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Evolution of the Daleks was the fifth episode of series 3 of Doctor Who.

It marked the demise of three members of the Cult of Skaro and the near genocide of the Daleks. It also marks the first time since Genesis of the Daleks, that the idea of how Davros designed his creations to behave was called into question. Ironically enough, Dalek Sec, thanks to his newfound humanity, was able to see that the Daleks were lesser than their enemies because they had abandoned their "hearts".


As a new Dalek Empire rises in 1930s New York City, the Tenth Doctor receives help from an unlikely ally.


As the hybrid Dalek Sec orders the rest of the human prisoners for hybridization, he comes face-to-face with the Tenth Doctor, who has emerged from the crowd. The other Daleks wish to exterminate him, but Sec orders them to stop. The Doctor demands to know how they ended up in 1930s Manhattan. Sec responds that the Emergency Temporal Shift that allowed the Cult of Skaro to escape the events of the Battle of Canary Wharf left them stranded and low on power. As Sec compares humanity's war-like nature to that of the Daleks, the Doctor holds out a surprise: a radio. Using his sonic screwdriver, he causes the radio to emit a high-pitched sound which disorients the Daleks and the pig-humans. The Doctor and the captured humans run back through the sewers, catching up with Tallulah on the way. As soon as they ascend the ladder and disappear from sight, Jast and Caan discuss their doubts about Sec's orders since he became humanised.

The gang arrives back at Hooverville, and the Doctor's stories are told to the crowd; he urges Solomon to lead an exodus out of New York. Soon, a watchman spots one of the pig slaves and raises the alarm. A skirmish breaks out between humans and pigs, before Daleks Jast and Caan suddenly arrive in the air and open fire on Hooverville in an attempt to force the assembled humans to surrender. Daleks Sec and Thay watch the attack from the Empire State Building via Caan's visual link.

Against the Doctor's advice, Solomon tries to reason with the Daleks, saying that they are both outcasts and should work together to create a better universe. An unmoved Dalek Caan exterminates him on the spot. Sec watches and gasps in horror as Solomon — a man whose courage he admires — falls. Thay notices this. Furious, the Doctor steps out and demands they kill him too and spare the other residents of Hooverville. Caan prepares to do so but is stopped by Sec, who asks the Doctor to return to the Daleks' genetics laboratory. The Doctor agrees, but only on the condition that the Daleks spare the remaining Hooverville residents. Martha asks the Doctor if she can go with him, but the Doctor refuses, saying that she should stay and help the injured. At the same time, he winks as he slips her the psychic paper.

Back at the lab, Sec surprises the Doctor when he expresses regret for the human deaths and explains his intentions to create a new race which combined Dalek and human DNA by "formatting" the human brain, ready for information to be loaded onto it, creating new hybrids, as "humans are the great survivors". The Daleks planned to use a gamma strike from a solar flare set to occur in eleven minutes, which will be conducted through the Empire State Building as an energy source. However, there are problems which only the Doctor can fix, leaving him no choice but to help the Daleks. He prepares the gene solution to be fed into the thousand-strong army of abducted human "shells". Sec explains the new race will have the intelligence of Daleks but the emotions of a human, declaring that the Daleks' obsession with universal supremacy must be removed. The Doctor is shocked that Sec is willing to eliminate the one thing that makes a Dalek a Dalek.

However, seven minutes before the flare, as the Dalek DNA is pumped into the comatose humans, a malfunction occurs. The other Daleks are overriding the gene feed and Caan leads a mutiny, taking Sec and the Doctor hostage. He and the rest of the Cult believe Sec is no longer Dalek, so they don't have to obey him anymore. As the three Daleks load pure Dalek gene solution into the humans, the Doctor and Laszlo escape to the elevator and ascend to the top of the Empire State Building.

The Doctor interferes with the gamma strike.

