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The Dalek Invasion of Earth ★★★★★

The Doctor's archenemies return – invading the 22nd century – in Terry Nation's doomsday scenario

Published: Thursday, 20th November 2008 at 11:00 pm

Series 2 – Story 10


"Man to them is just a work machine, an insignificant specimen that is not worth invading. Absolutely useless. It doesn't matter to them whether you live or die" – the Doctor

The quartet arrive in London some time after the year 2164, and find a ruined city, men who have lost their humanity…and Daleks! They meet members of an underground resistance movement led by the disabled Dortmun, who is trying to develop an anti-Dalek explosive. It transpires that the Daleks have wiped out most of Earth's population using germ bombs, and have subjugated the remainder into robotic serfdom, or as labourers in a Bedfordshire mining operation. But why..?

First transmissions
1. World's End - Saturday 21 November 1964
2. The Daleks - Saturday 28 November 1964
3. Day of Reckoning - Saturday 5 December 1964
4. The End of Tomorrow - Saturday 12 December 1964
5. The Waking Ally - Saturday 19 December 1964
6. Flashpoint - Saturday 26 December 1964

Location filming: August 1964 in London at White City, Kew railway bridge, St Katherine's Dock, Butler's Wharf, Trafalgar Square, Albert Embankment, Westminster Bridge, Albert Hall & Memorial, and Wembley; John's Hole quarry, Kent
Studio recording: September/October 1964 in Riverside 1

Doctor Who - William Hartnell
Barbara Wright - Jacqueline Hill
Ian Chesterton - William Russell
Susan Foreman - Carole Ann Ford
Carl Tyler - Bernard Kay
David Campbell - Peter Fraser
Dortmun - Alan Judd
Jenny - Ann Davies
Craddock - Michael Goldie
Larry Madison - Graham Rigby
Thomson - Michael Davis
Baker - Richard McNeff
Wells - Nicholas Smith
Ashton - Patrick O'Connell
Women in the wood - Jean Conroy, Meriel Hobson
Dalek voices - Peter Hawkins, David Graham
Dalek operators - Robert Jewell, Gerald Taylor, Nick Evans,
Kevin Manser, Peter Murphy
Slyther - Nick Evans

Writer - Terry Nation
Incidental music - Francis Chagrin
Story editor - David Whitaker
Designer - Spencer Chapman
Producer - Verity Lambert
Director - Richard Martin

RT Review by Mark Braxton
Doomsday. It's a dramatically fertile scenario that Terry Nation would return to repeatedly, to great and gripping effect. In this ground-breaking story Barbara and Ian are welcomed back to their planet with the sight of mind-ravaged men taking their own lives, a flattened capital and posters discouraging corpse disposal. Anyone thinking Doctor Who was kids' stuff would have been shocked. With such mayhem abounding, there could only be one agency at work…

If the Daleks caused a stir with their debut, they whipped up a storm on their return, pushing the ratings over 12 million. And no wonder. It's one thing to have the maniacal menaces gliding about in metal corridors, but quite another to have them skating past familiar landmarks, and along streets that could be the ones we live in. This was a stroke of genius that brought them to rasping, swivelling life with even greater potency, and gave us the second RT Doctor Who cover (see below). The Daleks had been in just two stories; both spawned feature films. Now that's what I call a hit rate!

The fact that they're now able to roam worlds, when the last time we saw them ("a million years ahead of us," as the Doctor points out) they were electricity-dependent dodgem cars, doesn't stand up to too much scrutiny. In an RT interview (see below), Terry Nation ducked the issue, big-time: "The wonderful thing about science fiction is that if an author says a thing is so, then nobody can deny it."

But there are so many plusses, from a solid supporting cast to the luxuriant location filming. The latter, especially in Barbara, Jenny and Dortmun's brilliantly tense flight across London in episode three, really opened up the show. The shots of Daleks streaming over Westminster Bridge, having by implication overrun Parliament, were so iconic that they led, ultimately, to RT's award for the greatest magazine cover of all time.

And many commentators think emotion was invented by new Who. It wasn't. Susan's departure (the series' first for a regular) is a case in point. William Hartnell underplays the Doctor's buttoned-down goodbye to his granddaughter beautifully. "I want you to belong somewhere…" It's an absolute choker.

There are always consequences to over-ambition. After all, if you are going to feature massive spaceships gliding over the capital, make sure you have the cash and know-how to create them. Wobbling lampshades and carpets with twigs sticking out of them (the Daleks' pet Slyther) aren't the only unintentional laughs. The Daleks speak coma-inducingly slowly at times; one even sounds as though it's camply clearing its throat before addressing the "rebels of London". And every time we see Robomen it's like watching a workshop for people who've never acted before.

But for sheer breadth and scope, Dalek Invasion has it all – and for doomy, deadly serious sci-fi, Terry "Terror" Nation was in a league of his own.

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Radio Times archive material

RT splashed out on this groundbreaking story. There was a striking front cover, quite fabulous in its day.

That 19 November edition carried a feature reintroducing the Daleks.

Two weeks later, RT interviewed Dalek creator Terry Nation, who was already becoming the Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat of his day. There was a regional variation for this feature with different images.

Episode five came with this small update in some regions (RT 17 December).

The RT Christmas issue carried a weird eight-page supplement called Barbara in Wonderland, in which a young woman explored BBC TV Centre and met "Dr Who" and a "light grey" Dalek and the Black Dalek (shown in colour for the first time). Two points of note: The Dalek Invasion of Earth was actually being recorded at Riverside, not TVC, and the young blonde, Barbara Lord, would eventually become Babs in the dance group, Pan's People.

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[Available on BBC DVD]


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