The Daleks

The Daleks
002 – The Daleks
Doctor Who serial
Barbara is threatened, in the first ever on-screen appearance of the Daleks.
Writer Terry Nation
Director Christopher Barry (episodes 1,2,4,5)
Richard Martin (episodes 3,6,7)
Script editor David Whitaker
Producer Verity Lambert
Mervyn Pinfield (associate producer)
Executive producer(s) None
Production code B
Series Season 1
Length 7 episodes, 25 minutes each
Originally broadcast 21 December 1963–1 February 1964
← Preceded by Followed by →
An Unearthly Child The Edge of Destruction

The Daleks (also known as The Mutants and The Dead Planet) is a serial in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in seven weekly parts from 21 December 1963 to 1 February 1964. This story marks the first appearance of the Doctor's greatest extraterrestrial enemies, the Daleks.



This story introduces two plotlines in Doctor Who, that of the TARDIS' navigational circuits malfunctioning and that of the supposed destruction of the Dalek race. In this case, instead of bringing its crew back to Earth, the TARDIS lands in a petrified jungle, and the Doctor has to try to fix their position by taking a reading of the stars. The Doctor insists they explore a futuristic city they spot beyond the forest but Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright are not convinced. To force his companions to do so, the Doctor claims the fluid link of the TARDIS is running low on mercury (a ruse he later admits to), forcing the crew to travel to the city in search of more mercury.

Inside the city, Barbara becomes separated from her colleagues, and is, in the iconic first episode cliffhanger, threatened by an unseen creature with a metal arm - the first appearance of a Dalek. Before long, the entire crew is captured by the Daleks. Susan is eventually sent to retrieve anti-radiation drugs from the TARDIS, where she encounters a second species, the Thals, who are at war with the Daleks. Susan attempts to broker peace between the two groups, and while it appears to work, the Daleks eventually betray the Thals, opening fire on them at what was supposed to be a peaceful exchange of food.

In the ensuing chaos, the Doctor and his companions escape with the Thals, and learn their version of the history of their planet. They also learn that the Thals are avowed pacifists. In order to save them from the Daleks, the TARDIS crew convinces the Thals of the importance of aggression and warfare, and manages to lead the Thals in a successful genocide against the Daleks. At the end, it is believed the Dalek race has been destroyed.



  • This story marks the first appearance of the Daleks. Writer Terry Nation once claimed that he came up with the name after seeing a set of encyclopedias with one volume spanning the section of the alphabet from Dal - Lek. However, he later admitted that this was simply a good story for the sake of the press, and that in fact he had just made up the name.[5]
  • Although many parts of the Dalek mythos were established here, several key elements were changed over the years. The most notable change regarded the nature of the war with the Thals and the transformation into the Daleks. In this story, the Daleks mutated as a direct result of the war, and their previous species was called the Dals. In the later Genesis of the Daleks, their mutation was accelerated (but not directly caused) by the machinations of Davros, their previous species was the Kaleds, and the mutation marked the end of the war with the Thals.[4]
  • This story was also the only instance in which the Daleks' dependence, for motive power, on static electricity from the floors of their city was a factor. In their next appearance, The Dalek Invasion of Earth, they had found a way round this restriction – they sported small satellite-type dishes to receive power transmissions, and subsequently the design incorporated power-panel slats round the mid-section (though an affinity for static was occasionally referenced in future serials, such as The Power of the Daleks, and the plot of Death to the Daleks required an explanation that for basic movement they now utilised telekinesis).[6][7][8]
  • Similarly, this story states that the Daleks require radiation in order to live at all (leading to them trying to further irradiate Skaro); later stories, including the immediate sequel, show them operating without heavy background radiation.[6]
  • The famous Dalek catchphrase – "Exterminate!" – is first used in the fourth episode of the story as the Doctor and his companions have escaped via a lift. One Dalek orders the other: "Make no attempt to capture them, they are to be exterminated, you understand, exterminated."


