Wednesday 23 November 2011

366 Death to the Daleks Part One

EPISODE: Death to the Daleks Part One
TRANSMITTED: 23 February 1974
WRITER: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: Michael Briant
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Barry Letts
FORMAT: VHS: Doctor Who - Death To The Daleks
Episode Format: 525 video (625 video now exists)

On the cold & dark planet a man is shot with an arrow and collapses into a pond. The Doctor & Sarah are heading to Florana when the Tardis finds it's power drained and materialises. Even an emergency torch quickly dies. The Doctor manually cranks the door handle allowing them to venture outside into a barren wasteland. While Sarah changes into warmer clothes the Doctor explores and is attacked. Sarah is stalked by the alien beings, then finds one waiting for her in the Tardis from which she flees. The Doctor escapes from his captors. Sarah finds herself near a starkly white city with a flashing beacon on top. As dawn breaks the Doctor encounters a group of humans who have crashed on the planet Exillon. The survivors are Dan Galloway, Captain Richard Railton, Peter Hamilton & Jill Tarrant along with the injured Commander Stewart. Their colleague Jack has been missing since the last night. They are from the Marine Space Core and explain about the Exillon's forbidden city that Sarah has found. They treat is as a shrine and sacrifice anyone who goes near it. Approaching the city Sarah is captured. The humans report their ship was drained of power as it neared Exillon. They came here to mine Parrinium a mineral needed to cure a space plague threatening millions. A ship comes into land nearby that the humans think is their relief ship. They go to find it, leaving their injured commander alone & at the mercy of the Exillons while in an underground chamber Sarah is prepared for sacrifice. The ship lands revealing not humans but Daleks who order the humans Extermination and begin to open fire.....

Another Terry Nation script, another Tardis immobilising. He also gets his new favourite device, a plague (see the virus in Planet of the Daleks and 1975's Survivors. A decent enough opening episode but I think even from what little you can see of the cliffhanger at the end you've seen enough to see that *something* is wrong with the Dalek guns because there's usually some sort of negative effect quite quickly. I'd have had the Dalek order Exterminate, a crash zoom on the first movement of the weapon out and straight into the titles instead of all the waggling of the guns in and out. Still it's good to see the Daleks back in Silver looking quite nifty in their spruced up colour scheme.

Death to the Daleks 1 was the latest episode of Doctor Who broadcast to be missing from the BBC archives when Ian Levene visited in 1978. In 1981 a 524 line NTSC conversion of episode 1 was found in Canada and returned to the BBC completing this story. In 1985 ABC TV in Australia was found to be holding an edited copy of episode 1, missing a scene where a crewmember is killed by a spear courtesy of our friends the Australian sensors. Due to this omission BBC Video used the 525 line copy of the episode to produce the first compilation release of Death to the Daleks in 1987. In 1991 a set of videotapes was returned to BBC Enterprises by Dubai Radio & Colour Television and left unattended and outside exposed to the elements. BBC Employee & Doctor Who fan David Stead rescued the Death to the Daleks episode 1 video and passed it to Paul Vanezis, who discovered it kept sticking on playback, similar to Curse of Peladon 3, and had the tape salvaged by playing it back in segments which were recorded onto D3 tape, the then default transmission format. The original videotape of Death to the Daleks 1 now serves as a doorstop in the study of Richard Molesworth, the author of Wiped! Doctor Who's Missing Episodes which has been an invaluable aid during the first year of writing this block. If you have any interest in the first eleven years of Doctor Who and why it's not all there then this is well worth a read. But now we must say goodbye to it because after this episode, one minor edit aside, every broadcast episode of Doctor Who exists in it's original format.


  1. Fun serial that. The moaning druids were a bit much though.

    The ending of the first episode was amusing, as you could tell the Dalek egg-whisk guns were not working at that point and it made for a daft cliffhanger.

  2. BTW. Happy Birthday DWeveryday.