Monday, 19 March 2018

D is for... Davros

The brilliant Kaled scientist who created the Daleks. The Kaleds had been fighting a war against the Thals for centuries on their planet of Skaro. At some point during this conflict Davros had been badly injured, but he designed a mobile life support unit for himself and continued his work. He had lost the lower half of his body and the use of his left arm, and his senses had been impaired. He built for himself an electronic eye and a network of audio sensors to replace these lost functions. To protect the dome covering the Kaled city, he perfected a chemical which made it impervious to Thal missiles. His principal work was to ensure the survival of his race. He based himself in a bunker on the edge of the battlefield and set up his own special scientific elite unit. He began experiments to determine the ultimate evolutionary form for his people, predicting that the centuries of chemical and nuclear warfare would mutate them. He developed a strain of mutant which would require a mobile life support unit in which to move around. The design for what became known as the Mark III Travel Machine was based on his own wheelchair unit. He gave it a single eye on a stalk attached to its dome, and at the front he fitted a utility sucker arm. He also decided to fit it with a powerful energy weapon for defence. The fusion of mutant and travel machine he decided to call a Dalek - an anagram of the Kaled race name.

The Fourth Doctor and his companions Sarah and Harry were diverted to Skaro by the Time Lords, arriving just as Davros was putting the finishing touches to his new creations. The scientist had become obsessed with them, and sought to make them the most powerful creatures in existence. His people would not just survive, but become the supreme beings in the universe. To this end, he ordered chromosomal variations to the Daleks' brains, removing certain emotional weaknesses, like pity and compassion. When the Kaled government was warned of the new direction his work was taking and threatened to close his work down, he decided that his own people were now inferior to the Daleks, and he would do anything to ensure their survival. He and his henchman Nyder went secretly to visit the Thal government. He gave them the formula for a solution with which they were to bombard the Kaled dome. This would weaken the protective layer he had created and allow a massive Thal rocket to penetrate it. When the Kaled city was destroyed, Davros feigned disbelief and fury, and blamed the treachery on one of the scientists whom he knew to be opposed to his work. This man, Ronson, became the first victim of a Dalek. Davros then sent the Daleks into the Thal city to exact revenge. Soon Davros was facing a more widespread revolt from within the ranks of his elite. He called upon the Daleks to wipe out his opponents, but they then activated the automated Dalek production line without his orders. When he challenged them, they informed him that they did not recognise anyone as their superior - even him. His own supporters were then killed, including Nyder. The Daleks then exterminated Davros when he tried to shut down the production lines.

Many centuries later, long after the Daleks had abandoned Skaro, they went to war against the robotic Movellans. Both sides programmed their battle computers to the point of stalemate. To break this impasse of logic, the Daleks returned to their old city to look for their creator. The Doctor managed to locate him first. Davros stirred back to life, explaining to the Doctor that his secondary life support systems had activated and repaired the damage done to him by the Daleks. He would now help his creations to break the stalemate. The Movellans wanted to kidnap him to work for them, but then decided to use the Doctor instead. Davros was updated on events whilst he had been in suspended animation thanks to a data-sphere provided by the Dalek Supreme. He was scathing that such a Dalek could exist, feeling that only he could lead his creations. Davros was determined that the Movellans should not leave the planet with the Doctor, as he would undo any advantage that he might give to the Daleks. He sent all of the Daleks to their spaceship, with bombs attached to their casings and orders to press themselves up against the hull. They would sacrifice themselves to buy time whilst he awaited the arrival of a rescue ship. The Doctor forced him into detonating the bombs prematurely, wiping out the entire taskforce. Freed slave workers took control of the Movellan spaceship, and used it to take Davros to stand trial for his crimes on Earth. He was placed in a cryogenic suspension unit.

Some decades later the tide of war turned in the Movellans' favour, as they developed a virus which attacked Dalek systems. The Daleks once again looked to their creator to help them. A Dalek cruiser attacked the space-station on which Davros was being held captive - left physically immobile but mentally alert in a cryogenic chamber. The Daleks employed mercenaries led by Commander Lytton to secure the station and Davros was freed. At some point prior to his incarceration he had created a device which could suppress people's willpower and make them susceptible to his orders, hiding it in a compartment in his chair. He suspected that the Dalek Supreme would never tolerate his own ambitions to lead his creations, and feared that they would turn against him again once his usefulness to them was over.