Serial details by episode
Episode Broadcast date Run time Viewership
(in millions)
"The Dead Planet" 21 December 1963 (1963-12-21) 24:22 6.9 16mm t/r
"The Survivors" 28 December 1963 (1963-12-28) 24:27 6.4 16mm t/r
"The Escape" 4 January 1964 (1964-01-04) 25:10 8.9 16mm t/r
"The Ambush" 11 January 1964 (1964-01-11) 24:37 9.9 16mm t/r
"The Expedition" 18 January 1964 (1964-01-18) 24:31 9.9 16mm t/r
"The Ordeal" 25 January 1964 (1964-01-25) 26:14 10.4 16mm t/r
"The Rescue" 1 February 1964 (1964-02-01) 22:24 10.4 16mm t/r


  • Script editor David Whitaker commissioned a six-part serial from comedy writer Terry Nation, after being impressed by his work in the science-fiction series Out of This World. This was formally commissioned under the title The Mutants on 31 July, and was originally intended to air fourth in the seasons line-up, after Marco Polo.[12]
  • The designer originally assigned to this serial was Ridley Scott, later a famed film director. However, a problem with Scott's schedule meant that he was replaced by Raymond Cusick, who was thus given the task of realising the Dalek creatures.[13]

Alternative titles

  • During production the overall story went through a number of working titles such as The Survivors and Beyond the Sun, before settling down as The Mutants.[14] This title was used in most BBC paperwork using titles for over a decade.
  • In 1972 a later Doctor Who story called The Mutants was produced (also directed by Christopher Barry).[15] To avoid confusion, two titles have emerged as alternatives. The Dead Planet came into use after the 1973 Radio Times 10th anniversary Doctor Who special referred to all the early stories by the title of their first episodes. The Dead Planet was used in many licensed guides and magazines up until 1980, when it was displaced by The Daleks, a title deriving from the story's book and film adaptations and with no basis in contemporary usage. This title has largely stuck, and was used for the script book published by Titan Books in 1989,[16] as well as the VHS and DVD releases. However, some reference guides still refer to the serial as The Mutants.[17]


  • According to text commentary on the 2006 DVD release, the first episode, "The Dead Planet", was recorded twice. The first version was affected by a technical fault that captured backstage voices. The remount was done two weeks before it was broadcast, and Susan's outfit was changed in the second version. The only surviving footage of the first version is the recap at the start of the second episode, "The Survivors", showing Barbara menaced by a Dalek; the corresponding scene at the end of "The Dead Planet" was recreated when the episode was remounted.[18]
  • The second episode, "The Survivors", was taped on 22 November 1963. Minutes before taping started, the cast and crew learned of the assassination of John F. Kennedy but it was decided to continue with the shooting.

Film version

This serial was loosely adapted by Milton Subotsky as a film, Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965) starring Peter Cushing as Dr Who, Roberta Tovey as Susan, Roy Castle as Ian Chesterton and Jennie Linden as Barbara. Roberta Tovey is the daughter of the late character actor George Tovey, who later appeared in Doctor Who as the poacher in Pyramids of Mars (1975). The film had no relation to the novelisation of The Daleks, which was titled Doctor Who and the Daleks on its 1973 release.

Broadcast and reception

Arguably the most famous of the 1960s Doctor Who serials, The Daleks was one of the Doctor Who serials slated for destruction by the BBC in the 1970s. However, in 1978, Ian Levine came across them at BBC Enterprises just hours before all remaining copies of the story were to be destroyed and managed to save them.

In 1999 during a BBC2 themed evening, "Doctor Who Night" (13 November 1999) hosted by Tom Baker, a special edit (put together for this TX[clarification needed]) of episode 7 'The Rescue' was broadcast which included 5 minutes of footage from episode 6, not only that but due to a mistake when mastering a short section of episode 7 was omitted. The serial was most recently broadcast in the UK on BBC Four, as part of a celebration of the life and work of producer Verity Lambert. It was shown in three blocks from 5 April to 9 April 2008.

In print

This was the first Doctor Who serial to be adapted as a novel. Written by David Whitaker, the book was first published in hardback on 12 November 1964 by Frederick Muller as Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks.[19] A paperback release by Armada Books followed in 1965.[20]

In 1973 Target Books published it under the cover title Doctor Who and the Daleks, although the full title was still given on the inside frontpage. From 1977 onwards reprints dropped the full title. In 1992 the novelisation was retitled Doctor Who - The Daleks. It was the very first novelisation published under the Target imprint (the books would continue for the next 20 years).

From 1983 onwards the Target novelisations bore numbers, with the first 73 releases retroactively numbered in alphabetical order. However it would not be until 1992 that an actual reprint stated it was "No. 16" in the Target Books Doctor Who Library.

Whittaker's book differs from most later novelisations in that it is written in the first person and from the point of view of a companion (Ian Chesterton). It also ignores the events of the preceding serial An Unearthly Child, except for a modified retelling of the first episode (to explain how Ian and Barbara joined the Doctor). Here, Ian meets the Doctor, Barbara (who is Susan's tutor) and Susan on Barnes Common after a car crash. The novel also plays up the romantic tension between the two human companions and features a glass Dalek leader on Skaro.