Meanwhile, Martha, Tallulah and Frank use the psychic paper to gain entry into the Empire State Building's service elevator. On reaching the top floor, they scan the building blueprints, looking for design and construction changes. They see a design change at the top of the skyscraper, where Dalekanium has been added. The Doctor and Laszlo reach the top floor and are reunited with Martha and the others, but the elevator is called back down to the Dalek lab, where the pig slaves are sent up to kill them. Martha, Frank, Tallulah and Laszlo prepare to face the pig slaves while the Doctor climbs to the mast of the Empire State Building, where he uses the sonic screwdriver to loosen the bolts holding the Dalekanium.

However, after removing one strip of Dalekanium and a bolt holding another, he drops the sonic screwdriver; all he can do is hug the pole as the lightning strikes. Meanwhile, Martha has made a makeshift lightning rod from spare pipes to divert the lightning into the elevator, just as the pig slaves arrive, killing them. The Dalek-humans awaken, and Caan designates himself as the new leader and military controller. Sec is enraged that his position has been usurped, but Dalek Thay deems him unfit and Dalek Caan orders them to take up arms: Thompson submachine guns fitted with Dalek laser weapons. The army goes into the sewers while the Doctor, Martha, Tallulah, Frank and Laszlo head for Tallulah's theatre.

At the theatre, the Doctor uses the sonic screwdriver to signal his location to the Daleks. The army breaks inside, and Daleks Thay and Jast arrive onstage, with Sec bound in chains and crawling between them like a dog. The Doctor tries to tell the Daleks what they have done to Sec is wrong, because he is the most intelligent Dalek who ever existed and rhetorically demands if Sec's condition is the foundation for their new civilisation. Sec attempts to reason with his former Cult members as they prepare to exterminate the Doctor. When this fails, he gets up and is hit by a blast from Thay meant for the Doctor, which kills him. This angers the Doctor, who derides Thay's lack of hesitation in destroying "The only creature who might have led you out of the darkness".

It is at this point that Caan, who is monitoring from the lab in the Empire State Building, notices increased levels of serotonin in the Dalek humans' reactions. Back in the theatre, the Doctor once again tells the Daleks to order the Dalek-humans to kill him. Thay and Jast comply but the Dalek-humans do not fire, then one of them repeatedly asks, "Why?", and questions their Dalek nature. The Doctor reveals that, because he hugged the pole as the gamma strike came through, the lightning struck him first and some Time Lord DNA was mixed into the hybrids. This gave the Dalek-humans freedom.

Thay promptly exterminates the Dalek-human who openly questioned orders, and the other Dalek-humans return fire. A battle ensues as Thay and Jast kill more Dalek-humans, but they are both eventually overwhelmed and destroyed under the sheer volume of fire-power. As the Doctor tries to reassure the Dalek-humans that it's over, Caan, who has been watching the whole thing via visual-link, declares the Dalek-humans failures and commands them to "Destruct!" All the Dalek-humans clutch their heads in pain and fall to the ground, dead, much to everyone's horror. The Doctor is barely able to control his anger, as he comprehends the fact that the Daleks created and wiped out an entire species within the span of an hour, rather than let said species live in freedom.

After witnessing this genocide, the Doctor returns to the Laboratory to confront Caan. For the first and only time in history, the last of the Time Lords stands face-to-face with the last of the Daleks. Caan wishes to exterminate him, but the Doctor offers to help. He says that he is probably the only person in the universe that would show him any compassion because he has seen enough death today — they are now both the last of their species. He does not want to see more genocide and wants their conflict to end. In response, Caan replies with "Emergency temporal shift!". As the Doctor lunges forward, Caan vanishes.

Martha and Tallulah arrive with Laszlo, who is on his deathbed as the pig-slaves can survive only for a few weeks. The Doctor, with an entire Dalek laboratory at his disposal, starts to work on a solution to save him, stating, "There's been enough death today. Brand new creatures, wise old men and age old enemies!" Later the next morning, Tallulah and Laszlo, who is still a pig slave but alive and healthy, meet with Frank in Central Park. Frank tells Laszlo he talked to the residents of Hooverville, who have agreed to take him in and give him a home. As always, Hooverville is where people go when they have nowhere else.

