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24 September 2014

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Planet of the Daleks

Production Code: SSS

First Transmitted

1 - 07/04/1973 18:10

2 - 14/04/1973 17:50

3 - 21/04/1973 17:50

4 - 28/04/1973 17:50

5 - 05/05/1973 17:50

6 - 12/05/1973 17:50


The TARDIS materialises in a hostile jungle on the planet Spiridon. Jo sets out alone to find help for the Doctor, who has fallen into a coma. She meets a party of Thals and is left in hiding aboard their crashed spaceship while they go to the Doctor's aid. The Time Lord, now recovered, learns of their mission to destroy a party of Daleks sent here to discover the native Spiridons' secret of invisibility.

Another Thal spaceship crash-lands in the jungle, and the survivors bring news that somewhere on Spiridon there is an army of ten thousand Daleks. Jo meanwhile meets a friendly Spiridon named Wester, who cures a deadly fungus disease that she has contracted.

It transpires that the Daleks' army is frozen in suspended animation in a cavern below their base. The Doctor, with the help of the Thals, explodes a bomb in the cavern wall and thereby causes one of the planet's natural ice volcanoes to erupt, entombing the army in a torrent of liquid ice.

The newly-arrived Dalek Supreme and his aides are left stranded on Spiridon as the Thals steal their ship and the Doctor and Jo depart in the TARDIS.

Episode Endings

The Thal leader Taron tells the Doctor that if he joins them in spraying liquid paint over the incapacitated invisible creature that they have come across he will see what they are up against. He does so, and before them is revealed the familiar shape of a Dalek.

A Thal spaceship crash-lands on Spiridon. Rebec, one of three survivors, gives Taron the astounding news that somewhere on the planet there are ten thousand Daleks.

The Doctor and his Thal allies have sealed themselves in a refrigeration plant deep within the Dalek base as the Daleks attempt to cut through the door. At the Doctor's suggestion, they rig up a large plastic sheet as a makeshift balloon in the hope that they can use this to float to safety on the hot exhaust gases rising up a large chimney. The balloon seems unable to lift their combined weight however and, although the Doctor urges the Thals to give it time, Rebec cries out that it is not going to work.

The rebellious Thal Vaber is captured by a group of Spiridons, one of whom orders that he be taken to the Daleks.

The Doctor and the Thals have infiltrated the Daleks' base. Rebec is inside a captured Dalek casing, while the others are disguised in Spiridon furs. A Dalek sees a Thal boot protruding from under one of the furs and raises the alarm, declaring an emergency.

Jo asks the Doctor to take her home to Earth. He agrees to do so and adjusts the TARDIS controls.

Dialogue Triumphs

Taron : "In our legends there is a being, a figure from another planet who came to Skaro when the Thals were in their greatest peril. In something called a TARDIS. He had three companions."

The Doctor : "Yes, Barbara, Ian and Susan."

Vaber : "And their leader was called?"

The Doctor : "The Doctor."

Taron : "Are you trying to tell us that you are the Doctor?"

The Doctor : "That's right."

The Doctor : [After destroying a Dalek] "You know, for a man who abhors violence, I took great satisfaction in doing that."

The Doctor : "Courage isn't just a matter of not being frightened, you know. It's being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway."


A pull-out 'bed' and various lockers are seen in the TARDIS control room. One of the lockers contains a [cassette based?] TARDIS log. The TARDIS's oxygen supply seems linked to its surroundings as enclosing the TARDIS exterior in fungus nearly drains the TARDIS of its air [something must have gone wrong]. There are emergency cylinders but they're all running low.

Despite his injuries the Doctor attempts to contact the Time Lords telepathically via the console (See The Three Doctors). When the Doctor falls into a coma his body temperature lowers to sub-zero levels and his heartbeat stabilises at six beasts per minute.

The Thals indicate that Earth has a place in their legends [Ian and Barbara told them a good deal in The Daleks], but they don't believe that the planet exists. The Daleks call the Thal craft 'primitive', and recognise that they have come from Skaro. [It seems clear that by this time Skaro is inhabited by just the Thals.] The Thals are mostly peaceful, despite their lack of contact with other races.

