Eve of the Daleks
Series 13 of Doctor Who (given the overarching title of ‘Flux‘) began production in late 2020 but was seriously hampered by the ongoing pandemic. A number of cutbacks had to be made including reducing the episode count down to six episodes.
The Daleks had made some brief cameos in the story although no new filming with the Dalek props was required. In episode three, their scenes were accomplished by Ben Pickles reusing his CGI models as first used in the previous New Years Special – Revolution of the Daleks. Interestingly, the whole neck section and dome of these Daleks turned as they they searched. Could these be a new variant?
In episode six, unused footage from Revolution of the Daleks was included. These shots included the Daleks in their ship using the mix of older props alongside the Daleks made for 2015s Symphonic Spectacular. More about these props can be read on our Revolution of the Daleks page.
At the conclusion of the production of ‘Flux‘ thoughts turned to the New Years Day episode. The vast scale of the tale that had just unfolded onscreen meant that Chris Chibnall wanted to take a new direction to give the viewers something lighter in the festive period.
Chris Chibnall told Doctor Who Magazine: “The episode is basically a romantic comedy where the obstacle to the romance is not only the characters themselves, but the threat of Daleks. But there’s still a big, fun, sci-fi concept at the heart of it. It’s got the range of tones, the range of scares, the range of humour and the range of mystery that you’d want on New Year’s Day.”
The story takes place over a short period in a single location and the comedy and Daleks were generally kept apart so they wouldn’t become the butt of jokes. The plot involved a complex time-loop situation and introduced a new type of Dalek that hadn’t been referred to previously in the show’s history.
It wasn’t only the TV show that was having problems with the ongoing pandemic. A huge immersive and interactive show had been planned for sometime in London and its opening was delayed from its due date in February 2021.
The experience was designed by UK company Immersive Everywhere in collaboration with the BBC and featured a number of locations, time periods and enemies of the Doctor.
The show was part of the larger ‘Time Lord Victorious’ multiplatform series and as such needed some Daleks as seen in the other media. Having finished their duties in Revolution of the Daleks, the four Symphonic Spectacular props were sent to Mike Tucker at The Model Unit for refurbishment in late 2020.
Two of the Daleks were left in their same bronze finish but the other two were required to become the ‘Dalek Scientist’ and the new ‘Dalek Drone.’ These had been seen on other media in the series’ such as the Big Finish Audios. The Dalek colour schemes were created by CGI artist Dave Ladkin who also provided CGI models for the various media
Mike Tucker assessed the two props due to be changed and removed all the shoulders slats and replaced them with new versions. He also made some repairs to the rings that surround the hemispheres.
The Dalek Scientist Was painted silver with red hemispheres, slats, gunbox fronts and dome whilst the Drone was silver with blue hemispheres and gunbox fronts. The slats were in a grey finish.
Although the show’s contents were kept highly secretive, some images were used in promotion and inevitably, some also leaked. Included in one of the promotional shots was one of the ‘damaged’ Daleks that had last been seen at The Doctor Who Experience. This being a set of new ‘NSD’ shoulders made to look damaged which was placed on the skirt of Dalek TPE-D; the Death to the Daleks style skirt that had appeared in Asylum of the Daleks.
Later leaked images also showed that another of the ‘damaged’ DWE props was utilised in the show. This being NSDAD2 which, again, was first seen in Asylum of the Daleks.
The show eventually opened on 26th May 2021 but was closed for a period in its run after flooding in the building. Despite its popularity, the run ended on 5th June 2022.
Blue Peter filmed a behind the scenes look at the show during its run although the finished segment went out after the show had ended. Presenter Mwaka Mudenda was allowed to sit inside the Drone Dalek and operate it for one of that days experiences.
June 2021 saw production ramping up on Eve of the Daleks and early in the month, fans got their first indication of what may be coming when a Dalek was spotted being carried into the ‘A Bond’ Warehouse on the Cumberland Road in Bristol. The final transmitted episode used CGI enhanced exterior views of the warehouse which, no doubt, would have confused the locals.
Further filming took place in a bunker situated near to Cardiff and the nature of the locations meant they could be lit in interesting ways to make the Daleks look more menacing.
Three Dalek props were used in the story. Of the seven used in Revolution of the Daleks, the four ‘Symphonic Spectacular’ were already committed to the Time Fracture interactive show, leaving three that could have been used. These being NSDA3, NSDA4 and NSDA5 all made for Asylum of the Daleks.
However, NSDA5 was now on display in the Dalekatessen café at Television Centre in London and so a hasty replacement was drafted in. This was TPE BBC-B; a former promotional Dalek built by This Planet Earth. It had been used as a hero prop in 2015s The Magician’s Apprentice and Witch’s Familiar but went back to promotional duties after this. Indeed, it also spent some time at the Dalekatessen in Television Centre.
