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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"
Doctor Who episodes (1963–1989)
Doctor Who episodes (2005–present)

"Dalek" is the sixth episode of the revived first series of the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who. It was first broadcast on BBC One 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 (Corey Johnson), a rich collector of alien artefacts. In the episode, the alien time traveller the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) and his travelling companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) encounter the bunker's only living exhibit: a Dalek, which breaks loose and proceeds to start killing everyone in the bunker after repairing itself.


Drawn by a distress signal, the Doctor and Rose arrive in a massive underground bunker near Salt Lake City, Utah in 2012, filled with alien artefacts. 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 Adam Mitchell, a man who buys and catalogues artefacts for van Statten, 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 very 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 weakened creature and touches its casing; the Dalek promptly absorbs her DNA and the remnants of time energy she has from travelling in time, and is able to re-energise itself. It escapes its bonds, kills several guards, and connects to the Internet where it learns of the fate of the Daleks and realises it is the last surviving member of its race. With no other purpose, it proceeds to target and exterminate all non-Dalek life forms. 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 embedded in itself from Rose's DNA. The Dalek is urged to kill van Statten, but Rose instead convinces it 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 that the Dalek has developed emotions. However, the Dalek is unable to cope with these emotions, and, now aware of the hopelessness of its situation, it asks Rose to order 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 to travel with her and the Doctor since he will have no job after this.



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.[1]

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 villain's son, but Shearman decided against it.[1] 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".[2][3] 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".[1]


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.[1] Filming of the episode began on 25 October 2004 at the National Museum Cardiff,[4] 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.[1]

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.[5]

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.[6] 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."[6]

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.[7][8] 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."[9] In 2010 Den of Geek placed the episode as number 2 in their list of the Top 10 Dalek stories.[10]

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.[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e Sullivan, Shannon. "Dalek". Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel). Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  2. ^ Sullivan, Shannon. ""The Sound of Drums"/"Last of the Time Lords"". Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel). Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  3. ^ "50 Fascinating Doctor Who Almosts..." SFX. 2013-06-07. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  4. ^ "Walesarts, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff". BBC. Retrieved 2010-05-30. 
  5. ^ Lyon, Shaun (2005-04-25). "Weekend Series Coverage". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 7 February 2009. Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  6. ^ a b "Under-12 ban on Dalek torture DVD". BBC News. BBC. 2005-05-16. 
  7. ^ Lyon, Shaun (2005-05-01). "Dalek Overnight Ratings". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  8. ^ Lyon, Shaun (2005-05-13). "Mid-week Series update". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  9. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ "Doctor Who: The Top 10 Dalek stories". 
  11. ^ "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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