The Magician’s Apprentice & The Witch’s Familiar
Back in Series Seven, Asylum of the Daleks boasted it had a Dalek from every era of Doctor Who. Unfortunately for the hardcore fans, the fast editing, the dark set, the weathering on the surface of the props and the prominence of the NSDs (New Series Daleks) made it difficult to clearly see what was on show.
Writer Steven Moffat said ahead of Series Nine that we could get to see the Daleks at home, at the height of their power:
“…the one thing that we never capitalised on in Asylum, because we slightly wimped out, was that there was lots of different kinds of Daleks, so what happens if you put the Hartnell ones next to the Russell T versions? Nothing! They look fine together. It doesn’t matter. So, this time around, we go all out.”1
For the recording of this epic confrontation, entitled The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar, Dalek props from different eras were assembled once again but this time they were active and fully-lit. The two-parter which opened Peter Capaldi’s second season is a glorious celebration of the Daleks on what was the 40th anniversary of Genesis of the Daleks.
Tom Baker’s classic story was deeply ingrained throughout Moffat’s story and drew heavily on one of its, and Doctor Who’s, most famous lines of dialogue:
“If someone who knew the future pointed out a child to you and told you that that child would grow up totally evil, to be a ruthless dictator who would destroy millions of lives, could you then kill that child?”
With the script in place, director Hettie Macdonald and the team, began location filming on 12th February 2015. With the story requiring a large number of Daleks, a “distress call” had been sent out in an attempt to supplement the BBC props that were in storage or at exhibitions. It was a plan picked up by the media and provided some promotion for the show well in advance of transmission.
Despite the ‘call’ hitting the media, most of the props that were acquired came from sources that were already well acquainted with the team at the BBC.
The Doctor Who Experience Props
Four of the props which garnered the most attention in pre-publicity were the silver and blue props whose designs hailed from the 1960s. All four of these Daleks are owned by Andrew Beech who works as Content Supervisor for live Doctor Who events and Curator of the Doctor Who Experience.
When Doctor Who was revived in 2004/05, Beech owned two 60s-era Daleks, originally constructed by Steve Allen, Alistair Lock and Dave Brian. These initial two were cannibalised by Mike Tucker and his team to build the original bronze Daleks for the Series One episode Dalek.
Subsequently, two new Chase-style props were commissioned from the same source to replace these and they joined the London Doctor Who Experience in 2011, following some refurbishment and amendments. The work was carried out by Mike Tucker and his team at The Model Unit. They were asked to change the props in order that they could be included in a time-line of Dalek styles.
In 2013, this newly converted pair (AB1 and AB2) were used in Asylum of the Daleks along with a number of other Daleks borrowed from the Experience.
The props were dirty and covered in cobwebs on their return and so to complete the timeline display again, two new shells were cast by Steve Allen and Dave Brian, and completed by The Model Unit. These became AB3 and AB4.
More about the history of these four Daleks can be found on our Series Five page and subsequent ‘New Series’ pages.
Daleks AB1 and AB2 had remained in their dirty state since their appearance in Asylum of the Daleks (although AB1 still retained the “new” skirt it acquired at Heathrow airport) and so for The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar, the Doctor Who Art Department cleaned and repainted them, resulting in quite a vivid blue colour that caused much comment amongst fans. It is ironic that some Dalek experts view this as an error – but it cannot be because a different Dalek on screen is merely a new, canonical Dalek colour!
The Art Department also painted the black dome of AB2 to become a normal silver drone, returning it to its original appearance from the time it was built. AB2 had missing neck rods beneath the rim of its dome and is generally kept to the background, at the far end of the set. The props were fitted with blue lights in their eye stalks to match the New Series style.
The original pair that had featured in Asylum of the Daleks are on the left of the publicity photos which were released in the build up to the first episode.
AB1‘s lights had been covered up, the collars badly scratched and a hemisphere was missing at the time. Most of these flaws, including the missing neck rods, were tidied up in Photoshop for the official image, although AB2 still has one rod missing.
The two other props, AB3 and AB4 made their first appearance in studio for this story and they too appeared in the publicity photo alongside Capaldi. AB4 had its black dome left intact.
During recording, some swapping of components temporarily took place so that, at one point, the black dome of the Evil Dalek was combined with the body of a Dead Planet prop, creating a design that had never previously been seen in studio before.