Davros refused to leave the station - claiming he might need to be put back into cryogenic suspension in the event of an emergency with his life support systems. He then converted a number of Lytton's men to obey his will, and then used the device on a pair of Daleks. The Doctor had the opportunity to kill Davros, but found that he was unable to press the trigger and end his life. When the Supreme discovered that Davros was assembling a force of his own, it sent a squad of Daleks to kill him. Davros released a quantity of the Movellan virus into his laboratory then got ready to flee in an escape pod. The virus destroyed the Daleks come to exterminate him, but Davros then discovered to his horror that it attacked his own systems. One of Lytton's men, freed from mental conditioning, then blew up the station using its self-destruct mechanism, taking the Dalek cruiser with it.

Davros had survived, however. The escape pod had been picked up by a freighter and Davros soon found himself on the planet Necros. He set himself up as "the Great Healer" and established himself as controller of the Tranquil Repose funerary complex. This was where people from across the galaxy were interred, and many of them were only in suspended animation - awaiting the day when cures could be found for their illnesses. For Davros, this was a rich source of genetic material with which to experiment upon, in order to create a whole new race of Daleks which would be loyal only to him. To fund his work he went into partnership with the businesswoman Kara, who ran a nearby artificial food processing plant. Bodies which Davros could not use were given to Kara to be turned into a foodstuff. Davros was now confined to a complete life support unit, with only his head remaining. Kara decided to employ an assassin to kill him, so that she could gain control over both industries. Davros was aware of her ambition, however, and the head in the life support unit was merely a decoy. He remained hidden behind the scenes, his body intact.

Davros set up a trap for the Doctor - luring him to Necros with the news that an old friend had died and been interred at Tranquil Repose. His warped sense of humour led to the creation of a fake memorial to the Doctor set up in the Garden of Remembrance. Kara's assassin, Orcini, infiltrated the complex and destroyed the decoy, but Davros appeared from hiding to shoot him down. He could now harness electrical energy and discharge it from his fingers, and his chair could now levitate. Two of the complex's funeral attendants - Takis and Lilt - were unhappy with what Davros had done to Tranquil Repose, and had sent a message to the Dalek Supreme on Skaro. A ship was dispatched with a squad of Daleks to arrest him and bring him to Skaro to stand trial. Orcini's squire, Bostock, shot off Davros' remaining hand, and he was then captured by the Dalek squad. He was taken to their spaceship, which took off just before the dying Orcini blew up the complex - wiping out Davros' new army.

The Doctor, now in his Seventh incarnation, arrived on Earth in the London of 1963, in order to lure the Daleks into a trap of his own. He had previously hidden the powerful Hand of Omega in the city. This was the stellar manipulator which Omega had used to first provide the Gallifreyans with the energy needed to begin their time travel experiments. The Daleks wanted it so that they could also master time travel, but the Doctor had not reckoned on two opposing factions turning up to claim the device. The most powerful faction were loyal to the white domed Emperor, who was stationed on their command ship in orbit above the planet. These Daleks, in a white and gold livery, had been augmented with artificial implants, and possessed more powerful weapons - such as the Special Weapons Dalek. Those Daleks loyal to the Supreme were now a smaller rebel group.

Within the Emperor's casing was Davros, seemingly with very little of his body left. It transpired that he had managed to turn the tables on the Supreme when he had been sent for trial on Skaro, and had succeeded in taking over. His forces beat those of the Supreme and he was able to take control of the Hand of Omega. The Doctor goaded him into activating the device - sending it to Skaro's star system to provide the energy which Davros would use for his time travel experiments. However, the Doctor had pre-programmed it to fly into Skaro's sun and detonate it - wiping out the entire solar system. It then rebounded on the command ship. Davros was forced to retreat to an escape pod.

Davros then participated in the Time War, helping lead his creations against the Time Lords. They had helped start the war by sending the Doctor back to Skaro at the time he was creating the Daleks. The Doctor had seen Davros' spaceship apparently destroyed by the Nightmare Child. However, he had been saved by the intervention of Dalek Caan - last survivor of the Cult of Skaro, who had re-entered the time-locked conflict using an emergency temporal shift. Davros created a whole new army of Daleks using his own genetic material, including a new Dalek Supreme. He was then tasked with devising a weapon that would make the Daleks the supreme rulers of the universe - by being the only inhabitants of the universe. He created the Reality Bomb, constructed in the Dalek space-station known as the Crucible. This was hidden in a temporal pocket within the Medusa Cascade. It required the alignment of a number of planets, which were removed from space / time using a Magnetron and brought to the Cascade. These included the Earth. Davros was able to break into the sub-wave network which the Doctor and his companions were using to communicate with each other. He recognised Sarah Jane Smith from her visit to Skaro all those centuries ago.

