Tag Archives: Daleks

Daleks Choose Pink and Exterminate Homophobia

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One can only hope that the ever vigilant Estate of the late Terry Nation, the creator of Doctor Who’s iconic Daleks, turned a blind eye to the mutant pepperpots’ recent outing in defence of gay rights. Renowned for its fervent protection of copyright, the Nation Estate would undoubtedly be confounded to see the perennial haters utilized to spread love and acceptance.

Dalek Mardi Gras 1

Sydney women Kathy Sant and Jenny Martin constructed three pink Daleks and assorted props for their “Exterminate Homophobia” float at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras on 1 March 2014. Built in the backyard of their Marrickville home, the equal rights Daleks proved a big hit at the parade as they spread the their message, “Equality: You Must Comply”! “David the Dalek” even has his own Facebook page.

Daleks Mardi Gras 3

You can check out the construction of Sant and Mann’s Daleks at the same same website. The first photo in this post is courtesy of David the Dalek’s Facebook page.  No copyright infringement is intended.

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2014.

The Daleks Turn 50

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It was 50 years ago today that the sucker arm of a Dalek made its terrifying debut in the cliffhanger to episode one of Doctor Who serial now known as The Daleks. Pinned to the wall in fear, the Doctor’s companion Barbara Wright exemplified the terror that would soon envelop the British television viewing public. The Dead Planet garnered 6.9 million viewers when it was broadcast on 21 December 1963. By the seventh and final episode of the serial, The Rescue, 10.4 million viewers had tuned in and Dalekmania had begun. Doctor Who was on rocky ground prior to this, with cancellation an ever present possibility. It’s not an exaggeration to state that the longevity of Who is owed to the Daleks.  Had they not made such a successful debut then it is almost inevitable that Doctor Who would have become one of many little remembered, short run serials of the 1960s. Within 18 months the Daleks would make their big screen debut, in full colour, when Peter Cushing starred in the first of two cinema release Dalek movies, Dr. Who and the Daleks. The rest, so to speak, is history. 

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

One of the most iconic of all Doctor Who photographs. Barbara is pinned against the wall in fear during the Daleks’ first appearance in Doctor Who on 21st December 1963

The Daleks Ultimate Trailer.  Watch Barbara’s first encounter with the Daleks at 2:01.

Vivien Fleming

Day 31 of 50th Anniversary Countdown – It’s Wholloween (or The Chase, Episode 4)

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Day 39 of 50th Anniversary Countdown – The 5 Greatest Monsters of the Sixties

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Doctor Who’s long history of non-human villains has its genesis in the show’s second ever serial, The Daleks. Choosing the Top 5 is relatively easy given the extraordinarily high attrition rate of monsters considered to be “the next big thing”. Starting with Terry Nation’s The Sensorites, and ending with Robert Homes’ The Krotons, the Sixties were littered with the carcases of monsters that never quite made the grade.  The Dominator’s Quarks, The Underwater Menace’s benevolent Fish People, The Macra Terror’s Macra, The War Machines’ WOTAN and War Machines, Galaxy 4’s Rill, The Chase’s Mechonoids, and The Web Planet’s Zarbi and Menoptra are but a few  examples.

One of the less successful monsters of the Sixties, the Fish People from The Underwater Menace

One of the less successful monsters of the Sixties, the Fish People from The Underwater Menace

In essence, any 1960s monster that scored a repeat story in that decade has made The Doctor Who Mind Robber’s list of the Greatest Monsters of the Sixties. All have been revived in New Series Doctor Who, with the exception of the Yeti. Please see Day 49 of our countdown for the Ten Least Remembered Monsters of the Sixties.

5. The Great IntelligenceThe Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear

When Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart asked the Doctor in The Web of Fear what the Great Intelligence was he responded by saying, “Well, I wish I could give you a precise answer.  Perhaps the best way to describe it is a sort of formless, shapeless thing floating around in space like a cloud of mist, only with a mind and will”.

The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria first encountered the Great Intelligence at the Det-Sen monastery in 1935 Tibet (The Abominable Snowmen).  Having possessed the body of the monastery’s Master, Padmasambhava, this otherwise disembodied sentient being permitted its host to live up to 300 years.  The Intelligence forced Padmasambhava to build him an army of robot Yeti, the construction of which took over 200 years.  The Yeti were controlled by small hand-made pyramids. The Intelligence’s plans to take over the mountain on which the monastery stood were thwarted when the Doctor, Edward Travers and the companions destroyed the pyramids. Padmasambhava finally found the peace he so desired when his body passed away and the Intelligence again became a sentient being without a parasitic body.

