Tuesday, 20 August 2013
Curse of the Daleks - "lost" Daleks matinee play
The Daleks’ “lost” stage play from 1965 – but don’t get too excited, it wasn’t very good. This first appeared in sci-fi fanzine This Way Up issue 18, way back in 2006. Bits of This Way Up are online here. I'm putting it back online to coincide with some of my more up-to-the-minute 50th Doctor Who anniversary Dalek tie-in articles whose publication is imminent. Wyndham's Theatre programme front cover image, copyright Wyndham's Theatres 1965 - reproduced under "fair dealing", Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988, for the purposes of a critique or review
“Saturday teatime is sacred to the one-eyed monster” (Harold Jackson, Guardian, 22 December 1965)
In January 1966, the forgotten Dalek drama Curse of the Daleks ended its brief and only matinee run on the stage of London’s Wyndham Theatre after just one month. It was the first example of the anoraky obsessive Doctor Who continuity thing, linking the first The Daleks story with Dalek Invasion of Earth. It was the first outing for the Daleks without the Doctor, as the Daleks' creator Terry Nation owned the copyright for the Daleks but not for Doctor Who.The Doctor is not even mentioned in Curse.
Curse is also notable for its absolutely mentalist programme notes by scriptwriter David Whitaker - about how Dalek creator Terry Nation rang him up in a tizzy and asked him to come over and look at a small opaque glass cube about the size of a sugar lump which he’d found in his garden. When he carefully drilled a hole in it, little slivers of metal fell out which turned out to contain microfilm, “these were Dalek history - the history of Skaro from the future. Had the peace-loving Thals sent them as a warning - or had a Dalek history library exploded, jettisoning debris through the universe?”
Whitaker would have the audience believe that Curse of the Daleks was based on such a capsule found in Kensington Gardens - ‘so keep your eyes and ears open when you’re out in the park’, children. The programme notes also stated that “In accordance with modern theatre practice, the National Anthem will only be played in the presence of Royalty’ - in the unlikely event of Her Majesty the Queen dropping in for the matinee performance of Curse of the Daleks.
Curse was an attempt to cash in on the Dalekmania phenomenon. The Telegraph’s critic commented of Curse that “as Mr Nation discovered a few thousand pounds ago, “The-Daleks-are-invincible!” The very proactive Walter Tucknell, in charge of Dalek licensing at the BBC in 1964, came up with wizard wheezes like adding the Anti-Dalek fluid neutraliser to a toy company’s range - it was really just a re-branded Dan Dare water pistol.
There were only a handful of Dalek toys in the shops for Christmas 1964 – TV21 comics, birthday cards and badges. By mid-1965, an 18-page advertorial in Games and Toys was running, showing the 80 Dalek items in production. Terry Nation told the Radio Times in 1973 that there were 132 Dalek products in all, from jelly babies to wallpaper to bedroom slippers, bringing him money ‘beyond the dreams of avarice. The programme for Curse includes the ‘Dalekode’ cut-out cryptography code wheel from the Dalek Pocket Book and Space Traveller’s Guide (Panther/Souvenir) and a shameless plug for the Dalek Painting Book. Daleks were the hottest property by Christmas 1965. But by the time of Curse, just after Christmas 1966, interest had already started to wane. The craze was over by 1967.
While the script bears the credit ‘Curse of the Daleks stage play by Terry Nation and David Whitaker,’ the agent for the Nation estate told me that Terry Nation’s widow Kate had never heard of the play and had no record of its existence, and asked me to send a copy if I come across one. It seems that the script was almost entirely written by Who’s original story editor David Whitaker, with elements ripped off from his scripts for TV21 comic’s Daleks strip. Whitters was an actor before he turned to scriptwriting and was comfortable writing for the stage.