NSDA3 and NSDA4 retained the new look claw as featured in the previous Dalek story and TPE BBC-B had its plunger removed to allow the replacement to be fitted.
The script described the trio of Daleks as ‘Executioner Daleks,’ a hitherto unheard of moniker. Production Designer, Dafydd Shurmer, designed a new weapon more in keeping with the new branch of the monsters! He came up with something that looked akin to a Gattling gun; a multi-barrelled and rapid firing machine gun.
NSDA3 took the majority of the screentime during the episode and featured heavily in the reception area scenes. As the story progressed it was joined by NSDA4 and TPE BBC-B.
When Nick is confronted by two Daleks in a corridor, he is initially blocked by two of the hero props but just as they fire and he drops to the floor, both props are replaced by Ben Pickles’ CGI versions to complete the scene. The rapid cut and the low lighting help to cover the change.
The first occasion that all three Daleks are seen together is when the materialise in the reception area. NSDA3 is to the front of the group, with TPE BBC-B to the left and NSDA4 to the right.
A continuity error occurs during the scene when a Dalek confronts Nick in one of the storage rooms in the final few minutes. Initially NSDA3 enters the room, but swaps to TPE BBC-B seconds later. NSDA3 is that prop that takes the final shot that causes the destruction of the storage unit.
Filming for Eve of the Daleks wrapped on 21st August but NSDA4 would go on to appear on TV well before the transmission date of the special…
Daleks visit A&E
Doctor Who fans watching BBC1s Saturday night hospital drama, Casualty, on the 17th July, 2021 were in for a surprise when a Dalek made a shock appearance. But this Dalek wasn’t invading the hospital. In fact, it was rather static.
The plot revolved around the character of Fenisha who was trying to find a way to propose to consultant, Ethan who was a Doctor Who fan. She purchases a full size Dalek prop and a second hand Fourth Doctor replica scarf to woo him.
It seems she bought the Dalek directly from the BBC itself as NSDA4 was the Dalek in question and still sporting its new style claw.
The Power of the Doctor
For the climax of the Jodie Whitaker era, Chris Chibnall had big plans. Not only did he want to tie up a number of the threads that had run throughout his tenure he planned to bring back ex-companions and multiple enemies for the Doctor to fight. The episode would coincide with the BBCs celebrations for its 100th anniversary.
He told Doctor Who Magazine: “The Master, the Daleks and the Cybermen versus the Doctor was in my plan from the early days. I can’t remember exactly when I came up with it, but it was a long time in the gestation – way before we did Flux. The big thing for the show is the 60th anniversary [in 2023], and you don’t want to be stealing any thunder from that. But I do think it’s important that this episode has scale, grandeur and enough nods to the past for the BBC’s centenary.”
The feature length special was afforded extra budget and despite a number of props being available from various BBC locations, four new Dalek casings1 were constructed for the story. As with the props built for Asylum of the Daleks, these were made in-house reusing the same moulds as before therefore some of the traits were carried over.
The Power of the Doctor features a ‘renegade’ Dalek that gives the Doctor information on a Dalek plot to destroy humanity. The new casing was distressed to give it the appearance it had been in many battles. We call this Dalek NSDPOTD1 (New Series Dalek Power of the Doctor 1).
The three other new props were made as standard bronze Daleks and had some minor differences to distinguish between them. When building new Dalek props, care is always taken to try to keep them looking as similar as possible but inevitably some differences creep in.
NSDPOTD2 had a consistent layout of slats but the upper hemisphere on panel R1 was slightly lower. On the lefthand side of NSDPOTD3, one of the slats was cut very short on the lower edge and the bolt cover sat very close to the edge.
NSDPOTD4 was, perhaps, the most consistent prop of the new batch with nothing to particularly make it stand out on screen at first glance.
They were joined by NSDA4 and TPE BBC-B, both of which has been used several weeks previously for the shooting of Eve of the Daleks. Oddly, despite having been used only weeks before, NSDA3 was not reused. TPE BBC- B was resprayed to closer match the rest of the casings.
Power of the Doctor was shot throughout September 2021 and utilised a number of locations. One of which was Dan-yr-Ogof caves in Powys, Wales which stood in for a volcano in Bolivia where The Doctor rendezvous with the renegade Dalek. The location had been used previously in The Pirate Planet, the 1978 Tom Baker adventure.
