Resurrection of the Daleks

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133[1]Resurrection of the Daleks
Doctor Who serial
Directed byMatthew Robinson
Written byEric Saward
Script editorEric Saward
Produced byJohn Nathan-Turner
Executive producer(s)None
Music byMalcolm Clarke
Production code6P
SeriesSeason 21
Running time4 episodes, 23 minutes each (televised as 2 episodes, 46 minutes each)
First broadcast8 February 1984 (1984-02-08)
Last broadcast15 February 1984 (1984-02-15)
← Preceded by
Followed by →
Planet of Fire
List of Doctor Who episodes (1963–1989)

Resurrection of the Daleks is the fourth serial of the 21st season in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in two weekly parts on BBC1 between 8 February and 15 February 1984. The serial was intended to be transmitted as four 23-minute episodes but a late scheduling change by the BBC meant that it was transmitted as two episodes of 46 minutes; reruns (and the 2002 DVD release) restored it to its intended format.

Written by the series' script editor, Eric Saward, the serial marks the Fifth Doctor's only encounter with the Daleks, last seen in Destiny of the Daleks (1979), the debut of Terry Molloy as the third actor to play the Daleks' creator, Davros, and the final regular appearance of Janet Fielding as companion Tegan Jovanka.


A group of futuristic humanoids in 1984 London are shot by two policemen led by Commander Lytton. Two of them, Galloway and Stien, escape into the adjacent Butler's Wharf where a time corridor is situated, but Galloway is killed. Lytton transports back to his battle cruiser in the far future and prepares to attack a prison space station whose only prisoner is the creator of the Daleks, Davros, who has been held there since the events of Destiny of the Daleks.

The Fifth Doctor, Tegan, and Turlough are being dragged down a time corridor in the TARDIS following on from the events at the end of Frontios. They emerge in the London Docklands.

The station crew, led by Dr. Styles and Lt. Mercer, fight off the Daleks. Lytton persuades the Dalek Supreme to use poisonous gas and the Daleks take over the ship. Osborn attempts to destroy Davros, but Lytton and an engineer break into the cell and kill Osborn then release Davros from his cryogenic imprisonment.

The Doctor and friends meet the traumatised Stien and all return to the warehouse to hunt for the time corridor. They meet a military bomb disposal squad, called in by builders. While the others are distracted, Turlough stumbles into the time corridor, ending up on the Dalek ship.

Having learned that the Doctor is in the warehouse, the Supreme Dalek orders a Dalek to detain him. It travels through the time corridor and kills several men before the Doctor advises them to focus their fire on its eyestalk, blinding it. Then they push it out window and it explodes on hitting the ground. Tegan is injured and blacks out. Only Styles, Mercer, and two guards are left alive of the original crew. Disguised in uniforms taken from Lytton's guards, they plan to blow up the station via its self-destruct system.

Davros vows to take his revenge on the Doctor. While Davros's travel chair is undergoing maintenance, Lytton explains that the Daleks lost their war against the Movellans because of a virus that attacks Dalek tissue. They have awakened Davros to find a cure. He demands that he remain on the ship while working on the virus. When Lytton leaves to discuss this with the Supreme Dalek, Davros uses a hypodermic-like mind control device to take control of Kiston.

The Doctor and the bomb disposal squad search for the Kaled mutant that was housed inside the destroyed Dalek. They kill it when it wounds one of the men. The Doctor and Stien head into the TARDIS to see what is happening at the other end of the time corridor. The TARDIS materialises inside the Dalek ship and the Doctor tells Stien that they should find Turlough and leave. But Stien reveals that he is an agent of the Daleks. A Dalek patrol closes in to exterminate the Doctor, but Lytton enters and tells them that the Supreme Dalek has ordered that the Doctor be taken alive. The Daleks lead the Doctor away. Turlough joins the remnants of the ship's crew, telling them that the time corridor might help them escape the effects of the ship's self-destruct.

On Earth, the man attacked by the Dalek is disorientated. The group commander, Colonel Archer, decides to radio for help; he seeks help from two policemen (Lytton's associates). As he tries their radio, a policeman holds a gun to his head.

The Daleks plan to clone the Doctor and his companions, using them to assassinate the Gallifrey High Council. Styles and two station guards are killed when trying to activate the self-destruct system.

