Monday 29 November 2010

007 The Daleks Part 3: The Escape

EPISODE: The Daleks Part 3: The Escape
TRANSMITTED: 04 January 1964
WRITER: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: Richard Martin
SCRIPT EDITOR: David Whitaker
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
FORMAT: DVD - The Beginning Boxset

The Thals turn out not to be hideous mutations but instead are tall blond and handsome and supply Susan with enough drugs for the Tardis crew and the Daleks. The Thals are here because their crops are failing. The Daleks decide to deceive the Tardis crew to lure the Thals into a trap. Realising they've been duped and are being monitored the Tardis crew immobilise the monitor, plot then successfully execute the immobilisation of a Dalek.

Yes, most of the Tardis crew spend the whole episode in a cell. Yes, the Thals look a bunch of weak & simple fools. But the episode holds the attention right the way through, especially every moment the Daleks are on screen.

We get our first adapted Dalek in this episode, one with a tray replacing the sucker arm.

Towards the end the look of revulsion on the Doctor & Ian's faces as they open the Dalek, followed by the final shot of the claw projecting from under the cloak emphasise that the Daleks aren't machines there is something awful inside it.

Two men are really responsible for the creation of the Daleks: Terry Nation & Raymond Cusick.

Terry Nation wrote the first Dalek story. He'd been working as a gag writer for Tony Hancock and nearly didn't take the job but suddenly finding himself without employment he decided to take the gig and cunningly kept his share of the rights to the Daleks and in the process made his fortune on the back of a wealth of Dalek merchandise issued over the years. Terry Nation would return to write for the series again and again over the years and would also create Survivors and Blake's Seven for the BBC.

Raymond Cusick was the staff designer at the BBC eventually allocated to the second Doctor Who story. It was he who came up with the Dalek design based on a brief description. A testament to the design is that it was barely altered over the original series of Doctor Who. In the first two stories they look a little different with rings around their middle instead of the more familiar upright slats that are introduced in the Chase. Interestingly Cusick wasn't the first designer allocated to the story. A schedule clash prevented the originally assigned designer, Ridley Scott, from doing the job.


  1. That look when Ian and The Doctor open the Dalek machine up is one of those that I point to as showing just how good the original cast are. We don't need to see anymore than the claw that pokes out from under the cloak, because Hartnell and Russell have already comprehensively told us how horrific it is. A wonderful example of less being more.

    I love the scenes leading up to the escape from the cell in this episode. It is another opportunity to show our characters as resourceful and able to put together a plan from very unpromising resources. (It is also a joyous moment of Dalek stupidity right in their first story - the delivery Dalek who comes to take Susan away to write the note may as well just hold up a big sign saying by-the-way-we-are-bugging-your-cell. I do love a good bit of Dalek dimness)

  2. "A testament to the design is that it was barely altered over the original series of Doctor Who."

    It was barely altered even in the new series of Doctor Who (at least until they got really fat in Victory of the Daleks).

    I always thought they did an amazing job in "Dalek" of updating the Daleks. It was, essentially, some every so slightly modified proportions, a metalic sheen and a glowing eye. Those were enough though. It wasn't a case of improving the original design, as much as showing what the original design could have looked like with just a teensy bit more money.