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You may wish to consult The Daleks (disambiguation) for other, similarly-named pages.

The Daleks was the second serial of season 1 of Doctor Who. Initially titled The Mutants, its most obvious contribution to the Doctor Who mythos was the introduction of the Daleks, along with the Thals and the planet Skaro. It also continued and deepened the antagonistic relationship between the First Doctor and his new human companions, Ian and Barbara, which would come to a head in the next story.

The Doctor's non-humanoid adversaries caught on immediately with the British public, as was obvious from the serial's ratings. A significant improvement over An Unearthly Child, The Daleks cemented Doctor Who's position on the 1964 BBC1 schedule.

The serial was writer Terry Nation's first for the programme. Its reception led to his recommissioning for The Keys of Marinus later in the season, as well as the return of the Daleks every season until season 5. It also was the proximate cause for Nation's financial success, since his agent had cunningly negotiated Nation's co-ownership of the Daleks.

The ramifications of this deal on the history of Doctor Who are difficult to overstate. Indeed, though agents are usually unknown and uncredited workers, this deal was known to have been negotiated by future British television legend and studio boss Beryl Vertue — mother of Sue Vertue, and mother-in-law of Steven Moffat.

Besides Nation, other production personnel made their debuts with this story, including directors Christopher Barry and Richard Martin, designer Raymond Cusick, prolific costume designer Daphne Dare, composer Tristram Cary, and future directors Michael Ferguson and Norman Stewart.

The Daleks was also the source material for a theatrical film, Dr. Who and the Daleks, and the American comic book which was an adaptation of the film. Both were the first time Doctor Who had appeared in those media. The Daleks was the basis for the first attempt to take Doctor Who to the United States market.

For the 60th Anniversary of Doctor Who on 23 November 2023, the serial was broadcast on BBC Four as The Daleks in Colour [+]Terry Nation, adapted from The Daleks (Terry Nation), Doctor Who season 1 (BBC Four, 2023). as a single 75-minute cut version in colour with new VFX, new scenes and new music. It was subsequently added to the roster of episodes on BBC iPlayer as part of the Whoniverse along with the original black and white version.


The TARDIS has brought the travellers to the planet Skaro where they meet two indigenous races — the Daleks, malicious mutant creatures encased in armoured travel machines, and the Thals, beautiful humanoids with pacifist principles. They convince the Thals of the need to fight for their own survival.

Joining forces with them and braving Skaro's many dangers, they launch a two-pronged attack on the Dalek city. The Daleks are all killed when, during the course of the fighting, their power supply is cut off.


The Dead Planet (1)[]


The travellers discover the Dalek City.

When the TARDIS arrives in a petrified jungle, the First Doctor and his companions are unaware that the planet is highly radioactive. The Doctor is eager to explore a futuristic city that they discover beyond the forest. Ian and Barbara insist on returning to the ship. On the way back to the TARDIS, Susan is separated from the rest of the crew and believes she is touched by a human-like hand. Once back at the ship, Susan is disconsolate that nobody believes her, and Barbara complains that she feels unwell. There is a knocking from outside the TARDIS, but the scanners show nobody outside. This provokes Ian and Barbara to demand that the Doctor remove them from this place. He seemingly complies, but, determined to get his way, the Doctor sabotages the TARDIS, claiming that mercury is needed for the fluid link. The only place to find mercury is in the city.

The next morning, when the travellers emerge from the TARDIS, they find a small metal box outside. It holds vials filled with an amber liquid, seemingly dropped by whoever knocked the previous night. Susan places the box in the ship for safekeeping, then the four travellers head off to the mysterious city. It is built entirely of metal, with doorways shaped as squat, rounded arches. The travellers separate. Barbara walks down a series of corridors while doors close behind her as she continues forward. She becomes aware that she is trapped. A strange creature emerges, threatening her with a metal arm.

The Survivors (2)[]

You may be looking for the audio story of the same name.

Searching for Barbara, Ian, Susan and the Doctor enter a room full of machines, including a Geiger counter, which confirms they've been exposed to radiation. They realise the gravity of the situation, prompting the Doctor to admit his sabotage of the fluid link and that they should leave immediately, abandoning Barbara. This causes more mistrust between them. Frustrated by the Doctor's deception, Ian takes the fluid link hostage to ensure the Doctor helps him look for Barbara. As they leave the room, they are surrounded by beings known as Daleks, who imprison them. Ian tries to run but is shot by the Daleks, rendering his legs paralysed. They are locked up alongside Barbara.

