Dr. Who and the Daleks

Dr. Who and the Daleks
Dr. Who and the Daleks
Directed by Gordon Flemyng
Produced by Max J. Rosenberg
Milton Subotsky
Written by Terry Nation
Max J. Rosenberg (uncredited)
Milton Subotsky
David Whitaker (uncredited)
Starring Peter Cushing
Roy Castle
Jennie Linden
Roberta Tovey
Barrie Ingham
Music by Barry Gray
Malcolm Lockyer
Cinematography John Wilcox
Editing by Oswald Hafenrichter
Release date(s) 23 August 1965 (UK)[1]
Running time 79 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965) was the first of two Doctor Who films made in the 1960s. It was followed by Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.

The film features Peter Cushing as The Doctor, Roberta Tovey as Susan, Jennie Linden as Barbara, and noted Carry On star Roy Castle as Ian.

It is based on The Daleks, the second Doctor Who serial (and the first to feature the Daleks). Filmed in Technicolor, it is the first Doctor Who story to be made in colour and in a widescreen format. The television series continued to be made in black-and-white until 1969 and not in widescreen until the revival of the series in 2005.



Dr. Who (Cushing) and his granddaughters, Susan (Tovey) and Barbara (Linden), show Barbara's boyfriend Ian (Castle) the Doctor's latest invention, a time machine called TARDIS. When Ian accidentally activates the machine, it takes them to a petrified jungle on a world devastated by an ancient nuclear war fought between the Daleks and the Thals. (Although the planet is not named in the film, in its sequel it is retroactively revealed to be called Skaro, matching the name given in the television series.) At the conclusion of the war, the Daleks, heavily mutated by radiation, encased themselves in protective machines and retreated into their city, while the humanoid Thals survived the fallout through the use of an anti-radiation drug and became a peaceful race of farmers. The Thals' crops have recently failed, however, and they have journeyed to the petrified jungle to seek help from their former enemies. The Daleks, meanwhile, although determined to become the dominant race on Skaro, are unable to leave the city due to their vulnerability to radiation and their reliance on static electricity to power their travel machines.

Ian and Barbara are unnerved by the jungle and demand to return to London but the Doctor, eager to investigate the city, fakes a leak in one of the vital TARDIS fluid links to keep them on Skaro. The group decide to search the city for the mercury needed to refill the link but stumble across a case of Thal drug vials as they leave. In the city the Doctor, on reading a Geiger counter, realises that the planet is radioactive and in view of the fact that they are feeling unwell, deduces that they are developing radiation sickness. Suddenly, the Daleks appear and capture the travellers, confining them to a cell and seizing the Doctor's fluid link for inspection.

The Daleks know of the Thal drug and want to reproduce it in large quantities so that they can leave the city and exterminate the Thals. They offer to let the humans use some of the drug to cure their sickness if the vials left outside TARDIS are brought to the city. Whilst carrying out the task Susan encounters Alydon, the Thal leader who left the vials. Alydon gives Susan a secondary drug supply to use in case the Daleks deviate from their promise and also lends her his plastic cape.

The Daleks discover Susan's secret drug supply but allow the humans to treat themselves with it. They then summon Susan to write a letter to the Thals, informing them that they wish to end post-war hostilities and will leave food in their control room as an act of friendship. The adventurers discover that when the Thals arrive, however, they will be ambushed and exterminated.

When a Dalek comes to the cell to deliver food and water, the Doctor and his companions immobilise it by forcing it onto Susan's cape, thus insulating it from the charged metal floor. Ian takes the place of the creature inside the casing and notifies another Dalek that he is taking the Doctor, Barbara and Susan to the control room for questioning. Now free, the travellers shout a warning to the Thals who are entering the city and escape with them into the jungle, but not before an elderly man, Temmosus, is killed by the Daleks.

Later the Daleks test the Thal drug on a number of themselves but find that it causes disastrous side effects. With no way of leaving the city, they decide to detonate a neutron bomb to increase the radiation on Skaro to a point at which not even the Thals can survive.

At the Thal camp the Doctor urges Alydon to fight the Daleks to secure a safe future for his species. Alydon insists that the Thals are pacifist, but the Doctor tests this claim by ordering Ian to take Dyoni, Alydon's love, to the Daleks in exchange for the confiscated fluid link. Alydon punches Ian to the ground, proving that Thals will fight for some things. Alydon, Susan and the Doctor lead the tribe to the front entrance of the city, where they attempt to confuse the enemy's scanners by reflecting light off small mirrors to give the impression of greater numbers. The plan fails when the Daleks appear and the Thals scatter, however, and Susan and the Doctor are captured.

