine Tate’s Nan character, and who morphed Jim Broadbent into Lord Longford for Channel 4’s Bafta-winning drama, Longford. Earlier verions of Davros, he says, were crying out for today’s cutting-edge techniques.
"The 1980s Davros mask was made of stiff rubber. It just had a slot where the actor’s mouth sticks out. If you look carefully you can see that it’s all painted black around that area to cover the join. Now we use modern materials like silicon gels that are incredibly flesh-like and move with the actor’s skin. Rather than the old pull-over-the-head mask, our Davros prosthetics are glued to the entire face so that every squint and snarl of the actor comes through."
Davros’s new facial mask, designed in clay on top of a cast of the actor’s face, took four long weeks to perfect. Everyone from executive producer Russell T Davies down would suggest tweaks (“make the eyebrows meaner”; “harden the cheekbones”). What’s more, each prosthetic could only be used once. "It’s very delicate," Gorton says. "Because the whole mask gets glued to the face, every time you remove a prosthetic it gets ruined. We shot for six days in total, so we had to make half a dozen heads."
Designing and building Davros clearly presented the production team with some extraordinary challenges. But at least none of them wound up trapped within their outlandish creation. The actor who plays Davros, Julian Bleach, who also played the Monster in ITV1’s recent Frankenstein, spent an hour and half each day in make-up. During filming, he then had to drink through a straw and spoon-feed himself using a mirror.
"I occasionally got a bit disorientated and confused because my vision was impaired and sound became distorted," he says. "The overall effect made me feel almost as old as I looked." Somewhat unfairly, Bleach won’t earn much public acclaim for playing Davros because no one will recognise him. "I wouldn’t even recognise myself," he says.
Indeed the reinvented Davros is so convincingly hideous, you wonder how Doctor Who’s younger fans will react. Were his creators concerned about making Davros too terrifying?
"No, not all," says Gorton, "The scarier the better. That’s what’s Doctor Who is about: getting everyone behind the sofa."