A "Complaints Manager Dalek" spotted in the window of a Hornsey Road hi-fi shop in North London. Photo by the author, Daleks copyright BBC/estate of Terry Nation
Under the Stage Licensing Act of 1737, all plays had to be submitted to the Lord Chamberlain for censorship. When censorship of plays ended in 1968, the plays came to the Manuscript Collection of the British Library in London. The script for Curse of the Daleks is in the Library’s card index system in the Manuscript Collection as Play no 1965/50, Lord Chamberlain’s Licence no. 356, dated November 1965.
The sniffy Illustrated London News theatre critic compared Curse of the Daleks unfavourably with the robots from Karel Capek’s R.U.R., which is a bit like comparing Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space unfavourably with 2001: A Space Odyssey. Sniffy Illustrated London News guy imagines that it must be some kind of panto because it’s for the kids at Xmas. Certainly all the Daleks silently trundling in and out of secret doors when the humans have their backs turned is reminiscent of the ‘Behind you!’ element of panto.
Curse was aimed more squarely at the kids than was the ‘family drama’ Doctor Who, and has the most basic of whodunit plots. It brought harsh words from the critics: “a false start depending too much on weak jokes” (The Times), “[while] little boys are fascinated by the ‘space dialogue’, little girls like it but can’t grasp the detail, male grown ups find it difficult to keep pace. Female grown-ups smile tolerably.” The first half seems to have been particularly pants, with rubbish dialogue for the human actors. As well as having no Doctor Who, the first half suffered from not much by way of Daleks either, nor were the Daleks on stage for very long in the second half. Everyone agreed that things improved when the Daleks showed up: “Until the Daleks massed appearance, the action seems somewhat tame. Then, with the first sign of a Dalek shuddering to life, the plot starts to grip…. an ultimately satisfying adventure.” (The Times) “Daleks possess a magnetism lacking in the flesh and blood characters….no less compelling on stage than on the TV screen.” (Illustrated London News “after tots have discussed the outlook learnedly over ice cream. things liven a lot as the Daleks act in close formation.” (Telegraph)
SKARO IS OUT OF BOUNDS
The play opens with a rhyme to the tune of "Remember, remember, the fifth of November": “When fears are abating/ Don’t try to forget them/The Daleks are waiting/Quietly planning and /Scheming and hating/Remember!”
Then we are in the bare, "curved ribbed storehold’ of the spaceship Starfinder. We see two prisoners. Harry Sline is under arrest for slave trading between Mars and Venus, and he’s looking at a 30-year prison sentence in The Deeps underwater prison in the Atlantic. Disgraced Commander John Ladiver’s many crimes include illegal sales of uranium to ‘the wrong people’, an act that almost led to war in space. He’s suspected of having ‘cached away about 30 million.’ Ladiver is facing execution. Both have just done eight days in a holding cell on Satellite Prison, and Sline is trying to file through the handcuffs chaining the pair together.
Food is brought by radio-pic (primitive ‘radio-picture’ communications device) operator and engineer Bob Slater, who’s armed with a “short stubbly” detonator handgun. Captain Steven Redway looks in on the prisoners. The crew’s “immaculate silver and grey uniform of the period” was off the peg from Nathans theatrical outfitters.
The Starfinder, travelling at light speed, runs into trouble as it hits a meteor storm, resulting in ‘programme circuits shorting.’ The ‘small and wiry’ Co-pilot Rocket Smith (‘Rock’ to his friends) enters to inform the Captain that there’s smoke coming out of the radio-pic set. Somebody sabotaged it by chucking iron filings in it.
Forced to land to make repairs, the crew choose the relatively quiet nearby planet of Skaro, even though the Unispace Police have declared Skaro ‘out of bounds.’ The human crew are dimly aware that the hot planet Skaro is the home of the now deactivated Daleks and the beautiful blonde “wandering” race of Thals.
