‘We’d better keep an eye on him. He seems to have a knack of getting himself into trouble.’
21 December 1963 – 2 February 1964
The Memory Cheats
I have no idea when it was but my first encounter with this story was the Peter Cushing films. In black and white, it was pre colour in our house. I also remember seeing them again in around 1975, so the first viewing was before then. Of course I didn’t realise at the time I was watching an adaptation of the first Dalek story. I remember being put out that the TARDIS was all wrong inside and the Daleks extermination effect was also wrong. I was used to the negative effect and hadn’t seen the original version. Not sure I even liked the Doctor very much either. It had Roy Castle from Record Breakers in it though. He was funny. All in all though it was an exciting evening and the next day everyone was talking about it at school. The second film followed a week later.
BBC Video began releasing Doctor Who in the mid-80s but at over £40 they were not really affordable. By the early 90s though, they started to sell at around a tenner and this was one of the first I remember buying. Although it was probably £20 as it was on two tapes. Obviously by then I had read much about the story, but by this time I owned only a few episodes of Doctor Who on video, and certainly very little in black and white so it was very exciting playing it and watching it through for the first time.
The Time Space Visuliser
Our heroes leave the ship onto the first alien world and it is Skaro. A planet ravaged by a neutronic war indeed. It is not long before Susan is screaming at the first monster to appear in the show. Fortunately it is only the soup dragon off of the clangers, and it is dead. Petrified you might say. So Barbara is the first to see a Dalek.
It is not long before they are all captured again and held prisoner. Nice of the Daleks to make a bed for any humanoid prisoners they might capture. Also to write ‘danger’ in English on their radiation counter. Maybe that was the TARDISes translation circuits working though.
So Susan heads off back to the TARDIS and on the way pauses to run on the spot whilst getting fladulated by a few twigs. She meets Alydon, who I have just realised is Jilly’s husband from Return to Eden. Back to the city with the drugs. They take the drugs and manage to escape and head back to the Thals, only to realise they have to go back to the city again because of the fluid link. Sillies!
Love the mutated creature that gets the Thal, shame it didn’t kill the wingey one. Luckily he gets his later after a rubbish jump across a chasm. Eventually though, all make it to the city and manage to kill all the Daleks forever by taking the plug out. Making sure they have the fluid link this time it is back to the TARDIS. One last snog for Barbara, was she boffing Ganatus? And then it’s take off time.
Despite the clunky nature of the story. I find it quite compelling. The first scenes where the Doctor is with the Daleks are quite engaging, and Hartnell remains very alien, though softer and more caring than the first story. He genuinely regrets the fluid link deception. Ian and Barbara are also very good and for the most part the story is well paced. The Daleks are quite clunky and bump into things quite a lot. There are also pioneering shots of CGI (well maybe not) Daleks to boost the numbers in later scenes. Terry Nation’s writing comes in for a lot of flak for its formulaic nature, but his imagination ensured Doctor Who’s longevity. It also gave us Survivors and Blakes 7. The Daleks obviously enchanted the nation then as they still do. Because of this story, the Daleks and the Doctor, would be around for years to come. Now possibly even for ever.
The Thals are quite a cliché for alien races. All blonde and peace loving beautiful creations in wonderful futuristic costumes.
First use of anti-radiation gloves. Yes, they were mentioned again, but not necessarily cannon! Which Big Finish story? Alright then, the first major Hartnell fluff that was left in.
The 500 Year Diary
23rd October 2263 am
So we’re in this petrified forest – quite what frightened it I don’t know! No knowledge of where we’re at – let’s just call it ‘The Dead Planet’ for now. We go for a look round and we see this futuristic seemingly abandoned city. Ian and Barbara then start moaning on about wanting to leave – I’ll show them!
