The Curse of the Daleks

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The Curse of the Daleks
Curse programme.jpeg
A programme for The Curse of the Daleks
Written by David Whitaker
Terry Nation
Date premiered 21 December 1965 (1965-12-21)
Place premiered Wyndham's Theatre
Original language English
Genre Science Fiction

The Curse Of The Daleks is a Dalek stage play, written by David Whitaker and Terry Nation, which appeared for one month at the Wyndham's Theatre in London, beginning on 21 December 1965. It is notable for being Terry Nation's first live action attempt to exercise his ownership of the Dalek concept independently of the BBC. As such, it does not include the Doctor, the TARDIS or any other elements from Doctor Who.

It was performed mostly as a matinée, indicating its marketing towards children.

It was produced by John Gale and Ernest Hecht, and directed by Gillian Howell.


Following the crash landing of an Earth spacecraft on Skaro, one of the astronauts believes he can turn the Daleks into his servants. As ever, the Daleks have other plans.


Freelance writers for the BBC were allowed to retain intellectual property rights over concepts and characters they introduced into individual serials. As a result, Terry Nation found himself co-owning the Dalek phenomenon of the mid-1960s. Nation was eager to find some way of divorcing them from the Doctor Who universe so that he could build a franchise which would not require BBC cooperation, and two such attempts were made in 1965.

One was the Doctor- and companion-less episode Mission to the Unknown. Though commonly known as an introduction to the Doctor Who serial, The Daleks' Master Plan, it was also preparatory to a proposed Dalek-only pilot called, The Destroyers.[1] Had it been completed, The Destroyers would have been centred on the same "Space Security Service" seen in Mission to the Unknown and Master Plan.

The second was through this play, which introduced the idea of accidental human discovery of the planet Skaro (similar to what happened to the TARDIS crew in The Daleks), and the humans' subsequent reaction against the Daleks.

While this was the only of the two approaches that actually got produced on the strength of Terry Nation's ownership alone, it received no further independent development. Elements from this play were later reworked by David Whitaker for the Second Doctor television story The Power of the Daleks.

In 2008, Big Finish Productions reproduced the play in an audio format starring Nicholas Briggs as the voice of the Daleks, along with The Ultimate Adventure and The Seven Keys to Doomsday.


Character Original theatre production Audio drama
Capt. Redway Nicholas Hawtrey Patric Kearns
Rocket Smith Edward Gardener Nick Wilton
Bob Slater David Ashford James George
Prof. Vanderlyn John Moore John Line
Marion Clements Hilary Tindall Beth Chalmers
Jonathan Ladiver John Line Michael Praed
Harry Sline Colin Miller Derek Carlyle
Dexion Nicholas Bennet Glynn Sweet
Ijayna Suzanne Mockler Denise Hoey


The Times newspaper's anonymous critic gave The Curse of the Daleks a mixed but generally positive assessment in a review published on 22 December 1965. "No less compelling on the stage than the television screen, the Daleks are the undoubted stars of this futuristic adventure story," opened the piece. The reviewer concluded that: "After their false start, depending too much on weak jokes and technical jargon, a feeling of genuine crisis is generated. And the patience of the youthful matinée audience is rewarded as the Dalek menace increases. Despite the rather stilted dialogue, the actors play with all possible conviction, and Gillian Howell's direction has the necessary pace."[2]

An animated CGI version of 'Curse Of The Daleks' has been made by Dr Who enthusiast, Stuart Palmer, but was taken down so as not to compete with the Big Finish audio adaptation. It was available at, which still shows CGI stills from the production.

Audio adaptation[edit]

The Curse of the Daleks
Album cover
Big Finish Productions audio drama
Series Doctor Who: The Stageplays
Release number 3
Featuring The Daleks
Writer David Whitaker
Terry Nation
Director Nicholas Briggs
Executive producer(s) Nicholas Briggs
Jason Haigh-Ellery
Production code BFPDWSPCD03
Release date November 2008

The Curse of the Daleks is a Big Finish Productions audio drama based on the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Mission to the Unknown at Doctor Who: A Brief History Of Time (Travel)
  2. ^ "The Daleks Come to Life". The Times. 1965-12-22. p. 11.