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The Fourth Dimension

The Daleks


Although popularly known as The Daleks and referred to as such on the DVD release, story is also known as The Mutants and The Dead Planet.


The Daleks make the first of many appearances in the series. Here though, they can only travel on the metal floors of their city from which they pick up their power. Surprisingly, the famous war cry of the Daleks – ‘exterminate’ isn’t heard here, that will come later, although they do say ‘extermination’. We are also introduced to the Dalek home world of Skaro as well as the Daleks’ fellow inhabitants, the Thals. Both will make return appearances in the future of the series.


We discover a bit more about the TARDIS in this adventure... The Doctor provides food from the appropriately named food machine in the form of small edible bars that taste of anything you want. We also see the Doctor using the fault locator – a large bank of computers that reveal what is wrong with the ship. Susan also explains that the TARDIS lock has 21 holes in it and that if the wrong one is chosen, the entire lock will melt.


The Daleks were to prove so popular that they made the leap from television to the cinema screen in two big budget movies. Peter Cushing starred as ‘Doctor Who’ and the Daleks were seen in full colour for the first time. The first film, Doctor Who and the Daleks, was a condensed version of the story told in The Daleks.


The first Dalek voices were performed by actors Peter Hawkins and David Graham. Peter Hawkins also provided more friendly voices for a variety of children’s television programmes made by the BBC including Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men, Captain Pugwash and Sir Prancelot. David Graham played the voice of several characters for Gerry Anderson’s puppet shows including Lady Penelope’s butler, Parker in Thunderbirds. He would also be seen in person in two later Doctor Who serials: The Gunfighters and City of Death. For this and all subsequent stories featuring the Daleks, the actors voices were treated using a device known as a ring modulator.


Raymond Cusick was the set designer for this story who was responsible for taking author Terry Nation’s description of the Daleks and turning it into reality on a very limited budget. The Daleks were a huge success with many books, games and toys using his design being sold in shops. But as a BBC staff member, Cusick did not share in the financial rewards and received only a small bonus in recognition of his contribution.


When asked by journalists and interviewers how he came up with the name ‘Dalek’, Terry Nation would often tell them that he had seen the letters DAL-LEK on the spine of an encyclopaedia, but in truth he had just made it up. The Dalek shape has often been compared to that of an old fashioned pepper pot, but this was not in fact Raymond Cusick’s inspiration. Instead he based his design on the shape of a man seated on a chair.


The original set designer allocated to this story was Ridley Scott. However, before production on The Daleks began, Scott left the BBC to go to Granada Television in Manchester where he trained as a director. Scott would later become a high profile movie director with Alien, Blade Runner and Prometheus being some of his more well-known productions.


The climax to episode one sees a Dalek approaching a terrified Barbara. All that was seen of the Dalek at this point was its sucker arm. The arm wasn’t in fact connected to the full Dalek ‘body’ but was actually just being held by floor manager, Michael Ferguson.


The story was released on DVD in 2005 as The Daleks along with An Unearthly Child and Edge of Destruction as part of the The Beginning box set. Also included on the disc are commentaries by Verity Lambert (Producer), Christopher Barry (Director), Richard Martin (Director), William Russell (Ian), and Carole Ann Ford (Susan) and the documentary Creation of the Daleks featuring contributions from designer Raymond Cusick, sound designer Brian Hodgson, Dalek operator Michael Summerton and Dalek voice artist David Graham.

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