At the Majestic Theater in Midtown Manhattan in the early 1930s, showgirl Tallulah is speaking to her boyfriend, Laszlo, one of the theatre's stagehands, before her nightly performance. She promises to come and see Laszlo's mother soon, and in turn, he gives her a rosebud for good luck. Later during the show, Laszlo is doing work when something runs past the door, oinking. Laszlo follows the sound into a storage room. Suddenly, a pig slave leaps out of the shadows and runs up to him.
A few days later, the Tenth Doctor and Martha materialise the TARDIS at the base of the Statue of Liberty's pedestal, the Doctor having decided to take Martha on a quick detour before taking her home. Seeing the uncompleted Empire State Building, the Doctor estimates the date, while Martha finds a newspaper dated November 1st, 1930. The Doctor looks at the newspaper and realises that their small detour is going to be much longer: the headline on the front page is an article about a rash of people vanishing like flies from the Hooverville community in Central Park.
The Doctor and Martha travel to Hooverville to question the residents who live there about the incidents. As they enter, the Doctor explains to Martha the etymology behind the Hoovervilles, named for President Herbert Hoover: when the Stock market crashed on Black Tuesday a year ago, the whole U.S. economy was wiped out overnight. Ordinary stockbrokers and businesspeople lost their jobs, their houses, and everything they possessed, and with nowhere else to go, ended up in shantytowns, like the Hooverville they are in.
As the Doctor and Martha are walking in, a fight suddenly breaks out between two men over a loaf of bread. Solomon, the community leader, breaks up the fight by taking the loaf and dividing it in half. He reminds them that thirteen years ago, he fought in World War I, as did many of the others, and he and the others only survived by staying together.
The Doctor and Martha talk to Solomon. He asks the Doctor why people can build the Empire State Building, which will be the tallest building in the world when completed, when there is a Hooverville in midtown Manhattan.
At the top of the Empire State Building, as construction workers toil to complete work, a businessman named Mr Diagoras orders one of his foremen to speed up construction on the roof mast, telling him that there is extra work demanded by his bosses that must be completed by tonight. When the foreman refuses to accelerate the speed of work and threatens a strike, Mr Diagoras tells the man that he should instead complain to the masters himself, and quickly presses the elevator call button. As the elevator comes up, the foreman asks him about his new "masters", but Diagoras is very vague about them, only saying that they are from out of town and beyond the human imagination.
Before the foreman can figure out what this means, the elevator arrives, containing Dalek Caan of the Cult of Skaro and two pig slaves. As the foreman backs away in shock, Diagoras tells Caan that the man is refusing to complete the work. Dalek Caan has the foreman taken away for "the final experiment". The pig slaves hustle the foreman into the elevator, and as the elevator doors close, Caan orders Diagoras to recruit more "bodies" for the final experiment.
Later that day, the Doctor and Martha are in Solomon's tent, questioning him about the disappearances. Solomon admits that they have been to the police, but the cops have ignored them, not caring whenever another homeless person vanishes.
They are interrupted when a young hobo from Tennessee named Frank comes in to inform them that Diagoras has stopped by. Diagoras addresses the community members, saying he wants to recruit workers to clear a sewer collapse for a dollar a day. Intrigued by Diagoras' admission that people sometimes fail to come back, the Doctor accepts the job. Martha goes with him, along with Solomon and Frank. Mr Diagoras tells them the location is about a half mile in, but they find no obstruction — just a green, pulsating lump of alien flesh. The Doctor examines and pockets it. Further on, they come across a lone pig slave. As the Doctor talks to it, more pig slaves arrive to ambush them and chase the Doctor and friends through the sewers.
Back at the top of the Empire State Building, Mr Diagoras orders the crew working there to attach strange strips of metal to the base of the mast and to complete the task that night. The workers complain about the unsafe conditions but comply. Diagoras warns them that if they do not work, he can replace them in a flash. After they leave, Dalek Caan arrives in the elevator and discusses the construction with Diagoras. Dalek Caan mentions that his planet was destroyed in a great war; he seems somewhat impressed that humans have survived across time, building and rebuilding New York City, though "humankind is weak" as it "shelters from the dark". Diagoras tells the Dalek that he fought in a war, World War I, and he promised himself thereafter that he would survive at any cost. Noting that Diagoras is most like them in mentality, Dalek Sec orders him to the Cult's laboratory in the basement, where he is seized for use in their "final experiment".
