Dr. Who and the Daleks

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Dr. Who and the Daleks
File:Dr. Who and the Daleks Poster.jpg
Directed by Gordon Flemyng
Produced by
Screenplay by Milton Subotsky
David Whitaker
Based on The Daleks 
by Terry Nation
Music by
Cinematography John Wilcox
Edited by Oswald Hafenrichter
AARU Productions
Distributed by British Lion (UK)
Continental Distributing (US)
Release dates
23 August 1965 (UK)[1]
July 1966 (US)
Running time
83 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget £180,000[2]

Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965) was the first of two Doctor Who films made by Amicus Productions in the 1960s. It was followed by Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. The film features Peter Cushing as Dr. Who, Roberta Tovey as Susan, Jennie Linden as Barbara, and Roy Castle as Ian.

It is based on the second serial of the British science fiction Doctor Who television programme, The Daleks, produced by the BBC. Filmed in Technicolor, it is the first Doctor Who story to be made in colour and in a widescreen format. The television series continued to be made in black-and-white until 1969 and not in widescreen until the revival of the series in 2005.

The film was not intended to form part of the ongoing storylines of the television series. Elements from the programme were used, however, such as various characters, the Daleks and a police box time machine, albeit in re-imagined forms.


Dr. Who (Cushing) and his granddaughters, Susan (Tovey) and Barbara (Linden), show Barbara's boyfriend Ian (Castle) the Doctor's latest invention, a time machine called TARDIS. When Ian accidentally activates the machine it transports them to a petrified jungle on a world devastated by an ancient nuclear war, fought between the Daleks and the Thals. (Although the planet is not named in the film, in its sequel it is retroactively revealed to be called Skaro, matching the name given in the television series.) At the conclusion of the war the Daleks, heavily mutated by radiation, encased themselves in protective machines and retreated into their city. The humanoid Thals survived the fallout through the use of an anti-radiation drug and became a peaceful race of farmers. The Thals' crops have recently failed, however, and they have journeyed to the petrified jungle to seek help from their former enemies. The Daleks, while determined to become the dominant race on the planet, are unable to leave the city due to their vulnerability to radiation and reliance on static electricity to power their travel machines.

Ian and Barbara are unnerved by the jungle and demand to return to London but the Doctor, eager to investigate the city, fakes a leak in one of the vital TARDIS fluid links to keep them on the planet. The group decide to search the city for the mercury needed to refill the link, stumbling across a case of Thal drug vials as they leave TARDIS. In the city the Doctor, on reading a Geiger counter, realises that the planet is radioactive and in view of the fact that they are feeling unwell, deduces that they are developing radiation sickness. Suddenly, the Daleks appear and capture the travellers, confining them to a cell and seizing the Doctor's fluid link for inspection.

The Daleks know of the Thal drug and want to reproduce it in large quantities so that they can leave the city and exterminate the Thals. They offer to let the humans use some of the drug to cure their sickness if the vials left outside TARDIS are brought to the city. Whilst carrying out the task Susan encounters Alydon, the Thal leader who left the vials. Alydon gives Susan a secondary drug supply to use in case the Daleks deviate from their promise and also lends her his plastic cape.

Upon Susan's return to the city the Daleks discover her secret drug supply but allow the humans to treat themselves with it. They then summon Susan to write a letter to the Thals, informing them that they wish to end post-war hostilities and will leave food in their control room as an act of friendship. The adventurers discover that when the Thals arrive, however, they will be ambushed and exterminated.

The group realises how the Daleks know everything they are saying and destroy the camera hidden inside the cell. They also plot a plan to escape the city. When a Dalek comes to the cell to deliver food and water, the Doctor and his companions splatter a chocolate like substance onto its eyestalk impairing its vision and eventually immobilise it by forcing it onto Susan's cape, thus insulating it from the electrically charged metal floor. Ian takes the place of the creature inside the casing and notifies another Dalek that he is taking the Doctor, Barbara and Susan to the control room for questioning. Now free, the travellers shout a warning to the Thals who are entering the city and escape with them into the jungle, but not before an elderly man, Temmosus, is killed by the Daleks.

Later the Daleks test the Thal drug on a number of themselves but find that it causes disastrous side effects. With no way of leaving the city, they decide to detonate a neutron bomb to increase the radiation on Skaro to a level which not even the Thals can survive.

At the Thal camp the Doctor urges Alydon to fight the Daleks to secure a safe future for his species. Alydon insists that the Thals are pacifist, but the Doctor tests this claim by ordering Ian to take Dyoni, Alydon's love, to the Daleks in exchange for the confiscated fluid link. Alydon punches Ian to the ground, showing the Thals that they can fight for things they care about. Alydon, Susan and the Doctor lead the tribe to the front entrance of the city, where they attempt to confuse the enemy's scanners by reflecting light off small mirrors to give the impression of greater numbers. The plan fails when the Daleks appear and the Thals scatter, unable to prevent Susan and the Doctor from being captured.

Meanwhile, Ian and Barbara, guided by the Thals Ganatus, Antodus and Elyon, set out to infiltrate the city from the rear. While navigating a swamp Elyon is killed by a marsh-dwelling mutation and the party is eventually forced to jump a chasm to proceed any further. Antodus falls short and plunges into the void, but manages to cling to the uneven rock face and is pulled up by the others.

