The Daleks – Character Development


The Unearthly Child introduced Ian and Barbara as reluctant passengers of the Doctor’s spaceship who had been held against their will by the Doctor in an immoral, if not criminal, manner. The Doctor, however, saw no ethical issue with his actions and blamed the teachers for barging their way into his ship uninvited.  The Doctor’s lack of empathy for the stranded passengers evidenced his narcissistic tendencies and refusal to acknowledge responsibility for any of his actions. On those few occasions when he apologized to Ian and Barbara it was inevitably shallow and consisted of platitudes such as “I’m sorry, I’m so terribly sorry”.  The Doctor would soon revert, however, to his standard fare of blaming all but himself.

Ian and Barbara are reluctant passengers of the Tardis.

Ian and Barbara are reluctant passengers of the Tardis.

Relations between Ian and Barbara, and the Doctor, remained strained throughout the The Daleks.  In the first episode, The Dead Planet, Barbara questioned if the Doctor would ever return them to earth and Ian, admitting to being scared, doubted it would ever happen. Barbara expressed frustration at having nothing to rely on and being unable to recognize or trust anything.  She even pondered whether the Doctor deserved some form of retribution.  The teachers were not the happy companions of later series, excited to experience a life of adventure travelling through time and space.  They had no desire to travel with the Doctor and were keen to return to the security of 1963 London at the earliest possible convenience.

Ian and a Dalek - in colour!

Ian and a Dalek – in colour!

When Ian forcefully told the Doctor that “we’re fellow travellers, whether you like it or not”, the Doctor retaliated with his standard defense that they had pushed their way into his ship. By way of an analogy, no Court of Law would acquiesce to householders permanently detaining trespassers to their property!   The Doctor’s arrogant attitude continued unabated in The Daleks when he dismissed Ian’s inquiries by stating “I won’t be questioned by uninvited passengers”.

Ian's legs are paralysed by a Dalek attack.

Ian’s legs are paralysed by a Dalek attack.

The Doctor’s ultimate act of treachery to his almost prisoner-like teacher companions was to remove the fluid link from the Tardis, and then claim that it required mercury to work again.  This, of course, was one of the Doctor’s many lies and done solely with the intention of affording him the opportunity to explore the Dalek city on the premise that he might obtain mercury there.   The Doctor did not admit to his lie until the second episode, The Survivors, during which time he contemplated departing with Susan and leaving Ian and Barbara alone in the Dalek city.  Ian, the moral compass as always, argued that it was about time that the Doctor faced up to responsibility.

Barbara, the Doctor and Susan attempt to extricate Ian from inside the Dalek.

Barbara, the Doctor and Susan attempt to extricate Ian from inside the Dalek.

That morality was not a consideration for the Doctor was stated in as many words when he asserted that “this is no time for morals” when discussing the Thals’ pacifist objections to assisting the Tardis Crew retrieve the fluid link. Without the fluid link the ship and its crew would be stranded on Skaro.  Clearly the Doctor considered his and Susan’s interests more highly than that of the collective Thal people.

The Doctor and his oldest foe.

The Doctor and his oldest foe.

Although successful in defeating the Daleks together, the Tardis Crew was still not a cohesive group of fellow travellers.  It would take the third story of Doctor Who, The Edge of Destruction, to exhibit just how brittle relations between the alien Doctor and his grand-daughter, and their human passengers, really were.

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.


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