The aloof ‘Little Miss Iceberg’ Marion Clements - dark, attractive, businesslike in her smart white lab technician’s costume, enters with her boss, the handsome and dignified fiftysomething Professor Vanderlyn. The prisoners are disembarked, still manacled together, along with Vanderlyn’s equipment, including refrigerated crates of biological specimens from around the universe, wheeled in on a trolley to keep them out of the oven-like heat on board the Starfinder.
Now we’re in a courtyard in the dead City of the Daleks on Skaro, all archways and ramps and secret doors. There’s a dormant Dalek standing in the courtyard, overgrown with vines and with its eyestalk and its suction pad arm pointing at the ground. Vanderlyn relates how the humans managed to switch off the Daleks power at the end of the Dalek war, and embraces the Skaro landing as an “opportunity to make notes, aha!” Rocket hangs his jacket over the Dalek’s eyestalk. Vanderlyn and Marion pull the creepers off the Dalek to examine it. Captain Redway’s pants attempt at flirty jokes and Rocket Smith’s awful-sub-comic argumentative banter with Marion Clements go down like a lead balloon.
When Vanderlyn starts to unload his specimen cases from the trolley there’s one he doesn’t recognise - a large case with VENDERLYN on it, containing a dozen thick black discs - smooth bright metal base, metal without joins, in two sections with “some kind of barely visible pin sticking out of a hole in the base.” Before long, Rocket notices one of discs is missing. Seconds later it inevitably turns up stuck to the side of the overgrown Dalek, whose eyestalk twitches into life! “Slowly, its sucker stick starts to straighten up.”
It moves around and exits through the ramp.
The mystery black boxes turn out to be “flooding power into the Dalek like a blood transfusion,” and whispering recorded orders to the Daleks.
It is suggested “We could simply whistle up the space boys and that would be that” - presumably the Unispace security forces or the SSS (Space Security Service - they feature in The Dalek Master Planand in Nation’s treatment for a proposed Daleks TV series). Captain Redway takes command, while Vanderlyn goes into another tedious science lecture, this one on electricity. Sline files through his manacles and is felled by an anaesthetic bullet as he makes a break for it.
Three Daleks appear trundling down the ramp with a trolley on which is Vanderlyn’s crate, now containing the slumped body of Bob Slater. The black boxes are gone.
Now we’re in a rare scene with Daleks in it, in the Scanner room inside the City. “Black claw-equipped Daleks” are powering themselves up and plugging in a huge wide-screen telly on which they have the humans under surveillance. We hear a disembodied voice, called TANNOY DALEK in the script, who commands: “All-Daleks-not-on-patrol-duties-to-return -to-their-panels!” The Daleks have much better lines than the humans.
DEXION’S MIDNIGHT RUNNERS
Redway goes missing with the only detonator gun, leaving Rocket Smith in charge. It turns out that Slater was not killed by Daleks, but poisoned by a hypodermic. The humans send up a flare to bring in the Thals, who reply by flashing a piece of polished metal.
An explosion heralds the appearance of the dignified, white haired Thal leader Dexion and his daughter Ijayna as they seal passages behind them. “Close the arches!” barks Ijayna. “It’s no good being afraid of them.” Thals are still a quite low-tech, wandering race like in the original The Daleks, but they are no longer the namby-pamby girly pacifist race of that story. They’re already established as the guerrilla race we won’t meet again until the Pertwee-era Planet of the Daleks. “You are badly prepared!” comments Ijayna, to which Dexion replies; “You must make allowances. These people have not lived in the shadow of the Daleks as we have, “ and so on.
Thal clothes are “simple and designed to suit Skaroan climate which is constantly hot…Every effort must be made by the designer to help us avoid making the Thals look like pantomime creatures. They are not. The Thals are graceful, attractive, people, the simpler their clothes the better.” So no silver-sprayed wellies as in the Doctor Who and the Daleks movie, then. One theatre critic (or newspaper sub-editor) confused ‘Thal’ with ‘Thai’
The “fair, tall and beautiful” female Thal “Ijayna wears a skirt…. a thin silver band around her forehead which enclosed the top of her hair, sleeved top fixed at the wrists with silver cuffs. Top’s neckline and backline square-cut. Neck and backline edged with silver.” She has a surprisingly accurate 21st century bare midriff. This obsessive attention to Ijyana’s appearance is known in the Christmas season plays for children trade as “something for the dads.”