The Abominable Snowmen's Padmasambhava was possessed by the Great Intelligence

The Abominable Snowmen’s Padmasambhava was possessed by the Great Intelligence

The Doctor and his companions again met the Intelligence when they found themselves in the London Underground 40 years later. In The Web of Fear their old friend Professor Travis had inadvertently facilitated the reactivation of the Yeti. The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria teamed up with members of the British Army to thwart the Intelligence’s plans for domination. The Intelligence used the body of the deceased Staff Sergeant Arnold and even Professor Travers for a short time.  The Intelligence sought to possess the Doctor’s body and to drain his mind with a conversion headset.  Unbeknownst to his companions, the Doctor had already reversed the settings so that it was the Intelligence’s mind, rather than his own, that would be drained.  Jamie, however, smashed the control spheres prior to the Doctor sapping the Intelligence’s mind.  Although still alive, the Intelligence vanished and was never again seen by the Second Doctor.

Staff Sergeant Arnold was possessed by the Great Intelligence in The Web of Fear

Staff Sergeant Arnold was possessed by the Great Intelligence in The Web of Fear

4. The YetiThe Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear

Although briefly seen in the 20th Anniversary Special, The Five Doctors, the Yeti have only been the central players of two serials, The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear. Robotic servants of the Great Intelligence, the first Yeti were manufactured by Padmasambhava at the Intelligence’s command.  Rather pear shaped and cuddly, the Mark 1 Yeti were not as threatening in appearance as their Mark 2 counterparts which had claws capable of holding web-guns and were more streamlined. Exactly who assisted the Intelligence in the production of the Mark 2 Yeti of The Web of Fear has never revealed.

The Doctor and a Yeti in The Web of Fear

The Doctor and a Yeti in The Web of Fear

3. The Ice WarriorsThe Ice Warriors and  The Seeds of Death

The Ice Warriors are natives of the planet Mars. Large reptilian humanoids, the Ice Warriors can stand up to 7 feet in height. The Doctor and his companions first came upon the Ice Warriors at the Brittanicus Base where they had been frozen in ice for over 5,000 years. Defeated when their space craft exploded the Ice Warriors were next encountered on the Moon in The Seeds of Death. Their attempts at obtaining control of the Earth were foiled when the Doctor discovered that their seed pods were ruined by water.  The Doctor then sent their space craft into an orbit around the sun.

The Doctor used his genius in an attempt to thwart death in The Seeds of Death

The Doctor used his genius in an attempt to thwart death in The Seeds of Death

When the Ice Warriors were next met by the Doctor in 1972’s The Curse of Peladon they were members of the Galactic Foundation and had renounced violence. They became allies with the Doctor and remained so in a subsequent Third Doctor adventure, The Monster of Peladon (1974). In 2013’s Cold War the Ice Warriors’ pacifism was a long forgotten.  

Pertwee era Ice Warriors

Pertwee era Ice Warriors

2. The CybermenThe Tenth Planet, The Moonbase, The Tomb of the Cybermen, The Wheel in Space and The Invasion.

The Cybermen made their Doctor Who debut in William Hartnell’s last serial, The Tenth Planet. Very much humanoid in appearance, the Mark 1 Cybermen were possessed of a sing-song voice.  Their faces were covered only with a stocking and they still retained their human hands. Unlike their successors, the first Cybermen initially did not seek to destroy the human race but rather hoped to convince them to join their “utopian” existence.

A Mark 1 Cyberman in The Tenth Planet

A Mark 1 Cyberman in The Tenth Planet

With the success of their first television appearance the Cybermen were quickly co-opted as rivals to the Dalek’s mantle of favourite Doctor Who monster. Each story in which they appeared saw their costumes modified, with the most substantial change occurring to the Mark 2 model.  Gone were the stockinged faces and in their place were robotic heads.  The five digits of their human hands were replaced by three fingered gloved hands.