The Doctor, Martha and Solomon escape the sewers through a manhole, but Frank is captured. The others emerge in the theatre, where Tallulah points a revolver at them. She demands to know what they have done with Laszlo, who disappeared two weeks earlier. The Doctor persuades Tallulah to discard the gun, which is only a prop, and Tallulah tells them about Laszlo's disappearance. The Doctor and Solomon search for equipment the Doctor can use to examine the alien flesh, while Martha and Tallulah compare notes about Laszlo and the Doctor. Solomon confesses that he left Frank behind because he was scared. Solomon then returns to Hooverville, telling everybody about what happened to Frank, and that they must now arm themselves.
Dalek Sec states that the Daleks must evolve in order to survive; it is the Cult of Skaro's purpose, the very reason they were created by the Emperor, to imagine new ways of survival. Dalek Thay questions the results of the experiment, arguing that merging with humans, an inferior race, is directly against Dalek philosophy and will render them impure; Dalek Sec counters that after everything that has happened, there remain millions of humans but only four Daleks and that their purity has brought them to extinction. Dalek Sec intends to sacrifice himself for the survival of the Dalek race, just as Dalek Thay sacrificed the metal from his casing. Dalek Sec opens up his casing and uses his long tentacles to grab Mr Diagoras. He pulls him closer and envelops him in his own body before dragging him into his casing to begin the "evolution".
Martha is watching Tallulah's dance number when she notices a pig slave watching from the other side of the stage. She tries sneaking behind the dancers to reach him, but ends up interrupting the performance. Tallulah screams upon seeing the pig man, and he runs away. Noticing that he is more human than pig, Martha chases him into the prop storage room, where he disappears down the manhole.
The Doctor studies the alien matter he found in the sewer, and identifies the object as "467-989," using this to learn its planet of origin: Skaro. He rushes to find Martha and hears her scream as she is seized by pig slaves. He goes down the manhole after her and Tallulah follows him, despite the Doctor's warning. Moments later, he grabs her and hides as Dalek Caan glides by, causing the Doctor to bitterly remark that once again the Daleks managed to survive while once again he lost what was dearest to him. The two then find the pig slave that Martha saw. It's not just any pig slave: it's Laszlo, who appears to be in a state halfway between that of a pig and a human, having somehow managed to escape the Dalek lab before he could be completely converted.
Back in the Dalek lab, smoke billows from Dalek Sec's casing while he shakes violently. Dalek Thay urges him to halt the experiment, but he refuses and asks for an injection. Dalek Jast plunges a syringe containing a chromatid solution into his casing.
Meanwhile, in the sewers, Martha is thrust in with a parade of captives taken from Hooverville, including Frank. They are met first by Dalek Caan, and then Dalek Thay who reports that the Dalekanium is in place and the energy conductor is now complete. Dalek Caan uses his plunger arm to scan their captives' brains as the Doctor hides nearby and watches. Laszlo explains that the "low intelligence" captives become pig slaves, while the "high intelligence" ones are destined to become part of "the final experiment". Laszlo urges Tallulah to go back without him, and the Doctor joins Martha in the high intelligence group as they proceed towards "the final experiment". Tallulah runs back through the sewers but gets lost.
The captive party reaches the Daleks' Transgenic Laboratory under the Empire State Building, where Dalek Jast attends to Dalek Sec. The Doctor tells Martha to ask what they are doing; he does not want the Daleks to notice him. Martha steps forward and demands to know what is happening. Dalek Caan tells her she will bear witness to the rebirth of the Dalek race. Dalek Sec's casing opens, and a humanoid creature emerges with a Dalek mutant-like head and brown scaly hands, wearing Mr Diagoras' suit. It flexes its new limbs as the other three Daleks recoil from it. "I am a human Dalek," it tells them all, "I am your future..."
