Dalek variants

Dalek variants
In the foreground a truncated yellow cone topped by a dome. The lower half of the cone consists of angled panels, each having a column of four black hemispheres. The mid section is girdled by a wide collar, bisected by a lateral groove, from the front of which a rod-like arm and a weapon protrude. Above the collar sit four horizontal rings with an angled profile. In the background a bronze truncated cone of broadly similar appearance, detailed with gold hemispheres and a slatted collar.
Examples of a New Paradigm Dalek (foreground) and New Series Dalek (background), as seen in the Doctor Who science fiction television programme.

Since their first appearance in 1963 there have been a number of variant models of the Daleks, a fictional alien race in the long-running BBC science fiction television programme Doctor Who.

Daleks are not robots. As first seen in the serial The Daleks, the outward manifestation is a powerful, technically advanced travel machine in which a hideous and malevolent mutant, the Dalek creature, resides.[1] Although the general appearance of the Daleks has remained the same, details of both the casing and the mutant creature have changed over time. Some alterations were made to accommodate the requirements of specific plot elements in various serials and episodes, or at the request of producers, designers and directors to revitalise the Dalek appearance.[2] On other occasions design changes have been the result of practical considerations when filming the Dalek props on location or the mixing and use of components acquired from different sources.

The following entries make mention of both television and non-television portrayals of the Daleks.


Dalek component naming conventions

Over the years fans of the Doctor Who programme have adopted naming conventions to identify the various components of the Dalek travel machine.[3] These are listed below as an aid to tracking the detail changes which have been made to the basic design to create variants. From the base up, the major components are as follows:

  • Fender — The projecting base of the Dalek.
  • Skirt — The section with angled faces, to which the hemispheres are attached.
  • Hemispheres — Also known as ‘hemis’, 'sense globes' ‘skirt balls’ or 'Dalek bumps,' there are fifty-six of these (forty-eight on a New Paradigm Dalek) fixed in four rows to the skirt panels.
  • Shoulders — The section between the top of the skirt and the neck bin.
  • Collars — Horizontal bands fitted around the shoulders.
  • Slats — Vertical oblong panels fitted to the upper collar.
  • Shoulder mesh — Metal diamond-section mesh fitted between the slats and the upper collar.
  • Gun boxes — Projecting boxes housing the ball joints for the arm and gun stick.
  • Gun stick — Usually portrayed as being a variable discharge energy weapon.
  • Gun rods — Longitudinal rods forming a cage around the gun stick.
  • Gun mantles — Octagonal cross-members bracing the gun rods along their length.
  • Arm — A telescopic arm, usually having two or three sections.
  • Plunger — Fixed to the end of the arm, this is a Dalek’s primary and most famous manipulating appendage.
  • Neck bin — The section between the shoulders and the dome.
  • Neck bin mesh — Metal diamond-section mesh fitted between the neck bin and the neck rings.
  • Neck rings — Horizontal rings fitted around the neck bin.
  • Neck struts — Eight thin, vertical struts on the outside of the neck bin, between the top of the shoulders and the dome.
  • Dome — The rotatable top component of the travel machine.
  • Dome lights — Lights fixed to the dome, which flash when the Dalek speaks.
  • Eye stalk — A rod projecting from the dome, which can pivot up and down.
  • Eye discs — A series of discs of varying diameter through which the eye stalk is threaded.
  • Eyeball — A spherical component fitted to the end of the eye stalk, shown in various episodes to contain the Dalek’s visual detection equipment.
  • Eye lens — A circular lens at the front of the eyeball which, dependent upon the variant (or occasionally the individual Dalek), is sometimes illuminated or has a central pupil.
  • Dome cowl — A structure which projects from the front of the dome and surrounds the eye stalk pivot. (New Series Dalek only)

General design


Externally Daleks have the appearance of a truncated cone, varying between approximately 1.5 metres (5 feet) and 2 metres (6 feet 6 inches) tall depending upon the variant. They are equipped with a single mechanical rod-mounted eye which protrudes from a rotating dome, a gun stick containing a directed energy weapon and a telescopic arm. Usually the arm is fitted with a manipulating device which resembles a sink plunger. This item is shown in various episodes to be capable of holding people and objects, apparently utilising a powerful vacuum. The gun has been depicted as being able to produce a variable output which can paralyse, stun or kill virtually any life form, disintegrate other Daleks and, at higher settings, destroy buildings and spacecraft.


In Remembrance of the Daleks (1988)[4] and the episodes "The Parting of the Ways (2005)"[5] and "Doomsday" (2006)[6] the Doctor states that Dalek casings are constructed from bonded polycarbide. Prior to this the material was sometimes referred to as "dalekanium".[7] The casing is depicted as being impervious to many projectile and energy weapons, although Daleks are not indestructible. They can be damaged or destroyed by overwhelming firepower, their own weaponry and falls from a height.[8] In addition, in Revelation of the Daleks (1985), they are said to be vulnerable to "bastic-headed bullets".[9] In the revived programme from 2005 onward a Dalek's defensive capability was augmented by an invisible force shield, with the eye remaining a weak point.

The lower shell is covered with hemispherical protrusions. In the BBC-Licensed The Dalek Book (1964),[10] and again in The Doctor Who Technical Manual (1983),[11] these items are described as being part of a sensory array. In "Dalek" (2005) they are shown to act as components in a self-destruct mechanism.[12]


Historically a Dalek's eye is its most vulnerable spot. (In "Silence in the Library" (2008) the Doctor, when speaking of how to deal with various alien menaces, says "Daleks: aim for the eye stalk").[13] In the revived series from 2005 onward Daleks have been given systems to protect their vision. In the 2008 episode "The Stolen Earth", Wilfred Mott attempts to disable a Dalek by blinding it using a paintball gun. The Dalek is seen to simply evaporate the paint from its eye.[14]

Eye lens, eye discs and dome lights

While maintaining their general shape and appearance, the design of these components has varied considerably over the years. Eye lenses were first shown as blank, white discs, sometimes featuring internal illumination. Later, lenses with a black ‘pupil’ were introduced. New Series Daleks have a clear lens which glows with a blue light whilst New Paradigm Daleks, introduced in the episode "Victory of the Daleks" (2010), are equipped with an ‘organic eyeball’ set behind a small transparent hemisphere.[15] Throughout the 1960s Daleks were occasionally shown with a functioning iris, a feature also seen in the New Series Dalek design. The eye discs have varied in number, size, spacing, profile and configuration. Colour has generally been restricted to powder blue, white or gold, with New Series Dalek eye discs having a translucent, frosted appearance and those of the New Paradigm variant being black.[16]

The dome-light covers first resembled table-tennis balls, before items having the appearance of plastic egg cup inserts were substituted. Later these were replaced by various types of 'bee skep-shaped' vehicle side light lenses. The flattened lights fitted to the Imperial Daleks seen in ‘’Remembrance of the Daleks’’ were formed from Perspex discs capped by commercially available saucer-shaped plastic components, whilst New Series and New Paradigm Daleks have light-covers consisting of tubular beacon lenses, the former variant's being surrounded by a metal cage.[17]


The underside structure of a Dalek casing was indeterminate until the publication of the The Dalek Book (1964). This included a cutaway drawing entitled 'Anatomy of a Dalek' which showed it to have a base through which a large central sphere, surrounded by smaller satellite ‘balancing globes’, protrudes.[10] This layout was generally adopted and used in subsequent Dalek plans and comic strip representations produced over the years. This is at variance with the few glimpses seen in early Doctor Who television episodes and films, which made little attempt to show (or hide) anything other than the actual base of the Dalek prop. As this usually took the form of a plywood board to which castors had been attached and a hole cut out for the operator’s feet, these brief appearances were of little assistance in maintaining the illusion of the props being functional, armoured casings housing an alien being. This situation was finally remedied in the episode "Dalek" (2005) and subsequent appearances of the New Series Dalek. This variant is shown to have an underside consisting of a large, recessed central hemisphere surrounded by eight satellite hemispheres. The central hemisphere and four of the satellite hemispheres glow when the Dalek is in flight mode.[12]

A brightly illuminated octopus-like creature, surrounded by machinery coated in strands of fibrous organic material, gazes upward with its single eye.
The Dalek Caan mutant from Journey's End.

