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Dalek Early Developmental History

By Paul Scoones

You probably all saw Genesis of the Daleks, but how many of you, I wonder, are aware that an earlier, contradictory version of the origins of the Daleks has been presented in the series - and by the same writer, Terry Nation! The year was 1963, and the story was the second ever to be made. Called The Daleks, or The Dead Planet, it introduced the now-famous monsters for the very first time when the Doctor and his friends arrived on the planet Skaro and encountered a group of Thals camped near a huge metal city, in which lived the Daleks. They were dependent on power received through the metal floors, and were consequently unable to venture out onto the surface of Skaro. Nor could they survive without massive doses of radiation. The irony of their situation was that the Thals had evolved through the doses of radiation into beautiful human beings, whilst their counterparts, the Dals, had gone from being what the Thals had become to shrunken, withered, slimey revolting little clawed creatures who were forced to inhabit mobile life-support units called Daleks after the original name of their race.

If you think you might've seen this story on television about seven or eight years ago, that's because Terry Nation's script was later rewritten and refilmed as a feature film riding on the mid-sixties popularity of the Daleks. It starred Peter Cushing as the Doctor, a human inventor, and was called Dr Who and the Daleks. A sequel was also made, and it screened on television here some years back, but the films are generally not accepted as part of the established mythos of Doctor Who.

The 1963 seven-part Dalek story with William Hartnell as the Doctor is however, and this is where the problems arise - trying to explain a connection between The Daleks and Genesis of the Daleks.

The easy way out is to assume that the two stories were in fact occurring in two different time streams; this would explain away the reappearance of the Daleks after their seemingly total destruction at the climax of The Daleks. Thus all other Dalek stories could stem from either Genesis, or any number of as yet unseen alternative origins. But this is a ridiculous situation, and I am far more in favour of an explanation that connects Genesis with The Daleks as the first and second stories in Dalek history.

Firstly, it is not unreasonable to assume that there were at least Thals living on other parts of Skaro, as we only saw a minute portion, relatively speaking, in Genesis (or any of the other three Skaro stories). Secondly, Davros was a sly old chap, typified by the rejuvenation system he built into his wheelchair to enable him to survive the Dalek blast in Genesis. It is highly unlikely that in his determination to see his Mk3 Travel Machines succeed, he confined his operations to the Elite Bunker. Would it not be likely - even probable - that he set up a back-up colony of Daleks elsewhere on the planet? If you can accept this, then enter the city of Daleks in the 1963 story. The Thals outside the city had, journeyed there from a plateau region, and it is possible that they here totally detached, from civilisation as seen in Genesis, much like some African tribes on Earth. They would not know about Davros and the true origins of the Daleks, and the evil creator may have even programmed false beliefs about their past history into the minds of the Daleks in the city, perhaps as a safe-guard. Something, however, obviously went wrong in their production line, or else these Daleks were extremely early versions of Davros's creations, because of their dependence on radiation and their mobility restrictions. But it is likely that Davros wiped all knowledge of their Kaled roots from their minds.

This item appeared in TSV 1 (July 1987).

Index nodes: The Daleks, Genesis of the Daleks