- The Doctor - David Tennant
- Martha Jones - Freema Agyeman
- Tallulah - Miranda Raison
- Laszlo - Ryan Carnes
- Solomon - Hugh Quarshie
- Frank - Andrew Garfield
- Mr Diagoras - Eric Loren
- Myrna - Flik Swan
- Lois - Alexis Caley
- Man #1 - Earl Perkins
- Man #2 - Peter Brooke
- Foreman - Ian Porter
- Worker #1 - Joe Montana
- Worker #2 - Stewart Alexander
- Dock Worker - Mel Taylor
- Dalek Operators - Barnaby Edwards, Nicholas Pegg, Anthony Spargo, David Hankinson
- Dalek Voices - Nicholas Briggs
- Hero Pig - Paul Kasey
- Hooverville residents - Christopher Hancock, John Walker, Julian Landau, Claudio Laurini, Justin Walters, Gary Devonish, Adam Banat, David Handford, Gary Greenslade, Mark Gottshalk, John Shepherd, Pete Symonds, Gareth Long, Franco Demarco, Eddie Martin, Sean Saye
|Executive Producers Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner|
|Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.|
- Laszlo is turned into a pig slave.
- The Cult of Skaro are Dalek Sec, Dalek Caan, Dalek Thay and Dalek Jast.
- Dalek Sec initiates the Final Experiment with Mr Diagoras to become a human Dalek.
- Skarosian life is registered with the fundamental DNA type 467-989.
- The struts attached to the building are made of Dalekanium which is the metal that Dalek casings are made of.
- The Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver as a component in a biological tissue scanner to identify the home planet of the mutant tissue as Skaro.
- Tallulah uses the stereotype of liking musical theatre as a euphemism for homosexuality.
- Heidi Chicane was originally supposed to perform the song that Tallulah sings.
- The working title for the episode was originally "Daleks in New York" but was changed due to the fact that it would be easier to say Manhattan.
- When the camera pans to the Statue of Liberty in the beginning, the song "Rhapsody in Blue", by Gershwin, can be heard in the background.
- In the very beginning, the song "Happy Days Are Here Again" is played in the background.
- This is the second episode in series 3 to feature a fake gun, a recurring motif that appears at several points in series 3, foreshadowing the gun in Last of the Time Lords.
- Although various Dalek Emperors, Dalek Supremes, and the Dalek creator Davros have appeared over the years, the Daleks of the Cult of Skaro (Sec, Caan, Jast and Thay) were the first individual recurring Daleks.
- The cliffhanger of this episode, the appearance of a humanoid Dalek was spoiled when the production team chose to feature an image of it on the cover of that week's Radio Times.
- Other than the name "The Cult of Skaro", this is the first time that reference to the planet Skaro had been mentioned on screen in the new series (the last mention on screen was in the 1996 TV movie).
- This is the first episode of Doctor Who to use the city of Manhattan in its title, which denotes its setting. The next episode to do the same would be The Angels Take Manhattan.
- This is the first time in the New Series that the Daleks do not elevate or shout "Exterminate."
- Russell T Davies has suggested that the Daleks' arrival on the Empire State Building in The Chase planted the idea for their eventual influence over its construction.
- Steven Moffat was initially assigned to the two-parter but pulled out from the episodes, as he was busy with Jekyll. Instead, he offered to write the Doctor-lite episode to make up for the inconvenience to the production team, the result being Blink.
- Helen Raynor is the first woman to write a televised Dalek story, and the first woman to write a story for the revived series.
- Some filming for this story was done in New York City for plates of the city, including images of Central Park, the Empire State Building, and the Statue of Liberty. However, on the online episode commentary for Gridlock, David Tennant, when asked if he filmed in New York, replied, "I didn't, everybody else did!" All of the scenes with Martha and the Doctor in front of the Statue of Liberty were actually filmed in Wales. The production team found a wall that matched the base of the statue.
- This episode includes the first location filming outside of the United Kingdom since Doctor Who's return in 2005.
- Originally, much of the action around the speakeasies which proliferated during Prohibition, including having Laszlo involved with the mob. However, Russell T. Davies wanted to avoid the jazz music which would be predominant in such an environment, and so Helen Raynor came up with the Broadway and Hooverville settings instead.
- Tallulah was an homage to the singer played by Jodie Foster in Bugsy Malone (1976).
