Within 18 months of the broadcasting of the BBC serial, The Daleks, Dalekmania had gripped the UK. The Daleks were now to be seen in all their colourful glory on the big screen in this somewhat sanitized adaptation starring Peter Cushing.
A brief step sideways in our chronological journey through 50 years of Doctor Who takes us to the big screen colour remake of The Daleks. Quite unexpectedly the second Doctor Who serial brought forth an almost instantaneous wave of Dalekmania. Sydney Newman, the Canadian born BBC Head of Drama, had famously been quoted as saying that Who was to have “no bug eyed monsters”. Newman subsequently admitted his error of judgement and acknowledged that it was the Daleks that propelled Who to great success.
Whilst the dialogue remained reasonably true to Terry Nation’s original script, the screen adaptation of The Daleks took considerable liberties in reimaging the central characters of The Doctor, Susan, Barbara and Ian. The Doctor is not an alien, but rather an eccentric grandfather who builds a Tardis in the backyard of his suburban home. He is referred to throughout as “Dr.Who” rather than The Doctor. His grand-daughter, Susan, is much younger than the television portrayal and is perhaps 8 or 9 years old. Barbara is not a 30ish school teacher but rather Dr. Who’s eldest grand-daughter who is in her late teens. Her new boyfriend, Ian, is not the mature, intelligent and resourceful (single) teacher we see in Who, but rather a babbling klutz. Ian’s principal role is to provide comic relief and couldn’t be further from William Russell’s portrayal of Ian as the moral compass of Who.
Characterization aside, Dr. Who and The Daleks is nonetheless a fun, if somewhat inane, romp and is undeniably beautifully realized in colour. The Daleks are spectacular in their colourful diversity and are of much more solid construction than their TV counterparts. Voiced by Who’s David Graham and Peter Hawkins, who unfortunately aren’t so credited, they thankfully sound totally authentic. The Thals also look spectacular, and somewhat camp, on screen with their blonde wigs, heavy bluish green eye shadow and yellow lipstick. Although lacking the darkness and depth of the original television serial Dr.Who and the Daleks is nonetheless worth a view for purely nostalgic purposes. Having now been released on Blu Ray it’s sure to look even more astounding.
©Vivien Fleming, 2013.