These Thals and Commander Ladiver have met before. Ladiver led the regular five-yearly patrol of local stars three years before, and investigated Ijayna’s claim that someone had landed secretly on Skaro just before Ladiver’s last visit - possibly to test the black boxes, they now believe. Ladiver’s reports were ignored, and his subsequent uranium-smuggling career was a cover for routine flights across “the Skaro universe.”
Well, blow me! It turns out Ijayana and Ladiver are engaged to be married. The Thals set Ladiver free. Dexion refers to “my people waiting in the dead [vitrified] forest” which featured in The Daleks, set fifty years before, and close to the city of the Daleks then. So it’s presumably the same enclosed City of the Daleks now, with courtyards added.
A badly-wounded Redway stumbles in, and the Tannoy Dalek orders the humans to “Obey-the-Da-leks!” and hand over their radio. It seems whoever is controlling the Daleks plans to “rule the universe from Skaro.” Night is falling when a torch-equipped Dalek appears through a secret door. They exterminate Sline when he runs for it.
There’s a distinctly undalek-like interest shown in rounding up the ladies, which is a clue to the plans of whoever the human traitor is: “The two females are to be given food and drink and also water in containers and pieces of fibre cloth. I shall order it! …Our master has ordered that we begin to prepare for the invasion of the planet earth!” By then, it looks as if whoever’s running the Daleks is probably male. Suspicion falls on Vanderlyn or Rocket Smith.
I’LL SHOW YOU HOW MAD I AM!
Now we’re in the Control room, which is the “redressed” courtyard set made to look like it’s underground. “Panels with switches and dials either side, glowing bulbs, recorded tape spools spin.” There’s a whole array of tripods and rostrums, bars and looped cables and big chunky Dalek six-pin electrical sockets with ‘holes in it, the size of a telephone dial.’ The male prisoners are drugged and propped up on a bench; the ladies are “secured to floor by magnets.”
It was Bob Slater all along! (Which I guessed.) He wasn’t really dead. He’d just injected something to freeze his heart. He put the detonator guns out of action. And he went off to see the Thals and smash their radio. And he’s NUTS! “I’ll show you how mad I am! Daleks, we will connect the power!”
It turns out the whole elaborate plan to take over the universe arose because he couldn’t get laid. Rather than put an ad in the “men seeking women” section of the local paper, he resolves to use the Daleks to take over earth. “The Daleks obey me!” Bob has already got his eye on the two girls, and goes on and on about how they’re going to be his playthings when he rules “all the universes” and how he will finally be able to pick up chicks.
Ladiver thwarts the Dalek powering-up by clinging to the underside of a trolley full of power cells pushed by a trolley Dalek.
When Daleks get full power, their black boxes fall off and they’re free of Bob Slater’s hair-brained scheme. They immediately turn on Slater (“You-are-no-longer-our-mas-ter!!) and exterminate him. In these pre-‘exterminate’ days, they just say “Die!” It isn’t related how the exterminate effect is done on stage. (Apparently, the catch-phrase "Exterminate!" didn't talk hold until the later TV Doctor Who story The Dalek Masterplan.)
But Ladiver has been busy pulling stronger-than-the-sun power cells out of their sockets all this time, and generally putting the boot into Dalek electrical engineering. No sooner are the Daleks all independently powered up, than the Black Dalek is begging the humans to “Turn on our power… again” As he shuts down, Black Dalek warns, “Tell your people on earth……that the Daleks are waiting … One day… we will… rise again… one day…”
“Tell them the Daleks are finished.” Says Ladiver.
“Are they?” replies Rocket, “Marvellous!”