Dalek mutant

The creatures inside the "travel machines" are depicted as repulsive in appearance and vicious even without their mechanical armour. Rarely glimpsed until the programme's revival in 2005, they were usually shown as amorphous green blobs with strong tentacles capable of strangulation or, occasionally, as having clawed hands. Their appearance and evolution is variously attributed to radioactive fallout from a catastrophic war (The Daleks (1963) ),[1] artificially accelerating pre-existing genetic mutations within the Kaled species (Genesis of the Daleks (1975) )[18] and the manipulation of genetic material forcibly obtained from other (usually human) species.[5][9][19] From 2005 onward the Dalek creature has been seen more frequently, in its latest incarnation resembling a pale octopus-like being with a single viable eye, a vestigial nose and mouth, and an exposed brain.


Daleks have distinctive electronic voices, the harsh, staccato sound being created by actors speaking through a microphone into a device called a Ring Modulator.[20] Whilst this produces considerable distortion and a monotone effect, inflection and pace are used to express a range of emotions including rage, disdain and, very occasionally, fear. (About this sound play sample )

Locomotion and manoeuvrability

Dalek locomotion is usually in the form of a gliding movement an inch or so above the ground. The Dalek Book (1964) indicates that traction is provided by a large, omni-directional rotating metal sphere,[10] whilst in the serial Death to the Daleks (1974) the Doctor states that they move by psycho-kinetic power.[21] For many years Daleks were depicted as being unable to climb stairs, having to rely upon smooth ground on which to travel. This was rectified in Revelation of the Daleks in which a hovering Dalek was seen briefly,[9] and then in Remembrance of the Daleks which featured a Dalek levitating up a staircase.[4] From 2005 onward various Doctor Who episodes have shown Daleks hovering and flying with ease, locomotion being imparted by anti-gravity generators.[22]

Dalek variant naming conventions

During the course of the Doctor Who television programme the BBC, its producers and scriptwriters have rarely alluded to changes in Dalek design or ascribed names or designations to the various models seen. For the most part a Dalek is simply a Dalek. Notable exceptions usually refer to rank, such as "Emperor" and "Supreme Dalek", although in Genesis of the Daleks Davros refers to the newly created Dalek casing as a "Mark 3 Travel Machine".

The Dalek variant naming conventions used in this article are, in the main, attributed to the various models as a matter of convenience. They can be found in general use by the Doctor Who/Dalek fan base, and are often quoted in posts and documentation on websites such as The Project Dalek Forum.[nb 1] Other classifications for the major Dalek variants exist. The Doctor Who Technical Manual (1983), for instance, places both television and Movie Daleks in the same numerical sequence by order of their first screen appearances,[11] although reconciling the characters and events depicted in the Doctor Who films with those established in the TV programme is problematic.[23]

The term 'drone' in this article is used to indicate a Dalek having no rank. Its only use to date in any of the Doctor Who television serials or films in which the Daleks have appeared has been in the Eleventh Doctor episode "Victory of the Daleks".

Mark I Daleks

The Daleks first appeared in the 1963 Doctor Who serial The Daleks. There are no visual cues to distinguish one Dalek from another, or suggestions in the story of any particular hierarchy.[1]

The Mark 1 Dalek differs from later variants in having no shoulder slats or mesh, nine eye discs (the greatest number of any version) and a distinctly ‘toffee apple’ shaped eyeball. The eye lenses are illuminated and shown to have an iris which can expand and contract. These Daleks have a silver colour scheme with blue/grey shoulders, blue hemispheres and eye discs, collars in natural aluminium and black fenders. The story refers to them being powered by static electricity, with mobility limited to the metal floors in the Dalek City on their home planet, Skaro.

In the episode "The Escape" a Dalek is seen with a tray at the end of its telescopic arm, although it is unclear whether this item has replaced its plunger or is somehow attached to the top of it. A Dalek is also depicted using a device resembling a thermal lance to cut through a door in the episode "The Ambush". This item consists of a long, slim tube flanked by two globes, surmounted by a clear disc-shaped ‘sight screen’. The implication is that this appendage is mounted to the Dalek’s arm in place of a plunger, although due to the use of a tight close-up on the device this isn’t actually seen on screen.

The Dalek concept was the creation of screenwriter Terry Nation, with the design being realised by BBC staff designer Raymond Cusick. The props were constructed by Shawcraft Engineering of Uxbridge, England under the direction of Bill Roberts,[nb 2] who also provided some final design input.[24]

Mark II Daleks

The designer for the second Doctor Who serial to feature the Daleks, The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964) was Spencer Chapman.[nb 3] The storyline required the props to be used extensively on location. Consequently he and Bill Roberts devised a tricycle arrangement, incorporating three pneumatic tyres, to replace the original castors and carry the props over uneven ground.[24] Enlarged fenders were then created to hide the revised undercarriage.

To explain the Daleks’ ability to travel away from the static-charged floors of their city, the narrative has the Doctor stating that an aerial located at the edge of a mine in Bedfordshire is the key to the Daleks' power supply on Earth. Although not referred to directly in the story, it is implied that the 12 inch parabolic dishes now fitted to the rear shoulder section of each prop act as receptors for some form of transmitted energy. Other design changes were a reduction in the number of eye discs to five and painting some eyeballs silver instead of the standard black colour. An amphibious capability is demonstrated in the closing moments of the first episode of the serial, when a Dalek emerges from beneath the waters of the River Thames.[7]

For the first time a Dalek command structure is introduced, with rank being indicated by differing colour schemes. The Earth Taskforce Commander, or ‘Saucer Commander’, features a black dome and alternating light and dark skirt panels. A Supreme Controller or ‘Black Dalek’ is also seen, with a black dome, shoulders and skirt. There is a dispute as to whether the Saucer Commander's dark skirt panels were created using red or black paint.[25] As the serial was recorded and transmitted in monochrome, rendering the skirt panels as silver and black on screen, the point remains largely academic. Only black and white production photographs seem to have been taken at the time and, in the absence of any colour images to decide the issue, this matter remains unresolved.

Mark III Daleks

First introduced in 1965, the basic design of the Mark 3 Dalek variant remained relatively unchanged for the next twenty years.

Mark 3 Daleks in the 1960s

The Mark 3 Dalek variant first appeared in The Chase (1965), with Ray Cusick returning as designer for the serial. As the production required no location filming and Cusick felt that Daleks should be shorter than an average person, he had the enlarged fenders and wheels, installed for The Dalek Invasion of Earth, removed and replaced with the original style of running gear.[24] Greater flexibility in the storylines was afforded by freeing the Daleks from reliance on static-charged metal floors for power and mobility. For this and further serials, however, the contrivance of the dish aerials to achieve this was dispensed with. Instead they were replaced by a steel mesh wrapped around the upper collar, over which were mounted twenty three vertical, oblong slats ostensibly forming a power collection array (although this function has never been confirmed on screen).[26]

A Black Dalek appears in one scene of the first episode of The Chase, "The Executioners". Daleks with non-standard arm appendages are also seen in this serial. A ‘seismic detector’ in the shape of a gimballed hemisphere appears several times, and in the episode "The Planet of Decision" a device referred to as an ‘electro unit’ is deployed to pick an electronic lock. The prop consisted of a large revolving parabolic dish from the centre of which two converging rods protruded.[27]

Three Daleks of the Mark 1 Movie design can occasionally be seen in The Chase, borrowed from the production company responsible for the Doctor Who films to bulk-up numbers.[28] They can be distinguished from the TV props by the darker dome and lack of slats, their bold colour scheme not being apparent due the filming of the serial in monochrome. In some scenes their large fenders are missing, with the skirts sitting directly on the floor.

For the following four serials in which they appeared, Mission to the Unknown (1965), The Daleks' Masterplan (1965), Power of the Daleks (1966) and The Evil of the Daleks (1967) the Dalek design remained virtually unchanged, with only minor variations to the standard colour scheme and appendages being introduced.