On the way back to the ship, Susan gets separated – silly girl – and then claims she was touched up! Hardly likely, we feel. And then Barbara starts to feel ill. Bloody women! Put another cardie on then! And then someone starts playing knock down ginger on the ship. At this point Ian & Barbara become a bit insistent, but I really want to see the city, so rather sneakily I remove the fluid link claiming that it needs mercury. Ha Ha. And where is the mercury? Probably in the city! Brilliant – although everyone accepts that, which is a bit odd, because if I ran out of mercury in Shoreditch I wouldn’t pop down to my local corner shop. Oh well. So I get my way again. Off to bed.
The next morning, Barbara’s still feeling ill. I’m not feeling too great myself. Still must see the city. Someone left some vials with amber liquid outside the ship. Litter louts! We put that away – might be useful later!
The city itself was rather odd. Made entirely of metal with small rounded arches. Interesting. But where the hell has Barbara gone?
23rd October 2263 pm
So whilst looking for Barbara we stumble upon a random Geiger counter – always handy in a city. It shows us that the place is teeming with radiation. That granddaughter is useless. If you want something doing do it yourself! Well at that point, it all seemed rather serious so fessed up about the fluid link. Chessington went a bit mental and took the fluid link off me. Fair enough, I suppose.
Next thing, we walk out of that room only to encounter these alien creatures that look like pepperpots with sticks and blobs all over them. The way they move is reminiscent of the dancers at the Georgian National Ballet! They are rather terrifying, especially the voices, but happily they do rasp out that they are called Daleks.
Ian, in a typical foolhardy effort to be brave, makes a run for it and gets shot! When he’s shot he goes all negative. Thankfully, he’s only paralysed. Well that’s alright then! And to top it all, I’m starting to feel really ill. Anyway, they lock us up. At least, we find Barbara.
The Daleks interrogate me and rather cunningly I get them to tell me all about themselves. Apparently they are the mutated survivors of a neutronic war with the Thals and have to stay within the cases of their travel machines in their metallic city. Thanks for the heads up! I persuade them that we need drugs. For the radiation sickness, you understand. Not quite sure why they don’t just kill us. These aliens never seem to act rationally.
Anyway, we suss out that those vials were anti-radiation drugs and only Susan is well enough to go and get them. Great – she’ll probably trip over and do her ankle in.
24th October 2263 am
Susan’s gone ages! What the hell’s she been doing! Honestly, I feel really rough now. Sweating and everything!
She eventually gets back and starts banging on about these Thals and how they want peace and food. Thankfully she has remembered the drugs and not left them under a bush or something. Anyway we take them and we all miraculously get better. Obviously we are going to have to take them regularly to prevent the radiation reoccurring. Or maybe not?
The Daleks overhear all of this and then say that they will help the Thals. Really? I don’t trust them… they can’t even write according to Susan.
So we plan the escape which firstly involves us breaking the camera that the Daleks have been using to monitor us. Rather cunning really! Then we start to theorise about how the Daleks move around. I deduce it’s through static electricity due to the smell of fairground dodgems. Clever aren’t I? Ian then pipes up that if we could break the circuit, the Daleks would become inert. Happily Susan was conveniently given a cloak by one of the Thals, but the problem lies in the eyestalk. Now Barbara has a good idea by using the dirt from the dead forest on Susan’s shoes to create a mudpack. She’s more than just a cardie and bouffant hair.
We block the door and we follow the plan brilliantly! We then take the top off the Dalek – oooerrr – a bit grim. We send the girls away whilst us men remove the monster . Ian climbs inside the Dalek and pretends to lead us through the city as our captor. Wish I could have done that. Anyway, I wonder what did happen to that creature. It did seem rather dead…. Or was it?
24th October 2263 pm
Well the plan failed at the first hurdle as Ian couldn’t convince another Dalek that he was real. It should have been me. I bet I could have done a better Dalek voice than Ian!
Happily, to stall the Daleks I am able to lock the door magnetically. But try as we might, we can’t get Ian out of the casing. The catch is stuck! It’s always the way when you want something to work! Anyway we leave Ian there as the Daleks cut through the door – not sure why they couldn’t just blast it open – and go up in this really slow lift. Happily Ian manages to get out and get up the lift shaft and we chuck a bit of random Dalek art down the liftshaft to stop them coming up after us whilst I open the door. Hurrah!!!