- Russell T. Davies chose Helen Raynor to write this two-parter based on the strength of the Torchwood episode Ghost Machine, which she wrote.
- This is the first time since the Daleks' debut story that one of them has actually considered leaving their shell.
- An opening TARDIS scene, in which Martha convinces the Doctor to take her on one last trip through time was cut. This matched up with the opening moments of the next story to be broadcast, The Lazarus Experiment, in which the Doctor finally brings Martha home.
- Helen Raynor drew inspiration from the Universal Pictures stable of monster movies, which were at their zenith during the Great Depression. Frankenstein (1931) was a main inspiration.
- A major set piece saw Tallulah discover a cage full of the remnants of the Daleks' failed genetic experiments, but this was dropped due to expense.
- Mr Diagoras was named for the fifth century BC Greek poet, Diagoras the Atheist.
- Towards the beginning of the episode, the character Solomon breaks a piece of bread in half for the two men fighting over it. This is analogous to the biblical story of Solomon threatening to cut a baby in half for two women both claiming it.
- Solomon called $1.00 a day slave wages. For perspective, the fortunate few who worked building the Empire State Building earned $2.00 an hour for tradesmen like masons and steel workers and $1.00 an hour for unskilled laborers.
- It was discovered at the last minute that no hands had been ordered for Eric Loren's costume as the hybrid Sec, and so the actor was given a pair of black gloves to wear for the scenes in which Diagoras is absorbed by Sec. Subsequently, however, it was realised that the panic was all for naught: the hands had been fabricated after all.
- Helen Raynor had originally envisioned the TARDIS materialising on the roof of a Broadway theatre, but amended this to the base of the Statue of Liberty.
- 6.69 million viewers - BARB final ratings
- 6.3 million viewers - Overnight ratings
- 1.13 million viewers - BBC3 Repeat ratings
- Several rumours about an art deco Dalek appearing in this episode or the next part were proposed when names were revealed of series three episodes. No such Dalek appeared.
- Another rumour was that Mr Diagoras when in completely human form, was Dalek Sec. This was due to pictures of him standing next to three other Dalek-aware humans, who resembled the Cult of Skaro.
- Some location filming in New York.
- Bute Park, Cardiff.
- There is a point where a Dalek is looking at Mr Diagoras and his eyestalk is moving up and down, but when it cuts to the view from the Dalek, it is still.
- Throughout the episode, Thay, Jast and Caan's recognition codes switch.
- As Diagoras walks into the lab, he removes his gloves. When the shot changes, he removes his right glove a second time.
- When Diagoras is seen being merged he has gloves on but when he becomes a hybrid the gloves are gone.
- The Cult of Skaro came to New York in 1930 after their emergency temporal shift to escape the Battle of Canary Wharf in 2007. (TV: Doomsday)
- Martha recognises the name "Dalek" upon hearing one of the Daleks identify their species. She was told about the Daleks by the Tenth Doctor. (TV: Gridlock)
- Daleks briefly landed on the Empire State Building at a later point in history while chasing the First Doctor through space and time. (TV: The Chase)
- The Daleks previously tried to harness the Human Factor, causing the Daleks involved to become more human than anticipated. (TV: The Evil of the Daleks)
- When Tallulah asks Martha if she's ever been on stage before, Martha mentions Shakespeare. (TV: The Shakespeare Code)
- Dalek Sec evolves himself similar to the Dalek Scientists' desire to create Daleks in humanoid form on Asteroid Theta 12 before being found out by the Dalek Fleet. (AUDIO: A Thing of Guile)
- Skaro was destroyed in a "great war". The Doctor destroyed Skaro in his seventh incarnation. (TV: Remembrance of the Daleks)
Home video releases
- This episode was released with Evolution of the Daleks, The Lazarus Experiment and 42 on the Series 3 Volume 2 DVD.
- It is also part of the Series 3 DVD box set.
- This episode and Evolution of the Daleks, were the focus of the Series 3 Volume 2 front cover.
- BBC Website - Daleks in Manhattan Episode Guide
- The Discontinuity Guide to: Daleks in Manhattan at The Whoniverse
- Daleks in Manhattan at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- Daleks in Manhattan at The Locations Guide