The Cybermen emerge from their icy tombs in this iconic image from The Tomb of the Cybermen

The Cybermen emerge from their icy tombs in this iconic image from The Tomb of the Cybermen

The Cybermen were the subject of two particularly iconic images of Sixties Who.  Even the tackiness of breaking through new-fangled cling wrap was insufficient to dampen the effectiveness of the Cybermen’s emergence from their icy tombs in The Tomb of the Cybermen.  Their appearance on, and march down, the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral in The Invasion was arguably the greatest cliff hanger of the era. Still images of the event have become part of popular culture.

Perhaps the most iconic cliff hanger in classic series Doctor Who.  The Cybermen on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral

Perhaps the most iconic cliff hanger in classic series Doctor Who. The Cybermen on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral in The Invasion

1.   The DaleksThe Daleks, The Dalek Invasion of Earth, The Space Museum (cameo), The Chase, Mission to the Unknown, The Daleks’ Master Plan, The Power of the Daleks and The Evil of the Daleks

Only a brave person would nominate anything other than the Daleks as their favourite 1960s monsters. Appearing in just the second Doctor Who serial, it was arguably the Daleks that saved the show from a mere 13 week run. In a stroke of genius the Terry Nation created and Ray Cusick designed mutants immediately captured the imagination of the British public. Dalekmania was in full swing and within 18 months the Daleks would appear in the first of two colour, theatrically released movies.

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 Daleks featured in seven Sixties serials and appeared as a cameo in another. The 12 piece extravaganza The Daleks’ Master Plan is one of the most sought after missing serials. Only 3 episodes are held in the BBC Archives.  Among other missing episodes is Mission to the Unknown, the only one part 1960s serial which also has the distinction of featuring none of the regular cast.  Arguably the most missed of all Dalek serials is the Second Doctor’s first story, The Power of the Daleks.  It, together with another missing story, The Evil of the Daleks, is highly revered in fandom.  It can only be hoped that at least some of these missing episodes are some day recovered.

The 12 part Dalek's Master Plan is one of the most sought after missing Doctor Who serials

The 12 part The Dalek’s Master Plan is one of the most sought after missing Doctor Who serials

HONOURABLE MENTION

The Chumblies – Galaxy 4

Although the Chumblies were never reprised they were the most adorable Doctor Who monsters ever.  Despite the Doctor, Steven and Vicki being initially frightened by them it soon became apparent that they were benign and worked for the good and just with the Rill. The Chumblies are top of my list of Sixties monsters that I’d most like to see revived.

A Chumbley with the Drahvins in Galaxy 4

A Chumbley with the Drahvins in Galaxy 4

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

The Web of Fear

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Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart began his television career in Doctor Who as a Colonel in The Web of Fear and ended it, more than 40 years later, with a knighthood in the Sarah Jane Adventures serial Enemy of the Bane. In the interim the Brigadier, as he was most frequently and affectionately known, appeared in 103 TV episodes of Classic Series Doctor Who¸ the 1993 30th Anniversary Special Dimensions in Time, and two episodes of the Sarah Jane Adventures (2008). The character’s death was acknowledged in the Series 6 episode The Wedding of River Song (2011). The Brigadier also appeared as a character in countless audio dramas, books, cartoons and short stories right up until the actor Nicholas Courtney’s death in February 2011.

The Doctor first met Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart in less than perfect circumstances

The Doctor first met Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart in less than perfect circumstances in The Web of Fear  (1968)

Lethbridge-Stewart appeared alongside the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Seventh Doctors in  serials and with the Sixth Doctor in Dimensions in Time. Nicholas Courtney, however, had the distinction of also appearing as Bret Vyon in the first four episodes of the First Doctor’s serial, The Daleks’ Master Plan.  Interestingly, Courtney’s first and last appearances in Classic Series Doctor Who were alongside fellow actor Jean Marsh. Marsh had played Courtney’s sister, Sara Kingdom, in The Daleks’ Master Plan and was Morgaine in 1989’s Battlefield. To tangle the interweaving web of Doctor Who even further, Marsh had been married to Jon Pertwee, the Third Doctor, between 1955 and 1960.

Brigadier Sir Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart in the Sarah Jane Adventures serial, Enemy of the Bane (2008)

Brigadier Sir Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart in the Sarah Jane Adventures serial, Enemy of the Bane (2008)

Brigadier Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart was the longest running recurring human character in Doctor Who by a country mile.  The only villainous characters of greater longevity have been the Daleks, who first appeared in 1963, the Cybermen (1966), The Ice Warriors (1967) and quite ironically for the purposes of this review, the Great Intelligence (1967).  And to think that contract to appear as Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart was only four weeks long!

