"An exhaustive - if bonkers - work of genius!" Mike Tucker
In the spring of 2002, before most of the world had heard of Russell T Davies, Jon Green began Dalek6388 as a resource for fans who wanted to learn about the origins of the Dalek props built for Doctor Who. The first version of the site was a collection of various histories pulled together and rewritten to correct certain errors. The different sources often conflicted but Jon put in a modest amount of research to solve some mysteries posed by the original authors.
In the summer of 2005, another person with too much time on his hands sent Jon a message asking about the peculiarities of the dilapidated prop in The Five Doctors. This irksome individual was Gav, creator of the Doctor Who fan site TheMindRobber.co.uk. Jon did his best to discourage these troublesome questions and directed the correspondent towards those less normal than himself who might help.
Unfortunately for Jon, Gav was persistent and in due course a friendship was formed based on mutual ignorance. A collaborative partnership was born with the intention of tweaking the text a little to fill in a few gaps, but it ultimately resulted in an ambitious attempt to expand every page of the site to provide as much detail as possible. An unhealthy routine developed of late nights looking at Dalek photos and hours spent during the day chatting online. The history which emerged was neither clear nor logical and much of it failed to relate to what historians had written before. The changes to the props were often inexplicable and different anecdotes about their fates seemed to conflict with what was on screen. After pestering some very patient people such as Andrew Pixley, David Howe, Mick Hall, and Chris Balcombe for useful scraps of information, things seemed no clearer.
A clean slate was begun, in which all received wisdom was queried and all eye-witness testimony was treated with extreme caution. Disrespectful towards the people involved perhaps, but it was no more than an unbiased historian should do. The first point of reference became photos and DVDs, and if an anecdote appeared contradictory to the primary sources, then the photo or DVD took precedence - even if did end up annihilating some nice stories which various poor actors had dined out on for years.
After six solid months of sleep-deprivation, the pair had made some vague sense of the tangled mess and a new draft of the site was nearly ready.
At the start of 2006 they came into contact with the Project Dalek Forum whose members not only build props but research them too. This collection of like-minded individuals had spent many years looking at Daleks, and they indulged Jon and Gav in new rounds of questioning, debating, analysing and attempting to un-knot this twisted history. Individuals such as Mark Dando, John Darley, Tony, Jay, and others joined in the discussions, whilst John Kelly (purveyor of excellent documentaries in the classic DVD range) brought some helpful facts from the BBC archives. In addition to the endless debating, James Russell and Robert Kew were kind enough to share their photo collections, bringing forth amazingly clear reference material from which conclusions could be drawn and new ideas postulated.
After Jon and Gav had spent far, far too much time on late-night rewrites and deliberating the difference between wild speculation and educated guesswork, the new site was finally uploaded in 2007. It had taken years. There was a lot of excellent research, many new ideas and lots of linking hypotheses which stood up to testing. Some debates, however, could have continued indefinitely. There had to come a time where a line was drawn under it and they announced, "We did our best." Like Leonardo said about art, Dalek prop history is never finished, only abandoned.
Whilst the vast majority of the site was robust, logical and documentary, the reality was that even after two years of researching, arguing, comparing, zooming, enhancing and weeping, the earliest parts of Dalek history were left gloomy and some conclusions had been reached a little too eagerly. The site was launched with questions unanswered, some cracks were papered over, and various dots were hurriedly connected and theories were stated with far too much confidence.
As the years rolled by, there was a tweak here and a tweak there to keep most things hanging together but with web browsers improving and screen resolutions widening, talk began of an update to the whole site.
In early 2010, Jon and Gav
started planning a whole new layout to the site, with revamped text and additional pages which utilized the scraps of notes which were accumulating on the intervening years between TV stories. New photos had provided new clues, and better quality DVD's had been extremely helpful. With re-writes under way, Steve Murray (ex-owner of the Tussauds prop) put Jon and Gav in contact with an independent researcher called Simon Ayers. Simon had been doing some scrutinizing of photos himself and was able to present evidence which reconciled the problems with the Dalek6388 timeline of the 1960s props. The opportunity to correct an early blunder injected new life into the project and a full redesign was undertaken by the web design company appropriately named "Zarbi". The whole of the site was rewritten from scratch, taking seven months starting in the summer of 2010. Every page was looked at afresh, every nut and bolt re-counted. A new timeline was created in which each prop could be followed from its construction until its last appearance on screen - and in many cases beyond. Now, finally, the site is ready.
Gav and Jon would like to extend their thanks to all those mentioned above whose help over the years has brought the site to where it is now, and particular thanks go to Robert Kew and James Russell, without whose photographs the site would be less detailed and less accurate. Thanks also to Martin Wilkie, Derek Handley, Matt Parish and Tony Clark whom have also provided help and pictures since the site went live. Special thanks to the fellow researchers whose fresh input gave new life to research which had become well trodden ground over the last half-decade.
We have enjoyed everything that has gone into this site and we hope you enjoy reading it. We are always happy to read any comments about the site or our theories and we're always open to new information.
Jon and Gav
Who Are We?
Jon has been a Doctor Who
fan since the early 1970s and has a preference for Tom Baker stories but likes all eras of the show. He has his own Dalek and manages a family run TV Shop in Bath
which has been established since 1946. He is a keen darts player and organises the local league, as well as being a fan of Pink Floyd and supporter of Liverpool FC.
Gav was first introduced to Doctor Who
during the summer of 1987 via his dad's video collection of the 1983 repeats. He built his Doctor Who
website in 1997 and started themindrobber.co.uk in 2003. Since then he's researched and built other sites such as theultimateadventure.co.uk, evilofthedaleks.co.uk and policeboxes.co.uk for himself as well as the local fan group mlgonline.co.uk and now owns a Wirral Web Design
company. He is a keen artist, genealogist, lover of football and obviously owns his own Dalek.