In The Daleks' Masterplan several Daleks are shown as clearing areas of jungle using short, tubular flame throwers, referred to as pyro-flame burners, in place of the standard plunger.

A Dalek with a circular sieve-like scoop attachment in place of its plunger is seen in The Power of the Daleks. It is used for transferring embryonic Dalek mutants from a liquid-filled nurturing tank to their travel machine casings.[29] For this serial and all future appearance of the Mark 3 variant, the gun design was simplified by removing the mantles.

In The Evil of the Daleks a Black Dalek is seen again, this time with grey shoulders. Two more elements of the Dalek hierarchy are also introduced; the Dalek Emperor (discussed separately) and Daleks with black domes which primarily appear to act as the Emperor's personal guard.[30] (This motif appears again in "The Parting of the Ways" (2005), with black-domed Daleks fulfilling a similar function.) For the first time a Dalek is seen with a black pupil centred in its eye lens.

An unusual version of the Mark 3 Dalek made an appearance in The Evil of the Daleks. It featured narrow skirt and shoulder sections, with the rear skirt panel having only a single vertical line of hemispheres down the middle. These differences are not alluded to in the story. This build is sometimes referred to as ‘The Wilkie Dalek’ after Bernard Wilkie,[nb 4] the BBC technical designer who became primarily responsible for the Doctor Who programme’s visual effects after Shawcraft’s involvement ceased during 1967.[31]

Mark 3 Daleks in the 1970s

The Daleks returned to Britain's TV screens in the 1972 serial Day of the Daleks, their first appearance in colour on the Doctor Who television programme. 'Drone' Daleks were now finished in grey, with black hemispheres and fender. With the exception of Death to the Daleks (1974), and albeit with variations in the shade of grey and occasional adornment with black slats and/or collars, this stayed as the standard Dalek colour scheme for the remaining eight serials in which they appeared over the next sixteen years. During this period, however, several small changes to the standard Mark 3 Dalek design were made and their hierarchy was once again expanded.

In Day of the Daleks a Dalek Leader is seen painted overall in gold, with black hemispheres and fender. This serial also saw the first appearance of an oval disc between the gun boxes and a higher fender on all models. The eye lens 'pupil', first glimpsed in The Evil of the Daleks now became a standard fitting.[32] A gold Dalek Leader returned again in Frontier in Space (1973).[33]

Seven additional Dalek props were produced for Planet of the Daleks (1973) to increase the number which could be displayed on screen at one time. They were created by special effects professional Clifford Culley's[nb 5] company Westbury Design & Optical Limited. The production crew referred to these props as "goons". Although fabricated using measurements and moulds taken from an existing prop, the "goon" Daleks exhibited minor differences from the original Shawcraft builds including the substitution of single dowels neck struts for the trefoil cross section items which were the norm up to this point.[34] Once again the story called for a Dalek to cut through a metal door, on this occasion the cutting device replacing the plunger resembling the tip of a large soldering iron.[35] This serial also featured a unique variant; the Dalek Supreme (discussed separately).

Death to the Daleks sees the travel machines in a silver livery with black shoulders, hemispheres and fender. During the course of the serial, due to a plot element, the standard blasters are replaced by projectile weapons featuring a drilled barrel with six small fins at the muzzle. After shooting dead two primitive humanoids with these devices a Dalek declares them to be "…moderately efficient". The phasing-out of three section telescopic arms commenced in this serial, with two sections becoming the norm for the remainder of the classic series.[36]

In Destiny of the Daleks (1979) some Daleks can be seen with a neck bin orientation which places a strut along the front centreline, instead of the standard configuration with a strut to either side of centre, and many of the props have what appears to be a small stub aerial projecting from the top of the dome.[37] Six crude, hollow, vacuum-formed Dalek props were also created. They were primarily used during location filming of the serial's finale, although several of them can also be seen in the background of some studio shots. In particular they can be recognised by their thick neck struts and the absence of dome aerials and appendage ball joints. Production photographs taken at the time reveal that they also lacked hemispheres on the rear skirt panels.[38]

A group of Daleks are seen in this story forming a suicide squad to destroy an enemy spacecraft, each with a number of bombs attached to its shoulder section. The bomb props consist of yellow cylinders capped at the ends by red hemispheres.

A Mark 3 drone Dalek with a particularly distinctive design also appears in Destiny of the Daleks. It features a combination of "goon" and Shawcraft Dalek sections for the upper half, and a unique skirt with a rear section which flares out from the shoulders to the base at almost the same angle as the front. Four prominent bolt heads frame the chest oval and large hemispheres are fitted. These differences are not alluded to in the story. It has been claimed that the skirt came from an exhibition prop, although its precise origin remains uncertain. This variant is sometimes referred to as ‘The Tussauds Dalek’ after Madame Tussauds wax museum in London, where it was exhibited (painted bright blue and silver) as part of their Doctor Who display in the 1980s.[39]

Mark 3 Daleks in the 1980s

Commencing with a cameo appearance in the Doctor Who serial The Five Doctors (1983), Mark III Dalek variants seen during this decade feature a neck bin raised so that a strip of it is visible between the lower neck ring and the top of the shoulders.[40] The fitment of a small stub aerial to the dome continued, appearing for the last time in Resurrection of the Daleks (1984).

The eyestalks and discs of standard Daleks in Resurrection of the Daleks are painted white, with four discs arranged in a conical layout, smallest disc to the front. The Tussauds Dalek prop appears in this serial under two guises; as a grey drone and a Supreme Dalek painted in gloss black with white hemispheres.[8] The Tussauds Dalek features briefly once more in Revelation of the Daleks, again portraying a drone.

After two decades of service, Revelation of the Daleks (1985) marked the last appearance of the Mark 3 Dalek variant on the Doctor Who television programme.

Dalek Emperor

Full length image of the Dalek Emperor, standing upon a dark blue plinth, with a light grey geodesic framework in the background and a Mark 3 Dalek in the foreground.
The Dalek Emperor and a Mark 3 Dalek from The Evil of the Daleks.

In The Evil of the Daleks (1967) the Emperor is presented as a towering, immobile, twelve-sided conical structure, to which numerous umbilical cables are connected. Twelve large, black hemispheres girdle its mid-section, with a further two smaller, tan-coloured hemispheres being mounted horizontally on the chest. It has a predominantly white colour scheme with black detailing and speaks in an echoing, grating voice. Mounted on a plinth in a corner of the control room in the Dalek City on Skaro, it is apparently destroyed when a civil war breaks out amongst the Daleks.

The Dalek Emperor was created by the BBC Visual Effects Department.[41]

Dalek Supreme

In Planet of the Daleks (1973) the Dalek Supreme, a member of the Dalek Supreme Council, is despatched to the planet Spiridon. It is tasked with overseeing experiments into invisibility, the production of a plague designed to exterminate all organic life and the deployment of a 10,000 strong Dalek invasion force.

The variant was based on a prop owned by screenwriter Terry Nation, which had been used in the second Doctor Who film.[42] The neck bin mesh, struts and neck rings were removed, the latter items being replaced by new rings having a flat, recessed edge detailed with small rivets rather than the usual bevel. Lilac dome lights shaped like upturned jam jars were fitted, together with an eyeball resembling a flashlight which lit up when it spoke. It was painted overall in gloss black with yellow-gold hemispheres, slats, neck rings and dome. It is uncertain who carried out the conversion work, although the painting of the prop was undertaken by the BBC Visual Effects Department under the direction of Clifford Culley.[34]

The ruthlessness of the Dalek Supreme is demonstrated in the story when it destroys the Dalek leader of the Spiridon taskforce for failing to meet its mission objectives.

