NOTE: Research is ongoing with earlier seasons from the ‘New Series’ which may impact on some of the information contained in this page. If so, some areas may be updated in due course…
Asylum of the Borrowed Daleks
Series 7 saw Steven Moffat write his first adventure since the Curse of Fatal Death to feature the Daleks as the main foe. In doing so he created a story of such ambition that a new record would be set for the number of Daleks used in one production.
Whilst the script itself was full of drama, insight into the Daleks’ lives society, human interest and incredible set-pieces, the transfer to screen didn’t quite hit the mark for Dalek fans. Visually it was fantastic – with a beautifully cinematic quality, but the director’s choices in the use of props unfortunately undermined the intentions of the scripts, and the ambitions of Steven Moffat.
In the buildup, Moffat had said that the episode would feature a Dalek “from every era” – and a DWM cover took this idea to the Nth degree to further build the hype with every single variation appearing in full colour.
Rehearsals raised levels of excitement yet more, as beautiful replica props from the 60s and 70s were seen mingling with New Paradigm versions and other bronze casings. Unfortunately, by the time the props had reached studio, their appearance had been much altered with heavy weathering all but hiding their original colours. Whilst it was true that there was a Dalek from ever era, the story was shot and edited in such a way that it was almost impossible to tell.
Seven Classic-Style Props
The Radio Times presented a fantastic spread showing six of the Daleks whose designs hailed from the original run of Doctor Who. One further prop was used which did not appear in this montage
This image, despite having the Daleks covered in grime and cobwebs, still revealed their original colours more so than when they were seen on screen. From left to right they were as follows:
Dead Planet Dalek (AB2)
Belonging to Andrew Beech, this replica was the work of prop-builders Steve Allen, Alistair Lock and Dave Brian. When originally constructed, this Dalek had been made in the late-sixties style with slats and mesh, albeit with inaccurate lights.
The prop had received two early TV appearances before getting its ultimate guest slot – an appearance in Doctor Who itself. In the summer of 1992 the BBC ran a live magazine show from The National Garden Show in Ebbw Vale. Starring Caron Keating (of Blue Peter fame), Linda Mitchell and a young Rob Brydon, the show featured a mix of the usual daytime fare. One such item was a preview of original Doctor Who props going up for auction at Bonhams in August. Andrew Beech was interviewed about the sale and brought his Dalek along in the fun item where Brydon took on the role of a hapless version of the Doctor. Elisabeth Sladen also featured in the item and another exciting element was a rare appearance by second movie Dalek, Dalek AARUII 2 which was going to be included in the auction itself.
Its second appearance was on the BBCs popular Saturday evening gameshow – The Generation Game. The segment required guests to guess the auction prices of various Doctor Who props. Colin Baker was also on hand to give some details of the props to presenter Jim Davidson. Dalek AB2 was valued at some £16,000!
Following a life of promotional appearances, it eventually found a new home when the Doctor Who Experience was opened in London in 2011. Rather than have two identical props on display, Dalek AB2 was converted to become an original 1963 variant. Special effects veteran Mike Tucker undertook the refurbishment work, adding new push-through hemispheres, removing the mesh and slats, and making new eye-discs and new lights. He also fitted a new collar.
This prop was on set in the Intensive Care sequence, but not seen. It is eventually only seen from one short high shot in the dream sequence.
Evil of the Daleks – ‘Black Dalek’ (AB1)
The second of Andrew Beech’s props was also built by Allen and Brian. When it was drafted in to serve at the Doctor Who Experience, it was decided that it would be more interesting to portray one of the Throne Room Daleks from Evil of the Daleks.
When Mike Tucker performed the refurbishment on this prop, he not only added lights which were more accurate for the 1967 version (as opposed to the 70s style lights it had been built with) but he also painted the dome black. It therefore remained exactly in this form when it appeared in Asylum of the Daleks.
Steve Allen and Dave Brian had earlier provided two props to Andrew Beech which were then cannibalised and developed into the first of the bronze New Series Daleks in 2005. As such the two in Asylum are actually props three and four in the overall batch developed in this period.
In doing so, Tucker’s team inadvertently incorporated an error in the geometry of the skirt built by Allen and Brian. The angle where panels L1 and L2 meet is too shallow, resulting in an asymmetrical front. All the earlier NSD props therefore have this quirk, as do the two sixties props which appear in Asylum of the Daleks.
Remembrance Renegade (HADB)
This was one of four Daleks leant to the production by the HireADalek.com website. Known as Boris, it was originally constructed by This Planet Earth and is based on the grey Renegades seen in Remembrance of the Daleks. One of the few ways it differs from the original TV version is that it has has a proper mesh around the shoulder section, rather than foam which was dappled to create the appearance of mesh.