The Daleks summon the Doctor and interrogate him. They explain they are survivors of a neutronic war with the Thals, inhabitants of the planet, which has caused mutations to both races. The Daleks are now confined to their travel machines and limited to the boundaries of their metallic city. The Doctor persuades the Daleks that the travellers will die from radiation sickness if no drugs are found. The Daleks order one of them to leave straight away. The Doctor and Barbara are each too unwell and Ian is still paralysed, so Susan is sent to retrieve the vials that were left outside the TARDIS. She makes her way out of the city and back into the petrified forest, followed by a mysterious figure. The Daleks reveal that when the drugs are returned to their city they shall take them and leave the travellers to die. Having collected the anti-radiation drugs in the TARDIS, Susan prepares herself for the return journey.

The Escape (3)[]


Prisoners of the Daleks.

Outside the TARDIS, Susan encounters a stranger. He is a striking, handsome blond man named Alydon. His appearance proves his race, the Thals, have not suffered the same disfiguring mutations as the Daleks. Alydon is surprised to hear the Daleks are still alive. His race believes they were wiped out during the neutronic war. He explains that he brought the drugs to Susan and gives her more, saying the Daleks should not be trusted. She should keep the second stash secret. He explains that the Thals have travelled many miles across the planet in search of food, as their race is near starvation. They hope to establish a treaty for food with the Daleks. Susan heads off to the Dalek city, while Alydon returns to the Thal encampment and tells his friends about his encounter, hoping Susan can broker a peace and trade agreement.

Susan reaches her friends and passes round the drugs, telling them the Thals are looking for peace and food. The Daleks overhear this and imply acceptance to a treaty, asking in return that the Thals help them cultivate the land, but in reality, they are plotting revenge and extermination of their old enemies. The message of peace is conveyed to the Thals, who are invited to collect food from the entrance hall to the Dalek city the following day. They believe this a genuine sign of friendship as Susan promised them that if the message was signed by her name it would be genuine.

Having recovered from the radiation sickness, the Doctor's party stages an argument amongst themselves that breaks out into a fight. In the ensuing struggle, Susan breaks the camera that has been recording their movement in the cell. Using this new-found freedom to talk, the four speculate that the Daleks are powered by static electricity due to the fact that the floors are made of metal and that the smell of dodgems comes off them. Ian theorises that if they were to break the circuit between the Dalek and the floor, it would become inert. Susan reveals that Alydon gave her a cloak they could use to achieve this. Barbara states that even if this was possible, the Dalek appears to be able to see very well with his eyestalk, so it would be very hard to achieve. However, she devises a plan to use the dirt off of Susan's shoes mixed with water to create mud. The next time a Dalek comes with their food, the captives jam the door, forcing the creature to return into the cell. The four overpower him.

They open the Dalek, removing the creature inside so they can use the robotic shell as a means of escape. The monstrosity within is wrapped in Alydon's cloak and dumped. Ian squeezes into the casing. They exit the cell. An alien claw emerges from the cloak...

The Ambush (4)[]

You may be looking for the DWM short story.

The ruse works when Ian discovers how to control the Dalek internally, rather than have the Doctor push him. They are stopped by another Dalek. Ian tells it that he is one of them and is taking the three human prisoners for further questioning. However, when the same Dalek makes enquiries, it discovers it has been duped and sounds the alarm.

In the meantime, the Doctor has magnetically locked the door to stop the Daleks from getting to them. The girls and he try to get Ian out of the casing, but the catch is stuck. As the Daleks burn through the door, Ian convinces them to get in the lift and escape. After much persuasion, they leave Ian behind. Once safe, they send the lift down for Ian. The Daleks enter the room and blast through the Dalek casing to find it empty. Ian has escaped just in time and gotten in the lift. Once he has joined the other three, the Dalek summons the lift to catch up with them.

Dalek cutting tool

The Daleks begin to cut through the door.

Ian and his friends find themselves at a window, where they observe the Thals arriving to collect the food. The four shout to alert them that it is an ambush, but the Thals cannot hear. The four notice the lift is coming up. The Doctor prises open a door to escape. Ian, Susan, and Barbara throw a Dalek sculpture down the lift shaft to slow the approaching Dalek. By this time the Doctor has gotten the door open and they escape. Once outside, Ian decides to go back and warn the Thals of their danger whilst the others run to safety.

As the Thals take the food, the elder, Temmosus, decides to plea with the Daleks for a longer-lasting truce where in return he offers to work with the Daleks to create food and a stable environment. Unbeknownst to the Thals, they are being surrounded by Daleks. Ian, watching this all unfold, shouts to the Thals that it's a trap, and many escape. However, Temmosus is exterminated.