The curtain falls on an interracial human-Thal snog between Ladiver and Ijanya. Hurrah!
The author with an Ecclestone/Tennant-era gold Dalek at the Doctor Who Experience, London, in 2011. Daleks copyright BBC/estate of Terry Nation.
TOO MUCH SPACE JARGON
“Too much space jargon” was the complaint of the Telegraph’s critic, while The Times said, “though the period is the 21st century, the dialogue is initially strangely reminiscent of British war films with the upper lip being kept resolutely stiff.” The cast had to “cope with lines that come straight from a Victorian novel, according to the Guardian. It is the dreadfulness of the dialogue that makes Curse really stand out:
“Nor me skipper.”
“I’ve had to deploy my men on various essential duties.”
“Apparently, they don’t teach you manners at flight school, captain.”
“The fool! The blind, stupid fool!”
“I’m forcing myself to put aside personal considerations.”
“Think what you’re doing man!”
“Our own power repels your controls, earthman!”
As Vanderlyn reminds us, “A Dalek, you must remember, needs no rest. He is a brilliant scientist, soldier and electronics engineer. He works 24 hours a day everyday, to see his race conquer and succeed in everything… Death has no terror for them. As you destroy a Dalek, so another takes its place….simply because Daleks only understand success or destruction.”
Sad Dalek-spotting nerds with no friends will be excited to hear that - alongside all the flame-thrower Daleks, oxyacetylene cutter-equipped Daleks, heavy weapons Daleks, sieve-armed embryo-handling hatchery Daleks, machine-gun equipped Exxilon expedition Daleks, left-handed Daleks, the more recent Tennant-era German-speaking Daleks(!) and other specialist Daleks that cropped up in various series, Curse has a unique Dalek variant all of its own. It’s a torch-equipped Dalek that has the normal exterminator but a suction arm replaced by a torch. The torch is used to activate concealed light-sensitive sensors that open secret doors out of the City of the Daleks courtyard, and it’s also handy for intimidating humans by shining it in their eyes. Curse is also the only occasion we see trolley dolly Daleks pushing trolleys. There’s even a trolley fight as humans shove trolleys up against Daleks.
Neither the Dalek operators nor the ‘Tannoy Dalek’ voice are credited, but the programme credits AARU - suppliers of the movie Daleks with the claws, for providing the Daleks. “Black claw-equipped Daleks” feature in the script turning on the big telly, plugging in power and starting up the generator at the end, but the technical rehearsal photo and publicity shots show the Shawcraft Daleks from the TV show. It looks like both were used. The Daleks in these photos don’t yet have the receptor dish on the back out of Dalek Invasion of Earth, or the solar panel slats around their mid-section, which did not become standard until The Chase in 1966.
The presence in Curse of Daleks without receptor dishes - apparently 29 years after Roy Castle turned off the power in Doctor Who and the Daleks proves beyond reasonable doubt that, when the First Doctor in The Dalek Invasion of Earth met receptor-dish equipped Daleks and said they must have been from an earlier period of Dalek history, he was talking out of his arse.
How the Daleks could have demolished London and Paris - as alluded to in the rhyme at the beginning - if they were unable to get off the floor of their spaceships from which they got their power is hard to imagine. There are outdoor scenes with a Dalek on the firing range in Genesis of the Daleks and they go on an exterminating trip into the Thal city, so we can assume that early Daleks did have a very limited range capacity to go out and about on reserve power for a short while, a bit like the old Sinclair C5 Galaxy electric cars.
CHRONOLOGY OF THE DALEKS
Noooooo! Don’t get me started on Dalek chronology! It’s complicated by the Fourth Doctor’s statement that he “only held up Dalek development by 800 years or so.” Then there’s The Day of the Daleks, which turns out never to have happened because the Doctor prevented it. The tendency of the recent Ecclestone era’s surviving Daleks to “fall through time” after the Great Time War confuses things even more. A quantum physics doctorate awaits anyone who can unscramble Dalek chronology.
