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Dalek (Doctor Who episode)

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161 – "Dalek"
Doctor Who episode
Flying Dalek.jpg
The Dalek overcomes its supposed weakness.
Directed by Joe Ahearne
Written by Robert Shearman
Script editor Helen Raynor
Produced by Phil Collinson
Executive producer(s) Russell T Davies
Julie Gardner
Mal Young
Incidental music composer Murray Gold
Production code 1.6
Series Series 1
Length 45 minutes
Originally broadcast 30 April 2005
← Preceded by Followed by →
"World War Three" "The Long Game"
List of Doctor Who serials

"Dalek" is the sixth episode of the revived first series of British science fiction television programme Doctor Who, which was first broadcast on 30 April 2005. This episode is the first appearance of the Daleks in the 21st century revival of Doctor Who; it also marks the first appearance of Bruno Langley as companion Adam Mitchell.

The episode is set in Utah in the year 2012, in the underground bunker owned by Henry van Statten, a rich collector of alien artifacts. The Doctor encounters his one living exhibit: a creature called "the Metaltron", which the Doctor is horrified to discover is a surviving Dalek. When the Dalek escapes, the Doctor races against time to stop it from getting to the surface and wreaking havoc on humanity.


Drawn by a distress signal, the Doctor and Rose arrive via TARDIS in a massive underground bunker near Salt Lake City, Utah in 2012, filled with alien artifacts. They are discovered by soldiers and taken to the bunker's owner, Henry van Statten, who cordially welcomes them. Rose is offered a tour of the facility by a technician Adam Mitchell, while the Doctor stays behind to talk to van Statten. Van Statten takes the Doctor to show him the pride of his collection, which he calls the "Metaltron", and directs the Doctor into a room that is part of his secure Vault. Inside, the Doctor is shocked to discover the Metaltron is a Dalek, which he thought were all wiped out from the Time War. The Dalek is weak and unable to break its bonds, but when the Doctor attempts to destroy it, van Statten orders his guards to restrain the Doctor and return him to his offices. There, van Statten has the Doctor secured, noting that not only does he collect aliens, but also tortures them to gain information, and proceeds to invasively and violently study the Doctor's body to learn more about his psychology.

Meanwhile, Adam has taken Rose to the Dalek. Rose takes pity on the creature and touches its casing; the Dalek absorbs her DNA and the remnants of time energy she has from traveling in the TARDIS, and re-energizes itself. It escapes its bonds, kills several guards, and connects to the Internet to learn it is the last surviving Dalek. With no other purpose, it proceeds to target and exterminate any non-Dalek life form. The Vault is locked-down, and while Adam escapes, Rose is trapped within. van Statten is forced to release the Doctor to help stop the Dalek, but the Dalek refuses to cooperate, and continues killing all those left in the Vault.

The Dalek's open casing, as shown at the Doctor Who Experience

As the Dalek discovers Rose, the video feeds to the Vault are lost, and the Doctor immediately sets off to try to get back into the Vault. The Dalek tries to kill Rose but it cannot, having found compassion from Rose's DNA. The Dalek is urged to kill van Statton, but Rose instead convinces to spare his life. She follows the Dalek as it makes its way to the highest part of the Vault and destroys the roof, exposing the area to natural sunlight that the Dalek basks in. The Doctor arrives and prepares to kill the Dalek, but Rose stops him, convincing him the Dalek has developed emotions. However, the Dalek is unable to cope with them, and it asks Rose to orders its own self-destruction to end its pain. Rose reluctantly agrees, and the Dalek shortly implodes thereafter.

As they regroup with van Statten's staff, they learn his assistant has taken over, and will have van Statten's memories wiped of the Vault, while planning on filling the entire bunker with cement to prevent other problems. Rose offers Adam a ride in the TARDIS since he will have no job after this.


The Dalek ability to fly or hover dates back to The Chase, where a Dalek was implied to have taken flight,[1] while in Revelation of the Daleks, a Dalek hovered to exterminate two victims. The first part of the 1988 serial Remembrance of the Daleks shows a Dalek who was clearly seen to hover up a flight of stairs to the Doctor's horror.[2] Rose and Adam allude to a long-held fan joke about the Daleks' inability to climb stairs,[3][4][5] and are horrified when it does so.

This episode marks the first on-screen appearance of the Daleks as a primary adversary, without their creator Davros, since the 1974 Third Doctor story Death to the Daleks. Since his introduction in 1975's Genesis of the Daleks, Davros had appeared in every subsequent Dalek story in the original series run. He is not named in this episode, but the Doctor describes him as "a genius... a man who was king of his own little world". Davros would later be re-introduced in the 2008 two-part story The Stolen Earth/Journey's End.

The museum's display items feature the arm of a Slitheen (Raxacoricofallapatorian) from "Aliens of London", which Rose recognises, and something that the Doctor refers to as "An old friend, well, enemy... " – a Cyberman head (from Revenge of the Cybermen, but the label on its display case references The Invasion). A reference book, Doctor Who: The Visual Dictionary, describes the exhibit behind the Doctor's and Rose's heads when they are looking at the Cyberman's helmet as the decayed head of a Sea Devil from the Jon Pertwee serial The Sea Devils.