Davros had divested himself of his Emperor casing, and the lost right hand had been replaced with a metal gauntlet, from which he could still discharge electrical energy. The Doctor believed that he was merely a puppet for the Supreme, locked away in a vault with the insane Caan and forced to obey the Supreme's instructions. Davros intended to break the Doctor's spirit before he activated his Reality Bomb - showing him how he had turned his friends into soldiers, and making him remember all those others who had died helping him. An attempt to destroy the TARDIS inadvertently led to the creation of a second, half human, Doctor, and giving Donna Noble Time Lord mental powers. Together they attacked the Crucible. Davros shot Donna with his electrical discharge, but this merely triggered the Time Lord part of her brain. She then set about sabotaging the Reality Bomb, and ultimately the Crucible was destroyed along with Davros' army. The Doctor attempted to save the Kaled scientist, but he refused his help.

Travelling alone in his Twelfth incarnation, the Doctor found himself on a battlefield on an alien planet. He came across a young boy trapped in the middle of a mine-field. He was about to rescue him when he discovered that he had arrived back on Skaro, at an earlier stage in the Kaled-Thal war, and the boy was Davros. He fled and abandoned him. Davros remembered this act, and sent his new head of security, Colony Sarff, in search of the Time Lord. The Doctor hid himself away in Medieval England, and prepared for his death, as he knew he had to atone for what he had done in abandoning the boy. Sarff tracked him down and brought him to a space-station where Davros was said to be dying. Clara Oswald and Missy accompanied them.

The space-station was really an optical illusion, and they were actually in the Dalek city on Skaro, which had been rebuilt by the Daleks. Davros was here, hooked up to an intensive care unit. He was replaying previous encounters with the Doctor. The Doctor attempted to escape by removing Davros from his chair, which he then used to travel to the command centre to force the Daleks to free him and his friends - leaving Davros' half-body lying on the floor. Colony Sarff, who was a gestalt snake creature, was hidden within the chair and he overpowered the Doctor. Back in the ICU, the Doctor and Davros spoke at length about their relationship. Davros sought to make the Doctor understand his actions, whilst the Doctor sought to make him see the error of his ways. They began to see some common ground, and the Doctor decided that he would not let Davros die. Davros revealed that he still had his own eyes, and wanted to see the sun rise above Skaro one last time.

Earlier, Davros had revealed that he was biologically linked to the Daleks, and killing him would destroy them, but the Doctor had been unable to do this. He agreed to give some of his regeneration energy to Davros and so prolong his life. This was all a trap, as Davros knew that this energy would be transmuted into all of his creations, turning them into partial Time Lords. He did not realise that the Doctor had known this all along, and that the energy would also animate the millions of liquefying Dalek remains which had been flushed into the sewers of the city. As Davros and the Daleks were revivified, the city was overwhelmed and destroyed. The Doctor then went back and saved Davros as a boy - implanting the concept of mercy in him, which he hoped he would have passed on to his creations.

Played by: Michael Wisher, David Gooderson, Terry Molloy, Julian Bleach, Joey Price.
Appearances: Genesis of the Daleks (1975), Destiny of the Daleks (1979), Resurrection of the Daleks (1984), Revelation of the Daleks (1985), Remembrance of the Daleks (1988), The Stolen Earth / Journey's End (2008), The Magician's Apprentice / The Witch's Familiar (2015).

  • Wisher was the original Davros, playing him in Genesis of the Daleks. He was unable to reprise the role in 1979 so David Gooderson replaced him, wearing the same mask and seated in the same prop chair, both of which had seen a lot of wear and tear whilst featuring in numerous Doctor Who exhibitions. Wisher was all set to reprise the role for "Warhead" in 1983, but industrial action at the BBC forced this to be put back a season, becoming Resurrection of the Daleks. The delay meant that Wisher was no longer available, and so Terry Molloy was cast as the new Davros. He kept the role for the remainder of the Classic era of the programme. Molloy, who has performed Davros many times on audio, came very close to being brought back when Russell T Davies wrote The Stolen Earth / Journey's End. Instead, Julian Bleach was given the role. Bleach has retained the part since. Joey Price played Davros as a boy in his most recent appearance.
Some images of Davros as he has appeared at the Doctor Who Experience and the Doctor Who Festival:

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