On Earth, Colonel Archer's clone goes to the warehouse under Dalek control. The bodies of Colonel Archer and his men are seen aboard the Dalek ship. Tegan attempts to escape but is recaptured and taken to the Dalek ship. The squad's scientific advisor, Professor Laird, is shot while trying to flee. Davros demands tissue to find a cure. After consulting The Supreme Dalek, they agree but Davros uses the mind control device to take control of them.

In the duplication chamber, Stien becomes confused: the Doctor has realised that Stien's conditioning is unstable and tries to reawaken his ability to think for himself. As the mind-copying sequence nears completion, Stien breaks his conditioning and stops the process, freeing the Doctor. The Doctor finds Turlough and Tegan, and they return to the TARDIS along with Stien and another. Rather than depart, the Doctor decides to destroy Davros. With Stien and Lt. Mercer he heads to the station lab, leaving Tegan and Turlough in the TARDIS, which he has programmed to return them to the warehouse. The Doctor confronts Davros in the lab, but loses his chance to kill him when Stien's conditioning re-asserts itself long enough to let Lytton's troops kill Mercer. Stien refuses to accompany the Doctor back to the time corridor and runs off into the station.

Davros dispatches his Daleks to Earth. Anticipating resistance from the Daleks not loyal to him, Davros opens a capsule of the Movellan virus. Two Daleks enter with the intention of killing him but are killed by the virus. At the warehouse, Davros' Daleks battle those loyal to the Supreme Dalek. The Doctor returns through the time corridor, realising that the "unexploded bombs" discovered earlier contain the Movellan virus. He opens one and places it behind the Daleks, who start to die.

Lytton has escaped and sees the Daleks' demise. He swaps his Dalek uniform for a policeman's and joins his two fellow "bobbies". Davros prepares to flee, but the Movellan virus apparently kills hm. The Supreme Dalek appears on the TARDIS scanner and threatens the Doctor, claiming that the Daleks have duplicates of prominent humans all over Earth. Meanwhile, Stien is trying to activate the self-destruct sequence. Just as he is about to finish, the Daleks enter and exterminate him, but he manages to complete the sequence and destroys both the station and the Dalek ship.

The Doctor calls for them all to leave, but Tegan refuses, saying she no longer enjoys her adventures, and runs off. The Doctor is saddened by this, and he and Turlough leave. As the TARDIS vanishes, Tegan runs back, remembering the Doctor's old admonition: "Brave heart, Tegan." She calls out to the empty air that she will miss him.


The working titles of this story were The Return,[2] Warhead,[3] and The Resurrection. The story was originally due to be produced as the climax of season 20.[4] However, due to an electricians' strike, the story was postponed and, with minor rewrites, resurrected for season 21.

The story was originally supposed to have been directed by Peter Grimwade, whose work on Saward's previous story Earthshock had pleased the writer. When the story was postponed, Grimwade took members of the production team out to dinner, but did not invite John Nathan-Turner, because he had intended to take Nathan-Turner out separately. Nathan-Turner felt slighted by the omission and refused to allow Grimwade to direct the story when it was rescheduled for season 21.[5] Matthew Robinson, who had never worked on the series before but had a "reputation as an action director",[6] was used instead. However, Saward had already promised Grimwade that he could provide a script for the season, so Grimwade was allowed to write the following story, Planet of Fire. As well as the change of director, the serial's postponement also meant that Michael Wisher, who had originated the role of Davros in Genesis of the Daleks (1975), became unavailable.[3] Matthew Robinson cast Terry Molloy instead and showed him the tape of Wisher's performance.[7]

The filming location for the serial was Shad Thames and Butler's Wharf in September 1983, with studio scenes videotaped at TC8 of BBC Television Centre between September and October.[2][8]

Story format[edit]

This story was intended to be four parts of the usual 23-minute length. However, due to the BBC's coverage of the 1984 Winter Olympics held in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, the series' regular slot was not available. Rather than interrupt transmission, the decision was taken to transmit the story as two double-length episodes (46 minutes per episode), on consecutive Wednesdays rather than season 21's normal Thursday/Friday timeslot. It is often asserted that it was directly because of the success of the two-part experiment that the following season was produced in the same format: however, this decision had already been made.[9]

The first copy of the story to be sold to American PBS stations by the BBC was done in the original four-part serial format. However, part two had a raw soundtrack, lacking sound effects and music. The compilation version, in which the entire story is compressed into one feature-length episode, had the entire second half with the raw soundtrack, but the second quarter with music and effects intact. The portions with the raw soundtrack also included some extra scenes not used in the final four-part cut.