The callsign for van Statten's personal helicopter is "Bad Wolf One", a recurrent phrase throughout the first series. An excerpt from this episode is used in "Bad Wolf", when Rose recalls where she had encountered the phrase before.[6]



Rob Shearman, the writer of the episode, had his first encounter with the revived series of Doctor Who in 2003 after he created the Sixth Doctor audio Jubilee. Executive producer Russell T Davies drew heavily on Jubilee to create "Return of the Daleks" for his pitch to the BBC, a story which Davies hoped to recreate the menace shown by the Daleks in their 1963 debut The Daleks. The adventure changed the setting from the alternate Earth in Jubilee to 2012 Utah, with the lone Dalek featured being held captive by businessman Henry Van Statten, a caricature of Microsoft's chairman Bill Gates.[7]

The script went through several changes. The story itself was initially called "Creature of Lies", and Van Statten was originally called Hiram Duchesne. For a short period of time, Adam was the villains son, but Shearman decided against it.[7] The most notable change to the script happened when the Nation estate, holders of the rights for the Daleks, blocked the use of the Daleks due to the BBC licensing them out too much. The changed story contained an alien akin to a child who kills for pleasure, which eventually evolved into the Toclafane from "The Sound of Drums" and "Last of the Time Lords".[8][9] Finally, the BBC were able to secure the rights from the Nation estate, and at the same time gave the episode its final name, "Dalek".[7]


The episode was placed in the third production block, along with "Father's Day" and "The Long Game", the latter taken out due to delays in special effects creation. The episode's placement in the series was intentional so as to stave off an anticipated mid-series drop in viewership, although the BBC suggested that the episode be the premiere.[7] Filming of the episode began on 25 October 2004 at the National Museum Cardiff,[10] before moving to the Millennium Stadium the following day, where most of the episode was filmed. Most of the filming finished on 3 November 2004, with pick-up shots completed at the show's studio space in Newport throughout the remainder of the month.[7]

Critical reception and awards[edit]

Before the broadcast, media watchdog organisation Mediawatch-uk complained about certain elements of the episode, characterising Van Statten's chaining and invasive scan of the Doctor as a "sado-masochistic" torture scene. Mediawatch also objected to Van Statten's invitation to Adam and Rose to "canoodle or spoon, or whatever you British do" as inappropriate sexual language.[11]

When it was released on DVD, British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) gave the episode a 12 rating, because of the scenes where the Doctor is seen to torture the Dalek.[12] The BBFC stated:

"We are concerned about role models for children using the sort of tactics that Doctor Who used against the Dalek. If that was transferred into the playground it would be something we would want to tackle."[12]

Reception to the episode was positive. The episode's overnight ratings was 7.73 million viewers, 46% of the audience share, a figure that was finalised to 8.64 million viewers.[13][14] The Times stated that the episode was an "unqualified triumph". The Guardian commented that "Shearman's script bamboozles expectations", and the episode "should hopefully show 2005's kids what was always so wonderful about the iconic tin-rotters.". The London Evening Standard found the lack of surprise (namely, calling the episode "Dalek") the only disappointment, and Daily Mirror simply stated that "for 30 pant-shittingly wonderful minutes, BBC1's new Doctor Who was the best thing on telly. Ever."[15] In 2010 Den of Geek placed the episode as number 2 in their list of the Top 10 Dalek stories.[16]

The episode was nominated for the 2006 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form along with other Doctor Who episodes "Father's Day" and "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances". The stories came third, fifth, and first, respectively.[17]


  1. ^ Terry Nation (writer), Richard Martin (director), Verity Lambert (22 May – 26 June 1965). Season 2. The Chase. Doctor Who. BBC. BBC1. 
  2. ^ Ben Aaronovitch (writer), Andrew Morgan (director), John Nathan-Turner (producer) (5 October 1988). "Part One". Remembrance of the Daleks. Doctor Who. BBC. BBC1. 
  3. ^ Birkett, Peter (1981-08-05). "Well, this certainly buggers our plan to conquer the Universe". Punch. Retrieved 2006-12-01. 
  4. ^ Dippold, Ron (1992-02-06). "Federal Department of Transportation Bulletin #92–132" (USENET post). Google Groups. Retrieved 2007-01-15. 
  5. ^ Heath, Ben (2005-12-08). "Best records, 2001–2005". dtweekend. Daily Texan. Retrieved 2007-01-15. 
  6. ^ Russell T Davies (writer), Joe Ahearne (director), Phil Collinson (producer) (11 June 2005). "Bad Wolf". Doctor Who. Series 1. Episode 12. BBC. BBC One. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Sullivan, Shannon. "Dalek". Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel). Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  8. ^ Sullivan, Shannon. ""The Sound of Drums"/"Last of the Time Lords"". Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel). Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  9. ^ "50 Fascinating Doctor Who Almosts.." SFX. 2013-06-07. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  10. ^ "Walesarts, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff". BBC. Retrieved 2010-05-30. 
  11. ^ Lyon, Shaun (2005-04-25). "Weekend Series Coverage". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 7 February 2009. Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  12. ^ a b "Under-12 ban on Dalek torture DVD". BBC News. BBC. 2005-05-16. 
  13. ^ Lyon, Shaun (2005-05-01). "Dalek Overnight Ratings". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  14. ^ Lyon, Shaun (2005-05-13). "Mid-week Series update". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  15. ^ Lyon, Shaun; et al. (2005-05-01). "Saturday Series Press Roundup". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form". 2006 Hugo Award & Campbell Award Winners. 2006-08-26. Archived from the original on 28 June 2007. Retrieved 2006-08-28. 

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