The surviving Thals, including Alydon, regroup with Ian and join the Doctor, Susan and Barbara at the Thal encampment. A young Thal named Dyoni provides a history of the planet Skaro from a Thal perspective for the Doctor. It seems that the Daleks were once known as Dals, humanoids similar to Thals. They mutated into their current forms following the neutronic war. The Thals have reacted to their history by adopting pacifism as a creed even though their history reveals them as warriors. Ian attempts to convince the Thals they'll need to fight the Daleks to survive, but the Doctor suggests they leave. To everyone's horror, they discover they can't. The fluid link held by Ian was taken from him when Daleks searched him. The fluid link is in the city, and the four are trapped on Skaro.

The Expedition (5)[]


The Daleks make plans.

After trying to convince the Thals that they should be more aggressive towards the Daleks, Ian spurs Alydon to display aggression by threatening to take Dyoni to the Daleks as a trade for the fluid link. The new Thal leader hits him. This act of violence spurs the Thals into using violence only as a means to do good, and the Thals agree to help the TARDIS crew. One group will accompany Ian and Barbara as they cross the swamp to the rear of the city situated near a radioactive lake filled with mutants. They can enter the city unseen through a back entrance. The other group, led by the Doctor and Susan, will act as a decoy, entering through the front door.

While the Daleks seem to have rudimentary abilities to film what is going on in the jungle, they cannot hear the gang hatching their plan. They are soon distracted. The Daleks' use of the anti-radiation medication left by the travellers has a bad effect on them. Two-fifths of the Daleks fall ill. The Daleks deduce they have become immune to radiation and in fact, thrive on it. They decide to increase the levels of radiation on Skaro by deploying another neutronic bomb. Whilst this would sustain the Dalek race, it would be impossible for the Thals to survive.

The attack party heading for the Lake of Mutations makes good progress on their lengthy journey. Four Thals, Elyon, Kristas, Ganatus, and Antodus, accompany Barbara and Ian. Ganatus and Antodus are brothers and have been to the lake before with fatal consequences to two of their party. The lake contains many mutated beings from the fallout of the neutronic war. Ian soon spots a multi-tentacled creature in the water. The next morning Ian discovers a series of pipes that suck the water from the lake into the city. They prepare for their journey and Elyon goes to the lake to fill the water bags. However, a whirlpool begins to form and Elyon screams for help. The others at the camp run to investigate...

The Ordeal (6)[]


The Doctor and Susan are captured.

Elyon is dead, but even though the Thals are upset, especially Antodus, the party must continue with their journey and climb the mountain to complete their end of the plan.

At the front of the city, the Doctor's party block the Daleks' video and radio communication masks by beaming light at the top of the masts to scramble the images they get. They use this radio silence to sneak into the city.

Whilst this plan is being put into action, the Dalek leaders receive the news that it would take twenty-three days to create a neutronic bomb powerful enough to sustain radiation to ensure the Daleks' survival. As the Daleks absorb this news, the Doctor and Susan sabotage a static electricity control box. The Doctor asks Susan to hand over her TARDIS key and drops it into a wall panel to draw power away from the system, promising her he can always make a new key if necessary. Susan points out a second panel, which the Doctor rewires to short-circuit. It destroys some of the Daleks' computer terminals. Unfortunately, their activity alerts the Daleks, who soon surround them. They are taken to the city's control centre and are told of the Dalek plan to irradiate the entire planet. Instead of dropping a neutronic bomb, the Daleks will blow up their nuclear reactors to create the radiation.

Meanwhile, Ian's party has found a tunnel that should lead to the Dalek city. They drop into a crevasse that heads directly to the city. Antodus tries to persuade his fellow Thals that they should turn back, saying even if they survive the journey, the Daleks will kill them. While they argue, a rockfall occurs. It injures Antodus and blocks any chance of retreat. The only way is onward — and a vast chasm is their next hurdle. Ian jumps first, followed by the second Thal, who discovers another tunnel they can use. One by one the party has to jump across, supported by a rope that Ian ties to a rock and then around himself. The last to jump is Antodus, who loses his footing and falls into the abyss, his weight breaking the rock and dragging Ian toward the edge.

The Rescue (7)[]

You may be looking for the Season 2 serial of the same name.
Daleks and neutron bomb

The Daleks prepare their bomb.

Antodus sacrifices his life to save the others by cutting the rope and letting himself fall. The others press on and soon find themselves at a dead-end, with their light fading. They discuss going back; however, as the light cuts out, they see a light from a hole in the cliff and find an entrance to the city.

The Daleks have now taken the Doctor and Susan to their control room. They tell him of their plans to wipe out all other life on Skaro so they can thrive in the neutronic fallout. In desperation, the Doctor says that he will help the Daleks build another TARDIS. They say they can do this themselves and don't need the Doctor to help them.

At the front of the city, Alydon has also led another band of Thals in an assault, hoping to rescue the Doctor and Susan. By luck, this party meets Ian's gang and they elect to attack the Dalek control centre at the same time. Together they destroy the Dalek apparatus and prevent the radiation release. They also disable the power source for the Daleks in the city. The creatures become immobile and soon die, but not before they beg the Doctor to repair their system, to which he responds that he wouldn't even if he knew how. The Thals are disgusted by all the death but are grateful that their struggle is finally over.

