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24 September 2014

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Bug-eyed Monsters

Despite requests from BBC top brass that there should be "No bug-eyed monsters" in Doctor Who, four weeks into its run the Daleks were unleashed. So much for that idea.

Created by Terry Nation, who had written for comedian Tony Hancock, the Daleks virtually doubled Doctor Who’s audience overnight and immediately spawned the BBC’s first merchandising boom. They were the Teletubbies of the Sixties.

At the height of Daleks success, two feature films were made. These starred Peter Cushing as the Doctor, with personalities such as Bernard Cribbens and Roy Castle drafted in to provide extra laughs.

The Daleks’ distinctive pepperpot-shape design came courtesy of BBC staff designer Ray Cusick, from a short description in Nation’s script. Nation had seen a performance by the Georgian State Dancers and had been inspired by the gliding motion of long-skirted ballerinas.

Appearing in over a dozen more TV adventures, the Daleks are the Doctor’s greatest nemesis. Their battle cry of "Exterminate!" ensured them a place in television history. They have their own entry in the Oxford English Dictionary and even made it onto a stamp as one of the enduring icons of the 20th century. Not bad for a race that really struggles to get up stairs.

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