Necros Daleks

In Revelation of the Daleks (1985) Davros creates an army of Dalek mutants by manipulating DNA taken from humans on the planet Necros, where the dead or dying are being stored in suspended animation.[9]

Necros Daleks have a similar colour scheme to 'Imperial Daleks' (see below), but the designs are otherwise quite distinct from one another and were realised using different sets of props. In fact it is the Necros Daleks created by Davros which are portrayed in the serial as being the rebel faction, whilst the grey Daleks from the Dalek home-world of Skaro, seen in the final episode, serve the Supreme Dalek.[43]

In this serial Davros' life-support chair is shown hovering some distance above the ground. It is implied that Daleks now share this capability when, in a later scene, one exterminates two saboteurs apparently from an elevated vantage point. For DVD releases of the serial from 2005 onward, new shots were created to clarify that the Dalek was hovering.[44]

Standard Necros Dalek

The Necros Dalek design features several detail changes which distinguish it from the standard Mark 3 variant. The skirt angle is steeper at both the front and rear and the hemispheres are of a smaller diameter. The shoulder section has only twenty slats, and is broader at the top which, when combined with the skirt, gives it a stockier look. The arm is shorter and the oval between the gun boxes more elongated. Finally, the neck bin strip beneath the lower neck ring is quite distinct in this variant. Necros Daleks are painted light cream with gold hemispheres, shoulder mesh, neck bin mesh, arm and gun.[45]

Glass Dalek

Making a single appearance in Revelation of the Daleks, a Glass Dalek is introduced as a transparent, embryonic version of a Necros Dalek in which a grotesquely mutating human head can be seen. It has four neck rings rather than three.[9] It was manufactured primarily from clear Perspex.[45]

Imperial Daleks

A Special Weapons Dalek followed by several Imperial Daleks. From Remembrance of the Daleks.

In Remembrance of the Daleks (1988) it is revealed that Davros, masquerading as the Emperor, has gained control of Skaro. As Emperor he has under his command an army of Imperial Daleks, created by grafting bionic appendages onto the bodies of Kaled mutants.[4] The Supreme Dalek and its followers are now referred to by the Imperial Daleks as ‘renegades’.

Standard Imperial Dalek

The Imperial Dalek shares a skirt design with the 'Necros Dalek' (see above). In other respects, however, it features many differences when compared with previous variants. It has a stepped fender incorporating a slightly recessed bottom section and integrally moulded collars and slats with no shoulder mesh. There are circular bosses around the ball joint holes, a hexagonal panel between the gun boxes, a re-modelled eye and eye discs, a mirror-like eye lens with a small gold pupil, flush dome lights and a notched, funnel-like appendage instead of a plunger. The dome is of a slightly larger diameter and has a sharper angle where the bevelled section meets the curved upper part. The neck bin has a mirrored gold finish and is detailed with a fine circular-section gold mesh overlay, replacing the traditional diamond section design. The colour scheme is similar, but not identical, to that of the Necros Daleks. They are painted predominantly light cream with gold hemisphere, slats, arm, ‘plunger’, gun, eye discs and light covers.[46]

The hovering capability first seen in Revelation of the Daleks is confirmed in Remembrance of the Daleks when an Imperial Dalek is shown levitating up a staircase, apparently using an unseen mechanism on the base of its casing which emits a distinct red glow.[4]

Special Weapons Dalek

The Special Weapons Dalek (sometimes referred to as the 'SWD' or 'Gunner Dalek') is a heavily-armoured Imperial variant seen in Remembrance of the Daleks. It has no manipulator arm, eye-stalk or dome lights. Instead, it is equipped with a large energy cannon mounted on the front of the casing. The upper section features a foreshortened neck and truncated dome, which sits atop a circular row of small, square 'view ports'.[4] It does not appear able to speak, but does have massive firepower. In one scene a single shot from the Special Weapons Dalek is shown to completely vaporise two conventional Daleks, leaving only a pair of scorch marks on the ground. The armour is seen deflecting conventional Dalek weapon fire without suffering any apparent damage.[4] Like the other Imperial Daleks its livery is white with gold hemispheres, but with a metallic grey colour applied to most of the upper section. The casing appears battle-scarred and far dirtier than other Daleks, which are usually shown in a clean condition.[46]

The BBC Dalek Survival Guide maintains that the SWD weapon is fifty times more powerful than a regular Dalek blaster. It notes that Special Weapons Daleks are almost always directly controlled by Dalek commanders and rarely allowed autonomy, except in desperate situations, as they are as likely to fire on fellow Daleks as the enemy.[47]

In Ben Aaronovitch's novelisation of 'Remembrance' it is stated that the enormous power source required for the SWD's weapon resulted in the release of high levels of radiation which altered the structure of the Dalek creature's brain, causing insanity. Consequently other Daleks shun it, ironically for being a mutant. Uniquely the Daleks give it a name; "The Abomination". The novel states that the Special Weapons Dalek is used only in extreme situations and that only the Emperor can maintain complete control over it.[48] The Special Weapons Dalek is also mentioned in the novel War of the Daleks.[49] and the Big Finish audio production The Genocide Machine.[50] See also The Dark Dimension Dalek.

Imperial Dalek Emperor

Full length image of a cream-coloured Dalek with a spherical head section and no appendages. The hemispheres and detailing around the dome mid-section are painted in gold.
Davros posing as the Dalek Emperor, from Remembrance of the Daleks.

The Emperor of the Imperial Dalek faction features in Remembrance of the Daleks. It is actually not a Dalek but the Kaled Davros.[4] Greatly deteriorated physically with only his head and partial torso visible, he is carried in a customised life support machine/Dalek casing similar in design to the TV21 comic version of the Emperor. The travel machine has no appendages. A translucent hexagonal panel is located centrally on the front of the dome, in a position approximating that where an eye stalk would be mounted on a standard Dalek casing. What appears to be a strip-light is mounted vertically behind it, which scans from side to side when the Emperor speaks. The front upper section of the dome is shown to operate like a visor, retracting upward and to the rear to reveal Davros within.

Renegade Daleks

In Remembrance of the Daleks (1988) the Imperial Daleks are opposed by ‘Renegade Daleks’, commanded by the Supreme Dalek. Most of the Renegades seen in the serial are of the 'Necros Dalek' design (see above), but with the prominent neck bin strip below the lower neck ring removed. The shoulder mesh is also much coarser than that previously seen, having the appearance of a solid material which has been perforated. Renegade drones are painted overall in grey, with black fender, hemispheres, collars, slats and appendages. The Renegade Supreme appears overall in black, with the neck rings, neck struts, hemispheres, collars, mesh and slats in silver. Structurally it differs from the drones in that its lower collar is an integral moulding and it has only twenty slats, one of which is mounted centrally between the gun boxes. It is also differentiated by having a small eyeball and orange dome lights. It was constructed using a BBC promotional prop made by Martin Wilkie.[46]

Remembrance of the Daleks was to be the Daleks' last appearance in the 'classic' Doctor Who series, with the programme being put on hiatus by the BBC after November 1989.

'New Series' Daleks

After a break of 15 years from regular series production (there was a 1996 Doctor Who television movie special, in which the Daleks were heard but not seen), Doctor Who returned to British television in March 2005. The sixth episode of the 'new series' first season, "Dalek", sees the return of a lone Dalek which has somehow survived a Time War resulting in the mutual annihilation of both the Daleks and the Doctor's race, the Time Lords. Whilst the New Series Dalek retains the same overall shape and proportions of its forebears, every component has been re-designed to give it a heavier and more solid look.[12] The updated Dalek appearance is the result of input from Doctor Who executive producer Russell T Davies, artist Bryan Hitch and production designer Edward Thomas,[nb 6] with the design being realised by art department assistant designer Matthew Savage.[nb 7][51] The first batch of New Series Dalek props were constructed by special effects company The Model Unit under the direction of Mike Tucker,[52] with later builds being undertaken by Specialist Models[53] and the firm 'propmaker.co.uk'.[54]

Standard Dalek

The standard New Series Dalek design incorporates additional detailing to many of the components, including the dome, gun, gun boxes, plunger and eyeball. The fender is larger with a bevelled edge, the lower collar is integral to the casing and the upper collar and mesh are omitted, being replaced by a raised shoulder section beneath the neck bin. The slats have an indented central channel running down their length and the neck bin mesh has a denser, more complex design. The dome lights are substantially larger and enclosed in metal cages and the eye stalk pivot is surrounded by a cowl, below which is a horizontal oblong depression containing an ideogram unique to each Dalek. The standard New Series Dalek is finished in an overall metallic bronze colour scheme.

