Day of the Daleks

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060 – Day of the Daleks
Doctor Who serial
Directed byPaul Bernard
Written byLouis Marks
Script editorTerrance Dicks
Produced byBarry Letts
Executive producer(s)None
Incidental music composerDudley Simpson
Production codeKKK
SeriesSeason 9
Running time4 episodes, 25 minutes each
First broadcast1 January–22 January 1972
← Preceded by
The Dæmons
Followed by →
The Curse of Peladon
List of Doctor Who episodes (1963–1989)

Day of the Daleks is the first serial of the ninth season of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four weekly parts from 1 to 22 January 1972. It was the first of four Third Doctor serials to feature the Daleks, which returned to the series for the first time since The Evil of the Daleks (1967).

In the serial, the Doctor and UNIT investigate the attempted assassination of British diplomat Sir Reginald Styles, whose attacker apparently disappeared into thin air.


Sir Reginald Styles, a British diplomat trying to organise a peace conference to avert World War III, is in his study at Auderly House when a soldier wielding a futuristic looking pistol bursts in and holds him at gunpoint. However, before the guerrilla can fire, he vanishes, leaving Styles to shakily tell his secretary he has been visited by a ghost. As the conference is of vital international importance, UNIT is called in. The Chinese have pulled out of the conference and Styles will be flying to Peking to try to persuade them to rejoin. However, when the Third Doctor, Jo and the Brigadier go to Auderly House, Styles denies ever seeing the "ghost", even though the Doctor notes the presence of muddy footprints in the study.

The guerrilla reappears on the grounds in a vortex-like effect, but is intercepted by two huge humanoid aliens, called Ogrons, who attack him and leave him for dead. UNIT soldiers discover the severely injured guerrilla and take him to hospital while the Doctor examines his weapon and a small black box that was found in a nearby tunnel system. Styles leaves for Peking, while the Doctor discovers that the pistol, an ultrasonic disintegrator, is made of Earth materials, not alien, and that the box is a crude time machine. As he tries to activate it, the vortex effect appears again and the guerrilla vanishes.. The Doctor and Jo spend the night at Auderly House to monitor any activity.

The night passes without incident, but in the day, three guerrillas appear from the time vortex – Anat, a woman who is in command of the mission, and two men, Boaz and Shura. They come across a UNIT patrol and disintegrate the two soldiers while making their way to the house. In the study, the Doctor tries to reactivate the time machine, causing an alert to be sounded in the 22nd century. Shura enters, but the Doctor subdues him. Shura begs the Doctor to turn off the box, as in the future, a human Controller reports to the Daleks that the machine has been activated. The Daleks command that once the spacetime coordinates of the box are confirmed, whoever is using that device must be exterminated.

In the present, Anat and Boaz enter with Jo as their prisoner and demand the machine be deactivated. The Doctor complies, and the conversation makes it apparent that the guerrillas believe he is Styles, whom they are apparently here to assassinate. The Doctor shows them a newspaper to convince them otherwise, and Anat demands to know who the Doctor is. When Captain Mike Yates and Sergeant Benton enter to search for the missing patrol, the guerrillas usher the Doctor and Jo into the cellar where they are bound and gagged.

In the future, the Daleks order the Controller to send troops to the frequency that they detected earlier, and activate a time vortex magnetron, so that anyone travelling between the two time zones will be drawn to the Controller's headquarters. In the past, Anat sends Shura to contact the future for more orders, but Shura only manages to retrieve a bomb from near the tunnel before being attacked by Ogrons. He is wounded but manages to stumble away.

Jo and The Doctor ushered back up to the study after The Brigadier calls the house. The Doctor is forced to pretend over the telephone that everything is fine at Auderly House. The Brigadier tells the Doctor that Styles has convinced the Chinese to rejoin the conference and that the delegates will arrive the next day. The Brigadier asks for reassurance that everything is all right, and the Doctor tells him it is, but the Brigadier gets suspicious when the Doctor asks him to also "tell it to the Marines." The Brigadier decides to go to the house and see for himself. Jo frees herself from her bonds and threatens to destroy the box that the first guerrilla used, but Anat and Boaz tell her that it only worked for that person. Suddenly, Jo is taken into the future, appearing in the Controller's Headquarters.

