Sunday 26 August 2012

Story 10 - The Dalek Invasion of Earth

In which Ian and Barbara think that they have finally made it back home. The TARDIS has materialised under a bridge beside the Thames in London. It is suspiciously quiet - with not even the chimes of Big Ben to disturb the silence. Susan has an accident which results in her hurting her ankle - and burying the ship under debris from the crumbling bridge. The Doctor and Ian set off to look round a warehouse, in the hope of finding an oxy-acetylene torch. Instead, they find the corpse of a man who is wearing a strange electronic helmet and who is armed with a whip. Ian knows he is not back in 1963, as Battersea Power Station has an atomic power plant next to it. There is a desk calendar for the year 2164. They hear gunfire, and then see a huge saucer-like spaceship fly past.
Barbara and Susan have encountered a group of men who lead them to safety in an Underground station. There is a young Scotsman named David Campbell, an older man named Tyler, and a wheelchair bound scientist named Dortmun. In their subterranean base, they also meet a young woman named Jenny.
The Doctor and Ian are confronted by more armed men wearing the strange helmets. The only route of escape is the river - but they are shocked to see the sinisterly familiar shape of a Dalek glide up out of the water.

They are taken to Chelsea Heliport, which the Daleks are using as a saucer landing site. They learn from a fellow captive that the Daleks invaded 10 years ago, after subjecting the Earth to germ warfare. Many humans have been operated upon to become Robomen - fitted with the helmets which control them - who act as a brutal police force. Others have been shipped to Bedfordshire where there is supposed to be a massive mining operation.
Dortmun has developed a bomb which he believes can destroy Dalek casings. Tyler, David and Barbara lead an attack on the saucer at Chelsea. The bombs prove useless, but the Doctor - about to be robotised - is freed. Ian hides in the undercarriage space in the confusion.
Everyone gets split up as the Daleks decide to firebomb the city. All make for the mine workings. The Doctor, Susan and David travel through the alligator-infested sewers, meeting up with Tyler. Barbara and Jenny use a borrowed lorry from the Transport Museum after Dortmun is killed. Ian is carried to Bedfordshire in the saucer. Here he has a run in with the Black Dalek's man-eating pet - the Slyther.
The Daleks plan to drop a massive bomb down a shaft they have dug, with the intention of replacing the planet's core with a propulsion device.
The plan is foiled as Ian diverts the bomb, and the Doctor orders the Robomen to turn on their creators. The mine workings are destroyed, along with the Dalek force.
Back in London, the Doctor makes a unilateral decision regarding Susan. He has seen how she and David have fallen in love. It is time for her to settle down somewhere, yet he knows she would never leave him, so he locks her out of the ship. After bidding her a fond farewell, he dematerialises the TARDIS.

This six part adventure was written by Terry Nation, and broadcast between 21st November and 26th December, 1964. Like Planet of Giants before it, it was made as part of the first season but held back. The cast all had a 6 week break after completion of this recording - though one of them wouldn't be reporting back for Doctor Who duty for another 19 years...
The success of the first Dalek story meant that a sequel was on the cards almost immediately. The BBC had retained 2 of the 4 Dalek props, plus various pieces of control room equipment, whilst 2 other Daleks were donated to Dr Barnardo's Children's Homes. These latter two props were borrowed back, and a further two new ones were built - giving director Richard Martin six usable Daleks in all. These would be supplemented, as with the first story, by full size photographic blow-ups.
As they would no longer be confined to the flat floor of a TV studio, more maneuverable wheels had to be fitted, and so the base section had to be built up to accommodate them. In plot terms, to explain the fact that they no longer needed to draw static electricity through metal floors, an energy collection dish was fitted to the back of each casing.
The other design difference was that there would now be a Dalek hierarchy - indicated by changes in colour scheme. The saucer captain would be mostly black, with alternate silver skirt sections, whilst the lead Black Dalek would be - well, black.