This Dalek design exhibits abilities not previously seen, almost all of which are realised using computer-generated imagery.[55] The casing has a swivelling mid-section incorporating the gun boxes, providing a 360-degree field of fire. It can also open by splitting down the front centre-line to reveal the mutant within. In "Dalek" (2005) the hemispheres are shown to actually be recessed spheres and components in a self-destruct mechanism. They are able to separate from the Dalek’s casing and create an encircling sphere of energy which destroys the Dalek without trace.[12] The plunger has been transformed into a versatile tool/weapon with an adaptable shape which can interface with keyboards and control mechanisms, drain power and data, and crush a man's skull.

New series Daleks are shown as having the ability to fly both in the vacuum of space and within a planet's atmosphere. They can regenerate by absorbing residual radiation and DNA from a time-traveller who touches them ("Doomsday" (2006))[6] and have a force field which can disintegrate bullets before they strike it. The height of the new design was chosen so that the eye stalk would be level with the eyes of the Doctor's companion Rose Tyler, as portrayed by actress Billie Piper.[15]

Three minor variations to the standard new series design have been shown. The single Dalek seen in "Dalek" differs from those appearing in subsequent episodes in that the lower shoulder collar is the same brass colour as its slats, instead of being bronze. A Dalek is seen in "The Parting of the Ways" (2005) with its plunger replaced by a spherical appendage incorporating a three-pincer claw and an extendable cutting torch. The story shows it being used by the Dalek force invading the Satellite 5 space station to breach an internal blast door not readily susceptible to their normal energy weapons.[5] The toy manufacturer Character Options has used the term 'Assault Dalek' on promotional material and packaging for licensed scale Dalek action figures having the claw/cutter appendage.[56] The episode "Victory of the Daleks" (2010), set during World War II, features two New Series Daleks masquerading as British secret weapons in the fight against Nazi Germany. The Dalek casings are painted overall in camouflage green with a Union Jack replacing the identifying ideogram on the dome front, and one prop features a non-standard neck bin orientation with a strut positioned along the front centreline. Canvas ammunition pouches are fixed around the shoulders and in one scene a Dalek is shown operating outdoors with opaque fabric covers fitted over its dome lights. The Daleks are also seen carrying a tea tray and box files with their plungers angled upward, an ability not previously demonstrated. These Daleks are referred to as "Ironsides" in the story.[57]

Emperor's personal guard

Image of the towering Emperor Dalek framed by four hovering black-domed Daleks, two on each side. The underside of the hovering Daleks can be seen, each featuring a large, recessed central hemisphere surrounded by eight smaller hemispheres, emitting a lilac glow.
The Emperor Dalek and Personal Guards from "The Parting of the Ways".

Repeating the motif first seen in 1967 serial The Evil of the Daleks,[58] a number of black-domed Daleks appear briefly in "The Parting of the Ways" forming a guard around the Dalek Emperor. Some of the guards are also differentiated by the replacement of the standard plunger with either blade-like projections holding a small sphere on the front of which is a glowing lens, or a tubular framework supporting a large sphere incorporating a glowing lens.[5] The specialised appendages are not referred to or shown in use during the episode, nor is their purpose explained. Both the BBC's Doctor Who website[59] and the publication Doctor Who: Aliens and Enemies[60] describe them as weapons. The packaging for the Character Options 12" radio control model of the third variant identifies the device as a 'multiple spectrum sensor arm'.[56]

Emperor Dalek

An Emperor Dalek features in the 2005 season finale, "The Parting of the Ways". Escaping the Time War, which resulted in the destruction of both the Daleks and Time Lords alike, its ship has fallen through time and space to the edge of Earth's solar system. Having then recreated the Dalek race this Emperor now regards itself as an immortal god, and the Daleks worship it as such.[5] The Emperor Dalek mutant floats in a transparent cylindrical tank below a giant dome, complete with lights and eyestalk. Two mechanical arms are mounted to the base of this tank. The central structure is connected by articulated joints to three flanking panels, to which large hemispheres are attached.

Doctor Who production designer Edward Thomas was responsible for the overall appearance of the Emperor Dalek, with the design being realised by assistant designers Dan Walker and Matthew Savage.[61] The Emperor Dalek casing was produced as a 1:6 scale model by The Model Unit,[52] whilst the Emperor Dalek mutant was an animatronic puppet, again in 1:6 scale, created by visual effects specialist Neill Gorton.[nb 8][61]

Cult of Skaro

The Cult of Skaro is first introduced in "Army of Ghosts" (2006) as an elite order of Daleks specifically engineered to use initiative and think as the enemy thinks. They are the first recurring Dalek characters in the history of the Doctor Who television programme. Unlike other Daleks the four members of the Cult have individual names; Sec, Thay, Jast and Caan. While Daleks Thay, Jast and Caan appear identical to other Daleks, Dalek Sec is distinguished by an all black casing.[62]

The Cult are shown to possess a sense of individuality and the ability to initiate an "emergency temporal shift" in order to escape danger by travelling through time and space. In "Doomsday", a combination of three plungers are used to extract information from a person's mind, with lethal results (although it is implied that this can be done without killing the victim).[6] In the episode "Daleks in Manhattan" (2007), the plungers of the Cult of Skaro Daleks are used to detect the intelligence of human subjects and in one scene a member of the Cult is seen with its plunger temporarily replaced by a syringe-like device.[19] The BBC book Doctor Who Files: The Cult of Skaro states that Dalek Sec’s black casing is constructed from ‘Metalert’, an enhanced form of Dalekanium reinforced with flidor gold and sap from the extinct Arkellis flower.[63] This fictional material and its constituents have their origins in the TV Century 21 Dalek comic strip from 1965, in which the Golden Emperor’s casing is said to incorporate flidor gold and Arkellis flower sap,[64] and Metalert features as a strengthened form of Dalekanium.[65]

Vault Dalek

Appearing in the linked episodes "The Stolen Earth" (2008) and "Journey's End" (2008), Vault Daleks watch over Davros in the Vault of the Crucible space station, acting as both bodyguards and warders.[14] Although un-named during the episodes in which they appear, the term is used for the variant on the BBC's Doctor Who website.[59] Character Options named its licensed scale toys of the variant 'Crucible Daleks'.[56]

Vault Daleks form part of the recreated Dalek race each of which, Davros states, has been genetically engineered with cells taken from his own body. Instead of the standard plunger they are fitted with a claw-like appendage incorporating eight ‘pincers’, which are shown to fit directly into some of the ship's controls.

Supreme Dalek

A Supreme Dalek appears in the finale of the 2008 series, as leader of the Dalek forces above even Davros. This version is a radical variation on the standard New Series design. It is painted red with gold hemispheres, collar and neck rings. It has three plinth-mounted dome lights featuring cages with three, rather than four uprights, and large golden clamps connecting its shoulders to an extended neck bin.

Its voice is deeper than the other Daleks, resembling that of the 2005 season's Dalek Emperor. Nicholas Briggs, who provided the voice talent for the Dalek, stated that he adopted a grandiose delivery for the Supreme Dalek to fit his perception of the character as being egotistical.[66] The Supreme Dalek was designed by Doctor Who production designer Edward Thomas, realised by design assistant Peter McKinstry[nb 9][67] and created by 'propmaker.co.uk'.[54]

New Paradigm Daleks

In "Victory of the Daleks" (2010) five examples of a new Dalek variant are introduced, described in the narrative as forming "a new Dalek paradigm". They are created from pure Dalek DNA contained in a device called a 'Progenator'.[nb 10] Their design is the result of input from Doctor Who executive producer Steven Moffat, production designer Edward Thomas, "Victory of the Daleks" writer Mark Gatiss and concept artist Peter McKinstry.[68] The props were produced by the BBC Art Department under the supervision of Senior Propmaker Barry Jones.[nb 11][69]

Each of the five New Paradigm variants has a casing of a different colour, representing their role in Dalek society: red, drone; blue, strategist; orange, scientist; yellow, Eternal and white, Supreme.[70][71] Speaking in the programme Doctor Who Confidential, Doctor Who Executive Producer Steven Moffat stated that the function of the Eternal Dalek had yet to be decided, while writer Mark Gatiss confirmed that the bright colours of the New Paradigm Daleks was inspired by the Daleks seen in the 1960s Amicus films.[15]