As the Doctor and Martha return to the Statue of Liberty, Martha remarks on the pig and the showgirl's unlikely pairing, saying, "there's someone for everyone". "Maybe," the Doctor responds quietly. Before they enter the TARDIS, Martha tells the Doctor how sorry she is that Dalek Caan got away, knowing how important it was to him that he finished things with the Daleks. When asked if he thinks he'll ever meet Caan again, the Doctor replies that he'll be back... the Daleks always come back.



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.

Oddly, Ailsa Berk is credited with the proper spelling of her name this episode, despite having been "Alisa" Berk in the credits for Daleks in Manhattan. Berk's first name is often somewhat mangled by BBC Wales Graphics in their preparation of the credits.


Story notes[]

  • This is the first new series episode to use the classic ...of the Daleks title format.
  • When the Cult revolts against Sec, for unexplained reasons on-screen, Nicholas Briggs changes his depiction of Dalek Caan's voice from deep and raspy to the equivalent of Dalek Sec's pitch and never reverts to the original tone. During David Tennant's video diary for this episode while it is in mid-production, Briggs reveals that Caan's voice starts to go up higher because he's become the commander of the group, and thus changes in demeanour. Personally, Briggs did this to alleviate the painful toll on his throat from continuing with a gruff impression. Briggs chose the gravelly portrayal during Caan's debut back in series 2, knowing he had only one line, and discussed the business of altering his voice with Russell T Davies. Likewise, he made sure Dalek Jast would have the least lines because of his "ridiculous"-sounding high-pitched voice.
  • When promoting the US television debut of this episode on The Sci Fi Channel in late 2007, the network created a TV spot comprised of the scene in which the Doctor tells the Daleks to kill him, which then immediately cuts to the wide shot of the Daleks killing Solomon. The spot created the false impression that the Daleks would kill the Doctor in this episode.
  • This marks the demise of Daleks Sec, Thay and Jast. Dalek Caan does not return until the Series 4 2-part finale, "The Stolen Earth" and "Journey's End".
  • This is the first two part story in the revived series to not feature the inside of the TARDIS.
  • A deleted scene involved the return of the Doctor, Martha and Frank to the Hooverville with Tallulah in tow, and saw the Doctor admit to Tallulah that he'd be unable to reverse Laszlo's transformation. It was cut because it had been shot too late in the day, and so the light was insufficient.
  • Laszlo was originally supposed to die. Russell T. Davies asked Helen Raynor to alter this, as he felt the development was too depressing for the show's ethos.


  • 6.96 million viewers - BARB figures, making it the 18th most popular broadcast on British television that week.[1]
  • 6.5 million viewers - Overnight
  • 1.04 million viewers - BBC3 Repeat

Filming locations[]

  • The "theatre" scenes were filmed at the "New Theatre", Cardiff.
  • Some location filming took place in New York.

Production errors[]

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.
  • Throughout the episode, Thay, Jast and Caan's recognition codes switch.
  • When Dalek Thay confronts Sec about the latter's belief that the Daleks shouldn't be the supreme race anymore, Thay's recognition code is inverted.
  • As Dalek Thay and Dalek Jast exterminate Dalek Sec, the green light of their Dalek laser comes from above them not from in front of them as seen by the direction of shadows on them.
  • In this episode as well as the previous one a Dalek has a unique symbol which is not of the Cult but looks like Dalek Caan's symbol without the middle identification line and dot. It also has a deep voice like Caan's. So the identity of this Dalek is unknown, as all of the Cult have specified codes.
  • As the Doctor, Dalek Sec and the Pig Men look up to the human-Dalek hybrids, the superimposed shot of them is suspended in mid-air which can be clearly seen as the characters' legs have been cropped out.


Home video releases[]

External links[]