Dr Who season premiere brimming with Daleks

By Scott Kara

Scott Kara takes a look back at the scariest cyborgs in sci-fi.

Daleks in Dr Who. Photo / Supplied
Daleks in Dr Who. Photo / Supplied

These days the Daleks may not send you running for cover behind the couch. But Doctor Who's number one nemesis is still a menacing being.

With that frenzied, quavering voice, a dedication to hate, and a ruthless will to "exterminate", they are - almost - on a par with Darth Vader.

And, in tonight's Doctor Who episode, which kicks off the new season, there is a sinister new twist to the dastardly Daleks.

They ask the Doctor to help them. Not that they ask nicely, because they abduct the Doctor and sidekicks Amy and Rory. And the Dalek parliament insists, with a desperate chorus of "save us", that he destroy a planet that even they are too scared to go to.

So with this episode, entitled Asylum of the Daleks, in mind, TimeOut takes a look back at the history of the bad boy mutants ...

Origins

Invented by Doctor Who writer Terry Nation. The Daleks are the mutated remains of the Kaled race, who were involved in a nuclear war with rivals, the Thals, on their home planet Skaro. They are dedicated to intergalactic tyranny.

Design

In the 60s, television viewers had never seen anything like the Daleks before. They were designed by Raymond Cusick from the BBC's special effects department, who based his creation on an old-school salt and pepper shaker set.

They were unnerving with their tin-pot casings, three appendages (one eye, a death ray, and a multi-purpose arm used to hack into technology systems), and they moved clumsily, like they were being wheeled around on castors.

Cy Town, who played a Dalek for 15 years until 1988, told the Independent in 2007 that: "They were tricky to manoeuvre; you had to push them along with your feet and your knees. And once you were locked inside, you had to be let out. Sometimes they forgot me and I was left for hours."

First appeared

December 21, 1963, in The Daleks serial (the second Doctor Who series) when the Doctor's companion, Barbara Wright, is confronted by a mysterious, unseen creature with a menacing metal arm at the end of the first episode. It also revealed the back story of the Daleks and the war with the Thals. At the end of The Daleks series they were almost wiped out, but due to popular demand they returned in 1964 in The Dalek Invasion of Earth.

Through the decades

The 60s
Though they haven't changed in appearance much over the years, their functionality has developed and evolved. One physical characteristic done away with early on was a radio/satellite dish that acted as a power source. It was replaced by a solar panel around their midriff in 1965's The Chase. It's also in this serial that they show their time-travel capabilities, chasing the Tardis everywhere from the top of the Empire State Building to a haunted house in which Dracula and Frankenstein live.

The 70s
In 1975 The Genesis of the Daleks series revisits the Daleks' origins with the Doctor going back in time to their creation to kill his nemesis at the source. It's here we meet mad and power-hungry Kaled scientist Davros, a ghoulish and devious-looking character who realises the nuclear warfare between the two warring parties is mutating the Kaled race and he artificially accelerates the process to create Daleks.

The 80s
Davros and his Daleks had a volatile relationship during the 80s. For example, in 1984's Resurrection of the Daleks, Davros decides to take command of the Daleks which causes a split in the ranks, with a Davros faction and another group following the "Supreme Dalek".

The Daleks' last appearance in the classic Doctor Who series (which ended in 1989) was in 1988's Remembrance of the Daleks which concluded with a showdown between the Doctor and Davros.

2005-present
When Doctor Who made a welcome return, the Daleks were also back new and improved with a force field, a 360-degree firing range, and the ability to maim and kill with their multi-purpose third arm. They have been a constant enemy in the revival series ever since and now, in Asylum of the Daleks, even the makeup girl who kidnaps Amy Pond is a Dalek.

But it's perhaps Steven Moffat, the writer of this latest episode and Doctor Who's executive producer, who sums up the Daleks best.

"The Daleks are mad. That's what makes them unique among the Doctor's enemies. The others can be sinister or manipulative or plain evil - [but] a Dalek is a robot with anger problems, a tank that hates you, a killing machine driven by a ranting slug. What could be worse than that?"

Who: The Daleks
What: Doctor Who: Asylum of the Daleks, tonight, 8.30pm, Prime

-TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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