Doctor Who: Why are Daleks scary?

Daleks represent the very worst of the very worst, says editor of Doctor Who Adventures magazine Moray Laing

Doctor Who: Why are Daleks scary?
Written By
Moray Laing

'Exterminate! Exterminate! Ex-ter-min-aaaaate!’

When I was young boy I had a recurring dream featuring the Daleks, one of Doctor Who's most resilient and well-known creations. They were the first monsters to appear in the series and arguably helped secure the programme’s future. Their metallic cries have captured the imaginations of millions of viewers throughout Doctor Who’s 50 year history.

Strangely, at the time I started having these dreams, I’d only ever seen one of their stories. It was 1975’s Genesis of the Daleks with Tom Baker as the aloof, and wildly eccentric Fourth Doctor. At an early age, the Dalek image, war chant and movement appeared to be locked into my very soul.

So powerful was this dream, that nearly 40 years later, I can remember exactly how it played out time and time again. It starts with hundreds of Daleks appearing at the bottom of a hill and quickly making their way up the long, twisting road that led to our house. I grab my parents and race with them upstairs – because that’s the way to escape the Daleks, right? My dream Daleks then blast down the doors of the house and fly up the stairs looking for us. Daleks flew in my dreams years before they did on television!

The most spectacular and near impossible escape follows (involving us all jumping from a bedroom window) and before you can say ‘exterminate all humans’, little me is driving off in an old Volkswagen Beetle, parents in the back, through a blockade of Daleks troops… I wake up, safe, and thankfully with no Daleks in the bedroom.

So what is it about these magnificent creations from the planet Skaro that has endured the test the time? It’s clear that children of all ages still find them fascinating and scary.

Daleks represent the very worst of the very worst. They hate everything that isn’t like them. They don’t like asking questions and would sooner exterminate you than understand your point of view. They hate first, blast second, and are always full of anger. They’re oppressive, predictably dangerous and seem unstoppable. And they glide…

As a scary concept, it’s easy to grasp. And this is why they still scare and delight in equal measure.

Luckily for the universe, there’s a Time Lord who knows how to beat them time and time again. And in the playground, a Dalek is a very easy monster to mimic, too.

Doctor Who Adventures magazineA few years later I had the sequel to my amazing dream. It picked up where the original story had left off and featured a flying saucer chasing after us. This follow-up was far outside of BBC budgets… Massive explosions reigned all around and at its end one final surprise. I stand with fear, the saucer’s doors opening to reveal Davros, the genius leader of the Daleks…

What happened next, I will never know. I never had the recurring dream after that. These days, and for a big chunk of my career to date, I bravely encounter all sorts of monsters in my job as Editor on Doctor Who Adventures magazine – we probably get more pictures of Daleks than anything else. And although they don’t feature in any recurring dreams any more, I still think Daleks rule!

Moray Laing is Editor of Doctor Who Adventures magazine. In the issue on sale on 31 December (£3.99), there’s the first part of a competition to win a real life-size Dalek of your very own.


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