Doctor Who - Documentary s02e07 Episode Script

Talking Daleks

In those days, in the early sixties, I was with the only voice agent in London.
I was getting a certain amount of work.
Nowadays, there's dozens of agents.
I must have been sent up by the agency to the BBC to test out for this voice, and it was when I met Peter Hawkins, the voice of the other Dalek.
And I think that was the basis.
I got the Dalek voices originally because I'd had a reputation by then for doing tricky voices.
My agent reckons that somebody phoned up from BBC bookings.
She thought they said had they anyone good at dialects! That's how I got the job! It was a bad line! We'd been asked to do a voice for the Daleks, and I, just before, had been doing a play for radio, ''Sword from the Stars'', and we had a polite robot called the Jones Robot.
He was a butler.
I'd used my voice for that, and we'd used a system of modulation to make it sound like a robot.
I decided it would be good to use the same treatment for the Dalek, because he had a nice grating sound in it.
We had a very long trial session, a paid session, if I remember, with David Graham, an old chum of mine.
We're still chums now.
We tried everything, and everybody was chipping in with suggestions.
Once I worked out roughly what we were going to do - because you can only do it roughly with your own voice - we went along to the session and, as far as I remember, there was Richard Martin, Peter Hawkins, which was good news as I knew Peter was brilliant.
Eventually somebody decided there should be a monotone, and we were then lumbered with this particular voice.
I think in one session, more or less, we got the style of the Daleks.
(DALEK) I have just come from the prisoners.
The old man is dying.
It was inhuman, staccato, rhythmic, done with a lot of vocal intensity.
With aan intense full stop at the end of every sentence.
And the radiophonic workshop people were there.
There were a lot of adjustments we had to make.
We had to cut some base from the voice, take a little top out of it.
Boost the middle, ask Peter to slightly elongate the vowels, so as to get the modulation working.
The sound supervisor would have put in his twopenn'orth as well.
Between all of us, but I'd say mainly with Peter, we got the performance.
Peter set the pattern of voice for all future Dalek voices.
(DALEK) Very well.
During the first week rehearsals, I developed a voice myself, because David only came on Saturdays and I'd brief him as to what had gone on.
At rehearsals I had to work out how to use this monotone voice without it becoming monotonous.
The voices were modulated using an old Post Office ring modulator and a sound wave of 30 cycles.
I do not understand his words.
This has the effect of turning the voice on and off at 30 times per second.
This gives a nice grating sound.
Peter's performance adds the extra performance things to it.
We still had to act with full intensity before So it was a combination of us and the synthesiser.
There wasn't a lot of trial and error, we seemed to get it quite quickly.
Testing oral control.
Testing oral control.
I concluded that the only thing was to rise in pitch as they got more venomous or excited, and also to increase pace on the line, so they started with menace and worked up to a screech.
(SCREECHING) Exterminate.
Daleks conquer and destroy! Daleks conquer and destroy! Within the mechanical, almost inhuman personalities of the Daleks, we tried to vary them, give them personalities, if they were hesitant.
Ahah - If they were angry.
- They hit the light! Or if they had a higher or lower rank, which meant, within the parameters of what we'd established, (AS DALEK) ''this sort of voice'', we'd go up or down in register, get angry or fearful.
(HIGH-PITCHED STACCATO ) Help me! Help me! Help! Help! Peter had a more mechanical, higher register.
(HIGH STACCATO ) Time to construct - 23 days.
I think I had more of the base notes.
(LOWMONOTONE) His words betrayed greater intelligence than normal in human beings.
I remember Peter saying, (HIGH-PITCH) ''Exterminate them!'' And then there might be the Controller (LOW) ''All Daleks report to HQ immediately! Immediately! Immediately!'' That was the sort of variety we'd give it.
We are the masters of Earth! We are the masters of Earth! We are the masters of Earth! We went every Wednesday to do the pre-recording.
Late afternoon at Lime Grove studios.
We'd get the scripts several days before so I could work on the dialogue.
There was a studio manager, but I don't think any other direction, because they allowed us licence once they knew the format and we'd got the voices down, and the different interpretations we were going to give to the personalities of different Daleks.
They just let us get on with it.
We just took off and did it and did it that way.
I'm not sure if it was marked on the script who was to do which voice, but if it wasn't, we'd parcel it out between us.
I think I used to defer.
I used to think Peter was the senior Dalek.
At rehearsals, for want of somewhere better to stand, the director would walk around the room, and he'd stand facing, as a close audience as it was, to the actors, here or where it was convenient.
I would stand at his shoulder and fire the Dalek dialogue at the actors.
At rehearsals, we didn't have the electronic distortion device.
I don't know the proper word for it.
Peter Hawkins would stand with his script and put his hand over his mouth, and speak in a deep voice.
I can do it, it used to be (STACCATO ) Exterminate! Exterminate! It sounds fairly similar to how it did when they did the electronic stuff.
He was an extremely nice guy, I remember, and very clever in the way he did this.
Later on he would do - I presume it was him - different voices for different ranks of Dalek and so on.
Which is a bit tricky, as you've nothing to go on.
You can't say, ''Oh, I met this Dalek with such and such voice,'' as you can with ordinary parts.
The Daleks would be around, uncapped, with the operators sitting in like little bath tubs, without their tops on.
I rehearsed all their moves and they were to rehearse their lights.
Some weren't good at synchronising the lights because they were a bit lazy and didn't learn the lines.
They should have and that's why the lights don't always work with the voice.
Once in the studio, it was very difficult because once they'd their caps on, and I was watching on a monitor where the angles are so different, it became very difficult identifying which one one was speaking for.
One problem is that we didn't have many ring modulators.
There was one that was loose and not bolted down.
Television borrowed it and as usual with Television, it went missing.
That was a big problem at first.
We'd lost a piece of equipment which was important for us.
But there were new modulators coming along, and soon we were able to do it with voltage control.
I think my main memory of doing the Daleks, and I'm proud of it, is because they've been loved so much.
And given so much entertainment and fun and joy to a lot of people.
That's what we're in the business business for, not to change society.
The Dalek voice became popular because it was easy for kids to copy in the playground.
It was strange, you'd be going past a school on the way to work, and you'd hear the kids imitating what you'd done the previous Saturday.
That was really quite nice.
(DALEK) We are the masters of Earth! We are the masters of Earth!