Cast notes[edit]

This is wrongly stated by Matthew Robinson on the DVD commentary as the television debut of Leslie Grantham. He had actually made his debut as a character called Boollie in a BBC2 Playhouse production called "Jake's End".[10] Grantham was offered the role of either Galloway or Kiston, and chose the latter because it would afford him more screen time and was a more challenging role.[11] He was soon cast as "Dirty" Den Watts in the soap opera EastEnders, again being cast on the recommendation of Matthew Robinson;[10] following his return to the soap opera in 2004, his character addressed another character, wheelchair-using Ian Beale, as 'Davros', and encountered a police officer named 'Kiston', meta-references to his appearance in Doctor Who.[12]

Broadcast and reception[edit]

EpisodeTitleRun timeOriginal air dateUK viewers
(millions) [13]
1"Part One"46:248 February 1984 (1984-02-08)7.3
2"Part Two"46:5215 February 1984 (1984-02-15)8.0

In Doctor Who: The Complete Guide, Mark Campbell awarded Resurrection of the Daleks two out of ten, describing it as "an ultra-violent, soulless remake of Earthshock. Beneath the technobabble, endless continuity references, silly hats and abysmally acted death scenes, there's no sign of a plot."[14] In 2019, Paul Mount of Starburst described it as "a collision of clunky ideas artlessly welded together, dodgy dialogue, ropey characterisation and a plot that meandered and wandered [...] Resurrection, with its stratospherically high body count and unremittingly grim tone, was far darker and messier than the show ever needed to be."[15]

For Radio Times, Mark Braxton awarded the serial three stars out of five. He stated, "There’s serious intent here: a grim, Euston-Films landscape of deserted docklands; sturdy, open sets; disturbing music; and a high, TV-watchdog-needling body count." He praised the performances of Rodney Bewes and in particular the "top of the form" Maurice Colbourne, and "complexity in the story", which has "gnarly grey areas of the kind that we're more familiar with in the Moffat era", but added "the story doesn't really enlarge the Dalek mythos." He concluded that "parts of the plot seem tacked on and ill-considered: the whole duplicates business makes little sense. And there is so much in the way of homage that Resurrection of the Daleks is less than the sum of its parts. Is it enjoyable? Yes. Does it feel like a proper story? Sadly not."[8] The serial was awarded four stars out of five by Andrew Allen in a review for Cultbox. Allen thought the story bore a closer resemblance to a Blake's 7 episode than a standard Doctor Who story with its "grim-faced mercenaries, disaffected crew members" and "unrelenting body count". Although he thought the "location filming in Wapping looks wonderful", he was critical of "perfunctory" production aspects including the presentation of the Daleks "without fanfare, majesty or indeed a fresh lick of paint", and Davros' introduction "glowering behind a sheet of frosted plastic, unremarked upon for a healthy chunk of screentime". He also thought it was "not a great story to serve as Janet Fielding’s swansong". Overall, he concluded that it was "not the best Dalek story" but "quite far from the worst: full of drive, energy, and quite genuinely never a dull moment."[16]

Commercial releases[edit]

In print[edit]

Doctor Who – Resurrection of the Daleks
AuthorEric Saward
SeriesDoctor Who novelisations
PublisherBBC Books
Publication date
18 July 2019

This is one of five Doctor Who serials that were never originally novelised by Target Books (the others being The Pirate Planet, City of Death, Shada, and Revelation of the Daleks), as they were unable to come to an agreement with Eric Saward and Dalek creator Terry Nation that would have allowed Saward or another writer to adapt the script; although Virgin Books (the successor to Target) did announce plans to publish a novelisation by Saward in the early 1990s, this ultimately did not occur. A fan group in New Zealand did publish an unofficial novelisation of the story in 2000, later republishing it as an online eBook titled Doctor Who: Resurrection of the Daleks.[17] The novelisation by Eric Saward was released on hardcover 18 July 2019.[18] and an audiobook edition followed on 4 July 2019.[19][20] A Target Books edition was published in paperback 11 March 2021.[21]

Home media[edit]

Resurrection of the Daleks was released on VHS in November 1993. Both the VHS (now out of print) and DVD releases of this story reverted to the four-episode format. The previously unused episode breaks are when the first Dalek comes through the time corridor in the warehouse, and in the second half of the story, when Davros begins preparing the Movellan virus, promising to exact vengeance on the Doctor and set himself up as the leader of a new Dalek race.