Most Daleks emit an automatic distress call if their casings are tampered with. The Daleks can lower the strength of their weapons, merely disabling the Doctor in episode two (cf. The Daleks), and their guidance systems are based on high frequency radio signals. They have developed anti-gravity technology in the form of anti-grav disks.

Spiridon is 'many systems' from Skaro. Its flora and fauna include aggressive and visually enabled plants, various hostile animals, and the Spiridons, humanoid creatures who have developed a way of rendering themselves invisible. Its core seems to be composed of ice.

The Daleks have stored their greatest ever invasion force, about 10,000 strong, on Spiridon, and have subjugated the population in order to apply their invisibility techniques to themselves. As this requires much power it can only be achieved for short periods of time. The Dalek Supreme, one of the ruling elite, comes to Spiridon to take charge of operations.


The First History of the Daleks

The TARDIS Scanner


Spiridon, in the Ninth System [presumably the 26th century immediately after Frontier in Space]. Many generations after The Daleks.



This story features an addition to the TARDIS set in the form of a cupboard unit containing a slide-out bed.

Wester becomes visible - and thereby reveals the Spiridons' true appearance - after he dies due to exposure to a virus with which the Daleks plan to wipe out all other life on the planet.


The Dalek Supreme was operated in this story by Tony Starr. (Starr could not have operated the Dalek Supreme in the scenes set in the Spiridon jungle, as he was not present when they were recorded. He did operate a Dalek in other scenes in Episode Six, and was credited for this in Radio Times, but there is no evidence that it was the Dalek Supreme and, particularly given that he was uncredited on screen, this seems unlikely. It is probable that John Scott Martin, who was credited as Chief Dalek in Radio Times, played the Dalek Supreme in all instances.)


The Daleks use an anti-reflecting light wave to combat light wave emissions. The Doctor turns the TARDIS log into a Dalek killing device by dismantling the circuitry, reversing the polarity, and turning it into a low power receiver/transmitter with 'a positive feedback'.


Trapped in the TARDIS with a dwindling air supply, the Doctor takes time to change clothes [and find a new sonic screwdriver].

The door handles in the Thal spaceship are of the metal B&Q type variety (The ship also contains a cordless telephone.)

Jo anticipates the falling rock when discovering the Thal bombs.

How does the Dalek search Marat's body for the concealed map?

When the Thals take cover on the plain of stones in episode four a huge, dark shape (probably a technician) appears behind the painted sky.

The second Dalek, pursuing Jo and Latep in episode five, knocks into a polystyrene 'rock' and moves it out of position.

The strings that operate the doors of the Dalek ship are visible, and the Dalek Supreme's lights are especially out of synch with his dialogue.

The Daleks seal themselves in to prevent the virus escaping. So what happens when the base blows up?

The Doctor seems to have forgotten that he followed the Daleks to Spiridon, and is surprised at the end of episode one.

Not for the first time in the programme's history, Louis Marx Daleks are used to simulate an army.

Fashion Victim

Jo (flares and shoulder pads)

Even the Thals' spacesuits have flares

Cast & Crew


The Doctor - Jon Pertwee

Jo Grant - Katy Manning

Codal - Tim Preece

Dalek Operator - John Scott Martin

Dalek Operator - Murphy Grumbar

Dalek Operator - Cy Town

Dalek Voice - Michael Wisher

Dalek Voice - Roy Skelton

Latep - Alan Tucker

Marat - Hilary Minster

Rebec - Jane How

Taron - Bernard Horsfall

Vaber - Prentis Hancock

Wester - Roy Skelton Roy Skelton also provided, uncredited, other Spiridon voices


Director - David Maloney

Assistant Floor Manager - Sue Hedden

Assistant Floor Manager - Graeme Harper

Assistant Floor Manager - John Cook

Costumes - Hazel Pethig

Designer - John Hurst

Film Cameraman - Elmer Cossey

Film Editor - Dave Thomas

Incidental Music - Dudley Simpson

Make-Up - Jean McMillan

Producer - Barry Letts

Production Assistant - George Gallaccio

Script Editor - Terrance Dicks

Special Sounds - Dick Mills

Studio Lighting - Derek Slee

Studio Sound - Tony Millier

Title Music - Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, arranged by Delia Derbyshire

