Dalek (Doctor Who episode)

Dalek (Doctor Who episode)
161 – "Dalek"
Doctor Who episode
Flying Dalek.jpg
The Dalek overcomes its former weakness. However, contrary to popular belief, the Daleks have flown before, in 1988's Remembrance of the Daleks.
Writer Robert Shearman
Director Joe Ahearne
Script editor Helen Raynor
Producer Phil Collinson
Executive producer(s) Russell T Davies
Julie Gardner
Mal Young
Production code 1.6
Series Series 1
Length 45 minutes
Originally broadcast 30 April 2005
← Preceded by Followed by →
"World War Three" "The Long Game"

"Dalek" is an episode in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who that was first broadcast on 30 April 2005. It should not be confused with the first Dalek serial, The Daleks. This episode is the first appearance of the Daleks in the 21st century revival of Doctor Who; it also marks the first appearance of Bruno Langley as companion Adam Mitchell.

The episode is set in Utah in the year 2012, in the underground bunker owned by Henry van Statten, a rich collector of alien artifacts. The Doctor encounters his one living exhibit: a creature called "the Metaltron", which the Doctor is horrified to discover is a surviving Dalek. When the Dalek escapes, the Doctor races against time to stop it from getting to the surface and wreaking havoc on humanity.




The Doctor and Rose materialise the TARDIS in a massive underground bunker near Salt Lake City, Utah in the year 2012, drawn to it by a distress signal. They find they are in the Vault, owned by the wealthy but greedy Henry van Statten who collects and houses alien artifacts within it. While Rose tours the facility with one of van Statten's technicians, Adam Mitchell, van Statten offers to take the Doctor to see the pride of his collection, the "Metaltron", contained in a special part of the Vault called the Cage. The Doctor is first shocked and then horrified to find the Metaltron is actually a Dalek, all of whom he thought destroyed from the Time War, but then laughs and ridicules the Dalek when he discovers it is weakened and chained down, unable to fight back. The Doctor attempts to destroy it, but is stopped by van Statten's guards and escorted back to his offices.

Meanwhile, Adam has led Rose to the Cage, and she also finds the Dalek, and takes pity on it. She touches its casing, which gives the Dalek the chance to absorb her DNA and time energy from the radiation she has been exposed to as part of her travels in the TARDIS. The Dalek uses these to become re-energised, drawing power from all over the southwestern United States to recharge itself, and breaks its bonds. After learning from the Internet that it is the last Dalek, the Dalek begins shooting all the guards in its way. The Dalek then communicates directly with the Doctor, explaining its ability to regenerate by means of DNA extrapolation when Rose touched it. However, as the last remaining Dalek and without a command structure to receive orders from, it is, to all intents and purposes, useless. The Doctor then suggests the Dalek kill itself to remove the presence of its race from the universe. However, the Dalek refuses, stating "The Daleks must survive" and stating that it will follow the primary directive of all Daleks to exterminate non-Dalek life from the universe. The Doctor becomes increasingly aggressive, demanding it destroy itself, but the Dalek ignores him, coldly stating "You would make a good Dalek" before cutting communications.

Adam tries to help Rose escape, but she is trapped inside the Vault when it is sealed by van Statten. The video feeds are disrupted moments before the Dalek encounters Rose, infuriating the Doctor. The Dalek, infused with human DNA, shows sympathy for Rose and spares her life for the moment, demanding its release from the Cage in exchange for Rose's life, which the Doctor feels forced to allow. The Dalek makes its way to van Statten's office seeking to kill its erstwhile captor, but Rose intervenes, eliciting from the Dalek an indication of what it really seeks: its freedom.

The Dalek and Rose go to the highest point in the Vault, and the Dalek shoots a hole in the ceiling, allowing sunlight into the facility. As the Dalek opens its armoured casing and experiences the sunlight directly, the Doctor appears with an alien weapon, ready to destroy it. Rose again intervenes and deters the Doctor, showing him that her DNA has caused the Dalek to mutate and is no longer able to perform its objective. After asking Rose to order it to do so, the Dalek annihilates itself, as it believes anything different to a Dalek is wrong and that it was not expriencing life, but sickness. In the episode's dénouement, van Statten is deposed by his aide, who orders him mind-wiped, and then dumped on the street. Furthermore, the Vault is to be filled with cement and sealed off. At the TARDIS, the Doctor ruefully observes that as the last survivor of the Time War, he "wins". He also tells Rose that he would be able to sense the presence of other Time Lords had they survived. As Adam warns them about the impending closure of the Vault, Rose invites him to join them in the TARDIS, much to his bewilderment.