New Paradigm Daleks are taller than previous variants, having a substantial fender reminiscent of Movie Daleks. The skirt section consists of raised panels with bevelled edges, to which forty eight hemispheres are fixed in twelve columns. The hemispheres are grey in colour with the exception of the Eternal Dalek, where they are black. The central rear skirt panel is enlarged significantly to form a broad spine featuring a recessed vertical louvre assembly. Published design drawings and commentary by concept artist Peter McKinstry indicates that this section is capable of opening to deploy alternative weapons which would traverse around the mid section to replace the standard armament.[68] The skirt is surmounted by a prominent, slatless shoulder section, divided by a horizontal groove and featuring integral gun boxes. The neck is devoid of struts and consists of four flared rings detailed with small vertical slots, and is mounted towards the front of the Dalek giving the appearance of a prominent hump at the rear of the shoulder section. The dome, to which two cylindrical lights are fitted, is missing the chamfered lower section applied to previous variants. The gun is larger than that previously seen on the programme and is shown causing the complete disintegration of another Dalek. The eye design features five closely spaced discs of identical diameter behind an eyeball, inset with horizontal fins, on the front of which is a veined "organic" lens which glows with a yellow light. It is mounted to the dome on a ball joint.[57]

Two variations on the New Paradigm design have been shown. In the 2010 series finale "The Big Bang" a pair of fossilised New Paradigm 'Stone Daleks' are seen, having the appearance of severely weathered statues. They are remnants left when, in the episode, most of history is erased by the destruction of the universe.[72] The term Stone Dalek is derived from a listing in the episode credits. "The Wedding of River Song" (2011) includes a cameo appearance by a severely damaged New Paradigm Dalek having an overall grey colour scheme.[73]

Dalek hybrids

Hybridisation between Daleks and human beings has been a recurring theme in the Doctor Who television programme since the sixties.

The Evil of the Daleks

In The Evil of the Daleks (1967) the Daleks trap the Doctor into conducting an experiment to identify the "Human Factor"; the unique qualities which have allowed human beings to consistently resist and defeat them. Ostensibly once the factor is isolated and ‘distilled’ they plan to implant it in themselves to create an undefeatable army of ‘Super Daleks’. It transpires that this is a ruse, however. The Dalek Emperor reveals that identifying the Human Factor has merely served to define the ‘Dalek Factor’, which determines their species' unquestioning obedience to Dalek ideology and aggressive, pitiless nature. With the aid of a ‘converted’ Doctor and his TARDIS, they plan to impregnate all of humanity throughout Earth’s history with the Dalek Factor, transforming them into "Human Daleks”. When, in the story, some Daleks are implanted with the Human Factor they lose their aggressive traits and begin to question authority, leading to a catastrophic civil war.[30]

Revelation of the Daleks

In Revelation of the Daleks (1985) Davros engages in creating a new breed of Dalek mutants to command. He uses as source material the severed heads, and specifically the brains, of terminal human medical patients in the Tranquil Repose mausoleum and suspended animation facility on the planet Necros. During the earlier stages of the conversion process it appears that the victims retain some memory and awareness of their humanity, but by the end of the metamorphosis they have become fully Dalek in nature, if not appearance.[9]


In "Dalek" (2005) a dying Dalek’s casing is touched by Rose Tyler, a companion of the Doctor. During this brief physical contact the Dalek absorbs a sufficient amount of her DNA to regenerate itself and its damaged travel machine. It later becomes apparent that this genetic material has caused it to mutate further, as it begins to experience human emotions. It finally becomes trapped in an agony of conflict and self-loathing, and destroys itself.[12]

The Parting of the Ways

In "The Parting of the Ways" (2005), the Emperor Dalek and the few surviving members of its crew hide in space for centuries, harvesting organic material from the dispossessed of Earth and genetically manipulating it to rebuild their race. The Emperor tells the Doctor that a new Dalek army has been created using "filleted, pulped and sifted" human bodies, although they still consider themselves to be “...pure and blessed Dalek.” The Doctor declares that, driven mad by centuries of isolation and loathing for their own genetic makeup, they hate themselves and are thus more dangerous than ever.[5]

When a Dalek is destroyed and the mutant revealed it is of a different appearance to the mutant seen in "Dalek", the prop hinting at a human heritage. Mutants originating from Kaled stock appear to have a closed, vestigial second eye, set below and to one side of the sighted eye. The mutant in The Parting of the Ways seems to have two identical, symmetrically set eyes above which is a prominent supraorbital ridge. A large fleshy mass protrudes below the eyes, with folds suggestive of a mouth-like orifice.

Daleks in Manhattan and Evolution of the Daleks

Head to chest portrait of an alien creature with flesh coloured skin. The head is vertically elongated with a small mouth, prominent chin and large, pink exposed brain. A single grey eye is set centrally in the face, with tentacles protruding from the sides of the head. It wears a black shirt and tie with a black pinstripe jacket.
The Dalek Sec - Human/Dalek Hybrid as seen in "Daleks in Manhattan" and "Evolution of the Daleks"

In the two-part story "Daleks in Manhattan" and "Evolution of the Daleks" (2007) the Cult of Skaro, stranded in 1930s America following an emergency temporal shift, attempt to rebuild the Dalek race. Endeavours to manufacture Dalek embryos result in green brain-like entities which are non-viable and discarded.[19] Consequently Dalek Sec sacrifices itself for the survival of the Dalek race by entrapping in its casing Mr. Diagoras, a human collaborator, and merging with him to become a Human/Dalek hybrid. The process results in a humanoid creature which, although still wearing Diagoras’ clothes, is mutated beyond recognition. Its fingers taper to points, it has a large, exposed brain and a single eye set in a face framed by six thick tentacles. The voice is an amalgam of human and Dalek characteristics.[74]

The Cult then prepare to create Human Daleks utilising Dalek DNA to 'format' the brains of thousands of captured humans, who have been frozen and had their minds erased. Sec orders that a gene solution extracted from its own body is to be used instead, creating hybrids having human emotions and Dalek intelligence. It says this will eradicate the Daleks' obsession with universal supremacy, which has led them to the brink of extinction. Believing that Daleks should remain pure and Sec is now a traitor to their race, the other Cult members bind it in chains and proceed with the original plan.

Despite initial appearances of success the scheme fails due to the contamination of the Human Daleks with the Doctor's DNA during the conversion process. This causes them to begin questioning their orders and Dalek ideology. Sec is accidentally killed attempting to stop Dalek Thay exterminating the Doctor. Armed with Dalek weapons a fire-fight then erupts between the hybrids and Jast and Thay, during which the two Daleks and several hybrids are destroyed. Watching events via a remote link Dalek Caan declares the Human Daleks a failure and transmits a destruct signal, killing the hybrids.

Dalek variants in films

Capitalising on the wave of 'Dalek Mania' gripping Britain following their initial appearances in the Doctor Who programme, two films featuring the Daleks were produced; Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965) and Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150 AD (1966). The storylines for these movies are essentially identical to the first two TV serials in which the Daleks were seen, with the primary exception that the character of "Doctor Who" (his onscreen name) is portrayed as being an eccentric human inventor rather than an alien. For this reason, these Dalek appearances and variants may be considered of a continuity unique to the film series.

Mk I Movie Daleks

First appearing in the film Dr. Who and the Daleks, Movie Daleks (as they have come to be known) have substantial fenders, very similar in shape and design to those seen in the Doctor Who serial The Dalek Invasion of Earth. The skirt sits directly on top of the enlarged fender, however, without the intervening step created by the original TV variant base. The gun boxes are angled slightly differently and the neck ring edges have a steeper bevel.[75] The eyestalk has only five discs, with most irises being illuminated. Perhaps the most striking difference is the dome lights, which are much larger than those seen on TV Daleks of the period.[76] Another distinctive design feature is the gun, which has a wider bore than the TV counterpart, no mantles and is depicted as projecting a high pressure jet of destructive, lethal vapour rather than an energy beam.