For Asylum, it was fitted with a NSD style plunger and given a Dalek stamp on a solar slat on its left hand side.
Special Weapons Dalek (SWD)
This Dalek is the only authentic, original Dalek from Doctor Who. It was built in 1988 for Remembrance of the Daleks and its creation is documented on this page.
The original intention was to have the sound of the gun powering up which alarmed Rory and causing him to flee.
Along with Andrew Beech’s sixties props, it resides at the nearby Doctor Who Experience, which proved a useful repository for borrowed props. It had been refurbished by Mike Tucker’s team in readiness to go on display, which involved removing a great deal of the weathering that had been continually added to over the years. He also replaced some missing components on the gun.
Resurrection of the Daleks (MBH)
One of the most accurate fan replicas ever built, and incorporating some screen-used elements, this props is the work of Mark Barton Hill and is a fantastic testament to his meticulous attention to detail.
The prop is a precise copy of a specific Dalek prop which appeared in Resurrection of the Daleks. The skill with which its features are replicated is extremely impressive, right down to the supporting blocks under the slats and unusual shoulder mesh. The shoulders in question copy the dimensions of Dalek One which had the thin lower collar and, remarkably, still exists.
Death to the Daleks (TPE)
Another replica of a classic Dalek came in the form of this impressive silver and black model from Death to the Daleks.
Made by This Planet Earth and retailing at £3,295, this superb prop’s high contrast colour scheme would have been an exciting sight in the asylum.
Sadly, however, it was given the most weathering of all the Daleks, to the point that most viewers would have assumed it was a standard grey Dalek as per Day of the Daleks. It is a particular shame because, unlike every other colour scheme of Dalek featured in the show’s history, it never appeared in more than one story.
This type of Dalek can be bought from TPE – the only official retailer of replica Daleks at their website here.
As Amy enters the chamber in which she hallucinates a ballerina and other people (who are, in fact Daleks), a high shot includes five of the aforementioned six Daleks, with just the Special Weapons Dalek excluded from view.
It is likely that the Special Weapons Dalek was excluded because its distinctive appearance would have emphasised that this set was actually the same location Rory had been seen in.
This illustration on the right shows where each of the Daleks is lurking, and is labelled using the above terms of reference.
Grey Dalek (RTD)
The final ‘classic’ Dalek used in the shooting of the story is often overlooked because it does not appear in the main chamber along with all the others. As the Eleventh Doctor escapes from the intensive care chamber a standard 70s era grey Dalek tries to block his path. It is owned by former executive producer, Russell T. Davies.
At first glance it approximates the design seen in Day of the Daleks onwards however it has a number of minor differences. The slats on the shoulders are spaced apart more widely and the rivets are further towards the extremes of each slat. The lights on the dome are larger than usual and orange.
Other aspects of the design have more in common with 1980s Daleks which had amalgamated goon Dalek components, whose necks and skirts were constructed slightly different. It is the only classic-era prop seen in close-up.
Hire A Dalek NSD Additions
As well as the grey Renegade Dalek HADB, HireADalek.com also provided three more props, all NSD style, and all different, bringing the total number of bronze-type props used in Asylum to 13, including those that were built damaged.
Usually seen complete with saddle-bags, this fan-built replica was created as an Ironside – the military Daleks seen in Victory of the Daleks.
It was dirtied down to such an extent that the green colour is almost completely lost on set, however its paint scheme was highlighted in the Radio Times poster for the episode.
It is a generally accurate prop with some small details which allow it to be identified, such as the front slat being slightly less tall than usual.
The art department added a Dalek stamp onto the dome for the scenes in the asylum, in addition to the weathering. Surprising, the Union Jack sticker remains on the dome which means that this isn’t simply a green Dalek, it really is one of the Ironsides that somehow escaped Earth during the Second World War.
This replica bronze Dalek blends in very well amongst the official TV props and is quite hard to spot unless you look out for a couple of specific details.
The front slat is slightly taller than normal and the “borders” of the slat are a little thicker. The placements of the rivets are quite distinctive, and there is only a very small gap between the slats around the side and the lower collar.
The sticker on the dome identifies this Dalek as Dalek Caan. Enjoy working that fact into fan fiction regarding Journey’s End!
This fan-built replica even has the correct ID badge to identify as Dalek Sec, rather than simply an identical-looking individual. How this is reconciled “in universe” is a challenge for fanfiction writers someday.
It is a generally very accurate prop with some small details that allow it to be identified, such as a heaver-than-usual indentation either side of the eye stalk.
The clearance of the fender off the ground is also a little higher than normal in a Dalek, which helps this prop get around during its charity outings.
Another source of NDSs was those props that had been acquired for publicity purposes. In recent years, all bronze Daleks which were not for screen use had been supplied by This Planet Earth. As such they have a number of distinctive features, such as the cowl for the eye stalk being moulded directly onto the dome. The longer slats tend to curve, following the shape of the shoulders, and there are other minor traits.
