Thursday, 14 June 2018

Inspirations - Day of the Daleks

Day of the Daleks opens Season 9. The writer is Louis Marks, who had last written for the series back at the end of the first season, in 1964.
The previous season had opened with the introduction of a new companion, as well as a new arch-enemy for the Doctor to battle. UNIT got a makeover, and a new regular team member in Captain Yates. Looking for something to grab the viewers as the new season launched, producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks decided that it might be time for the Daleks to make a return. This would be their first colour outing. The production office regularly received letters from viewers asking when the Daleks would be back, so they knew the demand would be there.
Dicks joined the programme after Terry Nation had already withdrawn permission for their use, trying as he was to launch them in their own series, but he would have been aware of the politics involved. Since Evil of the Daleks they had only featured briefly twice in cameo roles, though their last full appearance had been repeated in the summer between Seasons Five and Six - the re-screening cleverly being interwoven into the narrative of the stories either side of it.
The plan had actually been that the Daleks were to have featured in the season finale, in a story to be written by Robert Sloman and tentatively titled "The Return of the Daleks". This would have seen the Daleks invade Earth using a time machine to alter history - causing UNIT to come up against anachronistic enemies. Elements of this story would be retained by Sloman for the adventure that eventually did close the season.

Louis Marks, meanwhile, had submitted a story about soldiers from the future coming back through time to prevent a war - paradoxically causing the war in the first place. Regarded as perfectly acceptable, it was felt to be a little weak for the season opener. The decision was then taken to bring the Daleks forward - removing them from Sloman's scripts and adding them to Marks'. The soldiers would now be trying to prevent a future Dalek invasion of Earth. As the new storyline was developed, it was realised that the Daleks could not be used at all unless Terry Nation gave his blessing. Letts and Dicks agreed to meet him at Pinewood Studios, where the writer was working on the troubled ITC venture The Persuaders!. (Its two stars - Roger Moore and Tony Curtis - did not get on terribly well, thanks to Curtis' prima donna behaviour. Moore would refuse to commit to a second series with Curtis, and would shortly get the James Bond gig anyway. Jon Pertwee's brother Michael was another regular writer on the show).
As Dicks is fond of saying on DVD commentaries, the trio had champagne cocktails, and sat at a table next to Sean Connery and his then wife Diane Cilento. Nation proved to be amenable to the series using the Daleks again, and told them that he had been thinking of writing a new Dalek story himself. An agreement was reached to include the Daleks in the Marks story, and Nation was to be offered a story of his own for the subsequent season. (Now that plans for a spin-off series of their own had fallen flat, Nation knew that he could only make money from his creations through their inclusion Doctor Who).

The background to the story is similar to that of The Mind of Evil. International tensions are mounting, and there is to be a peace conference. The story was written in the middle of the Cold War, but Doctor Who tended to paint the Chinese as the possible aggressors, rather than the Soviet Union.
Only a Briton can be trusted to act as the chief negotiator in the peace process, naturally... He is Sir Reginald Styles. However, on the eve of his flight to China to bring them on board, he is attacked by a guerrilla fighter, who promptly vanishes into thin air. There is talk of ghosts, but when the guerrilla is later found to have a high tech weapon, the Doctor realises they are dealing with ghosts from the future, rather than from the past. The Doctor and Jo decide to spend the night at Styles' house - deducing that if the guerrillas failed once they will try again.
Jo assumes that, as they were going to assassinate Sir Reginald, the guerrillas must be evil. Any attempt to convince the audience watching that this might be the case is somewhat spoiled by the word "Daleks" in the story title. When they do turn up for a second attempt, the guerrillas are led by a woman - Anat. She was based on Leila Khaled. She was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and had come to prominence for a number of passenger jet hijackings in 1969 / 70. She would later inspire and lend her name to a future Doctor Who companion. Anat was named after an ancient War Goddess from Egypt and Mesopotamia.
Anat is accompanied by two colleagues - Shura and Boaz. Shura may be named from a form of Islamic council (it means 'consultation'), whilst Boaz was a figure in the Old Testament - husband of Ruth and grandfather to David, and hence one of the ancestors of Jesus.

