Doctor Who - Documentary s01e01 Episode Script

Creation of the Daleks

I laid down the rules to her that she was not to have any bug-eyed monsters.
None of these creepy-crawly things from outer space, the usual nonsense of science fiction stuff.
And then she came up with this Dalek business and I was livid with anger.
And she said, ''But, honest, Sydney, they are not bug-eyed monsters.
''They're really.
They were once living creatures with brains, ''and their brains had become so large, their bodies had atrophied, ''and they needed the metal casing to support the brain.
'' There, again, is the wisdom of being a great head of drama group.
I didn't want to do The Forsyte Saga and it turned to be a world winner.
I didn't want any bug-eyed monsters and the Daleks is what made Doctor Who.
(SCREAMING) When I joined the BBC I was totally new to this invention - they were called script editors.
And they had all this long-term responsibility.
They found the authors, and the outline, the first draft came to them.
And David Whitaker was the original script editor assigned to the Doctor Who team.
And he, I remember, came up with Terry Nation and asked me what I thought, you know.
And I thought it sounded like a good idea.
I think Terry Nation was very much Just an ideas man.
Terry did write a good script, but David sometimes put a bit of substance into our main characters, which had to make sure that, you know, they weren't sold short.
So he had the idea of the story and I think David nursed him along a lot with the dialogue.
Because David was a very thoughtful, very quiet, very intelligent man, who would tend to find the human element in something which would otherwise simply be a ''wham bam, thank you, ma'am'' type thriller.
I did say to him once, I said, ''Terry, you often write in your scripts ''that they enter into a white, featureless room.
''They walk along a white, featureless tunnel.
'' I said, ''Why is everything white and featureless?'' He said, ''Well, I couldn't think of anything else to say, really.
It's up to you.
Do what you like.
'' Over 500 years ago there were two races on this planet, we, the Daleks, and the Thals.
This planet, Skaro, had been decimated by an atomic explosion of some kind.
And the Daleks retreated into the Dalek city, which was atomic bomb-proof.
After the neutronic war, our Dalek forefathers retired into the city, protected by our machines.
And they were pretty angry about their whole situation.
And they had become hopelessly mutated.
They had lost, both by being underground and being naturally mutated, or mutated unnaturally through radio mutation, into a sort of blob.
For us, the drug is a poison.
And radiation is still necessary to us.
Using the radiation, using their own mutation, as it were, to their own advantage.
(EXCLAIMING) CUSICK: It was described as having an eye on a stalk and moving around on a round base, with arms that had callipers, or claws, or something like this.
The moment he started drawing.
And the great joy of those designers of that calibre is that they talk with their pencil.
A piece of paper immediately becomes an idea.
The original design was more cylindrical.
But it had then occurred to me, of course, that the operator was going to be inside that for quite some time during rehearsals or during the recording, and that it would be preferable if he were sitting.
Of course we wanted several of these.
We had four finally.
I mean, Chris and I were talking about 20, but.
CUSICK: There were four Daleks made originally, for the grand total of £250, which doesn't seem much, but in 1963 it was quite a bit of money.
They were built down in Shawcraft in Uxbridge, out of plastic and three-ply, as light as possible.
CUSICK: Shawcraft Models, who made special props and effects for at least the first three years of Doctor Who, were a freelance company that operated from a couple of sheds Just west of London Airport.
Do you think they really are just machines? What do you mean? Well, I was going to say.
Do you think there's someone inside them? SUMMERTON: I can explain.
My agent called.
''Next Tuesday, could you go to the BBC workshop?'' The first time I saw a Dalek was that day.
In fact, I only saw half of it, to start with, because the prototype was wheeled out, Just the bottom half.
CUSICK: And the base was open to the floor, the studio floor.
It had three Flexello rubber-tyred three-inch casters.
So I sat in it and he said, ''We want to test this prototype ''for manoeuvrability.
''We want you to move forwards, backwards, sideways.
Quickly, slowly.
''We want to see how you can move it.
'' This I did.
And I was quite exhausted, because it was quite a large area.
CUSICK: There was the controls for the operator to operate the ray gun Fire! and the plunger.
It wasn't originally going to be a plunger, but that's all we could afford.
MARTIN: It should have been something much more organic that could repel or pull and move much more complexedly.
But I'm afraid price pulled it down to the lavatory cleaner.
CUSICK: If it had to carry anything, we had a large magnet screwed inside the plunger, so it could carry things on a metal tray.
The door is locked.
Emergency alarm! CUSICK: There was a scene where a Dalek had to cut through one of the metal doors with a oxyacetylene-welder type of apparatus.
It is nearly completed.
CUSICK: And this was devised up by Shawcraft Models.
For the operators to see out, it occurred to me, of course, that a device used in the theatre is a gauze.
And if it's lit from the front, you see the gauze, or what's painted on the gauze.
But for a person behind the gauze, they can see through it.
And there was a cheap system, run off a battery, where the operator could, with a little switch, flick the switch and flash the lights to indicate that the Dalek was speaking.
And if they do not die, we shall have our answer.
But if we need radiation, we can never rebuild the world outside.
CUSICK: That was a hurried, last-minute thing.
When I paid a visit to the rehearsal rooms, the director, he said, ''I've got one problem,'' he said, ''When a particular Dalek has a line, ''I can't tell which Dalek is speaking.
'' So I said, ''Well, we'll have lights on the top, ''which the operator can operate from inside.
'' That's why I'm sure that actors were hired, rather than extras.
Because we had to read the script.
We had to know where the Dalek had to be at any given time on the set, because we had to move in keeping with the lines.
CUSICK: A lot of the refinements I left to Bill Roberts.