They all return to the Thal camp — this time with the fluid link — and the Doctor and his party make their farewells and return to the TARDIS. It is revealed that Barbara and Ganatus have been having something of a romance; he kisses her hand just as she is called into the TARDIS.

As soon as they are in flight, there is an explosion on the console and the four travellers fall to the floor.



Uncredited crew[]



  • Ganatus is aware of some cultural conventions on Earth.


  • The creatures inside the Dalek armours cannot survive for very long outside their protective casings, indicating their casings employ crucial life support systems.
  • The Daleks use a paralysing ray against Ian Chesterton, which affects the mobility in his legs.
  • After some of their own have been poisoned by the Thal anti-radiation drug, the Daleks determine their race need radiation.



  • Antodus mentions Amezus, one of the members from their previous expedition.

Foods and beverages[]

The Doctor[]

  • The Doctor has a pair of reading glasses he uses to examine written and illustrated works.
  • The Doctor has knowledge of the star systems on an astrological chart belonging to the Thals.
  • The Doctor said that he was once a pioneer amongst his own people.


  • The Doctor's TARDIS uses mercury as a fluid.
  • The Doctor calls the radiation measuring equipment in the city "advanced". The equipment includes something that resembles a seismograph and a dial with the word DANGER.
  • Daleks draw static electricity from the metal floors.
  • The Doctor tells Ian a neutron bomb destroys life. The Daleks plan to launch another neutron bomb but abandon the idea as it takes too long.
  • Daleks can create food using synthetic sunlight.
  • The Doctor compares the TARDIS food machine process of producing different flavours to combining primary colours.


  • Barbara has a headache.
  • The Doctor and his companions suffer from radiation exposure.


