Day of the Daleks ****

The third Doctor's first encounter with the Daleks and Ogrons takes him to the 22nd century

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Doctor Who story guide
Patrick Mulkern
Patrick Mulkern
Day of the Daleks ****

Season 9 – Story 60

"You are the Doctor! You are an enemy of the Daleks! Now you are in our power, you will be exterminated!" - Chief Dalek

Storyline
Unit's task of maintaining security for a second world peace conference comes under threat when guerrillas arrive from the future to assassinate British diplomat, Sir Reginald Styles. The Doctor and Jo are transported to the 22nd century where the human race has been subjugated by ape-like Ogrons and their masters - the Daleks. The Doctor must stop the freedom fighters taking action in our time by which, unwittingly, they will predetermine the day of the Daleks…

First transmissions 
Episode 1 - Saturday 1 January 1972
Episode 2 - Saturday 8 January 1972
Episode 3 - Saturday 15 January 1972
Episode 4 - Saturday 22 January 1972

Production
Location filming: September 1971 at Dropmore Park, Burnham, Bucks; Bull's Bridge, Grand Union Canal, Hayes, Middlesex; Harvey House flats, Brentford, Middlesex
Studio recording: October 1971 in TC4, October/November 1971 in TC8

Cast
Doctor Who - Jon Pertwee
Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart - Nicholas Courtney

Jo Grant - Katy Manning

Captain Mike Yates - Richard Franklin
Sergeant Benton - John Levene
Controller - Aubrey Woods
Anat - Anna Barry
Shura - Jimmy Winston
Boaz - Scott Fredericks
Sir Reginald Styles - Wilfrid Carter
Miss Paget - Jean McFarlane
Guerrilla - Tim Condren
Technician - Deborah Brayshaw
UNIT radio operator - Gypsie Kemp
Monia - Valentine Palmer
Manager - Peter Hill
Senior guard - Andrew Carr
Guard at work centre - George Raistrick
Television reporter - Alex MacIntosh
Chief Dalek - John Scott Martin
Daleks - Ricky Newby, Murphy Grumbar
Dalek voices - Oliver Gilbert, Peter Messaline
Ogrons - Rick Lester, Maurice Bush, David Joyce, Frank Menzies, Bruce Wells, Geoffrey Todd

Crew
Writer - Louis Marks
Incidental music - Dudley Simpson
Designer - David Myerscough-Jones
Script editor - Terrance Dicks
Producer - Barry Letts
Director - Paul Bernard

RT Review by Patrick Mulkern

What bliss it was being a Doctor Who fan in the Christmas holidays in 1971. First, on 28 December, we were treated to a "complete adventure" repeat of The Daemons - in effect, a Christmas special and, with 10.5 million viewers, the highest-rated episode since 1965. And then BBC1 began trailing a brand-new series coming on New Year's Day. The specially shot film showed Daleks gliding alongside the Thames, chanting "Exterminate! Exterminate!" Tremendously exciting!


This footage sadly doesn't feature in the actual episodes and has now been lost in time. But it ensured that 9.8 million viewers caught the Daleks' return to Doctor Who after an absence of four and a half years - for the first time in colour. And the event was captured by Frank Bellamy's dramatic artwork on the Radio Times cover. The day of the Daleks was nigh, but would it be worth the wait?

The title echoes The Day of the Jackal, recently published in 1971. And while Frederick Forsyth's bestseller deals with a plot to assassinate Charles de Gaulle, scriptwriter Louis Marks depicts an attack on fictional peacemaker Sir Reginald Styles, albeit with assassins from the future, trapped in a temporal paradox. No Daleks featured in Marks' initial submission; they were an adornment from Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks, who wanted to launch their third season with a bang. Fortunately, Dalek creator Terry Nation approved the scripts, calling them " a very good and exciting batch of episodes".

Three dilapidated 1960s Daleks were broken out of storage and their blue-and-white livery obliterated with gold and dark grey paint, more suitable for colour TV. The Daleks always make an impact, although it now seems clear that, in the intervening years, the BBC forgot how to shoot them at their best. The props look static and their extra-staccato voices bear none of the characterful inflection achieved by Peter Hawkins in the 1960s.

More successful are the Daleks' brutal minions, the Ogrons. They're the stuff of nightmares, appearing from thin air to clump people, and are a triumph for visual effects designer John Friedlander, who sculpted their latex half-masks. In one shocking lapse, we see the Doctor, who normally abhors weapons of any kind, vaporise an Ogron with a ray gun.

Otherwise it's a strong story for Pert. He's in full connoisseurial and name-dropping mode at Styles's house. A time-travelling rebel himself, the Doctor gains the trust of the freedom fighters and relishes pointing out how their own actions will trigger their dystopian future. Of Jewish descent, Louis Marks styled these guerrillas after Israeli terrorists and gave them suitably Hebrew-sounding names: Boaz, Monia, Shura and Anat (Anna Barry, particularly strong in her first TV role).

The Doctor also shows the Controller the error of his ways: "You, sir, are a quisling." Aubrey Woods is superb in the role, barely villainous at all - despite dressing like the Master. I also like his sour-faced female technicians waving their palms over futuristic control desks. Why this human elite has waxen faces in never explained. Nor are any years specified in our hearing. "Now you've told me the year," the Controller says to Jo, in a clear move from Letts and Dicks to avoid dating the Unit milieu.

The cliffhangers are well staged, with episode three ending thrillingly on the Daleks the closest yet to exterminating their archenemy. Strapped down on a mind analysis machine, the Time Lord is forced to reveal his identity. Images of Hartnell and Troughton flash across a screen, as the Daleks begin their extermination chant. Almost like an epitaph, "Dr Who Jon Pertwee" appears over the final shot before the credit sequence begins.

Jon Pertwee never saw the appeal of the Daleks and Katy Manning cites this as her least favourite story. I adored it as a child but, of course, memory cheats. The sequence of dozens of Daleks and Ogrons streaming from a spooky railway tunnel, exterminating Unit soldiers, once seemed iconic, but now it's abundantly clear the same three Daleks and handful of Ogrons were filmed again and again. Several especially enfeebling shots show their small party advancing across the lawn to Styles's house.

Unit is also effectively sidelined, making the first of only two appearances this season. There's fleeting humour between beefy Benton and insipid Yates, while the poor Brig sweats over another world peace conference (cf The Mind of Evil). He spends most of his time in an office monitoring the diplomatic debacle via unconvincing tannoy reports and phone calls.

Despite such failings, Day of the Daleks is pacey, thought-provoking entertainment and has stood the test of time better than some of its contemporaries.

- - -

What Katy did next…
“That story irritated me. Jon and I had just come back from Ibiza and the director Paul Bernard was a lovely man but it was very much action, action, action! And I honestly felt they made a huge mistake with all those guys going round shooting at Daleks. It was stupid. I lost it. But I did enjoy the motorbike chase in that where Jon and I fled from the Ogrons. Had a lovely time doing that.” 

(Talking to RT, April 2012) 

Radio Times archive material

The fabulous RT cover

RT’s coverage went into overdrive with a Win a Dalek competition and a profile of Katy Manning at home in Chiswick. Henceforth every Pertwee billing was adorned with a thumbnail cartoon, which in the days before overt publicity, often provided fans with a mini-spoiler. 

RT billings 
episodes 1 & 2 and trails    episodes 3 & 4 and repeat (3 Sept 1973)

[Available on BBC DVD]

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