One exhibition prop can be seen quite clearly in the main asylum chamber, missing one light and having lost its cage on the other (making it look like a New Paradigm light). The arm is somewhat shorter than usual, because it was often a deliberate practice to retracts the arms of display Daleks into their bodies so that they were not knocked by passers-by.
The Existing Bronze Daleks
By the end of 2006, four NSDs (New Series Daleks) had been built for screen: The original, made by Mike Tucker and his team and known in many circles as MT1, and three more built by Specialist Models which we will refer to as NSD2, NSD3 and NSD4.
Following its appearance as the Black Dalek Sec, MT1 was repainted back into its bronze livery and was used in The Stolen Earth / Journey’s End. Although it sat out Victory of the Daleks, it returned once more for Asylum of the Daleks.
The Parliament of the Daleks was set up so that as the camera faced the ‘Prime Minister’, there was a column of three Daleks to the left and six to the right. These were of course duplicated in post production.
In the group of six, MT1 appears in the bottom left position but unfortunately is generally obscured by the other Daleks on the floor level. Its relative age is shown by the fact that its dome has an ID sticker on which can be seen to be peeling at the edges. Beneath this sticker, its original, hand-painted ID badge was still present.
As well as the distinctive oil runs on the skirt which had been reapplied in 2008, a useful identifying feature is a missing bolt at the bottom of the third long slat on the left side.
This prop was dirtied down with latex spray and fake cobwebs for use inside the Asylum but is kept in the background and does not have an operator inside. On its left side, the red branding mark was added to the collar.
The second-oldest Dalek in the episode, NSD2, is one of the two main hero props used throughout the episode. Having appeared as a green ‘Ironside’ in Victory of the Daleks, it needed to be repainted bronze for Asylum of the Daleks. As with almost all the other Daleks in the episode, no weathering was added. The lack of oil runs on make them look quite different to MT1.
NSD2 is one of the props which escorts the Doctor, Amy and Rory on the lift platform and is then one of the two main Daleks on the main floor area in the Parliament. It is the one closest to the TARDIS when it dematerialises.
During the reshoot of the ‘Oswin Dalek’ scenes, where the prop is in chains, the head of NSD2 was swapped over onto the body of the prop that had been otherwise used. Which brings us to the third hero prop:
NSD5 was built in 2008 for The Stolen Earth / Journey’s End to replace NSD3 which had been retired from service, thus ensuring four hero props continued to be available. NSD5 was made by Nick Robatto and his team at the same time as the Supreme Dalek and Davros’s chair.
All 2008 Robatto props bear the same methods of construction which make them easy to tell apart from the earlier props. Two such examples are slat bolts being at varying levels, and a seam at the fronts of the skirts.
NSD5 had previously appeared as the only bronze Dalek in Victory of the Daleks, and was back in service Asylum.
NSD5 was the second of the main props on the floor of the Parliament and was operated by Nicholas Pegg. This prop was also the ‘Oswin Dalek’ which was chained up, although the head was swapped at one point. One interesting quirk of this prop is that after its refurbishment, the first slat behind the gunbox on the right side was replaced upside down.
In addition to the main three casings, the dome of NSD4 was requisitioned from the Doctor Who Experience (where it was on display as an Ironside) and a green replacement was made. This swap was done so that NSD4‘s better equipped ‘hero’ head could be available in studio. The head was repainted from green to bronze and combined with a new body.
Despite the plethora of additional casings which were gathered together for this story, the two main Daleks pre-dated 2012.
Parliament of New Daleks
Nick Robatto had been a prop-maker on Doctor Who for many years but in 2011 he formed Rubbertoe Props, his own freelance company that was able to continue to supply Doctor Who for series 7. Robatto/Rubbertoe supplied ten new props for Asylum of the Daleks, including one severely damaged New Paradigm and one severely damaged NSD.
The new batch of props broadly share the same characteristics as NSD5. Due to them being a copy of a copy taken from Mike Tucker’s original prop, one distinguishing feature is that their edges lack definition as happens in remoulding. This characteristic is particularly noticeable on the lower collars which are smooth at the corners, compared to the original prop from 2005 which has crisp, right-angled edges.
Whereas the Specialist props (NSDs 2, 3 and 4) were originally cast “all in one” with a unified shoulder and skirt, the new batch were split at the skirt to make it easier for operators to get in and out. In a move reminiscent of the batch of “goons” made in 1973, these new Daleks were generally consigned to the background and used as crowd-fillers. As such they occupy eight of the nine positions either side of the Prime Minister, with the remaining slot filled by MT1. The harsh overhead lighting hides the fact that only the latter out of all these props has weathering on it.