  • A working title for this story was Beyond the Sun.[7]
  • This is the first story to feature the Daleks and the Thals.
  • The Magnedon becomes the first alien being (other than the Doctor and Susan) to appear in the series.
  • This story is featured in a top 50 magic moments feature in DWM 467.
  • Sydney Newman and head of serials Donald Wilson were unhappy with the serial, having wanted to avoid featuring "bug-eyed monsters"; however, with no other scripts prepared, they were forced to accept the serial for production.
  • The production team's final name for this serial at the time of broadcast was The Mutants, but it is now referred to as The Daleks to avoid confusion with serial NNN, the Third Doctor story of the same name. Working titles for the overall serial included The Survivors and Beyond the Sun. The working title of episode six was "The Caves of Terror" and the seventh episode was originally conceived as "The Execution".[8] The story is also sometimes referred to by the title of its first episode, The Dead Planet.
  • The original proposal, The Survivors, had the Daleks wanting to wipe out the Thals to ensure they could never start another neutronic war (unaware the Thals were now pacifist). In the seventh episode, the Thals would bring the defeated Daleks back online to discuss peace terms. By the end, the Doctor would reveal that neither side started the war: they had been attacked by an alien race. The descendants of those aliens would then arrive on Skaro, as the radiation levels had lowered, to "make reparations and assist in rebuilding the planet". Due to insufficient time and budget, this plot was cut out and the Daleks were redrafted as more obvious villains, with no "happy ending".[9] Elements of this plot were reused for the Doctor Who Unbound story Masters of War.
  • Out of universe, Terry Nation's original proposal said "the year [is] three thousand" and the neutronic war was two thousand years ago[10] - but it's never mentioned in the story whether the travellers are in the past, the present or the future. Doctor Who Monthly #75 gives the date as 150000, but this was changed in #77 to 2290. A History of the Universe arbitrarily places the story in 1963, suggesting that the Doctor was attempting to return Ian and Barbara back to their own time and succeeded, only getting the planet wrong; in AHistory the date was changed to 2263. As early as 1965, however, the short story Peaceful Thals Ambushed! gave more solid in-narrative evidence, as it claimed that the Thal-Dalek battle took place eighteen months prior to 31 July 2065, thus logically placing the events of The Daleks somewhere around January 2064. This account aligns with The Edge of Destruction, where the Doctor states that "Skaro was in the future" when compared to 1963, as well as Planet of the Daleks, which suggests the Doctor's first encounter with the Daleks occurred in "the past", generations before the 26th century. This is now generally the accepted placement of the story. In The Dalek Invasion of Earth, the Doctor states that their encounter with the Daleks occurred "a million years in the future", and implies it was towards the end of Dalek history, though he gives no indication of how he knows this - however, the Daleks themselves in this serial state that the neutronic war only took place five hundred years ago, casting doubt on the Doctor's assertion.
  • The first Dalek seen on screen (advancing towards Barbara at the end of The Dead Planet) was played by assistant floor manager Michael Ferguson.[11]
  • The Daleks were originally powered by regular electricity. Mervyn Pinfield suggested the they could instead run on static electricity.
  • This story features a rare instance where somebody survives being shot by a Dalek.
  • It was Richard Martin who suggested that the Thal anti-radiation drug be lethal to the Daleks. Original proposals were that germs from the TARDIS crew were killing them or the radiation was dropping.
  • Bands of sticky tape were affixed around the shoulder section of the Daleks after William Hartnell cut himself on one of the metal bands.
  • This story replaced previous proposals including The Hidden Planet and The Masters of Luxor.
  • Christopher Barry commissioned Tristram Cary to provide the serial's incidental score, having worked together on No Cloak — No Dagger; while Sydney Newman disliked Cary's work, Barry and Verity Lambert convinced him otherwise. Barry had heard some musique concrète music and, intrigued by it, asked Cary to compose a strange and simplistic electronic score for the serial. About twenty minutes of music was used in the serial.
  • The music from this story was reused in several stories: The Rescue, The Daleks' Master Plan, The Ark, and The Power of the Daleks.
  • Music from The Daleks was released in 2003 as part of Devil's Planet - The Music of Tristram Cary. This CD also includes tracks from The Daleks' Master Plan and (perhaps appropriately) The Mutants.
  • All episodes exist in 16mm telerecordings. The episodes were all recovered from negative film prints, which were discovered at BBC Enterprises in 1978. The negative of "The Rescue" is a dub from the positive print.
  • Telesnaps exist for "The Dead Planet", "The Daleks", "The Ambush" and "The Expedition" in private collections.
  • The designer originally assigned to this serial was Ridley Scott, later a famed film director. However, a problem with Scott's schedule meant that he was replaced by Raymond Cusick, who was therefore given the task of realising the Dalek creatures.
  • It was during the filming of this serial that American president John F. Kennedy was assassinated; the very next day, Doctor Who made its public debut when the first episode of An Unearthly Child was broadcast.
  • This was one of the stories selected to be shown as part of BSB's Doctor Who Weekend in September 1990.
  • "The Rescue" is the first episode of Doctor Who in which the (de)-materialisation of the TARDIS is achieved through the in-camera technique of "roll back and mix". This effect was extraordinarily difficult in the 1960s, which is why it was only done a few times in the monochromatic era of the programme.[8] As camera technology improved over the years, it became fairly straightforward, even easy, to do. In the 21st century, it's commonly seen on chat shows and Blue Peter whenever Doctor Who guests arrive or depart.
  • The creature housed inside the Dalek casing was conceived as being somewhat toad- or frog-like in appearance, with a massive brain, by Raymond Cusick; a small webbed claw is visible in the transmitted story, though the full Dalek creature is kept tastefully hidden. Later stories would retcon Dalek mutants to instead look like deformed, fleshy octopuses, with a number of uneven tentacles instead of fully-developed limbs.
  • In the original script, the dangers facing Ian, Barbara and the Thals in the mountains were different — they originally included mutated spiders and a fiery gas fissure.
  • In the original script, the Doctor and Susan were sentenced to be executed in a "sonic chamber".
  • In the original script, much was made of a forthcoming "great rain" — a periodic meteorological event on Skaro — which would reduce the radiation levels enough to permit the Daleks to emerge from their city and confront the Thals.
    • Although the plot's development hinges on the discovery by the Daleks that they have grown dependent on Skaro's radiation to survive, this fact has only sporadically been referenced by later stories, which present Daleks as galactic conquerors who routinely travel away from Skaro and conquer other worlds. The Dalek World’s Inside a Skaro Saucer provided David Whitaker and Terry Nation's answer to this discrepancy: all Dalek flying saucers are outfitted with "radiation rooms" where Dalek soldiers must come at least once a month to get themselves bombarded with all the radiation they need. The 2020 audio drama, Return to Skaro, would offer the explanation that the next generation of Daleks, having been suspended in a radiation-free environment for decades, overcame their dependence on it. Return to Skaro also tries to reconcile the apparent death of the Daleks in this serial with their subsequent appearances (the first attempt made in any media to explain this) by retroactively asserting that the next generation of Daleks and the retroactively introduced Dalek Supreme had survived by going into hibernation in a level sealed off prior to the destruction of the Daleks' power supply.
