Doctor Who

Doctor Who: 10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the Daleks

The only thing that perked me up while watching the last episode of Orphan Black I’m going to get to see for a year was getting a teeny, tiny promo for this fall’s triumphant return of Doctor Who for Series 9. There’s plenty to look forward to, but as far as anyone can tell the Daleks are alienus non grata this season. If that’s the case then here’s some little know Dalek trivia to tide you over until next we see them.

10. They Are Psychic
What power source a Dalek casing uses now is unknown. Originally they used static electricity derived from the metal floors of Skaro, and the First Doctor harnessed this knowledge to fight them. Later models that have appeared in the revived series seem to draw some of their power from energy picked up in the time vortex, such as when Rose Tyler touched one to revitalize it. There’s a third, more obscure source of power mentioned, though. Daleks who had their power source (whatever is was) cut in “Death to the Daleks” were still able to move and speak, which was explained by the Third Doctor as being a result of psychokinetic abilities. The Eighth Doctor would encounter humanized Daleks in “Children of the Revolution” with psychokinetic abilities strong enough to lift him off the ground.

9. They Have a Dual Origin
In their first appearance the Daleks are said to be descended from a race on Skaro known as the Dals, while in “Genesis of the Daleks” their progenitors are called the Kaleds (an anagram of Dalek). In reality both are correct. The Kaleds were the people Davros mutated into the Daleks, but he was inspired by a line in a book of prophecies left behind by the extinct Dal people to name them. It reads, “and on that day men will become as gods” with the Dal word for “god” being “dal-ek”. This is explained in the “I, Davros” series of audio plays.

8. The Original Dalek Puppets Were Even More Terrifying
“Asylum of the Daleks” introduced the Dalek Puppets, living people or even reanimated corpses that were converted via nanobots into slaves with eyestalks growing out of their foreheads and gunsticks in their hands. Several individuals such as Tasha Lam and Jenibeth Blakely have shown the ability to fight off the Dalek conditioning , but that wasn’t true for the original Dalek puppets; the Robomen, first seen in “The Dalek Invasion of Earth”. These captured humans were altered with brain surgery and mind-control helmets to act as foot soldiers and servants for the Daleks. Unlike the modern puppets, though, breaks in the mind control of the Daleks caused insanity in the Robomen and they would commit suicide. One group of Robomen encountered by the Sixth Doctor and Peri Brown in “Masters of Earth” were able to sever the control the Daleks had on them, but began plans to create more of themselves out of available humans and conquer the galaxy. Not much of an escape when you immediately begin to exactly emulate your oppressors.

7. They Have Their Own Version of Darth Vader
If you ever wanted to know how the Tenth Doctor would have fared against Darth Vader then pick up Trevor Baxendale’s novel Prisoner of the Daleks sometime because it has the closest thing to Dalek Vader you’re ever going to get. Known as Dalek X and sometimes The Devil in Dalek Form, he held the position of Dalek Inquisitor General and hunted through space in a special Dalek battleship called Exterminator (Vader’s Star Destroyer was the Executor). Like Vader his armor was black and he was found of torturing prisoners for information. Also like Vader, he would execute underlings to incentivize others not to fail him, and he answered only to the Supreme Dalek himself as Vader did with the Emperor. The Doctor eventually left Dalek X stranded in a desolate area of space that was quarantined for intense radioactivity and unable to call for help.

6. They Create Art
Despite being mostly known for their single-minded determination for extermination, the Daleks are not without a culture of creation. At least one Dalek poem was fairly well-known and studied, the 128-stanza Lament of the Non-Operational. The Seventh Doctor’s companion Roz Forrester knew the whole thing by heart. The Daleks are also known to have a fondness for William Shakespeare’s works, and quote the Bard extensively in “The Time of the Daleks”. Their fondness did not extend to Shakespeare himself, though, as they attempted to erase him from history in that adventure in order to create a paradox Earth where they had always been the rulers.

5. The Doctor Isn’t Their Only Humanoid Nemesis
Though The Doctor is feared by the Daleks for his brilliance at defeating them in sheer terror and brutality The Doctor is eclipsed by Abslom Daak. Daak was a murderer and a pirate who chose exile as a Dalek Killer as punishment for his criminal acts. And kill Daleks he did, traveling the universe with his chainsword and a rogue band of other toughs taking them out with a Conan-like ferocity. He’s even personally attacked Davros himself, hacking into the despot’s chair with his sword. Birthed from Doctor Who Magazine comic strips, Marvel has attempted to give Daak his own, Doctor-less comic book on several occasions (one would have teamed him with Balkac from Blake’s 7, uniting the universes). A drawing of Daak appears in a criminal database during “Time Heist”.

4. Their Use in Titles is Unmatched
The word “Dalek” appears in more Doctor Who story titles than any other noun. If you count the individual episode titles of the William Hartnell years “Dalek” takes third place behind “Planet” and “Death”.

3. Terry Nation Wasn’t Their Only Creator
Terry Nation is widely considered the father of the Daleks and his estate still maintains control over them. However, a great deal of what we love about the Daleks is their iconic look, and that was all the work of Raymond Cusick. It was he that gave them their pepper pot look. Cusick was also an avid photographer and captured many great behind the scenes shots on the episodes he worked on. You should pick up the book of them some time.

2. There is a Guinness World Record for Dalek Collecting
Rob Hull from Doncaster, South Yorkshire holds the official world record for the largest collection of Daleks in the world. In 2012 Hull amassed different models, everything from tiny toys to towering replicas. Weirdly, he’s not really much of a fan of the show.

UDPATE: Rob Hull let us know that since winning the award in 2012 his collection has grown to 1,801!

1. They Have Starred in a Porno
In 2005 the Daleks checked off another box in Pop Culture Bingo by starring in a pornographic film called Abducted by the Daleks. It’s exactly what you think, with three women being taken by the Daleks and forced to do sex stuff with them and with each other. Porn isn’t known for its plots, OK. The BBC of course sued it into oblivion, but it’s fairly easy to find online if you’re into that sort of thing. It also resulted in one of the greatest statements ever made by an estate when Terry Nation’s estate director Tim Hancock (sniggers) told the press on the subject, “The reason the Daleks are still the most sinister thing in the universe is because they do not make things like porn. They weren't ever intended to be sexual creatures. It's simple, Daleks do not do porn.” Well, Mr. Hancock, they did, and it’s not all that much weirder than some of the other things the Daleks have done over the years. 

Jef has a new story about robot sharks out now in Lurking in the Deep. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter
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Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
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