Jo is accidentally thrown forward to the 22nd Century, which is where the guerrillas have come from. In this time zone, the planet has been conquered by the Daleks, who rule through human agents and brutal ape-like creatures called Ogrons. Marks wrote the Ogrons to be canine in character. It was the story's director, Paul Bernard, who decided that they should be simian.
Reference is made to the Daleks having invaded Earth "again". That's because this story is set around the same time that The Dalek Invasion of Earth is also set, but we are clearly seeing a different version here. The Daleks have mastered time travel, and have changed future history so that their invasion is now a successful one. Presumably this is because they have dispensed with silly ideas like turning the planet into a giant spaceship, have harnessed humans to do their dirty work, and are using the Ogrons instead of the less reliable Robomen.
This is the first time the Daleks have appeared in the programme in colour, so naturally two of the three casings get painted grey and black... At least the leader gets a nice gold finish, though this will pose problems for the (anti)climactic battle with UNIT at the story's conclusion.
Up until this point all of the basic Dalek drones had been silver, with blue hemispheres on their skirts. The gunmetal grey ones introduced here will become the new standard for your basic Daleks.
Technically, we have already seen one Dalek in colour in the series - a cut-out B&W photo of one, tinted, in The Mind of Evil. It's not the first time Daleks have been seen in colour on the BBC either, as the Peter Cushing movie Dr. Who and the Daleks has already been shown, and Blue Peter featured the three casings from this story when a fan wrote in to ask if Peter Purves had been in the show, as his parents claimed.

The Doctor goes with the guerrillas back (forward) to the 22nd Century in order to rescue Jo. After some capture / escape, he is tied up and has a mind analysis machine used on him to confirm his identity. This permits the series to remind the viewers that there were two other actors who have played the Doctor prior to Pertwee. This is the first example of Pertwee spotting a mode of transport which appealed to him - prompting him to ask Letts to include it in a story. One of the escapes utilises a motor-trike. Unfortunately, these do not move very fast, so the Ogron actors have to do slow-running acting to make the sequence look more exciting than it is.
Eventually freed by the guerrillas, the Doctor learns some more about the war which ushered in the Dalek invasion - the one which they are convinced was started by Styles blowing up the peace conference. The Doctor realises that it was the guerrillas themselves who started the war, as Shura was left behind after the last mission and he would have done everything he could to fulfill their aims. They have trapped themselves in a paradox.
Now, I have said this before, and I will say it again - at the end of this sentence to be exact - that for a series about a time traveller, there are very few stories across the entire run of the "classic era" of the programme which make use of Time as a major plot element. This is one of those few.
The idea has already been set up in an earlier scene where the Doctor and Jo are in the UNIT lab and see themselves standing in the doorway. You have to look to the novelisation for the full explanation for this, as Bernard didn't get round to filming the pay-off. What should have happened was that the Doctor and Jo would go back to UNIT HQ at the conclusion of the story and see themselves inside the lab - their current selves seeing their earlier selves seeing their current selves. It's what's known as timey-wimey these days.

The Doctor and Jo have to go back to the 20th Century to stop Shura from blowing up the conference. They are helped to escape by the chief human villain - the European Controller. The Doctor had earlier described him as a Quisling. This name derives from Vidkun Quisling, a fascist Norwegian officer who headed the government of Nazi-occupied Norway during WWII. He was put on trial after the war and executed in October 1945. His name is now used for anyone who collaborates with an enemy invader.
Before we go, we should mention Soldier - a 1964 episode of the TV series The Outer Limits, written by Harlan Ellison. This features a soldier from the future travelling back into the past - our present. Unlike the makers of The Terminator, Ellison did not take legal action against Marks or Dicks.
Next time: the Time Lords have another mission for the Doctor. The news these days is all about Brexit, but here's the story that was influenced by our going into the European Community...

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