In the city control room the Daleks ignore the Doctor's appeals as they start the bomb countdown. Ian, Barbara, Ganatus and Antodus penetrate the city and join Alydon and the rest of the Thals, who have returned determined to rescue Susan and the Doctor. The Thals and humans enter the control room and struggle with the Daleks while the Doctor yells for someone to stop the bomb detonation. Ian attracts the Daleks' attention and dives for cover as they fire at him in unison. The Daleks inadvertently destroy their own control console, disabling themselves and freezing the countdown. The Doctor then retrieves the TARDIS fluid link.

In the jungle, the Thals bid farewell to the Doctor and his companions and express their gratitude with special gifts. When the travellers depart in TARDIS they materialise not in London, however, but on a battlefield in front of an advancing Roman army.



The Daleks were redesigned slightly for the film. They had larger base sections, which made them taller and more imposing than the TV Daleks, which were only about five feet high. They had distinctive red dome lights and some were fitted with a two-jawed mechanical claw instead of a plunger. They also had more colourful paint schemes and standard Daleks had blue domes, skirt balls and fenders, and gold collars. A Dalek leader was painted predominantly in black and a second-in-command Dalek was painted in red.

Originally the Daleks were going to be armed with flamethrowers, but these were vetoed on health and safety grounds and because they were considered too frightening for a young audience. Instead the guns produced jets of CO2 gas from internally mounted fire extinguishers. Some of the Daleks used in the background for crowd scenes were constructed from moulded fibreglass, and can be distinguished by the slightly different shape of the brass collars around their midsections.

Three of the movie Dalek models were hired by the BBC and used in the serial The Chase. As the film was not released until after The Chase, this film actually marks those movie Daleks' second appearance.


  • Amicus bought an option to make the story and two sequels from Terry Nation and the BBC for £500[2]
  • Filming started in April 1965 and went for six weeks.
  • In 1995, a documentary about the two Dalek films, Dalekmania, was released; it revealed details about the productions, spin-offs, and publicity.[3]
  • The actor Barrie Ingham discussed the production in an interview in Australia in 1976 for the Doctor Who fanzine Zerinza.[4]
  • The film was produced on a budget of £180,000.[5]
  • A number of Daleks were displayed at the 1965 Cannes film festival for publicity.[6] Single Daleks were also sent further afield, one making an appearance at a cinema in Sydney, Australia, before apparently being thrown out or "lost".
  • Music from this film has been released on Dr. Who & the Daleks by Silva Screen Records.

Home media

Both films, plus the Dalekmania documentary, were released on 20 November 2001 as a three-disc DVD boxset (Region 1). As the set was released by Anchor Bay Entertainment and not the BBC, movie poster-like covers were used for all three boxes instead of the Classic Series style and logo used by the Corporation. In response, several fans have created alternative covers for download that mirror the official BBC covers used in various regions.

A two-disc DVD boxset was released in the UK in 2006 containing both films, plus the Dalekmania documentary. The Italian and French language versions of the film shown in the Dalekmania documentary were not included.

In 2012, Lionsgate re-released the films on DVD in America as The Dalek Collection as part of their MOD program on Amazon.

A Blu-ray was released in the UK on 27 May 2013.[7] The film was released on video on demand on 23 May 2013 from RiffTrax. This version features satirical commentary done by the former stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000 - Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett.

Popular culture

  • Souvenir Press published a tie-in colouring book for children in 1965, with colour photographic illustrations from the film on both the front and rear covers.
  • Dell Comics published a comic book adaptation of the film in 1966.
  • Film style Daleks were used in some of the stories in the long running Dalek strip in the TV Century 21 comic between 1965 and 1967.
  • In the 2005 film Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (co-written by long-time Doctor Who contributor Bob Baker), a marquee is briefly seen advertising Dr. Hoe and the Garlics, a reference to this film.


Halliwell's Film Guide described the film as "limply put together, and only for indulgent children".[8] John Clute gave the film one star out of three and stated "Many people would like to see the [Doctor Who] television series back; few mourn the long-gone films".[9] Radio Times was more favourable, awarding the film three stars out of five and stating "this spin-off lacks the bite and inventiveness that set the landmark series apart, unwisely injecting humour into the sparse scenario, and the cheap art direction is strictly '101 Uses for Pink Plastic Sheeting'. However, despite the many faults, it's still a fun ride for both the uninitiated and die-hard fans alike."[10] The film was the twentieth biggest British box office moneymaker in 1965. It did not perform as well in the US, however, where the Doctor Who television series and the Daleks were relatively unknown.[2]


  1. "Dr. Who and the Daleks". Internet Movie Database. 18 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Ed. Allan Bryce, Amicus: The Studio That Dripped Blood, Stray Cat Publishing, 2000 p 32-36
  3. "Dalekmania", Canal + Image UK Ltd. 57 minutes, initially on video tape, it was re-released on the 2001 DVD of the 2 films.
  4. Interviewed by Antony Howe, this appeared in issue #5/6 of Zerinza, in late 1977.
  5. O'Brien, Steve (25 May 2013). "The Dalek Movies". GamesRadar. FutureUS, Inc. Retrieved 30 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "The golden age of the Cannes Film Festival". The Telegraph. Retrieved 30 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Doctor Who - Daleks Limited Collector's Edition (2-Film Set) [Blu-ray]". Amazon. Retrieved 30 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Halliwell's Film Guide, 13th edition - ISBN 0-00-638868-X.
  9. John Clute, Science Fiction :The Illustrated Encyclopedia. Dorling Kindersley London, ISBN 0-7513-0202-3 (p.268)
  10. "Doctor Who and the Daleks". Radio Times. Retrieved 11 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links