Three minor Dalek variants appear in the film. Some Daleks are fitted with a two-jawed mechanical claw instead of the iconic plunger, some have integrally moulded shoulder collars with the front edge angle reversed so that they point towards instead of away from the gun-boxes, and one is seen with a cutting torch instead of a telescopic arm.

Whilst hemisphere misalignment is an occasionally recurring feature of Daleks seen on television over the years, this issue presents itself in a uniform manner with all of the film props. Most noticeably the four hemispheres on the rear-left corner skirt panel are set higher than those on the other panels. As the positioning of the hemispheres on the Dalek casings serves no purpose in the plot and is unreferenced in the narrative, it may be surmised that this was caused by a manufacturing error.

For their first big-screen outing the Daleks were painted in bold colours. Drones are primarily silver with mid-blue domes, hemispheres and fenders, and gold collars. The Dalek leader is black with alternating silver and gold hemispheres, alternating silver and gold neck rings, and gold collars and fender. Its second in command is portrayed as a red Dalek with black hemispheres, gold collars and gold fender. On all versions the dome lights are coloured red.

The ‘hero’ props seen in the film were constructed by Shawcraft Engineering, whilst the Daleks with integrally moulded shoulder collars, which were mainly used to make up numbers in crowd scenes, were produced by the Plaster Workshops at Shepperton Studios.[76]

Mk II Movie Daleks

The Mark 2 Movie Dalek variant seen in the film Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. is very similar in design to the Mark 1 version, but with the addition of the upper collar mesh and slats with which the TV versions were by now equipped (although the movie version has twenty four slats rather the TV's twenty three).[77] At various points in the film a Dalek can be seen with a small silver plunger in place of the usual black item. Another features a scissor-like claw, which is quite unlike the standard ‘G-clamp’ shaped device, and a gun with mantles. These unusual appendages are not referred to in the story.[78] The misalignment of the hemispheres, evident in Dr. Who and the Daleks, is once again present.

The colour scheme for the drones used in the second film is essentially the same as that used for the television versions at the time, being silver overall with grey shoulders, natural aluminium collars and slats, blue hemispheres and a black fender. Arguably the narrative fails to establish a precise hierarchy for the Dalek commanders seen in the film. The leader of the expeditionary force appears to be a gold Dalek with natural aluminium collars and slats, black hemispheres and a black fender. A black Dalek with gold hemispheres, natural aluminium collars and slats and a black fender is apparently in charge of a mining operation in Bedfordshire, whilst a red Dalek with natural aluminium collars and slats and a black fender with red topping is shown commanding a Dalek spaceship and operations to capture human slaves and wipe-out the resistance. Drones sport blue dome lights, the black and red Daleks have red dome lights and the gold Dalek has yellow dome lights. As for the first film, the Dalek props were constructed by Shawcraft Engineering.[76]

Dalek variants in the theatre

Daleks with unique characteristics have appeared in several stage productions, consisting of both original works and adaptations of serials from the Doctor Who television programme. In addition to the professional productions detailed below, a number of amateur presentations have been staged over the years. These include Doctor Who and the Daleks in the Seven Keys to Doomsday (Porirua Little Theatre, Titahi Bay, Porirua, New Zealand, 1984),[nb 12] The Evil of the Daleks (New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth, England, 2006)[nb 13] and The Dalek Masterplan (New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth, England, 2007).[nb 14]

The Curse of the Daleks (1965)

The Curse of the Daleks was a stage play written by David Whitaker and Terry Nation, which appeared for one month at the Wyndham's Theatre in London, England beginning on December 21, 1965.

Five Daleks were used in the production; four silver/grey drones and a black version. They were all basically to the Mark 1 Movie Dalek design, but with fenders, dome lights and guns of the type seen on TV Daleks at the time. They were produced by Shawcraft, the manufacturer of the original TV and Movie Daleks.[79]

The Seven Keys to Doomsday (1974)

Doctor Who and the Daleks in the Seven Keys to Doomsday was a stage play written by Terrance Dicks, which ran at the Adelphi Theatre in London, England for four weeks beginning on 16 December 1974.

Five Daleks were created for the play by Philip Poole and Phillip Alleston, under the overall guidance of model maker, sculptor and film designer Allister Bowtell.[nb 15] They had the general appearance of a TV/film hybrid. There were a number of similarities to the Supreme Dalek from Planet of the Daleks, including flat-edged neck rings and a strutless neck bin. The main body was similar to TV Daleks of the time, but with an enlarged fender which was larger than the TV props but smaller than that fitted to Movie Daleks. Turn-indicator style lights were used, and the gun stick rods were thinner and more angular than those fitted to either TV or film variants.

Some confusion has arisen regarding the design of the Daleks used in this play as publicity photographs taken at the time show Trevor Martin, the actor portraying Doctor Who, posing with the Planet of the Daleks Supreme and a Mark 2 Movie Dalek. The Movie Dalek exhibits several alterations from the film appearance including ‘jam jar’ dome lights, an enlarged eyeball with protruding torch lens, panels fitted to the gun box fronts, a gun terminating in a small plunger and what appears to be elongated, crimped gun rods fixed to the arm. Neither of these props actually appeared in the stage production.[80]

The Ultimate Adventure (1989)

Doctor Who - The Ultimate Adventure was a stage play written by Terrance Dicks. It toured Great Britain, appearing at twenty theatres between April and August 1989.

Four blue/grey drones and a Black Dalek (credited as 'The Chief Dalek') appeared in the play. Specific design differences from the television version included a skirt section which was flared more to the sides and less to the front and back, a single vertical column of hemispheres on the skirt side panels and a higher fender. The props also had large, rectangular dome lights, no eye discs and no shoulder slats. The neck rings had a different configuration, the most noticeable effect being that the bottom ring diameter was much wider than the shoulders. These Daleks had a dome that was a true hemisphere instead of the bevelled design of both TV and film Daleks. Finally, instead of two separate gun boxes a complete unbroken oblong box ran across the front of the body.

A Dalek Emperor prop was also created, being a scaled-down but otherwise faithful reproduction of the version that appeared in The Evil of the Daleks, with the addition of large wing-like structures to the sides. All Dalek props used in the production were built by the theatrical suppliers Suffolk Scenery.[81]

Dalek variants in comics, books and audio dramas

Various writers and artists have created new Dalek variants for comic strip, novel and audio stories. The depiction of Daleks with a variety of coloured casings has also occasionally been introduced to indicate rank, although these differentiations do not constitute separate variants as such. Of particular note in this respect is John Peel's BBC Books Doctor Who novel War of the Daleks in which Grey, Blue, Red, Black and Gold Daleks are described as having successively higher status, all serving under the Dalek Prime.[49] Other examples are the TV21 Dalek comic strip in which a Black Dalek is shown acting as second-in-command to the Golden Emperor, and Trevor Baxendale’s novel Prisoner of the Daleks where a Dalek Inquisitor General (also referred to as 'Dalek X') is described as being of the New Series design but having a casing of gunmetal black with gold slats and hemispheres.[82]

Golden Emperor Dalek

Full length image of a squat Dalek, painted overall in gold. It has brass-coloured hemispheres, collars and two wide bands around the spherical head section, the upper rear portion of which is adorned with seven red lights.
The Golden Emperor Dalek as seen in The Dalek Book / TV21 Comic.

The concept of an Emperor Dalek was first introduced in The Dalek Book (1964),[83] re-appearing shortly thereafter in the TV21 comic strip The Daleks.[84]

According to the comic strip version of events the planet Skaro was inhabited by two warring humanoid species; the tall, handsome, peaceful Thals and the aggressive blue-skinned Daleks. The Daleks build a neutron bomb to finally destroy the Thals and bring the conflict to an end. A meteorite storm causes the device to detonate prematurely, devastating Skaro and the planet's civilisations. The only survivors of the Dalek race are the scientist Yarvelling and the warlord Zolfian. Whilst exploring the shattered remains of their world they are attacked, and then interrogated, by a prototype war machine which Yarvelling had created shortly before the holocaust. It is implied that these machines were intended to act as semi-autonomous robotic warriors. It informs them that it is actually a mutated Dalek, the result of radiation from the neutron bomb explosion, which has commandeered the casing to use as a travel machine. It says that there are many more mutants, and persuades Yarvelling and Zolfian to build more casings to house them. Before the last two humanoid Daleks die, exhausted by their labours and the effects of radiation, it appoints itself as Emperor and has a special casing constructed to reflect its new rank, made from "...Flidor gold, Quartz and Arkellis flower sap...".[64] The Golden Emperor is usually depicted as being slightly shorter than a standard Dalek, with a disproportionately large spherical head section.