The Experience also provided two more display Daleks. TPE EC2/EC1 was a combination of two Daleks made for the exhibition at Earls Court in 2009. It subsequently appeared as a static prop, used to bolster the numbers, in Asylum of the Daleks. It then went on display as the ‘Oswin Dalek’ at The Experience. For this appearance, however, it was converted for full use and was seen a number of times on the floor in the main control chamber. It can be recognised by its lowest hemisphere on its right-front panel as it is positioned too low.
The other Dalek provided comes as more of a surprise. Many of the props on display at The Experience are genuine screen-used items or replicas that have come to be used on screen such as TPE EC2/EC1. ‘This Planet Earth’ had their own display in the lobby of the exhibition. It consisted of a silver Power of the Daleks style 60s replica, a grey Day of the Daleks or Planet of the Daleks style 70s replica and a bronze ‘NSD’. The display served as advertising for ‘TPE’s’ range of full sized replicas. It was the NSD prop that made the short journey from the lobby over to the Roath Lock studios.
Like TPE EC2/EC1, the Dalek can be seen mainly on the floor of the main control chamber. It actually gained more prominence in one of the main promotional images released before transmission. The hemispheres on its front panels have a very distinctive layout which can be spotted several times around the chamber. We refer to this Dalek as This Planet Earth – Experience (TPE-E).
The HireADalek Props & Other Additions
Unlike the Asylum of the Daleks, The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar do not feature any props which can be specifically said to be examples of Dalek designs from the 1970s. In the asylum, albeit heavily disguised, there was a prop style form Death to the Daleks along with Russell T Davies’s prop which bore a resemblance to those from Planet of the Daleks. Ironically, for a story which celebrates Genesis of the Daleks, this story contains no Daleks from that period.
However, the 1980s were well covered with two Dalek props…
David Hobday-Derek (DH-D)
Stationed up on the stage to the side of the main control room is a grey Renegade Dalek from the 1988 story Remembrance of the Daleks.
This Dalek is owned by David Hobday who won it when he was 13 years old. The prop is affectionately referred to as ‘Derek!’ Through a friend, he was contacted by the production team who borrowed his Dalek and he was able to act as operator too, spending four days on set.
Given that the asylum featured a Renegade prop which looked very similar, it would be obvious to assume that the same Dalek was recalled but it is not, although it is also a This Planet Earth replica Dalek. They can be distinguished from the real Renegade props because they have real collar mesh instead of the ‘dappled’ plastizote.
The prop did not have an illuminated eye (as shown in the photograph) so it was added in post production. The digital effects artist who added it duplicated a Dalek nearby (NSD-S) which had three blue LEDs for its eye light, hence the Renegade ended up with the same oddity. More about that Dalek can be read below. Interestingly, the broadcast in Scotland2 and the DVD and bluray releases of the episodes have the version with the eye unchanged.
You can read all about David’s account of his involvement in his blog, here.
The Special Weapons Dalek
A similar case of mistaken identity could be made with the other prop whose design hails from the 1980s.
The appearance of the Special Weapons Dalek in the trailer and subsequent publicity photo generated a lot of excitement, especially after its fleeting appearance as a defunct unit in the asylum. But all is not as it seems as this Dalek is not the same one that featured in the previous story.
Whilst the original prop remained in the Doctor Who Experience, a new one was brought in. Having previously supplied props for Asylum of the Daleks, Tom Nichols from HireADalek was contacted about the use of his props. His business partner having departed for Australia with some of the assets, only two of the previously used casings were available.
However, there was a newly-acquired Special Weapons Dalek which the production team were initially reluctant to include. It was not needed for any other work at the time so it was taken to Cardiff nonetheless and ended up with a very prominent role.
The prop was originally constructed by This Planet Earth and has several features which differentiate it from the original screen-used version. Most notably the neck section is narrower and the ‘windows’ are bigger.
The prop had its neck section rigged to flash with orange light, which was a modification that wouldn’t have been permissible had the original screen prop been used.
Two ‘HireADalek’ NSDs
Generating much debate in the run-up to broadcast was the reappearance of Dalek Sec in the trailer. Sec was the Black NSD which had first appeared in Army of Ghosts / Doomsday and is identifiable by the ID badge on his head. Whereas the original ‘character’ had been portrayed by MT1 in Series Two and Three, this new prop belonged to HireADalek.
Assuming that the ID badges are unique to the Cult of Skaro, then in fact both Sec and Caan appeared already in the asylum, as those are the identities of the two NSD owned by Tom Nichols. However, due to them only appearing in the background in the previous adventure, their true nature was never made clear.
We referred to them on the Asylum page as HAD-G and HAD-D, based on HireADalek’s own pet names, Goldie and Darth.