None of the new batch have ID badges on them which is another quick and easy way of telling them apart, assuming the domes have not been swapped. Two rows behind MT1 in the Parliament, one Robatto prop has been given the dome of NSD5, hence it is the only other weathered component present and one of few heads with an ID badge.
Differently Damaged Daleks
In the asylum scenes, the new batch of props were used to great effect. Neither NSD2 or NSD5 were used in the gigantic, murky main chamber
Most of the bronze props are new Robatto props, except for the fact that hero domes are sometimes used because their radio control systems negate the need for an operator. One Dalek which Rory inspects came from exhibition and was built by This Planet Earth.
Seven complete NSDs were made, of which two were merely dirtied down and suffered no physical alterations at all for the asylum. The Daleks with intact skirts will be numbered NSDR1, NSDR2, NSDR3 and NSDR4. NSDR1 and NSDR2 did not appear in the Asylum scenes.
Holes were cut out of three skirts in the areas that they would have had certain hemispheres mounted, so that their ‘balls’ appeared to be missing, to tie in with the scene in which Rory picks up an ‘egg’ which has apparently dropped out of the body of the Dalek.
An inverted shape was fixed inside the skirt to created a concave cavity behind the hole.
The pattern of holes is different on each Dalek, making for a useful identifier to tell one from another and the front two panels alone allow each one to be spotted, as follows:
NSDR5 has one hemisphere missing from the third row down.
NSDR6 has two missing from different rows on each side.
NSDR7 is a mirror image of the previous one.
In all other respects these were full casings, although NSDR6 had its gun removed when it was placed into ‘intensive care’.
NSDR6 does have one additional piece of damage built-in. Its neck rings have a series of notches cut into it suggesting the casing has been slashed downwards with a powerful weapon.
This damaged neck section can be seen in the parliament scenes although due to the alignment of the damage and the overhead lighting, it is easy to mistake it for a shadow. This prop’s head also sits askew on the neck section, which is quirk shared by several of the new batch of props.
NSDR8 was cleverly built in such a way that it appeared to have significant disrepair but in fact could be very quickly made to look pristine.
As well as having some hemi holes, it was lacking some slats at the front, its head was mounted askew, it was fitted with a damaged sucker, and it had a number of specially-made hemispheres which looked like dented metal.
Barnaby Edwards operated this prop when, despite its sad appearance, it came to life and came down the corridor towards the Doctor. It was then propelled backwards before being substituted for an FX prop for an explosion.
In addition to the above seven which all had the potential to become normal-looking, one additional prop was custom built with significant damage.
Death to a Dalek
Scott Weyland had been involved in Doctor Who, Daleks and special effects since the series returned and was involved in the original build of the New Series Dalek with Mike Tucker. By 2013 he was no longer directly employed in Doctor Who but was still involved with Danny Hargreaves’ company AnyFX for whom he made breakable props including Dalek sections, such as in The Stolen Earth.
During shooting of Asylum of the Daleks, Danny Hargreaves found himself in need for an FX prop for a large explosion. With all the existing props being used another lightweight Dalek would be required quickly. Hargreaves turned to Weyland again but in this case he was unable to construct a prop quickly enough in the short timescale and so an alternative method was construed.
Weyland had in his possession a ‘Dalek Sec’ replica and he decided that it could be donated for the effect. A hectic four days ensued that involved Hargreaves and his team marking and cutting up sections of the Dalek before being reassembled with brackets. The inside of the prop was lined with metal plates to withstand the blast of the explosion. Mindful that parts would fly off, several lightweight sections were formed for it including the dome, eye and arms. The prop was dirtied as per the rest of the Asylum Daleks and hints of golden hemis were added. After exchanging places with NSDR8, the effect was carried out on set with tremendous results.
The strengthening plates inside the Dalek ensured that only minor damage was caused to the prop and so the various sections were salvaged and were returned to Weyland.
Even More Daleks!
In addition to the many props already provided by Rubbertoe they also provided a number of heavily distressed skirt sections for the aftermath of the Dalek explosion and a specially constructed ‘open’ Dalek that was seen in the intensive care scenes. The the top of the skirt section had an extra detailing that is revealed by the shoulder section which was split down the centre and opened out. The dome and neck section were suspended above the rest of of the prop and extra detailing was added to the top of the neck section.
Despite the addition of the classic Daleks and the epic cinematic feel of the episode, it hadn’t quite hit the mark for Dalek fans who had been craving for armies of ‘classic’ Daleks marauding across the screen.
However, with the 50th Anniversary on the horizon, and with thoughts of classic Daleks and New Series Daleks mixing in the mind of Steven Moffat, better days for Dalek fans were surely not too far away again…
Read about the props used in the latest Dalek story, The Magician’s Apprentice / The Witch’s Familiar.