There, the Controller persuades Jo to tell him the exact time and location of where she came from. The Daleks use this information and send a Dalek supported by Ogrons to the present, where they attack the house. Anat and Boaz fire back and flee towards the tunnels. The Brigadier arrives just in time to gun down an Ogron, and the Doctor commandeers his jeep in pursuit of the two guerrillas. In the tunnels he finds Anat and Boaz just as they activate their time machines, and is swept up in the vortex. In the 22nd century version of the tunnels, the Doctor and the guerrillas are separated when Ogrons pursue them. The Doctor climbs out of the tunnels onto the surface, where he sees a Dalek order Ogrons to exterminate some rebels. When the Controller informs the Daleks that Jo mentioned a "Doctor", the Daleks react violently, declaring that the Doctor is an enemy of the Daleks and must be exterminated.

The Doctor stumbles into what appears to be a factory, and is captured by an Ogron. The Controller arrives, and takes the Doctor to see Jo. The manager of the factory contacts the guerrillas, who have made it back to their base with their leader, a man named Monia. The manager tells them of the Doctor, but he is discovered by an Ogron and killed. Monia decides that they must rescue the Doctor, because he seems to be the only man that the Daleks are actually afraid of.

After an abortive escape attempt, the Doctor is strapped down to a Dalek mind analysis device, where images of the two previous Doctors are shown to confirm to the Daleks that he is, indeed, their sworn enemy. The Controller bursts in, saying that using the mind analysis device will kill the Doctor. He then says that they should keep the Doctor alive for information on the rebels, and that he will question the Doctor personally. The Daleks gloat to the Doctor that they have discovered time travel, invaded Earth again, and changed the course of history. The Controller explains that at the end of the 20th century, 100 years of devastating worldwide wars began, killing 7/8ths of the population and forcing the rest to live in little more than holes in the ground. It was during this period that the Daleks invaded, conquering the world and using it for raw materials to fuel the expansion of their empire.

The rebel guerrillas attack the Controller's base and rescue the Doctor, though Boaz is killed. The rebels take the Doctor back to their hideout and tell him the rest of the story: Styles organised the peace conference, and when Auderly House was blown up, everyone was killed. The rebels believe that Styles engineered the whole thing and caused the century of war that followed. Their plan was to kill Styles before he could destroy the peace conference, thus stopping the century of war and subsequent Dalek invasion. The Doctor is sceptical, believing Styles to be stubborn, but a good man. When the Doctor finds out that the rebels had brought a bomb made of dalekanium with them, a powerful but unstable explosive that will even affect Dalek body casings, he realises that the rebels are caught in a predestination paradox. They will cause the very explosion that they went back in time to prevent in the first place, and thus create their own history and timeline. Indeed, back in the 20th century, Shura has found his way into Auderly House and plants the dalekanium bomb in the cellar.

The Doctor and Jo make their way back to the tunnels so they can travel back and stop Shura, only to run into an ambush that the Controller has set up. The Doctor convinces the Controller that he has the means to stop the Daleks before they have even begun, and the Controller lets him go, only to be betrayed by an interrogator and exterminated by the Daleks. The Daleks send a strike force to the 20th century to ensure that their version of the future is preserved, and, with the Ogrons, attack as the delegates arrive at the house. In the ensuing battle between the Daleks, Ogrons and UNIT, the Brigadier evacuates the delegates. The Doctor, back in the present, makes his way down to the cellar to try to convince Shura not to activate the dalekanium bomb; Auderly House is empty, and it will all have been for nothing. However, once Shura hears that the Daleks and the Ogrons are entering the house, he tells the Doctor and Jo to leave. The Brigadier tells his men to fall back to the main road as the Daleks and the Ogrons search the house for the delegates and Styles, with the Daleks intent on carrying out their mission of destroying the peace conference. Shura detonates the dalekanium bomb, destroying both the house and everything in it.

The Doctor tells Styles that it is now up to him to make the conference a success. Styles assures the Doctor that it will be, because they know what will happen if they fail. The Doctor, nodding at Jo, says that they know too.


Working titles for this story included The Ghost Hunters and Years of Doom.[citation needed] As originally written, the serial revolved around the Ogrons instead of the Daleks. It was planned to bring the Daleks back at the end of the season, in a serial called The Daleks in London by Robert Sloman. This plan was dropped when the production staff realised that the show would not have a hook to entice viewers (after the Third Doctor's introduction in Season 7 and that of the Master in Season 8), and Sloman's serial was allegedly shaping up to be too similar to The Dalek Invasion of Earth. Instead, writer Louis Marks was asked to alter his serial to include the Daleks.[1] Osterley Park was originally proposed as the setting and location for Day of the Daleks. The name was changed to Auderly House in the finished programme and renamed Austerly House in the novelisation.