The Renegade Dalek (NSDPOTD1) initially contacts the Doctor inside the TARDIS in a scene shot in studio but later the Doctor meets the Dalek in the previously mentioned volcano in Bolivia. It is revealed that the Daleks allowed the meeting to happen in order for them to capture The Doctor. Three Daleks then confront the pair. NSAD4 leads the trio and is backed by TPE BBC-B to its right and NSDPOTD2 on its left. The renegade Dalek is executed by the squad and The Doctor is forced into the Dalek casing which was partly completed with a CGI model and partially completed with a new ‘opening’ shoulder section and ‘lifting’ dome that fitted to the skirt onto the skirt of NSDPOTD1.
While The Doctor is captured, Yaz finds a group of Daleks controlling a huge mining operation elsewhere in the volcano. All the Daleks in this scene were CGI along with the machinery.
The Doctor is transported to St Petersburg and to The Winter Palace in scenes shot in studio. While The Doctor sits in the centre of the room encased in the skirt of NSDPOTD1 the other five Dalek props circle around the edge of the room. Facing the Doctor is NSDA4 and moving clockwise, NSDPOTD3 is next, then NSDPOTD4, NSDPOTD2 and lastly TPE BBC-B. Certain shots show a badly misaligned hemisphere on the side of TPE BBC-B.
When Ace first reaches the volcano, there are shots of Daleks at the machinery and two that pass Ace. All these Daleks were CGI.
When The Master brings Yaz and the TARDIS back to The Winter Palace, the Daleks and Cybermen are waiting. The initial shot from above the TARDIS shows the five Daleks are CGI models and showing the attention to detail, these models used plunger attachments whereas the other CGI examples used the claw. The next shot shows the five real props again led by NSDA4 at the front. To its left (as we look left to right) stand NSDPOTD4 and NSDPOTD2 and to the right TPE-BBC B and NSDPOTD3.
The next shot shows the Daleks back at the volcano and this time, the two closest Daleks are hero props while the rest are CGI. Ace then attacks a Dalek with her baseball bat in a scene that aped her attack in Remembrance of the Daleks. The initial shot of Ace approaching the Dalek used NSD4 but the prop was switched to TPE-BBC B when she hits the eye. It then switches back quickly to NSD4 to show Graham approaching the Dalek to place the Nitro-999 on its side. However, the close-up shows him putting the explosive on TPE-BBC B. Another quick cut back to NSD4 and back to TPE BBC-B is completed before the final explosion. To show the destroyed Dalek, the shoulders of TPE-BBC B were made to look as if they were covered in black residue and smoke was pumped from it. Flying CGI Daleks attack then TARDIS as it leaves the volcano; again showing the claw attachment.
Shooting concluded in October 2021 and it would be a year before fans got to see the epic finale of the thirteenth Doctor.
Just as recording of The Power of the Doctor ended, Flux began transmission and viewers got the brief cameo appearances of the Daleks that we noted in the opening of this page. The clock was ticking on the Jodie Whitaker era but there was still plenty of Dalek action to come over the next few months.
When Flux ended on the 5th December, attention turned to promoting the upcoming New Year’s special, Eve of the Daleks. Doctor Who Magazine featured the Daleks on the cover in for issue 576 over the Christmas period. The Dalek featured was TPE-BBC B.
A number of photographs were released from the story including a montage that was used in listing magazines. It included the main protagonists surrounded by three Daleks. In fact, all three Daleks were the same one – TPE BBC-B.
The tale aired on 1st January 2022 and garnered generally favourable reviews. Many citing the smaller scale of the story as refreshing.
It was around this time that a new Dalek appeared in the Dalekatessen at Television Centre in London to replace NSDA5 that had been removed. The job went to NSDPOTD3 although its neck section was placed quite precariously on its shoulder section.
The city of Liverpool featured heavily in Flux and just a few weeks after transmission of Eve of the Daleks, it become important for Doctor Who fans again. A new exhibition of props was due to open in May at the World Museum on William Brown Street and to create some interest beforehand, a Dalek was installed to promote the ‘Worlds of Wonder’ display.
For the task, one of the new props made for The Power of Doctor Daleks was chosen. NSDPOTD4 took its place at the museum for the public to get pictures with. The display opened on the 27th May and featured a number of Dalek replated items including the ‘walk-in’ Dalek created originally for The Doctor Who Experience, a replica of the original Dalek from 1963 made by the incredibly talented John Kelly who has also contributed to the Doctor Who DVD range. Also included was the original Davros chair fitted with the replica bust made by Mike Tucker and his team from The Model Unit. The head was pulled from the original mould. The exhibition was incredibly popular and ran until 30th October. But it wasn’t the end for the display at it was due to move to Scotland soon after.
Over the course of the summer of 2022, the UK is usually awash with festivals, shows and fetes and one such show was the Great Yorkshire Show taking place at the Harrogate Showground in July. Making a surprise appearance on the BBC Radio stand was a Dalek made way back in 2008 for The Stolen Earth & Journey’s End. NSD5 had been on display at the BBCs Media City in Salford for some years but now it was out and about! But its holiday in the sun would be cut short when it was transported to Radio Leeds later in the year to be displayed in their reception area.