Story-wise, Nation was heavily influenced by the Second World War - principally the struggles of resistance movements in Nazi-occupied Europe. London is a conquered city, with the few free people fighting back from subterranean hideouts, committing occasional acts of sabotage. Many have been sent off to a huge labour camp, and there are unwitting collaborators in the form of the Robomen - to illustrate how some friends and family could be turned against their own - in this case physically as well as mentally / emotionally. There is a black-marketeer in the self-serving Ashton, who sells food to the camp inmates for their jewellery.

There is a great deal of location filming in this story - with many famous London landmarks featured. Watching it for the first time, you are a little disappointed not to see a troop of Daleks on Westminster Bridge, as in the iconic photograph below:

What you actually get is the top half of one whizzing past, shot from the Embankment below. Dalek operator, and Slyther performer, Nick Evans tells the story on a recent DVD release of how the Dalek guys queued up to pee into a drain in Trafalgar Square.
For the first time ever in the programme a quarry location is employed - and it is used as an actual quarry, rather than an attempt at an alien world.
Special effects are a bit of a let down. The Dalek saucer is a pastry cutter dangling on a string in front of a photograph of the Houses of Parliament. The climactic destruction of the mine complex and the Dalek saucer is achieved through some stock volcano footage (Vesuvius' 1944 eruption I suspect) and some dialogue references. If like me you had seen the Peter Cushing movie first, this climax is crushingly disappointing.
The tentacled Slyther gets a makeover between episodes 4 & 5, as the production team were unhappy with the initial costume. It was created by the Dalek prop builders Shawcraft of Uxbridge.

Of the guest cast, Bernard Kay as Tyler, and Ann Davies as Jenny must get special mention. Both convey the psychological effects of life under enemy occupation, with survivor's guilt and an unwillingness to embark on new friendships in this dangerous world.
By splitting the regulars up for most of the story, the foursome are all very well served. Hartnell had a bad experience during the shooting of episode 3, damaging his back in a fall, which meant him being written out of episode 4. Peter Fraser, as David, gets most of his lines and role in this section.
The relationship between Susan and David is very well handled, considering that they have to meet and fall in love within the confines of this one story. Unlike future love matches, this seems real and believable. Susan's departure is signposted in dialogue from the first episode, and the Doctor sees "what's cooking" as they travel to Bedfordshire - and he's not talking about rabbit stew.
The ending is sublime, and I defy anyone to watch it and feel unmoved. The Doctor's poignant farewell speech will reappear to allow Hartnell a contribution to the 20th anniversary tale The Five Doctors, in which Susan returns.

Episode endings for this adventure are:

  1. World's End - The Doctor and Ian are about to escape into the Thames, but are stopped in their tracks at the appearance of a Dalek emerging from the water.
  2. The Daleks - The saucer is under attack, but the Doctor's robotising operation will still go ahead.
  3. Day of Reckoning - The Doctor, Susan and David are pausing for breath, unaware that a Dalek firebomb is ticking away nearby.
  4. The End of Tomorrow - Ian and his new friend Larry are stalked by the Slyther.
  5. The Waking Ally - Ian is trapped inside the bomb casing as it is lowered into the mineshaft.
  6. Flashpoint - David leads a grieving Susan away, her discarded key lying on the ground.
Overall, a very good story with great performances. The effects creak - but you can always enjoy the CGI saucers on the DVD release (shame they couldn't have done something with the volcanic climax). This story is significant for advancing the Daleks as the programme's baddies-in-chief, and for the first departure of a regular character.

Some things you might like to know:

  • Carole Ann Ford's replacement was supposed to emerge from this story - and it wasn't going to be Jenny. Another, younger character, an Indian girl named Saida, was in the original scripts, and she would stowaway onboard the TARDIS at the end. Actress Pamela Franklyn was approached about the part, but the production team changed its mind. Saida was turned into Jenny, and the part reduced somewhat.
  • Actor Nicholas Smith (Wells) was only due to appear in one episode. He is very well known in the UK for the long-running sitcom "Are You Being Served?"
  • You get an (inadvertent) insight into how sets were organised in the early days, when the Thames bridge set with its "Do Not Dump Bodies" poster is clearly seen in the background of the Bedfordshire mining complex corridor.
  • We never do get to find out what that Dalek was doing in the Thames...

No comments:

Post a Comment