Jon Pertwee, who would later say, "I have never liked the Daleks", felt that the monsters were very limited and could not understand their popularity. However, he would concede that the publicity which followed the announcement of their return to the series by Barry Letts "was perhaps worth my biting my lip". On the other hand, he enjoyed working with the story's guest cast. He also liked the Ogrons, as unlike the Daleks, their design allowed the actors' mouths and lips to be seen and thus he felt allowed the actors playing them to "come to grips" with their characters and "with an entire range of expressions available" make the viewers believe in their performance.[2] Pertwee also recalled he persuaded Barry Letts to include the trikes seen in the story, reflecting his love of vehicles. However he considered the chase sequence involving them to be "one of the more dangerous stunts that I had insisted on doing" during his time on the series.[3]

Terry Nation, who penned the first story The Daleks in 1963, was given an on-screen credit at the end of all four episodes of this story as having originated them. The production team only had three Dalek props available for use during the production of this serial,[4] so only three Daleks appear on screen at any one time. One of the Daleks is painted gold, so only two regular casings are seen in shot. Film editing is used to attempt the illusion of more than three Daleks. The final battle at Auderly House was disliked by viewers, as it was quite obvious that only three Daleks were attacking. On the 2011 DVD release, CGI was used to revamp the scene, making it appear that more Daleks were attacking the house.

Early in the first episode, there is a scene where the Doctor and Jo are working on the TARDIS console in the Doctor's lab. A mistake by the Doctor causes another Doctor and Jo to briefly appear at the entrance to the lab and then vanish. Originally the serial was to end with a scene where the Doctor and Jo went back to the lab, and saw their earlier selves working on the TARDIS console as before, after which they would vanish. However, director Paul Bernard refused to film it, saying "Once it's over, it's over".[5] Script editor Terrance Dicks would later restore the scene in his novelisation of the story. This story features the TARDIS console once more outside of the TARDIS itself, as in The Ambassadors of Death and Inferno.

Dropmore House was instead used as the location for the peace conference. Brentford Towers in Green Dragon Lane, Brentford was used to portray the Controller's futuristic base.

This serial is unusual because episodes two and three begin with the cliffhanger music that ended the previous episode being played again.[6]

Cast notes[edit]

Scott Fredericks later played Max Stael in Image of the Fendahl (1977).[7]

Jimmy Winston had previously been the keyboard player in the rock band Small Faces.

Broadcast and reception[edit]

EpisodeTitleRun timeOriginal air dateUK viewers
(millions) [8]
Archive [9]
1"Episode One"23:361 January 1972 (1972-01-01)9.8PAL 2" colour videotape
2"Episode Two"23:528 January 1972 (1972-01-08)10.4PAL 2" colour videotape
3"Episode Three"24:1815 January 1972 (1972-01-15)9.1PAL 2" colour videotape
4"Episode Four"24:1722 January 1972 (1972-01-22)9.1PAL 2" colour videotape

The story was edited and condensed into a single omnibus edition for broadcast on BBC1 at 7 pm on 3 September 1973,[10] with viewing figures of 7.4 million.[11]

Paul Cornell, Martin Day, and Keith Topping wrote of the serial in The Discontinuity Guide (1995), "A clever (if unoriginal) idea which is spoiled by the pointless inclusion of the Daleks themselves. The series' first proper look at some of the complexities of time travel is handled well even if some of the international politics is moronic."[12] In 2009, Patrick Mulkern of Radio Times awarded it four stars out of five. He noted that the Daleks were not at their best production-wise, but he praised the Ogrons, Pertwee, and the cliffhangers. While he acknowledged the production shortcomings of the final battle, he summed the story up as "pacey, thought-provoking entertainment [that] has stood the test of time better than some of its contemporaries".[13] In Doctor Who: The Complete Guide, Mark Campbell awarded it nine out of ten, describing it as an "intelligently scripted Terminator prototype" with a "credible future world and an effective documentary-style approach to much of the present-day action." However, he believed that the downside was that "the Daleks seem oddly static".[14]