Curse doesn’t simplify things very much either. Curse makes no mention of the Doctor at all, as Nation had no licence to use him, and the shutting down the power on Skaro incident at the end of The Daleks is attributed to a human army at the end of the (brief) Dalek war 50 years earlier, or the Daleks must be assumed to have already been revived all over again after Roy Castle turned the power off, only to then be shut down all over again by the Earth forces. “Nobody’s seen a dalek for years,” as one character comments in Curse.
Curse seems to introduce another Dalek invasion that preceded the one in The Dalek Invasion of Earth but this one is ended when the humans get to Skaro and shut down the central power source, transmitting power through space to the invasion fleets. In which case The Dalek Invasion of Earth would occur sometime after Curse, after yet another dick-for-brains had gone and turned the Dalek’s power back on again.
Curse is supposedly set 50 years after the original Daleks series, which tends to wee all over Dalek chronology (as usual), because the script gives a date of 2179 AD and says it’s Monday(!) If it really is 50 years after Daleks Invade Earth 2150 AD (the movie version of the TV series), then it should be 2200.
Unless this is the same invasion as The Dalek Invasion of Earth, and the thwarting of the Dalek invasion by detonating a magnetic bomb and setting off a volcano in Berkshire was just the first battle in a long war against Daleks all powered from a central source, including the satellite dish power receptor Daleks of Invasion. Except that the Daleks in Curse don’t have the power receptor dishes on their backs like they do in Invasion.
There is also universal confusion about “universes”. Curse is set in “the Skaro universe … in the next universe but one.” ” Our enemy plans to rule the Universe from Skaro. All the universes in fact,” and bonkers Bob Slater promises to rule “all the universes.” Maybe scriptwriter Whitters is confusing universes with galaxies. Could the meaning have changed by 2179?
There are some hilarious anachronisms in the 2179 of Curse. “About a year ago, girls were supposed to be gentle creatures - very much the weaker sex and happy to be so.” Sunday Joints for dinner (meat, not cannabis) have survived, and “a ten shilling watch can tell the time as well as Big Ben.” The survival of the quaint custom of engagements could be a Thal cultural thing.
When the Guardian’s critic talked about “a troupe of wooden figures” he was talking about the human actors not the Daleks, although The Times said the “actors play with all possible conviction.” The curse in Curse of the Daleks - apart from their inability to go up the stairs - seems to have been the curse on its actors’ careers. A life of walk-on parts in single episodes of undistinguished TV series awaited most of them as they finished work on Curse. You certainly never hear thesps on Radio 4 with their witty reminiscences about how “ I was third radio operator with Sir Richard Burton in Curse of the Daleks in matinee at the Wyndham back in ’66, don’t you know, luvvie?”
Nicholas Hawtrey, Curse’s Captain Redway, appeared as a guest star in an episode of Danger Man and the highlight of his career was probably the butler in Dangerous Liasons with John Malkovich. He pretty much reprised his Curse role in the 1966 Troughton-era David Whitaker-scripted TV Doctor Who series The Power of the Daleks as Examiner Quinn. Power recycled a lot of Curse ideas like (doh!) turning the Dalek’s power on again. Hawtrey seems to have been a fluent French speaker, appearing in French films or playing Frenchie characters in films with names like French Kiss in a TV series on General De Gaulle and had a regular stint on Victorian below stairs melodrama The Barretts of Wimpole Street. He played Abbe Pierre in a French movie on the founder of the Emmaus movement.
Hilary Tindall, who played Marion Clemens, ‘one of those hardish girls of the 21st century,’ seems to have escaped the curse of the Curse of the Daleks, finding fame with her “dark good looks and seductive glamour [which] made her the ideal other woman …in the still shockable 1970s” when she featured in 50 episodes of The Brothers, as the wife of a haulage business owner who was in and out of bed with a lot of married men. Sad Doctor Who geeks will get excited by a Doctor Who connection - Sixth Doctor Colin Baker also starred in The Brothers. Tindall was a mezzo-soprano singer and appeared in musicals like South Pacific. The Swedes were so taken by The Brothers they brought her over to star in a Scandinavian remake.