  • According to Raymond Cusick's obituary, he originally planned for the Dalek skirts to contain bulbs that would light up. This would require a car battery inside the Dalek. It was rejected because car batteries were too expensive.
  • The creature housed inside the Dalek casing was originally conceived as being frog-like in appearance.
  • Carole Ann Ford was surprised by the serial's success, claiming that when the Daleks prodded her, she wanted to laugh.
  • Alan Wheatley was chosen to portray Temmosus, the leader of the Thals, having worked with William Hartnell in The Flying Doctor episode "The Changing Plain".
  • David Markham was originally considered for Temmosus.
  • Dinsdale Landen was chosen to play Ganatus, but production date changes forced him to drop out of the serial; he was replaced by Philip Bond, with whom Christopher Barry had worked on No Cloak — No Dagger.
  • Virginia Wetherell was cast as the female Thal named Dyoni, having previously worked with Richard Martin.
  • The names of the Thals were revised in the final script: Temmosus was originally Stohl, Alydon was Vahn, Ganatus was Kurt, Kristas was Jahl, Antodus was Ven, Dyoni was Daren (a man originally), and Elyon was Zhor.
  • Raymond Cusick originally wanted six Daleks. Budget constraints meant he was allocated four.
  • Four actors were chosen as Dalek operators, due to their small stature and muscular ability: Robert Jewell, Kevin Manser, Michael Summerton and Gerald Taylor; Christopher Barry knew Manser as a sensitive actor who reacted well to voices, while Richard Martin knew Taylor through repertory theatre.
  • Due to the Daleks' electronic voices, it was considered impractical for the actors inside the machines to also deliver the dialogue. As a result, the Dalek voices were performed off-set by Peter Hawkins and David Graham.
  • Christopher Barry contacted the Post Office's Joint Speech Research Unit for information on electronic voices. Two samples were provided: one using a vocoder with low and medium monotone pitch; and one using written computer characters, generating a sound which was less human but more time-consuming. While Barry enjoyed these methods, the BBC opted to develop its own method to achieve a similar effect, as some of the Dalek speech was required in studio during production. Richard Martin worked with Brian Hodgson of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop to find suitable tones; ultimately, the actors spoke through a lip-ribbon microphone, which was later given an electronic quality after passing through a ring modulator.
  • The final Dalek models stood at four-foot eight-inches, painted in silver with grey trimmings, and light blue balls on the skirt; the lights on the domes were Christmas tree lights covered by a ping-pong ball, operated by the actor inside.
  • Raymond Cusick based the design of the Daleks on a man sitting in a chair. His goal was to create a monster which would not simply look like a man in a costume; he found particular inspiration in Terry Nation's description of the Daleks as gliding about like the long-skirted Georgian State Dancers.
  • Raymond Cusick's original design was tubular, with a plain skirt section, bumpy midriff with one pincer arm, and a short head with an eye-lens; Verity Lambert rejected this design as being too expensive. It was decided that the designs should be more comfortable for the actors, allowing them to be seated. Cusick's second design was shorter, with a diamond-patterned body and larger head, and two double-jointed claw arms; one of the arms was replaced by a suction cup, due to the low budget of the production. The design was refined to fit over a small tricycle, and the arms were moved further down to allow the operator to see out of a metal gauze above the midriff. Lights were added to the dome to indicate which Dalek was speaking, as suggested by Christopher Barry.
  • Shawcraft Models — who had designed parts of the TARDIS set — worked with Raymond Cusick to design the Daleks; when Cusick met with Shawcraft's Bill Roberts to discuss the project, he used a pepper pot to demonstrate the Daleks' movements. The prototype (known internally as "Shawcraft One") had a wooden base, with the skirt section made using fibreglass. It stood at four-foot six-inches, allowing a small seated actor inside. The BBC approved of Shawcraft's designs, allowing three weeks for the final models.
  • This story was ranked as Doctor Who Magazine readers' favourite First Doctor story in their first three polls. In 2023, it was demoted to fifth and replaced by The Dalek Invasion of Earth.[12]
  • The reason this serial has two directors is because Christopher Barry was busy working on the mini-series Smuggler's Bay.
  • Michael Ferguson doubled as the hand that tapped Susan on the shoulder (later revealed to be Alydon) and held up the Dalek sucker arm at the end of the first episode.
  • Raymond Cusick was very disappointed with the Dalek city miniature constructed by Shawcraft Models. The firm had followed his rough design drawing too faithfully, and as a result it was very small and lacked detail. He had no choice, but to use it. During a delay in filming, Shawcraft were given time to refine it.
  • The first episode had to be remade because talk-back from the production assistant's headphones could be heard on the soundtrack. This remount also allowed the designers to make a better model of the Dalek City.
  • The first episode had to be remounted when the communications from Christopher Barry to production assistant Norman Stewart, via the latter's headphones, had accidentally been picked up by the studio microphones, rendering the entire day's work unusable. This was a source of concern for Jacqueline Hill, because she was pessimistic that the series would be renewed beyond its first block of episodes, and an extra week of work on the series threatened to interfere with a potential film role. Carole Ann Ford took advantage of the remount to change her costume. The only bit of the original episode to be re-used was the cliffhanger, which was the opening to the second episode.
  • It had a budget of £5000 an episode.[6]
  • Terry Nation wrote a twenty-six page outline and drew inspiration from his childhood during World War II and the threat of racial extermination by the Nazis.
  • The Magendon prop was expensive to produce and Verity Lambert kept it in her office.
  • The draft script for "The Rescue" originally contained a scene where the Daleks sent out a neutron bomb from the city, which came to rest near the TARDIS. The Doctor later defused the bomb.
  • Terry Nation was initially uninterested in writing for the series because of his commitments to Tony Hancock's stage tour. He changed his mind after parting ways with Hancock following an argument.
  • Having grown up during World War II, Terry Nation was inspired by the atrocities the Nazis committed as a result of their zeal for racial purity and their dislike for the unlike. The threat of atomic war was also a timely concern, with the Cuban Missile Crisis having been a recent focal point for tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union, both nuclear superpowers.
  • This was originally meant to be the fourth story of season one, airing after Marco Polo, with Anthony Coburn's The Masters of Luxor being the second serial. It was then was shifted back to fifth in the running order to make way for an ultimately unsuccessful attempt by Robert Gould to revive C. E. Webber's miniturisation idea. However, David Whitaker and Verity Lambert were becoming increasingly unhappy with Coburn's work, and additional rewrites on An Unearthly Child meant that The Masters of Luxor would not be completed in time for its intended recording dates. With this serial being the only one ready to go before the cameras on such short notice, the decision was made on to swap the stories round. Coburn's serial would eventually be abandoned altogether. Donald Wilson was unhappy with this decision, feeling that it represented low-grade science-fiction, lacking the educational bent he had envisioned. However, Wilson reluctantly agreed that the lack of available scripts meant there was little choice but to proceed with it.