Meanwhile, Ian and Barbara, guided by the Thals Ganatus, Antodus and Elyon, set out to infiltrate the city from the rear. While navigating a swamp Elyon is killed by a marsh-dwelling mutation and the party is eventually forced to jump a chasm to proceed any further. Antodus falls short and plunges into the void, but manages to cling to the uneven rock face and is pulled up by the others.

In the city control room the Daleks ignore the Doctor's appeals as they start the bomb countdown. Ian, Barbara, Ganatus and Antodus penetrate the city and join Alydon and the rest of the Thals, who have returned determined to rescue Susan and the Doctor. The Thals and humans enter the control room and struggle with the Daleks while the Doctor yells for someone to stop the bomb detonation. Ian calls out his presence and dives for cover as the Daleks fire towards him in unison. The aliens inadvertently destroy their own control panel, disabling themselves as well as freezing the countdown. The Doctor then retrieves the TARDIS fluid link.

In the jungle, the Thals bid farewell to the Doctor and his companions and express their gratitude with special gifts. When the travellers depart in TARDIS they materialise not in London, however, but on an ancient battlefield in front of an advancing Roman army.

Changes from the television series

Several changes were made to the main characters. Cushing's Dr. Who is portrayed as an Earth-born scientist and inventor (whose surname is actually Who) who built TARDIS (not The TARDIS as in the television show), his time travelling ship. In the film, TARDIS is larger on the inside than on the outside (as with the television TARDIS), but its internals consist of masses of wires and switches, with an abundance of blinking lights, rather than the simpler console room of the series. Cushing plays the Doctor as an amiable and absent-minded inventor, in contrast to William Hartnell's more prickly and mysterious persona, though Cushing's version does show leadership and determination in moments of crisis. Barbara and Susan are now both his granddaughters (and both, as a result, carry the surname Who; in the original series Susan adopts the surname Foreman). Ian Chesterton is now Barbara's bumbling boyfriend, and the entire subplot of them being Susan's teachers is dropped. Ian is the comic relief in the film, rather than the heroic version seen in The Daleks.



  • In 1995, a documentary, Dalekmania, about the two Dalek films, was released; it has revealed details about the productions, spin-offs, and publicity.[2]
  • The actor Barrie Ingham discussed the production in an interview in Australia in 1976 for the Doctor Who fanzine Zerinza.[3]
  • Originally, the Daleks were going to be armed with flamethrowers, but these were vetoed (for fear of being too frightening, and also for health and safety reasons) and replaced with smoke projectors. Flamethrowers were, however, later incorporated into the Daleks seen in the TV serial The Daleks' Master Plan broadcast later in 1965.
  • The Daleks were slightly redesigned from their appearance in the television series, most noticeably in the rounded bases. Three of the movie Dalek models were hired by the BBC and used in the serial The Chase. As the film was not released until after The Chase, this film actually marks those movie Daleks' second appearance.
  • David Whitaker novelised the original television serial in 1964 as Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks (later retitled Doctor Who and the Daleks). Although not strictly a novelisation of the film, there are some similarities in that the book has Ian joining the TARDIS crew for the first time as he does here (even though he actually joined the Doctor in a previous serial in the television version).
  • The Dalek props seen in the film are taller than the TV Daleks, having large bumpers at the base (Possibly to make them more imposing - the TV Daleks were only about five feet high).
  • All of the Daleks featured large, distinctive dome lights and a number were fitted with a two-jawed mechanical claw instead of a plunger.
  • Some of the Daleks used in the background for 'crowd scenes' were constructed from moulded fibreglass, and can be distinguished by the slightly different shape of the brass collars around their mid-sections.
  • A number of Daleks were displayed on the back of a truck at the Cannes film festival for publicity. Single Daleks were also sent further afield, one making an appearance at a cinema in Sydney, Australia, before apparently being thrown out or "lost".
  • Music from this film has been released on Dr. Who & the Daleks by Silva Screen Records.

Popular culture

  • Souvenir Press published a tie-in colouring book for children in 1965, with colour photographic illustrations from the film on both the front and rear covers.
  • Dell Comics published a comic book adaptation of the film in 1966.
  • Film style Daleks were used in some of the stories in the long running Dalek strip in the "TV Century 21" comic between 1965 and 1967.
  • In the 2005 film Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (co-written by long-time Doctor Who contributor Bob Baker), a marquee is briefly seen advertising "Dr. Hoe and the Garlics", a reference to this film.


  1. ^ "Dr. Who and the Daleks". Internet Movie Database. 18 August 2008. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0059126/. Retrieved 2008-08-18. 
  2. ^ "Dalekmania", Canal + Image UK Ltd. 57 minutes, initially on video tape, it was re-released on the 2001 DVD of the 2 films.
  3. ^ Interviewed by Antony Howe, this appeared in issue #5/6 of Zerinza, in late 1977.

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