DVD Talk's John Sinnott gave Day of the Daleks four out of five stars, writing that it "has everything" and that the time travel plot was refreshingly traditional science fiction.[15] Ian Berriman of SFX also rated the serial four out of five stars, describing it as "a fascinating concept, played out as rollicking action-adventure". He wrote that its weaknesses were "mainly on a technical level", concerning the Daleks and the final battle.[16] In 2018, The Daily Telegraph ranked Day of the Daleks at number 53 in "the 56 greatest stories and episodes", arguing that "the Daleks' apelike henchmen, the Ogrons, are well-designed and Jon Pertwee's Doctor runs the full gamut from one-man wine and cheese society to man of action, to stern authority in his scenes in the 22nd century".[17]

Commercial releases[edit]

In print[edit]

Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks
Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks.jpg
AuthorTerrance Dicks
Cover artistChris Achilleos
SeriesDoctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
PublisherTarget Books
Publication date
April 1974

The novelisation of this serial, by Dicks, was published by Target Books in April 1974. There have been Dutch, Turkish, Japanese, Polish and Portuguese language editions. A Brazilian edition, separate from the Portuguese version, was published with the title Doutor Who e a Mudança da História (Doctor Who and the Change in History).

Home media[edit]

This is the earliest story for which all the original PAL 2" videotapes exist. The story was first released on VHS and Betamax in an omnibus format in 1986 (with the story mistitled as The Day of the Daleks on the VHS box art) and re-released in episodic format in 1994. The previous VHS omnibus edition remained as the release for the United States and Canada. This story was released on LaserDisc twice, first in an omnibus format in the United States in 1992, and later in episodic format in the UK in 1996. A DVD was released on 12 September 2011. The 2-disc DVD contains both the original broadcast version and, on the second disc, a special edition version with new CGI effects, newly shot footage and new Dalek voices performed by Nicholas Briggs, who has provided the Dalek voices for the series since the 2005 relaunch. The DVD features included an audio commentary, on-screen text notes, a documentary "Blasting the Past" in which the cast and crew, as well as fans of the series who are now writers, looked back over the making of the serial.[18]


John Byrne has stated that he unconsciously lifted the basic plot of "Days of Future Past" from Day of the Daleks.[19]


  1. ^ "BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Day of the Daleks - Details".
  2. ^ Pertwee, Jon; Howe, David J. (1996). I am the Doctor:Jon Pertwee's Final Memoir. London: Doctor Who Books, Virgin Publishing Ltd. p. 81. ISBN 1-85227-621-5.
  3. ^ Pertwee, Jon; Howe, David J. (1996). I am the Doctor:Jon Pertwee's Final Memoir. London: Doctor Who Books, Virgin Publishing Ltd. p. 82. ISBN 1-85227-621-5.
  4. ^ "Day of the Daleks ★★★★".
  5. ^ Doctor Who Magazine #430[full citation needed]
  6. ^ Howe, David J.; Walker, Stephen James (1998). "Day of the Daleks: Things to watch out for...". Doctor Who: The Television Companion. London: BBC Worldwide. p. 218. ISBN 0-563-40588-0. Retrieved 30 June 2012.
  7. ^ "BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Image of the Fendahl - Details".
  8. ^ "Ratings Guide". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  9. ^ Shaun Lyon; et al. (31 March 2007). "Day of the Daleks". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 18 May 2008. Retrieved 31 August 2008.
  10. ^ "Dr Who: The Day of the Daleks". The Radio Times (2599): 27. 30 August 1973 – via BBC Genome.
  11. ^ "Doctor Who Guide: broadcasting for Day of the Daleks".
  12. ^ Cornell, Paul; Day, Martin; Topping, Keith (1995). "Day of the Daleks". The Discontinuity Guide. London: Virgin Books. ISBN 0-426-20442-5.
  13. ^ Mulkern, Patrick (21 November 2009). "Doctor Who: Day of the Daleks". Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  14. ^ Campbell, Mark (2011). Doctor Who: The Complete Guide. Robinson Publishing. ISBN 978-1849015875.
  15. ^ Sinnott, John (2 December 2011). "Doctor Who: Day of the Daleks". DVD Talk. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  16. ^ Berriman, Ian (9 September 2011). "Doctor Who: Day of the Daleks – DVD Review". SFX. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  17. ^ "Doctor Who: the 56 greatest stories and episodes, ranked". The Daily Telegraph. 3 June 2018. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  18. ^ "'Doctor Who': 'Day of the Daleks' Special Edition DVD review". CultBox. 10 August 2011.
  19. ^ Nickerson, Al (August 2008). "Claremont and Byrne: The Team that Made the X-Men Uncanny". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (29): 10.

External links[edit]

Target novelisation[edit]