While that was all going on, we saw that the Thals were coming to get food left by the Daleks. It’s quite impressive they have all these groceries to hand including toilet rolls. Anyway we try to warn them about the ambush that the Daleks had obviously planned, but they can’t hear us. So whilst we do a runner, Ian goes to warn them and obviously doesn’t do a particularly good job as their leader gets killed after some long speech so one of the Thals said. Apparently Ian waited till after the speech had finished to warn them – must have been a good speech!
At long last we meet these Thals – a rather wet and drippy lot to be honest. Think I prefer the Daleks! This really annoying girl called Dyoni tells me all about the Thal/ Dal history on this planet called Skaro. I obviously digest all of this and more. Might be useful in the future! Anyway, these Thals are a bunch of peace loving hippies with nice slacks. Oh well – that’s their problem and so off we go!
Except when we get in the ship, we find out Ian only left the ruddy fluid link in the city. What an idiot!
25th October 2263
And so we have to persuade these drippy hippies to fight the Daleks in order for us to metaphorically get our car keys so we can depart and leave them to it. Thinking about it, why the bloody hell would they actually help us? And this assumes haven’t just chucked the fluid link in the bin or something. Anyway, Ian messes with the new leader Alydon’s drippy bird and the Thal punches him. In the face! There are some things they would fight for. Yes, annoying blondes.
So we have a plan for the expedition into the Dalek city. One lot will go round the back through what is known as the Lake Of Mutations – doesn’t sound particularly safe – think I’ll stay here with Susan and act as a decoy. That Ian loves a bit of action adventure – he’s a bit Lancelot – Barbara goes with him. Think she fancies him.
26th October 2263 am
So off they go leaving us to do that thing you do as kids with watches in sunlight. We shine it towards the city which apparently messes up their video and radio communications. Must test that out by waving a big mirror in front of Ally Pally.
Susan and I walk right up to the front door of the city, making me think that perhaps there wasn’t the need to for the ordeal going round the back of the city. I ask Susan for her TARDIS key and I manage to draw power away from the system, rather brilliantly causing it to happen before actually doing it! We find a second panel to sabotage which destroys some of their computers, but then the Daleks surround us. Thought we were goners! Instead, as deliberate troublemakers, they capture us, take us to their control centre and tell us of their future plans. What a bunch of idiots!
This new plan involves them blowing up their nuclear reactors to create the radiation they need to live. Seems a bit extreme, but they obviously know what they are doing!
26th October 2263 pm
The Daleks keep banging on about this plan – destroying all life on Skaro in the process. 2 for the price of 1. Having met the Thals, I have some sympathy; however I know right from wrong and say I would build them a TARDIS . Thinking about it now, it’s a rather strange offer as it means they could go anywhere in space and time destroying stuff. Perhaps I said the first thing that came into my head! Anyway they rather rudely didn’t take me up on my offer saying they could do that already! So why don’t they? Fools….
Whilst this is all going on, more Thals have come through the front door to start the rescue and meet up with the ones remaining from the back door assault (Ian tells me that the most annoying ones copped it – one eaten by some dirty great jellyfish and another particularly whingey one fell down a hole because he was crap at long jump). After a hard fought and amazing battle (I’m sure I saw some blow up photographed Daleks in the background – handy if you want to look like there’s more of you than there actually are), we stop the nuclear reactors blowing up with three of their Dalek seconds to spare and cut the power to the city so they all die. They beg me to save them. No can do I say. The Thals aren’t that impressed with themselves, but at least it’s over.
Amazingly, we find the fluid link intact and also stock up on mercury. With the amount I get I don’t think I’ll ever need mercury again. Shame they don’t have Zeiton-7. Barbara and this Ganatus have a quick kiss before we leave. She’s a bit of a dolly!
And so we’re off, except the ruddy console blows up!
The Five Word Lords
Iconic villains. All dead, shame!