The Eleventh Doctor learns of the Brigadier’s death in The Wedding of River Song

Aside from the creation of the iconic Lethbridge-Stewart, one would be hard pressed to find another Doctor Who story that had such a long term influence on the series than The Web of Fear. As a classic example of the “base under siege” genre, it was the first to be set in present day London.  Transferring the previously Himalayan bound Yeti to the London Underground provided both a contemporary and identifiable point of reference for viewers.  The sense of terror was greatly amplified when monsters were lurking in the tunnels and tube stations that most viewers knew so well.  Incidentally, one of the actors in the Yeti suits was none other than John Levene, who would go on to portray another long time recurring character, UNIT’s Sergeant Benton.

Yeti in the tunnels of the London Underground

Yeti in the tunnels of the London Underground

The Second Doctor’s co-operation with the military in The Web of Fear would resurface in Season Six’s The Invasion, in which both Lethbridge-Stewart and Benton were members of the newly established United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT). The Invasion was the template for the Third Doctor’s earthbound exile in Seasons Seven and beyond.  But more about that when I review The Invasion.

Jack Watling reprised his role of (an aged) Travers in The Web of Fear

Jack Watling reprised his role of (an aged) Travers in The Web of Fear

The appearance of the Yeti in The Abominable Snowmen, and its sequel, The Web of Fear, propelled them to iconic status.  As a consequence of the writers, Henry Lincoln and Mervyn Haisman’s, falling out with the Doctor Who production team the Yeti would only appear again briefly in the 1983 Twentieth Anniversary Special, The Five Doctors. The Yeti’s short screen time had little effect on the creatures’ iconic status. Although never appearing alongside the Yeti on screen, Jon Pertwee is fondly remembered for his oft quoted phrase, “Yeti on the loo in Tooting Bec”.  What Pertwee was referring to was the direction that Doctor Who had taken during the Third Doctor’s earthbound tenure.  The Doctor was confronting  the monsters, not on an alien planet, but in the viewers’ own backyards, or toilets, or under their city ….  Akin to the expression, “Behind the Sofa”, “Yeti on the loo” quickly entered the Who vocabulary.

Reading a paper in the loo is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.  But did the Third Doctor anticipate meeting a Yeti in the loo?

Reading a paper in the loo is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. But did the Third Doctor anticipate meeting a Yeti in the loo?

This “Yeti on the loo” in-joke was most probably lost on a great many New Series viewers to part three of Pond Life, the prelude mini-adventures to Series Seven. The pun was much more than just the play on words of “Ood” and “loo”, and was most certainly a shout-out to Classic Series Who. Give a thought to the late Jon Pertwee as you watch Rory and Amy’s startled responses to the Ood in their bathroom.

Rory and Amy are confronted by an unexpected guest in Part 3 of Pond Life.

Before we leave the Yeti, The Web of Fear was the last serial to feature the sublime composition by British Composer, Martin Slavin, entitled Space Adventure. Ordinarily the Cybermen’s theme, it provided a superb backdrop for their first three stories, The Tenth Planet, The Moonbase and The Tomb of the Cybermen. In its last appearance in Who this composition accompanied the Yeti in Covent Garden.  

Victoria, Jamie and the Doctor contemplate their options

Victoria, Jamie and the Doctor contemplate their options

The Web of Fear is not without its failings. There is an unfortunate negative Jewish stereotype in episode one in the form of Julius Silverstein, a wealthy artefact collector and business person who runs his own museum.  Having acquired a deactivated Yeti from Edward Travers, he refused to return it after being advised that the Yeti’s control sphere had been reactivated and disappeared. The consequence of this belligerence was Silverstein’s own death at the hands of the reactivated Yeti.  When Terrance Dicks novelized the serial as Doctor Who and the Web of Fear in 1976 the character’s name was changed to Emil Julius in an attempt to avoid the negative stereotype.

The unfortunate artefact owner, Julius Silverstein

The unfortunate artefact owner, Julius Silverstein shortly before his death at the hands of a Yeti

As equally offensive, but rarely mentioned, example of racism is the characterization of Driver Evans, a Welsh officer of the British Army and a member of Lethbridge-Stewart’s team.  Evans is portrayed as unintelligent and cowardly, and he clearly wants to dessert from the Army. Had there been more than one Welsh Army officer in the serial then this Cymrophobia (anti-Welsh sentiment) could have been averted by presenting the other character(s) as courageous. Evidently Terrance Dicks was also concerned by this Cymrophobia and had Lethbridge-Stewart state that ordinarily the Welsh are good soldiers.

