The Daleks
An un child
Meet the Enemies


1st Doctor



The Daleks




Terry Nation



Verity Lambert


Season 1

Previous Episode

An Unearthly Child

Next Episode

The Edge of Destruction

The Daleks was the second story of season 1 of Doctor Who. Its most obvious contribution to the Doctor Who mythos was the introduction of the Daleks, 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 costumer Daphne Dare, and future director Michael Ferguson.

The Daleks was also the source material for both a theatrical film and a film called Dr. Who and the Daleks. Both were the first time Doctor Who had appeared in those media. The Daleks was the the basis for the first attempt to take Doctor Who to the United States market.

Synopsis Edit

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.

Plot Edit

The Dead Planet (1) Edit

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 Chesterton and Barbara Wright 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 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 the city.

The next morning, when the travellers emerge from the TARDIS, they find a 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 whose doors close behind her as she walks. She becomes aware that she is trapped. A strange creature emerges, threatening her with a metal arm.

The Survivors (2) Edit

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. 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 him 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) Edit

Outside the TARDIS, Susan encounters a stranger. He is a striking, handsome, blonde 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, then contacts the Daleks to say the Thals are looking for peace and food. The Daleks imply acceptance, 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 off the camera that has been filming and 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 dumped. Ian squeezes into the casing. In this guise he escorts his three friends through the city, hoping they can make a break for freedom. The creature dies.

The Ambush (4) Edit

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.

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, and Ian regroup 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 following 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) Edit

After trying to convince the Thals that they should be more aggressive towards the Daleks, Ian spurs Alydon to display aggression when he threatens 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 bad effect on them. Two fifths of the Daleks fall ill. The Daleks deduce they have become immune to radiation and in fact thrive off of 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. The assembled party are shocked to hear one of their number, Elyon, scream as a monster drags him below the murky surface in a large whirlpool.

The Ordeal (6) Edit

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. 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) Edit

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, which he refuses to do. 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; they kiss just before Barbara 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.

Cast Edit

Crew Edit

References Edit

Culture Edit

  • Ganatus is aware of the cultural conventions existing in England in the 1960s.
  • The moral philosophy of the Thals about refusing to fight as the only way to achieve peace is the same as that of Buddhism on Earth.

Daleks Edit

  • The Daleks are growing food with artificial sunlight, suggesting that they still need to eat.

Foods and beverages Edit

  • Ian and Barbara eat bacon and eggs from the TARDIS food machine.


Thals Edit

  • The length of time the Thals have travelled for is first stated as 4 years but is later reduced to 1 year.

The Doctor Edit

  • The Doctor reveals that there is a large age gap between him and Susan.
  • The Doctor reveals that he was once a pioneer amongst his people.

Story notes Edit

  • This is the first story to feature the Daleks, Skaro and the Thals.
  • The production team's final name for this story at the time of broadcast was The Mutants but is now referred to as The Daleks to avoid confusion with story 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". (REF: The First Doctor Handbook)
  • It is never mentioned in the story whether the travellers are in the past, the present or the future. In The Dalek Invasion of Earth, the Doctor states this first 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 how he knows this. However, it should be noted that the Daleks themselves in this serial state that the Thousand Year War only took place five hundred years ago, not millions of years. Planet of the Daleks suggests this first encounter occurred in the past, generations before the 26th century. This is now generally the accepted placement of the story, though the exact year is still a matter of debate and theorising among fans. Doctor Who Monthly #75 gives the date as 150000, but this was changed in #77 to 2290. In his A History of the Universe, Lance Parkin 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 he changed this to 2263. In The Official Doctor Who & the Daleks Book by Terry Nation and John Peel, it is explained that the Daleks encountered in this story were not the main Dalek race, but the descendants of a group of mutated Kaled survivors from the Thousand Year War who crawled into a city of abandoned prototype Dalek casings built by Davros. The book argues that as Davros' technology for his Daleks progressed and gave them greater mobility, he left the metal city behind, and this is consistent with the explanation given by the Daleks themselves in this story: that they were mutated survivors of the war, which is a different background to the Daleks from Genesis of the Daleks. This suggests that events happened very early on in Dalek history, before the Dalek race emerged from entombment in Davros' bunker.
  • It was Mervyn Pinfield who suggested that the Daleks use static electricity.
  • It was Richard Martin who suggested that the Thal anti-radiation drug be lethal to the Daleks.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The music from this story was reused in several stories: The Rescue, The Daleks' Master Plan, The Ark, and The Power of the Daleks.
  • 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 episode 7 is a dub from the positive print.
  • Telesnaps exist for episodes 1, 2, 4 and 5 in private collections.
  • This story was originally scheduled to be designed by Ridley Scott who later went on to direct films such as Alien and Blade Runner.
  • 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. (REF: The First Doctor Handbook) 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.