Susan Foreman is renamed Susan English for the novelisation, which has led to some reference books erroneously listing the character by this name. In the PC game Destiny of the Doctors, the player has to ask the First Doctor the surname of Susan for one of the tasks. Both English and Foreman are available options (although only the latter is considered correct in the game).

The novelisation was translated into Dutch, Turkish, Japanese, Portuguese, French and German.

In 2005 the novel was issued by BBC Audio as part of the Doctor Who: Travels in Time and Space audio book collectors tin, read by William Russell.

Doctor Who book
Book cover
Doctor Who and the Daleks
Series Target novelisations
Release number 16
Writer David Whitaker
Publisher Target Books
Cover artist Chris Achilleos
ISBN 0-426-10110-3
Release date 2 May 1973
Preceded by '
Followed by '

VHS, DVD and CD releases

UK DVD front cover
  • The serial was released twice on VHS; first in 1989, then again in 2000 with remastered quality and new cover artwork (this remastered edition was only released for the United Kingdom).
  • In 2006, it was remastered again for inclusion with An Unearthly Child and The Edge of Destruction in the Doctor Who: The Beginning DVD boxed set.
  • The music from this serial was released as part of Doctor Who: Devils' Planets - The Music of Tristram Cary in 2003.


  1. ^ The Wheel in Space. Writer David Whitaker, from a story by Kit Pedler, Director Tristan de Vere Cole, Producer Peter Bryant. Doctor Who. BBC. BBC1, London. 27 April 1968–1 June 1968.
  2. ^ a b Destiny of the Daleks. Writer Terry Nation, Director Ken Grieve, Producer Graham Williams. Doctor Who. BBC. BBC1, London. 1 September 1979–22 September 1979.
  3. ^ Planet of the Daleks. Writer Terry Nation, Director David Maloney, Producer Barry Letts. Doctor Who. BBC. BBC1, London. 7 April 1973–12 May 1973.
  4. ^ a b Genesis of the Daleks. Writer Terry Nation, Director David Maloney, Producer Philip Hinchcliffe. Doctor Who. BBC. BBC1, London. 8 March 1975–12 April 1975.
  5. ^ Howe, Walker, p 27
  6. ^ a b The Dalek Invasion of Earth. Writer Terry Nation, Director Richard Martin, Producers Verity Lambert, Mervyn Pinfield. Doctor Who. BBC. BBC1, London. 21 November 1964–26 December 1964.
  7. ^ The Power of the Daleks. Writers David Whitaker, Dennis Spooner (uncredited), Director Christopher Barry, Producer Innes Lloyd. Doctor Who. BBC. BBC1, London. 5 November 1966–10 December 1966.
  8. ^ Death to the Daleks. Writer Terry Nation, Director Michael E. Briant, Producer Barry Letts. Doctor Who. BBC. BBC1, London. 23 February 1974–16 March 1974.
  9. ^ Shaun Lyon et al. (2007-03-31). "The Daleks". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 10 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  10. ^ "The Daleks". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  11. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (2006-07-24). "The Daleks". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  12. ^ "A Brief History of Time (Travel): The Daleks". Retrieved 21 July 2009. 
  13. ^ Howe, David J.; Mark Stammers, Stephen James Walker (1994). The Handbook: The First Doctor - The William Hartnell Years 1963-1966. Virgin Books. pp. 61. ISBN 0-426-20430-1. 
  14. ^ Howe, Walker, p 28
  15. ^ The Mutants. Writers Bob Baker and Dave Martin, Director Christopher Barry, Producer Barry Letts. Doctor Who. BBC. BBC1, London. 8 April 1972–13 May 1972.
  16. ^ Nation, Terry; John McElroy (ed.) (1989). Doctor Who: The Daleks. UK: Titan Books. ISBN 1-85286-145-2. 
  17. ^ Howe, Walker, p26
  18. ^ Christopher Barry (1963) [DVD 2006] (production note subtitles). Doctor Who: The Beginning (Liner notes). BBC Warner. 
  19. ^ "Daleks HB cover (pink)". On Target. Leeds: Tim Neal. Retrieved 17 April 2010. 
  20. ^ "Daleks Armada cover". On Target. Leeds: Tim Neal. Retrieved 17 April 2010. 


External links



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