  • "The Dead Planet" - 6.9 million viewers
  • "The Survivors" - 6.4 million viewers
  • "The Escape" - 8.9 million viewers
  • "The Ambush" - 9.9 million viewers
  • "The Expedition" - 9.9 million viewers
  • "The Ordeal" - 10.4 million viewers
  • "The Rescue" - 10.4 million viewers


  • Terry Nation named the Daleks after seeing the "Dal-Ek" volume of an encyclopedic dictionary. (He actually made up the name, but invented this as a story to tell the press.)
  • There was a transmission fault at the start of "The Dead Planet" that meant the opening moments were in negative. (This was intentional on the part of the production team, who wanted to create the impression of intense heat on the surface of Skaro.)
  • This story was intended to feature a Glass Dalek, but this was changed due to budget constraints. (The idea of the Glass Dalek was created by David Whitaker only for his novelisation of the story. A Glass Dalek did however later appear in the Sixth Doctor story, Revelation of the Daleks.)
  • Electronic interference on the original tape meant that "The Dead Planet" needed to be remade. ("The Dead Planet" was remade, but this was because instructions being relayed to the studio from the control gallery were clearly audible on the original recording.)
  • Raymond Cusick based the shape of the Daleks on pepper pots. (The shape of the Daleks was actually based on a man sitting on a chair. The inspiration for the movement of the Daleks was a woman moving in a ballroom gown, seemingly gliding as her feet were not visible. Specifically, the Georgian State Dancers, whose large wide dresses gave the impression that they were gliding along the floor. Cusick did, however, use a pepper pot – though he could just as easily picked up the salt pot! – in the BBC canteen to demonstrate to a colleague how he envisioned the Daleks moving.)
  • Shawcraft, the company who made some of the special effects for Doctor Who until 1969 and also built the main Dalek props, had built a prototype prop before actual work began. (A rough mock-up was made at the BBC, but this was not built by Shawcraft.)

Filming locations[]

