Daleks in Manhattan was the fourth episode of series 3 of Doctor Who.

It marked the reappearance of the Cult of Skaro and the Doctor's second visit to the Empire State Building.

Synopsis Edit

During the building of the Empire State Building in 1930s New York City, the Cult of Skaro continues their attempts to destroy humanity and reign supreme.

Plot Edit

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 that must be completed by tonight. He also says that his bosses are demanding it. 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. He 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 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, 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 that he promised himself he would survive at any cost. Noting that Diagoras is most like them in mentality, Dalek Sec orders him to 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 gets 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 he runs away. Noticing that he is more human than pig, she follows him into the prop store, 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. 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 slave and a human. He had 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 cancel 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 sewer, 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. 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. The Doctor joins Martha in the high intelligence group as they proceed towards "the final experiment". Tallulah runs 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 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..."

Cast Edit

Uncredited cast Edit

Crew Edit

General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics



General post-production staff

Special and visual effects


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.

With this episode, Helen Raynor became the first woman to write a Dalek story.

References Edit

Species Edit

Technology Edit

  • 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.

Culture Edit

Story notes Edit

  • 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.
  • 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."

Ratings Edit

  • 6.69 million viewers - BARB final ratings[2]
  • 6.3 million viewers - Overnight ratings
  • 1.13 million viewers - BBC3 Repeat ratings

Myths Edit

  • 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.

Filming locations Edit

  • Some location filming in New York.
  • Bute Park, Cardiff.

Production errors Edit

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • 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.
  • When Diagoras is seen being merged he has gloves on but when he becomes a hybrid the gloves are gone.

Continuity Edit

Home video releases Edit


Series 3 Volume 2 DVD Cover

External links Edit

Footnotes Edit

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