The title page of The Dalek Book lists three contributing illustrators; Richard Jennings, John Woods and A.B. Cornwell. As none of the stories are individually credited it is uncertain which artist or artists first developed the Golden Emperor design. Two illustrators provided interpretations of the Golden Emperor for the TV21 comic strip; Jennings again, and Ron Turner who superseded him in later instalments.[85]

'The Dalek Book' Daleks

The Dalek Book (1964) is notable, although not unique, in portraying a Dalek variant which has a 'speaker grille' set centrally on the chest and, occasionally, a stylised insignia on the dome. Neither of these items has ever appeared on an actual prop.

During rehearsals for the first Doctor Who serial in which they appeared a numbered piece of card was taped to the dome of each Dalek to assist the director in distinguishing them, with a tape roll being wedged behind the top front collar of each prop for safekeeping.[86] These objects subsequently appeared in photographs of the Daleks provided by the BBC to merchandise producers for reference, with the illustrators of the Dalek Book interpreting them as speaker grilles and insignia.[87] Shortly after the publication of this volume other merchandise and packaging appeared featuring Daleks with the speaker grille design element. These included Dalek board games, bagatelle, 'Cutta-Mastic' polystyrene sculpting sets, marble mazes and a ray gun torch.[88]

Dalek Emperor

A Dalek Emperor, described as being similar that seen in The Evil of the Daleks, appears in the Telos novella The Dalek Factor by Simon Clark. It is referred to as "an Emperor", implying there is more than one during the period in which the story is set.[89]

Dalek Prime

A Dalek Prime is referred to in several of the novels based on the Doctor Who series (The Chase, The Dalek's Master Plan, The Power of the Daleks, The Evil of the Daleks). It is also mentioned in both of John Peel's 8th Doctor novels, War of the Daleks[49] and Legacy of the Daleks.[90] Although portrayed as being a leader, its precise position in the Dalek hierarchy is not made clear. In War of the Daleks its description closely matches that of the TV21 Golden Emperor.

A truncated cone, topped by a dome, with a large, inverted hemisphere for a base. The cone is adorned with two encircling rows of small, oval markings, arranged in a zigzag pattern. To one side of the cone is attached a cylindrical device resembling a machine gun, and to the other side a rod terminating in a group of four spherical objects. Another rod projects from a vertical slot in the front of the dome, terminating in a disc-shaped eyeball.
'Hayakawa' Japanese Dalek variant.
A truncated cone, bisected by a flange one quarter way up its length, topped by a dome. The front of the cone is adorned with two parallel, vertical slots, between which a single hemisphere is mounted above a gun stick. A standard Dalek eye protrudes from the dome. The Dalek stands on two jointed and braced leg struts, which emerge from the flat base of the casing. At bottom left of the picture the twin necks and heads of a Horrorkon creature are depicted, watching the Dalek towering above it.
A Marsh Dalek from The Dalek Book.

'Hayakawa' Daleks

Four of the Target Books Doctor Who serial novelizations were translated into Japanese by Yukio Sekiguchi and published in 1980 by Hayakawa Bunko books. These included Doctor Who and the Daleks (Jiku Dai Chi Tataka! [時空大血闘!] )[91] and Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks (Darek - Zoku No Gyakushuu! [ダレク - 族の逆襲!] )[92] Artist Michiaki Sato was commissioned to provide illustrations for these volumes.

Unlike other comic book and graphic artists whose work, however stylised, usually presents relatively minor variations to the standard Dalek form, Sato’s renderings show a unique Dalek variant which is a radical departure from the recognised design. Possible reasons for this include lack of access to source material, the Japanese publishers having no rights to the use of the Dalek image and the artist simply being allowed the free rein of his imagination. [93]

Marine Daleks

Marine Daleks, introduced in the novel War of the Daleks, are torpedo-shaped with their eye at the front, and have a gun stick and grappling arm parallel to their body. They are stated to be larger than the standard Daleks.[49]

Marsh Daleks

The 1964 Dalek Book story The Monsters of Gurnian, written by Terry Nation and David Whittaker, features bipedal Marsh Daleks which are used to keep in check the Horrorkons; two headed plesiosaur-like creatures which inhabit the swamps of the planet Gurnian.[94] As none of the stories in the book are individually credited it is uncertain which artist developed the Marsh Dalek design. Marsh Daleks are also briefly referenced in Marc Platt's Doctor Who novel Lungbarrow, in which it is said that during the 26th century humans fought and disabled them by shooting at their legs with high-impulse carbines.[95]

Psyche Daleks

Appearing briefly in the comic strip Emperor of the Daleks, written by John Freeman & Paul Cornell, Psyche Daleks are depicted with a large mass of green brain tissue contained within a transparent sphere that sits on top of the shoulder section, in place of the normal neck bin and dome. In the story a Psyche Dalek is used to control a small group of partially robotised prisoners through a remote device mounted on its arm in place of the normal plunger. The comic strip was drawn by Lee Sullivan.[96]

Scout Daleks

In Ben Aaronovitch's novelisation of Remembrance of the Daleks the Imperial Dalek faction use Scout Daleks which are described as being more powerful and streamlined than standard Daleks.[48]

Spider Daleks

Spider Daleks were a variant proposed by John Leekley for an aborted Doctor Who television movie to be produced by Amblin Entertainment in 1994.[97] Spider Daleks directly based on the Amblin production concept sketches were eventually used in the comic strip Fire and Brimstone, in which they are presented as a radically different form of Dalek from a parallel universe. The strip was drawn by Martin Geraghty and Robin Smith.[98] In John Peel's novel War of the Daleks they are depicted as creations of Davros and described as being slightly larger than a standard Dalek, with eight legs emerging from the lower half. They are said to have greater manoeuvrability than standard Daleks, at the cost of being more vulnerable at their joints.[49]

Strider Daleks

Giant versions of the Spider Dalek, known as Striders, are mentioned in John Peel's novel War of the Daleks. They are said to be ten times larger than a standard Spider Dalek and equipped with additional weapons.[49]

The Klade

The Klade are a people from the distant future in Lance Parkin's BBC Eighth Doctor novel Father Time and the Miranda spin-off comics. Although physically humanoid and genetically human, they share many cultural characteristics with the Daleks and appear to regard Dalek history as their own. Their name is both an anagram of "Dalek", as "Dalek" is itself of "Kaled" and a play on the biological term "clade", being a group of species sharing a common ancestor. They are "...the super-evolved descendants of the Daleks",[99] the implication being that, like that of the Thals, their mutation has come "full circle" and returned them to a humanoid form.

Other notable Dalek designs

The Dark Dimension Dalek

The Dark Dimension was the working title of a feature-length BBC Doctor Who episode, planned to celebrate the programme's Thirtieth Anniversary.[100] Chris Fitzgerald[nb 16] at Jim Henson's Creature Shop was engaged to redesign the Special Weapons Dalek for the production.[101] A sketch of the proposed variant, which has become known as The Dark Dimension Dalek, was produced at the time by BBC artist Alan Marshall. Notable differences to a standard Dalek include a substantially enlarged fender to which the Dalek is attached by large locking-clamps, an enhanced mid section featuring two large shoulder-mounted cannon and a foreshortened neck bin encircled by three thick neck rings. Programme development commenced in September 1992 and was officially cancelled in July 1993, with the BBC citing 'financial and logistical reasons'.[101] Although a Dark Dimension Dalek prop was never constructed by the BBC it has become the subject of a number of illustrations, and at least one full size fan-built reconstruction.[nb 17]

See also



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