Visual Effects - Clifford Culley

Writer - Terry Nation

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

'You know, for a man who abhors violence, I took great satisfaction in doing that.' The early funereal atmosphere gives way to a typical coincidence-based Dalek story of hammy deaths and ridiculous escapes. A reworking of the themes and set pieces of The Daleks, with pacifism and an anti-nuclear stance becoming weak monologues on bravery and caution.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

The observation most often made by reviewers about Planet of the Daleks is that it is virtually a rewrite of the first Dalek story from 1963/64. There is certainly a good deal of truth in this. Once again the Doctor is seen to aid a group of Thals in an attack on a gleaming Dalek base. In place of a petrified forest, a lake of mutations and a treacherous cave system they are faced with a hostile jungle, a lake of 'liquid ice' and, as before, a treacherous cave system. Again the Doctor's companion becomes ill and is cured by the indigenous people's drugs, and again someone uses a Dalek casing as a disguise. The Daleks intend to unleash a lethal virus on the planet's surface, just as in the earlier story they planned to release deadly radiation.

The inclusion of the Dalek Supreme meanwhile reminds the viewer of other sixties Dalek stories, and even the invisible Spiridons recall the invisible Visians from The Daleks' Master Plan. All these similarities are by no means to the story's detriment, however. Rather, they serve to give it a pleasantly nostalgic quality perfectly appropriate to the tenth anniversary season. Episode One's explicit dialogue references to the Doctor's initial visit to Skaro with Barbara, Ian and Susan are a particularly nice touch.

'Parallels and reworkings aside, Planet of the Daleks actually compares quite favourably with its 1963/64 progenitor,' wrote Tim Robins in Doctor Who - An Adventure in Space and Time in 1986. 'Although it lacks the sense of wonder, it tries to evoke a similar epic atmosphere and aspires to the spectacle delivered by the Daleks' appearances in [the comics] TV Century 21 and TV Action. "Somewhere on this planet there are ten thousand Daleks!" exclaims a Thal - although unfortunately most of them prove to be of the [Louis Marx] variety.'

The use of painted Dalek toys to depict the Dalek army is admittedly rather obvious but nevertheless does not detract too much from the viewer's enjoyment of these scenes; and it must be said that the idea of a ten thousand strong force of the creatures just waiting to be revived and sent into action is really quite awe-inspiring.

The new-look Dalek Supreme - adapted from a sixties cinema film Dalek, which writer Terry Nation still had in his possession - is also very impressive, with its black and gold livery and its customised eye-stalk and dome-lights; and indeed the Daleks as a whole are far more effective here than in their previous story, Day of the Daleks.

Other aspects of the story's on-screen realisation are rather hit and miss, as Robins observed: 'Dalek head lights continually flash out of synchronisation - as does the curious torch-like eye-stalk of the Dalek Supreme - and this problem is exacerbated by the fact that... [unusually]... one Dalek [sounds] exactly like another. Even the camera angles fail to indicate which Dalek is speaking... The Dalek flying saucer - which appears to be a couple of lampshades stuck together - is particularly lamentable. However,... [a] plus is the effective and convincing use made of CSO to convey the Spiridons' invisibility, which otherwise serves very little dramatic purpose.'

Another criticism that could be made of the story is that the Thals - who have now clearly abandoned their earlier pacifist ways in favour of waging all-out war against the Daleks - are rather cliched and two-dimensional characters and, with the exception of Bernard Horsfall's Taron, not all that well acted.

Such considerations are not too important, though, as this story clearly has no pretensions toward being serious drama. Robins was perhaps not far wrong when he wrote: 'This serial represents what Doctor Who, for better or worse, has almost always been about - pulp sci-fi adventure for kids and like-minded adults. A universe where prose is purple and death comes in various shades of green.' All in all, Planet of the Daleks is a very enjoyable tale that provides a satisfying conclusion to the epic storyline begun in Frontier in Space.

< Frontier In SpaceThird DoctorThe Green Death >

This episode guide is made up of the text of The Discontinuity Guide by Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping, and Doctor Who: The Television Companion by David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker.

The Discontinuity Guide © Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping 1995.
Doctor Who: The Television Companion © David J Howe and Stephen James Walker 1998, 2003.

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