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.
  • In "The Dead Planet", a wind machine blows the forest backdrop as well as Ian's hair.
  • In "The Dead Planet", when the Doctor bends down to get the mercury fluid link, a black wire covered in insulation can be seen lying on the floor.
  • In "The Survivors", a Dalek has faulty lights and an eye that will not turn on.
  • In "The Survivors", when Susan is running through the jungle, voices in the filming studio can be heard.
  • Early in the episode, when Ian, Susan and the Doctor are talking in a corridor, the shadow of a boom mic can be seen on Ian's face.
  • Just before the Doctor, Susan, and Ian are escorted into the cell (just after the camera has panned across from Barbara to the cell door), the Dalek voice effect's volume is low (or off) and misses the word "stop," (heard in the background) but is back at full volume for "here." (This fault is corrected on the DVD release.)
  • In "The Escape", in one shot of the interior of the Dalek city, the shadow of a boom mic is clearly visible.
  • The creature rising out of the swamp is supported on a rubber ring, which is inflated to give the impression of movement. The rubber ring becomes clearly visible as it is inflated.
  • In "The Ordeal", the rock Barbara grabs is an obvious fake — she ends up with polystyrene on her hand afterwards.
  • In "The Ordeal", when the Thals are jumping across the chasm, Ian grabs onto the rock wall when he lands. His handhold breaks off with the rip of tearing Styrofoam, and the white spot where it was is visible for the rest of the scene.
  • In "The Ordeal", one of the Daleks rattles as it moves down a corridor.
  • When Ian and Ganatus see how far a cliff is in order to get to a cleft on the other side, Ian throws a pebble down. The sound of the pebble hitting the real production floor can be heard before the sound effect of the pebble hitting the bottom of the drop.
  • In a scene in which a Dalek succumbs to the effects of the Thals' drugs, the Daleks in the background are flat photographic blow-ups. The wooden bases on which they are supported are visible at the bottom of the shot. A change of camera angle makes the flatness of the blow-ups obvious.
  • In "The Dead Planet" when Susan runs to check the fault indicator, the TARDIS console shifts.
  • The Dalek that calls for assistance early in "The Escape" can be heard to move on unoiled casters, destroying the impression that it glides along the floor.
  • Towards the end, it is nowadays obvious that much use is being made of photographic blow-up Daleks where at the time of broadcast, it may not have been.
  • In "The Ordeal", a Dalek turns to consult some instruments and crashes into them.
  • In "The Ordeal", when Ian grabs the rock wall, William Russell ends up with a chunk of white polystyrene in his hand.
  • When the Doctor shorts a Dalek control panel, the explosion happens early.
  • In "The Rescue", during the countdown sequence, a long panning shot has part of the TARDIS wall in the background.
  • In "The Rescue", one of the Thals exterminated during the final assault begins to collapse before the Daleks' weapon is heard firing.


Home video and audio releases[]

DVD releases[]

This story was released (as Doctor Who: The Daleks), together with An Unearthly Child and The Edge of Destruction, as part of The Beginning DVD box set.


PAL - Roadshow ????

Special Features[]

Box sets[]

This story was released along with An Unearthly Child and The Edge of Destruction in a box set called The Beginning.

NTSC - Warner Video E2489

Digital releases[]

This story is available:

  • in iTunes stores (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, UK and US) as part of the Doctor Who (not Doctor Who: The Classic Series) collection Monsters: The Daleks, which additionally includes the story Asylum of the Daleks (all episodes are given as The Daleks, Episode 1, etc. without mentioning individual episodes' titles);
  • on Amazon Video (UK) as Season 2 of Doctor Who (Classic) series;
  • for streaming through BritBox (US and UK) as part of Season 1 of Classic Doctor Who.

Video release[]

Original release[]

This story was released as Doctor Who: The Daleks - The Dead Planet and Doctor Who: The Daleks - The Expedition, two separate volumes held together with sticky tape.

  • A fade-to-black in "The Dead Planet" — after the Doctor holds up the fluid link and chuckles to himself — has for reasons unexplained been shortened. As a result of this edit, the Doctor's chuckle cuts off abruptly when the following scene fades up.
  • The lead-in to The Edge of Destruction and the "Next Episode" caption have been removed from "The Rescue".


PAL - BBC Video BBCV4242 (2 tapes)
PAL - Polygram BBCV4242 (2 tapes)
NTSC - CBS/FOX Video 8253 (2 tapes)
NTSC - Warner Video E1275 (2 tapes)

Second release[]

This story was released as Doctor Who: The Daleks (Remastered). It was an unedited, remastered edition that the BBC originally intended to release in a box set with An Unearthly Child and The Edge of Destruction. They changed their plans and decided to release each story individually.


PAL - BBC Video BBCV6960 (2 tapes)
PAL - Roadshow 6960 (1 tape)

Script book[]

External links[]



  1. Most likely date based on in-universe evidence. Conflicting statements given by real world sources date this story differently; details can be found in Notes.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 INFO: "The Ordeal"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 INFO: "The Survivors"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 INFO: "The Rescue"
  4. INFO: "The Forest of Fear"
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 INFO: "The Dead Planet"
  6. 6.0 6.1 Doctor Who: TV crew member recalls genesis of the Daleks on BBC News
  7. DWM 331[which?]
  8. 8.0 8.1 Doctor Who The Handbook: The First Doctor
  9. Doctor Who 50 Years #1: The Daleks - "The Survivors" (May 2013)
  10. Doctor Who 50 Years #1: The Daleks - "The Survivors" page 21
  11. DCOM: The War Machines
  12. DWM 589[which?]