This story was first released on DVD in the United Kingdom on 18 November 2002. Special features include commentary on all episodes by Peter Davison, Janet Fielding and Matthew Robinson, deleted scenes, trailer and a 5.1 digital surround sound mix. A short feature "Resurrection of the Daleks - On Location" was also included, directed by Paul Vanezis, which was recorded at Shad Thames in March 2002. It included interviews with Robinson and Saward, and the final on-screen interview conducted with John Nathan-Turner before his death in May of that year. It was re-released in 2003 as part of a limited run box set with The Dalek Invasion of Earth and Remembrance of the Daleks[22] and in 2007 as part of a box set that contains Genesis of the Daleks, Destiny of the Daleks, Revelation of the Daleks and Remembrance of the Daleks.

This story was released as the accompanying DVD with Issue 34 of the Doctor Who DVD Files on 21 April 2010, released by GE FABBRI.[23]

The story was re-released on DVD in 2011 as part of the Revisitations 2 box set (along with The Seeds of Death and Carnival of Monsters) in an expanded 2-disc set with the original as-broadcast 2x46 minutes version included on the second disc.[24] New special features included a commentary on the episodes by Saward, Terry Molloy and visual effects designer Peter Wragg (moderated by Nicholas Pegg), a documentary called Casting Far and Wide in which Toby Hadoke interviewed other members of the cast, and a documentary about the era of the Fifth Doctor called Come in Number Five which was presented by David Tennant, the son-in-law of Peter Davison.


  1. ^ From the Doctor Who Magazine series overview, in issue 407 (pp26-29). The Discontinuity Guide, which counts the unbroadcast serial Shada, lists this as story number 134. Region 1 DVD releases follow The Discontinuity Guide numbering system.
  2. ^ a b Howe, David J.; Walker, Stephen James (1995). "Resurrection of the Daleks (6P)". Doctor Who The Handbook - The Fifth Doctor. London: Doctor Who Books. p. 147. ISBN 0-426-20458-1.
  3. ^ a b "BBC One - Doctor Who, Season 21, Resurrection of the Daleks - The Fourth Dimension". BBC. Retrieved 25 September 2021.
  4. ^ Howe & Walker 1995, p. 148
  5. ^ "The Revelations of a Script Editor". Starburst. September 1986. Issue 97. Page 16.
  6. ^ Banks, David (1990). Doctor Who: Cybermen. WH Allen & Co. p. 123. ISBN 0352327383.
  7. ^ "Doctor Who: My life as Davros". BBC Online. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  8. ^ a b Braxton, Mark. "Resurrection of the Daleks ★★★". Radio Times. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  9. ^ "BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Resurrection of the Daleks - Details".
  10. ^ a b "The rollercoaster life and career of Leslie Grantham". Entertainment Daily. 15 June 2018. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  11. ^ Resurrection of the Daleks DVD commentary (2002)
  12. ^ EastEnders, 9 July 2004.
  13. ^ "Ratings Guide". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  14. ^ Campbell, Mark (2011). Doctor Who: The Complete Guide. Robinson Publishing. ISBN 978-1849015875. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  15. ^ Mount, Paul (25 July 2019). "Resurrection of the Daleks". Starburst. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  16. ^ Allen, Andrew (30 March 2011). "'Doctor Who': Resurrection Of The Daleks (Revisitations 2) DVD review". Cultbox. Retrieved 11 October 2021.
  17. ^ Scoones, Paul. "NZDWFC: Doctor Who: Resurrection of the Daleks". Retrieved 13 August 2010.
  18. ^ Doctor Who: Resurrection of the Daleks: Eric Saward: 9781785944338: Books. ASIN 1785944339.
  19. ^ Doctor Who: Resurrection of the Daleks: 5th Doctor Novelisation: Eric Saward, Terry Molloy, Nicholas Briggs: 9781787537033: Books. ASIN 178753703X.
  20. ^ "Doctor Who: Resurrection of the Daleks". Penguin Books UK. Penguin Books. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  21. ^ Saward, Eric. Doctor Who: Resurrection of the Daleks (Target Collection).
  22. ^ "The TARDIS Library: 40th Anniversary Dalek box set". Retrieved 13 August 2010.
  23. ^ "Doctor Who DVD Files". Archived from the original on 10 January 2013. Retrieved 13 August 2010.
  24. ^ "BBC Shop-Doctor Who DVDs". Retrieved 8 April 2011.

External links[edit]


Fan novelisation[edit]