Photo copyright Lisa Hazlegreaves
Dalek doing the Sport Relief Mile In Cardiff
I’m worried before I even start writing this post. The Dalek is a controversial subject amongst Whovians (that’s Who fans to those that aren’t aware) especially amongst those Whovians who have been fans since Classic Who. I must admit I hate the terms Classic and New Who, I’m not sure why we need a distinction between the two and I’m not sure you need to have seen both to be a fan. Anyway that’s a post for another letter!
Daleks are one of those monsters that have stood the test of time, please pardon the pun. You show anyone a picture of a Dalek and I’m pretty sure they will be able to tell you what it is, whether they like Doctor Who or not. I’m also pretty sure that if you shove a picture of a Dalek in front of someone’s face they will automatically without thinking put on a very strange voice and gargle ‘exterminate’ it’s as if this Dalek threat is passed down in our genes, like the lyrics to The Beatles or Queen songs.
I can remember so vividly as a child going to Grannies and running straight to the cupboard under her sink to retrieve the plunger, spending my days chasing friends and plunging them to death whilst screeching ‘exterminate’ Of course when I was a child all my friends had to do to escape the fatal plunging was jump atop a wall, in my day Daleks couldn’t travel up. So you can imagine my excitement when Who returned to our screens and it was hinted that there may be Daleks. I tried to explain to Daughter about Daleks, I wasn’t very good at it. Descriptions like ‘salt shaker’ and ‘plunger’ coming out of my mouth in an excited garbled too fast speech. Daughter ended up thinking Daleks were some sort of comedic monster made from a mish-mash of kitchen items. I really didn’t do them justice.
Then in episode 6 of the ninth Doctor, in an episode actually called ‘Dalek’ (bit of a clue in the title then) we were re-introduced to the Dalek. In my mind I’m really pleased it was Ecclestons Doctor who had this momentous meeting. The horror he felt on first seeing the chained up Dalek was palpable, the fear was oozing from his every pore, this in turn leapt out of our screens and into the watcher. For me, the fear would have been instant anyway, having known of the Daleks from my youth. For Daughter Ecclestons portrayal of the Doctor at that very moment seeing that Dalek for the first time was enough to have her terrified of it in a second. This chained up robotic looking creature that had not done a thing was already imprinted on Daughters brain as something malevolent and terrifying, simply because of the brilliant acting and writing of that introductory scene where we are re-acquainted with the Dalek nation.
In the last six series of Doctor Who the Dalek has undergone a few transformations; it is these transformations that have divided Whovian fandom. The last metamorphosis in Series 5, Victory of The Daleks saw the most controversial change to date. We were introduced to the Supreme Daleks, a new breed of Dalek, larger and definitely more colourful. Red, Blue, Yellow and White described comically as Lego Daleks by some fractions of the Whovian populace. Now this is where I risk losing some readership, you see I quite liked these new colourful Daleks, mainly I think because Small Child loved them so, he had never really shown much interest in the monster before, they had never really scared him, but these colossal colourful creatures really tore into his imagination and he had his first Dalek nightmare (proud Whovian Mother moment) I could go on forever about Daleks, they really are entwined into our reality, our lives, I won’t though, I will leave you with my discovery that the word Dalek is in the Oxford Dictionary, if this is not a measure of the impact Doctor Who has had on our culture I’m not sure what is.
- A member of a race of hostile alien machine-organisms which appeared in the BBC television science-fiction series Doctor Who from 1963.