The character of Driver Evans was evidence of Doctor Who's Cymrophobia.

The character of Driver Evans was evidence of Doctor Who’s Cymrophobia.

The unfortunate stereotyping of the age aside, The Web of Fear is a tremendously suspenseful serial beautifully directed by Douglas Camfield. High up on many Who fans lists of “most wanted” missing serials, The Web of Fear’s influence on the future of Doctor Who could never have been imagined when its episodes were junked.  Only episode one remains in the BBC Archives, which is one more than the next serial in my marathon, Fury From the Deep. Join me for my next review as I examine how Australian film censorship has given us a tantalizing glimpse of this long lost story.

A body at the entrance of the deserted Tube Station

A body at the entrance of the deserted Tube Station

Episode 1 of The Web of Fear is held in the BBC Archives and has been released on the triple DVD set, Lost in Time.  The Web of Fear was originally  broadcast in the UK between 3 February and 9 March 1968.

Episode 1 of The Web of Fear is held in the BBC Archives and has been released on the triple DVD set, Lost in Time. The Web of Fear was originally broadcast in the UK between 3 February and 9 March 1968.

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

Missing Episodes Hysteria

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As the months countdown to Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary on 23 November 2013, so the rumour mill concerning lost Doctor Who episodes escalates exponentially.  To the best of fans’ knowledge 106 episodes remain missing from the BBC Archives, however the blog site Bleeding Cool has today reported two new rumours. One unnamed person associated with the Doctor Who production team is said to believe that there have been at least 40 episodes returned to the BBC, whilst another alleges 93. These rumours can be added to the pile which also includes claims that 90 episodes have been discovered somewhere in Africa.  Dubbed the omnirumour (or omnirumor for those in America), the Africa 90 story has been circling for months and has set Who internet forums alight.

The 12 part Dalek's Master Plan is one of the most sought after missing Doctor Who serials

The 12 part Daleks’ Master Plan is one of the most sought after missing Doctor Who serials

Unfortunately absolutely no evidence has been forthcoming of any finds, not even one single screen capture. Hearsay is the sole testimony offered, with information only forthcoming from friends of friends.  There has been talk of the BBC having compelled the signing of non disclosure agreements, delicate negotiations with film collectors and/or dictators, and all manner of other theories to justify the complete absence of evidence.  The BBC has issued at least one statement denying that it has lost episodes in its possession, however the rather ambiguous nature of the statement did little to stem the flow of rumours.

The first Doctor Who regeneration (although it was not so named at the time) is among the 106 missing episodes

The first Doctor Who regeneration (although it was not so named at the time) is among the 106 missing episodes

Having watched 11 straight missing episode reconstructions in the last several days, and with another two tomorrow before a one episode breather (episode three of The Underwater Menace), there’s not much more that I’d love than for a hoard of missing episodes to turn up. I won’t be holding my breath, however. Here’s hoping, though, that one day the hardened Doctor Who marathon viewers will be watching a lot fewer of the brilliant Loose Cannon Reconstructions.

The triple DVD Lost in Time contains many orphan Doctor Who episodes from the First and Second Doctor's tenures

The triple DVD Lost in Time contains many orphan Doctor Who episodes from the First and Second Doctor’s tenures

Bleeding Cool’s latest contribution to the missing episodes hysteria can be read at http://www.bleedingcool.com/2013/07/29/those-doctor-who-missing-episodes-rumours-take-a-licking-but-keep-on-ticking/

You can read my update of the Missing Episodes rumours here.

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

50th Anniversary Special to be Simulcast

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ImageThe UK’s The Sun newspaper has reported that Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary Special on 23 November 2013 will be broadcast simultaneously throughout the world to avoid leaks. Set to air at 8.00 p.m. on BBC1 in the UK, it will be shown on ABC1 at 5.00 a.m. on 24 November in Queensland, and 6.00 a.m. in those eastern Australian States sensible enough to have Daylight Savings. I have yet to see any confirmation by the ABC, although The Sun reports that all global broadcasters have agreed. You can read the The Sun’s article at http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/tv/5034088/Dr-Who-special-aired-worldwide-at-exactly-same-time.html