On 13th September, at the ExCel in London, the IAAPA Expo Europe Trade Show opened. The event showcases the next big things from the global attractions industry and the Sarner International stand included a Dalek and TARDIS. Sarner International were behind the Worlds of Wonder exhibition in Liverpool. The Dalek in attendance was one of the two remaining bronze Symphonic Spectacular Daleks last used in the Time Fracture show.
Autumn of 2022 saw the BBC starting their 100th Anniversary celebrations and The Power of the Doctor was a central part of of the planned tv and radio shows. Although the Daleks featured, naturally, most of the promotion centred around the outgoing Jodie Whitaker and Mandip Gill.
The press premiere of The Power of the Doctor took place on the 11th October at the Curzon Bloomsbury Cinema in London. NSDPOTD2 and a Cyberman were taken so that the press could get photos of the stars and the monsters. The Dalek prop seemed to have taken a bashing to the righthand side of its neck in the months since shooting.
Transmission of the episode came around on 23rd October with many fans enjoying the epic and celebratory nature of the story.
The Wheel Turns
As one Doctor leaves, another one joins. Although this time it was a Doctor re-joining. David Tennant stepped back into the role for a series of specials that would go out in time for the 60th Anniversary of Doctor Who in November 2023 before regenerating again into the 15th Doctor, Ncuti Gatwa. Also returning was previous showrunner, Russell T Davies.
Production of Doctor Who would now be handled jointly by the BBC and Bad Wolf in Cardiff and they have already teased the idea that the bronze Daleks will be retired in favour of a new design. But Bad Wolf couldn’t quite dispose of them completely as NSDA5, last seen at TVC, was revealed to be in the reception area of the studios in a Christmas Tweet posted by their official account.
As if in a moment of fate though, on the 3rd December, a number of Dalek related props came up for sale at The Propstore in aid of Children in Need. These included some screenused and some exhibition props.
Two damaged skirt sections came in one lot. They consisted of the This Planet Earth skirt that began life in silver and black as a Death to the Daleks prop that was hastily dirtied down to appear in Asylum of the Daleks. It had most recently been seen in promotion of Time Fracture but also spent some time at the Doctor Who Experience. The other was an ‘NSD’ damaged skirt section.
A third damaged ‘New Paradigm’ skirt section was included in a separate lot. This was originally the blue New Paradigm Dalek that appeared in Victory of the Daleks. It was covered in a stone looking substance for the climax of Season Five and further ‘damage’ was added for its appearance at The Doctor Who Experience.
Several other New Paradigm Daleks were also included in the sale. These included the burgundy and white NPDA props made for Asylum of the Daleks although they were missing various parts.
The original white and yellow NPDs from Series Five also appeared. The yellow prop was in very nice condition but the white prop had been distressed for its brief appearance in Series Six and Asylum of the Daleks.
Other NPDs included in the sale were not screen used but did have interesting lives. Firstly there was the blue prop used in the ‘Live’ shows and still retained its curtain of material around the underside of the fender that would have hidden the operators feet.
Two of the NPDs used in The Doctor Who Experience completed the Dalek lineup. Both were initially a flat red colour as per the red dalek in Victory of the Daleks but as the onscreen Daleks changed colours, The Experience was updated to match. One became metallic blue whilst the other, a burgundy colour. These matched the finishes in Asylum of the Daleks. They were then dirtied down for the final incarnation of the ‘walk-through’ area of the exhibition.
Days later, NSDPOTD4, which had been in Liverpool, now appeared at the National Museum in Cardiff for a display celebrating 100 years of the BBC. It ran until 16th April 2023.
As mentioned previously, the Worlds of Wonder exhibition moved to a new location after it had closed in Liverpool. On 9th December, the display opened at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh running until 1st May, 2023. It was essentially the same display as before but this time it was TPE BBC-B that was set up for the initial promotion.
As the year turned to 2023, naturally, interest in Doctor Who started to die down as the BBCs 100th anniversary celebrations finished and the long wait to the show’s 60th anniversary began.
But the Daleks are never too far away and on 23rd March, one of the bronze Symphonic Spectacular Daleks made an appearance in a comedy sketch for Comic Relief. The sketch revolved around the idea of the Dalek auditioning for the Eurovision Song Contest and also featured Lulu, Sam Ryder and Graham Norton.
As the clock ticks on towards the 60th anniversary and new season of Doctor Who, speculation increases about ‘new-look’ Daleks. Time will tell whether Dalek fans will get an improved look they can all agree on!
Thank you to Jim Sangster and Chris Chibnall.