And he phoned me up and said, ''The Dalek eye,'' he said, ''I found in a cardboard box an iris from an old camera.
''How about if I built that into the eye?'' Because the lapse of time, the relaxation of sleep, the provision of food, all these things will give them a false sense of security.
The early Dalek operators were cast because of their size and their muscular ability.
We didn't wear very much, needless to say.
I used to work in a T-shirt, underwear, and sneakers.
Because that was just more comfortable.
MARTIN: I'd worked with Gerry Taylor, one of my favourite little character actors.
I'd worked with him a lot in rep.
He was a natural, as far as I was concerned, not because he was particularly strong, but he was agile.
And because he would respond very quickly.
Kevin was another Australian.
And again, very small, but also very sensitive.
He was a very sensitive man.
So he would be listening like crazy to the amount of hysteria that was being whipped up by our two wonderful voices in the booth in the corner.
And he would try and make the thing gyrate to move to that.
The only interest we have in the Thals is their total extermination.
I think it was maybe just to keep the momentum of the scene going and hold the viewers' interest, rather than the Dalek looking like a piece of scenery.
MARTIN: It was a matter of trying to coordinate, listen, coordinate and work out what the thing was looking like when you were inside.
Very difficult thing to do.
I wouldn't like to do it.
They were very good.
LAMBERT: It was very important to have an effective Dalek voice.
And we spent quite a lot of time before we decided on what the final one was.
And I think Brian Hodgson had quite a lot to do with that at the Radiophonic Workshop.
I'd been working on a children's radio series called Sword from the Stars.
And I'd created a robot voice for a butler robot called the Jones robot, using a ring modulator, which is a device that turns the sound on and off, so many times a second.
The child has set out.
Her direction is being followed on the rangerscopes? Yes.
Mark her movements carefully.
If there are more Thal people living in the jungle, -she will try to contact them.
-I understand.
I think early on we probably batted, you know, different ideas and different vocal qualities and tonal qualities around before we settled on this.
Provided whoever you send understands the rest of you will be held responsible for his return.
He will have our lives in his hands.
That is enough.
Then we agree.
And I think, you know, it's like when you pick up a script for a part, you have an instinct, an intuition, about the way you're going to approach it.
Richard Martin put a great deal of thought into the Dalek voice.
And he worked with me at the experimental session where we set up the voice.
I know he was very concerned that Chris wanted to make sure it was completely audible, because so much of the storyline would be carried through the Daleks' conversation.
Tomorrow the atmosphere will be bombarded by the radiation from our nuclear reactors.
Why are you doing this? That's sheer murder.
No, extermination.
We had nothing to go on.
We were creating something totally new and fresh.
And I think the idea was to create voices which were menacing, evil ALL: Tomorrow we will be the masters of the planet Skaro! with an intensity to capture, to frighten people.
The ring modulator had a very narrow frequency response.
So the voice had to be filtered.
We had to take a lot of the bass out, and a lot of the top out.
So you had these middle frequencies which are very penetrating.
And we used a very old-fashioned microphone.
The sort of microphone that they used to report from football grounds which sort of clamps to the side of you.
I don't know what it's called.
But you'd speak to it at almost point-blank range.
So it gets.
Rigidly, you get a sort of slightly confined thing.
Peter was such a brilliant actor.
He was able to sense what I was getting at and pick it up virtually immediately.
I think Peter tended to specialise in the higher register Daleks Stand-by for a general announcement.
This is control.
All distribution of the anti-radiation drug is to be stopped immediately.
with a more metallic intensity.
I was in the sort of lower registers.
Look, the disease has reached us in here.
And the other thing that we thought, which I developed, and which I developed with the voices a lot, was that inside their metal machinery, they were nearly, nearly insane with claustrophobia.
Cannot control.
Cannot control! Help me! Help me! Help! Help! MARTIN: You only had to say one thing to them, for them to lose their cool.
And their only way out was to use this weapon.
When we relaxed into the characters, we said to ourselves, ''No, they're not just mechanical voices.
''We can invest them with personalities''.
And that each individual Dalek, you know, had feelings of its own.
(BARBARA YELPS) Keep away.
Keep away from me.
Keep away from me.
Keep away.
It was an acting job, you know.
Exterminate! Exterminate! He wouldn't do it quietly.
He would be going purple in the face.
He would be absolutely throwing his whole weight behind it.
(WAILING STOPS) Yes, I got it.
So I think the viewer was intrigued as to what really was inside.
(EERIE SQUEALING) Susan, Barbara, go in the corridor and keep a lookout.
And it was stated, you know, that we weren't to see the Dalek.
That, in fact, was a joke rubber gorilla glove which the make-up smeared Vaseline over it.
And the glove was put on by the assistant floor manager, who, off the set, poked it under the tarpaulin and did the death twitch.
Do you know, when we were doing Doctor Who, I never gave it a thought that it would be in any way iconic, that it would have any durability.
There was something about television which is ephemeral, immediate.
I don't think any of us knew what was going to happen.
I mean, we were just making a serial.
A good one, I thought.
But, you know, that's what we were doing.
Being part of a team that created something as long-lasting as the Daleks, is really, I suppose, quite a privilege.
It's always nice to be creative with something which becomes a kind of legend of television.
It did hit me, when the post office commissioned commemorative stamps and on one there was a Dalek.
Children have this wonderful ability to mimic.
And they could mimic a Dalek easily.
So it was an immediate plaything.
They could take it that day, the first time they heard it, and do it suddenly in the school playground.
SUMMERTON: Always the story is, ''I used to hide behind the sofa''.
Then I'd sometimes reveal that when they were hiding behind the sofa they were actually looking at me.
It is always nice to know that you're appreciated in this business.
Makes up for the months that you're not appreciated.