The Dalek ability to fly or hover dates back to The Chase, where a Dalek was implied to have taken flight,[1] while in Revelation of the Daleks, a Dalek hovered to exterminate two victims. The first part of the 1988 serial Remembrance of the Daleks shows a Dalek who was clearly seen to hover up a flight of stairs to the Doctor's horror.[2] Rose and Adam allude to a long-held fan joke about the Daleks' inability to climb stairs,[3][4][5] and are horrified when it does so.

The museum's display items feature the arm of a Slitheen (Raxacoricofallapatorian) from "Aliens of London", which Rose recognises, and something that the Doctor refers to as "An old friend, well, enemy… " – a Cyberman head (from Revenge of the Cybermen, but the label on its display case references The Invasion). A reference book, Doctor Who: The Visual Dictionary, describes the exhibit behind The Doctor's and Rose's heads when they are looking at the Cyberman's helmet as the decayed head of a Sea Devil from the Jon Pertwee serial The Sea Devils.

The callsign for van Statten's personal helicopter is "Bad Wolf One", a recurrent phrase throughout the first series. An excerpt from the cold open is used in "Bad Wolf", when Rose recalls where she had encountered the phrase before.[6]

When the Doctor first attempts to destroy the Dalek it cries out "Have pity!" - echoing the same line Davros cried out in the episode Genesis of the Daleks before he was "destroyed" by his own creations. The Doctor replies "What for? You never did!" - a reference to the Daleks having been created without emotions.



Rob Shearman, the writer of the episode, had his first encounter with the revived series of Doctor Who in 2003 after he created the Sixth Doctor audio Jubilee. Executive producer Russell T Davies drew heavily on Jubilee to create "Return of the Daleks" for his pitch to the BBC, a story which Davies hoped to recreate the menace shown by the Daleks in their 1963 debut The Daleks. The adventure changed the setting from the alternate Earth in Jubilee to 2010 Utah, with the lone Dalek featured being held captive by businessman Will Fences, a caricature of Microsoft's chairman Bill Gates.[7]

The script went through several changes. The story itself was initially called "Creature of Lies", and Van Statten was originally called Mr Duchesne. For a short period of time, Adam was van Statten's son, but Shearman decided against it.[7] The most notable change to the script happened when the Nation estate, holders of the rights for the Daleks, blocked the use of the Daleks due to the BBC licensing them out too much. The changed story, named "Absence of the Daleks", contained an alien akin to a child who kills for pleasure, which eventually evolved into the Toclafane from "The Sound of Drums" and "Last of the Time Lords".[8] Finally, the BBC were able to secure the rights from the Nation estate, and at the same time gave the episode its final name, "Dalek".[7]


The episode was placed in the third production block, along with "Father's Day" and "The Long Game", the latter taken out due to delays in special effects creation. The episode's placement in the series was intentional so as to stave off the inevitable mid-series drop in viewership, although the BBC suggested that the episode be the premiere. Filming of the episode began on 25 October 2004 at the National Museum Cardiff,[9] before moving to the Millennium Stadium the following day, where most of the episode was filmed. Most of the filming finished on 3 November 2004, with pick-up shots completed at the show's studio space in Newport throughout the remainder of the month.[7]

Critical reception and awards

Before the broadcast, media watchdog organisation Mediawatch-uk complained about certain elements of the episode, characterising Van Statten's chaining and invasive scan of the Doctor as a "sado-masochistic" torture scene. Mediawatch also objected to Van Statten's invitation to Adam and Rose to "canoodle or spoon, or whatever you British do" as inappropriate sexual language.[10]

When it was released on DVD, British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) gave the episode a 12 rating, because of the scenes where the Doctor is seen to torture the Dalek.[11] The BBFC stated:

"We are concerned about role models for children using the sort of tactics that Doctor Who used against the Dalek. If that was transferred into the playground it would be something we would want to tackle."[11]

