The Daleks’ 50th Birthday Party

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With all the hype surrounding Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary  on 23rd November,  the 50th birthday of the Doctor’s oldest and most deadliest foe, the Daleks, looked like it may well have been forgotten.  Born on the screens of the United Kingdom’s 405 line black and white TV sets on 21st December 1963, the Daleks have appeared in over 30 Doctor Who serials, together with a number of cameos and flashbacks.  They have battled against 10 of the Doctor’s 11 incarnations and have been killed and resurrected more times than Rory Williams!

Barbara is pinned against the wall in fear during the Daleks' first appearance in Doctor Who on 21st December 1963

Barbara is pinned against the wall in fear during the Daleks’ first appearance in Doctor Who on 21st December 1963

The BBC has today announced that the Daleks will appear in the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special, together with the shape shifting Zygons who will make only their second appearance  – 38 years after their first. Details of the nature of the Daleks battle with the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, together with John Hurt, a hitherto unknown incarnation, have yet to be revealed.  Let’s hope it’s as memorable as the closing shot of 1963’s The Dead Planet where companion Barbara Wright is pinned in fear against wall.  Barbara’s screams indicated the presence of a terrifying foe, although for the next seven days the audience could only but imagine what the strange rubber object on the end of a metal rod was. The Daleks were born and there was no looking back.  Without the Dalekmania which followed their first story, it’s unlikely that Doctor Who would have celebrated its first birthday, let alone its 50th. Long live the Daleks and may we look forward to another 50 years of terror!

The BBC today released this photograph of the Daleks from the 50th Anniversary special which is to be aired on 23rd November 2013

The BBC today released this photograph of the Daleks from the 50th Anniversary special which is to be aired on 23rd November 2013

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

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9 responses »

  1. I love that you posted the 1963 photo of Barbara and the first shot of a Dalek… ever. That photo was the inspiration for one of my illustrations at design school : )

  2. Thanks for your comments, Anna. The photo of Barbara is certainly very iconic. Have you posted your design school illustration on your blog? I’d love to see it!

  3. The Daleks are definitely one of the more memorable and terrifying villains, in my opinion. Whenever they appear, you know how ruthless and distructive they can be. It’ll be great to see them again in the anniversary episode! Thanks for the informative post.

    • Thanks for your comment. I’m looking forward to seeing the Daleks in the Anniversary special as well. The ones pictured in the new photo are an older style and it’s been suggested that it may be a flashback to the Time War. Only time will tell!

  4. While it’s undeniable that the Daleks represent an iconic Doctor Who villain, IMO they’ve really been overused in the new series. “Dalek” was a pretty great way to re-introduce them, but the quality of the stories with the Daleks has dropped rather dramatically since then. The “Doomsday” arc was fun because it delivered (if a bit cheesily) on the long-awaited grudge match between Cybermen and Daleks. On the other hand, the “Daleks in Manhattan” stories and “The Stolen Earth” weren’t terribly good. The whole pig-men thing was just embarrassing and let’s not forget they tried the whole “human factor” thing already back in “The Evil of the Daleks.” And “The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End” represented some of the worst of Davies’s excesses–I was literally cringing when I watched the TARDIS “tractoring” Earth back to its position as Sol 3.

    As you stated above, they’ve been annihilated so many times in the series and then somehow an unknown splinter group or reserve force or whatever they’re calling it this week turns up (or suddenly there are Daleks from an alternate universe or branching timeline) that it’s rather pathetic.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment Warren. I think you’re entirely correct in respect of the Daleks’ overuse in the new series. The Daleks were used a lot more sparingly in the Classic Series. While they were thrashed during the First Doctor’s tenure and suffered perhaps their greatest flop in the comic “The Chase”, they went on a five year hiatus from 1967’s “Evil of the Daleks” until 1972’s “Day of the Daleks”. Perhaps another extended break might be warranted after the 50th special, however they’ll never disappear entirely. For one thing, their merchandising appeal is too great for the BBC to allow them to fade away.

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