Other Tindall appearances were in the TV movie of Max Headroom - 20 minutes into the future, and as Deborah Swaffham, putting married relations in jeopardy in Reginald Perrin’s commune in the third series of The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin. She even has a topless scene in 1980s ITV series A Kind of Loving.
She also ‘starred’ in the instantly forgettable 1980s Granada kitchen utensil factory office sitcom Nice Work. In the original Randell and Hopkirk series, Hilary Tindall smiles behind her veil in the episode ‘The Smile Behind The Veil’. In the 1960s superhero Tibetan lost civilization nonsense sci-fi secret agent series The Champions, by Terry Nation’s co-writer on The Dalek Master Plan, Dennis Spooner, Hilary featured in one episode as a scientist’s fiancee who discovers he is selling high-speed planes to China. Nation contributed scripts to The Champions, series.
David Ashford, who played engineer, ‘radio-pic’ operator and bonkers megalomaniac Bob Slater, was in BBC2’s murder series Malice Aforethought and one of the Quatermass films. All the other actors disappeared off the theatrical radar screen shortly after appearing in Curse.
So obscure were the cast that set designer Jay Hutchinson Scott was perhaps the most famous one who outshone them all. He had designed for Glyndebourne and the National Theatre of the Netherlands, for TV and films, but is best known for the set design of No Sex Please, We’re British. He was more at home with intimate, realistic drawing room interiors with a sofa in the middle for half naked dolly birds to chase Ronnie Corbett around in his vest and spotted boxer shorts than with scanner rooms on Skaro.
Kenneth Williams in The Platinum Cat played in the evenings on the same stage after the Daleks had gone home, with the same producer as Curse, so it must have been a set that was easy to take down and put up again. Williams’ autobiography does not mention whether he tripped over the set for Skaro during his “Oooh, Matron!” routine.
Maybe the real curse in Curse of the Daleks is the tendency of not very far-sighted people throughout future history to go and bloody well turn the Dalek’s power on again. I blame the public information advertisements, which clearly aren’t scary enough. We’ve got some truly horrific ‘don’t drink and drive’ and teenage roadkill public information ads at cinemas these days, but what we really need is something like ‘Think once, think twice, think don’t go and turn the Dalek’s power back on again.’
© Copyright Matt Salusbury 2006, 2013
UPDATE (August 2013): The article above first appeared in This Way Up fanzine in January 2006, on the 40th anniversary of Curse of the Daleks. This Way Up has since succumbed to a bizarre national shortage of A5 envelopes, but the fanzines Live On Mars and Fringeworld have risen to take its place. (See the link at the top of this page.) My other articles for This Way Up/Fringeworld/Live On Mars/whatever it's called this week include How TV's greatest playwright Dennis Potter almost worked for Doctor Who
Since the article first appeared, the wonderful Theatre Museum’s library in London’s Covent Garden, where I did the initial research, has sadly closed. The revival of Doctor Who has also seen a revival of wall-to-wall Dalek-related merchandising. Dalek-human hybrid voice-changing masks, bubble bath, sticker books, limited edition Woolworth’s special model sets featuring Daleks in Manhattan “panel-damaged Daleks” and Marks and Spencers Dalek keyrings and two pages of Daleks in the Asda catalogue have taken Dalekmania well beyond the range of its previous 1965 zenith.
Altered Vistas - a non-profit one-man labour of love by Stuart Palmer - used to do an animated version of Curse of the Daleks which would be sent out for the price of postage. They stopped for copyright reasons when Big Finish's audio CD production of Curse of the Daleks came along. Yes, Big Finish thought Curse of the Daleks was actually good enough to spend money on!