Reception to the episode was positive. The episode's overnight ratings was 8.73 million viewers, 46% of the audience share, a figure that was finalised to 8.64 million viewers.[12][13] The Times stated that the episode was an "unqualified triumph". The Guardian commented that "Shearman's script bamboozles expectations", and the episode "should hopefully show 2005's kids what was always so wonderful about the iconic tin-rotters.". The London Evening Standard found the lack of surprise (namely, calling the episode "Dalek") the only disappointment, and Daily Mirror simply stated that "for 30 pant-shittingly wonderful minutes, BBC1's new Doctor Who was the best thing on telly. Ever."[14]

The episode was nominated for the 2006 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form along with other Doctor Who episodes "Father's Day" and "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances". The stories came third, fifth, and first, respectively.[15]


  1. ^ The Chase. Writer Terry Nation, Directors Richard Martin, Douglas Camfield, Producers Verity Lambert. Doctor Who. BBC. BBC1, London. 22 May 1965–26 June 1965.
  2. ^ Remembrance of the Daleks, "Part One". Writer Ben Aaronovitch, Directors Andrew Morgan, John Nathan-Turner (uncredited), Producer John Nathan-Turner. Doctor Who. BBC. BBC1, London. 5 October 1988.
  3. ^ Birkett, Peter (1981-08-05). "Well, this certainly buggers our plan to conquer the Universe.". Punch. http://www.punchcartoons.com/product_info.php?products_id=1667. Retrieved 2006-12-01. 
  4. ^ Dippold, Ron (1992-02-06). "Federal Department of Transportation Bulletin #92–132" (USENET post). alt.fan.warlord. Google Groups. http://groups.google.com/group/alt.fan.warlord/browse_thread/thread/a4c1372fb5769f30/2aff27237eb980e9?lnk=st&q=%22Real+Daleks+don%27t+climb+stairs%22&rnum=75&hl=en#2aff27237eb980e9. Retrieved 2007-01-15. 
  5. ^ Heath, Ben (2005-12-08). "Best records, 2001–2005". dtweekend. Daily Texan. http://www.dtweekend.com/issues/20051208/musicmain.html. Retrieved 2007-01-15. 
  6. ^ "Bad Wolf". Writer Russell T Davies, Director Joe Ahearne, Producer Phil Collinson. Doctor Who. BBC. BBC One, Cardiff. 2005-06-11.
  7. ^ a b c d Sullivan, Shannon. "Dalek". Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel). http://www.shannonsullivan.com/drwho/serials/2005f.html. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  8. ^ Sullivan, Shannon. ""The Sound of Drums"/"Last of the Time Lords"". Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel). http://www.shannonsullivan.com/drwho/serials/2007lm.html. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  9. ^ "Walesarts, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/arts/sites/doctor-who-wales/alllocations/cardiff-national-museum-of-wales. Retrieved 2010-05-30. 
  10. ^ Lyon, Shaun (2005-04-25). "Weekend Series Coverage". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 7 February 2009. http://web.archive.org/web/20090207195623/http://www.gallifreyone.com/cgi-bin/viewnews.cgi?id=EEEuuEyVkpuEssKevX&tmpl=newsrss&style=feedstyle. Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  11. ^ a b "Under-12 ban on Dalek torture DVD". BBC News (BBC). 2005-05-16. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/4550967.stm. 
  12. ^ Lyon, Shaun (2005-05-01). "Dalek Overnight Ratings". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on February 9, 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080209113301/http://www.gallifreyone.com/news-archives.php?id=5-2005#newsitemEEEuAFAlyEONklKaQn. Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  13. ^ Lyon, Shaun (2005-05-13). "Mid-week Series update". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on February 9, 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080209113301/http://www.gallifreyone.com/news-archives.php?id=5-2005#newsitemEEEVAZpElVMNhZGxVE. Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  14. ^ Lyon, Shaun; et al. (2005-05-01). "Saturday Series Press Roundup". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on February 9, 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080209113301/http://www.gallifreyone.com/news-archives.php?id=5-2005#newsitemEEEuAFZpVEQRTAlVpt. Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  15. ^ "Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form". 2006 Hugo Award & Campbell Award Winners. 2006-08-26. http://cluebytwelve.net/Hugos2006/07_Dramatic_Short.htm. Retrieved 2006-08-28. 

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