Ratings Edit

  • Episode 1 - The Dead Planet - 6.9 million viewers
  • Episode 2 - The Survivors - 6.4 million viewers
  • Episode 3 - The Escape - 8.9 million viewers
  • Episode 4 - The Ambush - 9.9 million viewers
  • Episode 5 - The Expedition - 9.9 million viewers
  • Episode 6 - The Ordeal - 10.4 million viewers
  • Episode 7 - The Rescue - 10.4 million viewers

Myths Edit

  • Terry Nation named the Daleks after seeing the spines of a set of encyclopaedias. (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 first episode 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 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 appear in the Sixth Doctor story, Revelation of the Daleks.
  • Electronic interference on the original tape meant that the first episode needed to be remade. (The first episode 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. 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.) The inspiration was the Georgian State Dancers, whose large wide dresses gave the impression that they were gliding along the floor.
  • 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 Edit

Production errors Edit

  • In episode 1, a wind machine blows the forest backdrop as well as Ian's hair.
  • In episode 2, a Dalek has faulty lights and an eye that will not turn on.
  • In episode 2, 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), an off-screen voice can be faintly but coherently heard calling out the cue "stop".
  • In episode 3, In one shot of the interior of the Dalek city, a boom shadow is clearly visible.
  • The Dalek casing used as a disguise is not the same as the one obtained in the previous episode. The casing in this episode does not have a magnet embedded in its sucker.
  • 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 episode 6, Barbara grabs a rock wall and ends up with polystyrene in her hand.
  • In episode 6, 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 episode 6, In the Dalek control room, one Dalek runs into the control console.
  • In episode 6, One of the Daleks rattles as it moves down a corridor.
  • When the Doctor shorts out a Dalek control panel the explosion happens too early.
  • 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 can be seen at the bottom of the shot. A change of camera angle makes the flatness of the blow-ups obvious.
  • In episode 1, the hand of AFM Michael Ferguson is caught on camera. This is intentional, it is supposed to be Alydon's first attempt at contact with Susan.
  • In episode 1, when Susan runs to check the fault indicator, the TARDIS console shifts.
  • In episode 3 Susan runs on the spot while stage hands whip her with twigs.
  • The Dalek that calls for assistance early in the episode can be heard to move on unoiled casters, destroying the impression that it glides along the floor.

Continuity Edit

  • EDA: Alien Bodies suggests that it takes place at around the same general time as this story.
  • The Lake of Mutations was previously known as Drammankin Lake. Colonel Nasgard's family lived in a villa by the lake for generations. During his childhood, Davros spent much time by the lake, fascinated by the creatures within it. (BFD: Innocence) By the later stages of the Thousand Year War, it was one of the few remaining places on Skaro where animal life still existed as the devastation had made almost all species other than the Kaleds and the Thals extinct. (BFD: Corruption)

Timeline Edit

Home video and audio releases Edit

DVD releases Edit

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 ????

Box sets Edit

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

Video release Edit

Original releaseEdit

Released as Doctor Who: The Daleks - The Dead Planet and Doctor Who: The Daleks - The Expedition, two separate volumes held together with sticky tape. The lead-in to The Edge of Destruction and the "Next Episode" caption have been removed from Episode 7.


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 releaseEdit

Released as Doctor Who: The Daleks (Remastered). 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 Edit