When time travel is involved, you can never be quite sure of the date of a particular adventure, but with both of them having been destroyed at least twice before, it seems history might have been rewritten too for them to be alive here!
Both these NSD are fan builds and have small differences in construction to TV props, most notably slightly different slats to normal Daleks.
The bronze Dalek (HAD-G) has a front slat that is more square than usual. This prop also has weathering which is not present on the majority of most new props since some hero props were resprayed and the new batch from 2013 were left clean. The slats of HAD-D are made from plastic rather being cast from solid resin.
But in a room full of official casings, these creations certainly don’t stand out as being of lower quality.
This Planet Earth BBC-Books (TPE BBC-B)
Another converted This Planet Earth bronze Dalek was also utilised during filming. This Dalek was used only on the raised section of set and stood primarily at a control bank.
The prop had been sourced from elsewhere in the BBC. This Dalek was used by BBC Books as a promotional tool at exhibitions and book fairs. Its was soon back out on the road again at the 2015 Comic Con in London where it was helping to promote the ‘Doctor Who: Impossible Worlds’ book by Mike Tucker and Stephen Nicholas.
Another noteworthy New Series era casing was initially positioned up on the platform alongside the Remembrance Renegade (DH-D) and later seen on floor level. This replica stood apart from the other contemporary props as it has a gold lower collar.
The lower collar was only ever gold during the first ‘New Series’ Dalek story back in 2005. It was immediately changed so that in every episode after Dalek, it was bronze. This has remained bronze in all subsequent versions that have been built.
Its eye was fitted with three blue LEDs rather than the standard single light generally used. This replica therefore stands apart as being quite distinctive in The Magician’s Apprentice & The Witch’s Familiar.
Viewers of Eastenders would have seen this Dalek before back in 2008 when the prop made a fleeting appearance as part of a scene featuring a Doctor Who convention. The prop had been made by Specialist Models and had been retained by them since its manufacture in 2005. As it was built for display purposes, a switch was added to the rear to activate the light in the eye. It had received a repaint since it last TV appearance which had removed the weathering that it initially had.
The Old Guard
Six new pristine bronze casings had been manufactured by the ‘In-House’ team at Roath Lock for Asylum of the Daleks. Subsequently, these has been whittled down to four when NSDA6 had been retired in poor condition after Day of the Doctor and NSDA1 had been butchered for its appearance as ‘Rusty’ in Into the Dalek.
Of the four remaining props, NSDA5 didn’t have a prominent role but was seen in the main control chamber and appeared in promotional photographs. NSDA3 remained on display at the Doctor Who Experience to ensure the Dalek display remained complete
To ensure no damage was done to borrowed ‘New Series’ Daleks, NSDA2 and NSDA4 would be used in SFX sequences. Both props appeared in the Missy and Clara sewer sequence in The Witch’s Familiar. We will describe their use in more detail below.
The Older Guard
The Original MT1
Although the Dalek which brings Clara and Missy into the Dalek city is a classic design, it is fitting that the first bronze Dalek seen properly on screen also has some significance.
In the opening shot of the impressive control room, the Dalek which prominently glides forward is none other than MT1, the original prop created for the 2005 episode Dalek. It is of particular note that this Dalek was made by Mike Tucker and his team partly by cannibalising a casing originally made by Steve Allen and Dave Brian which is essentially true of all four of the silver-blue Daleks too!
MT1 had been painted black to become Dalek Sec before returning to bronze for The Stolen Earth / Journey’s End. In 2008 all bronze Daleks were still given weathering and since it was done by hand the oil and ‘dirt’ patterns were all slightly different. This is the most obvious identifier for this Dalek and its most distinctive feature is on panel R2, where the two middle hemispheres are connected by two smudges.
Throughout Doctor Who‘s history, on the rare occasions when the Dalek forces were bolstered by new props, there remained a distinction between ‘hero’ props and ‘extras’. This was true for example in the 1970s when more Daleks were built (‘goons’), yet the three props which garnered all the screen time were still the originals built by Shawcraft a decade beforehand.
The same continues to be true in 21st century Doctor Who. Despite a huge influx of props from other sources such as This Planet Earth and the new batch built for Asylum of the Daleks, some of the clearest shots of bronze casings are the veterans from longer ago.
After MT1, the oldest props around are those built in February 2005 by Specialist. NSD2 was one of a pair made for Bad Wolf / The Parting of the Ways and it continued to be regularly used with only minor refurbishments. In August 2009, however, it was painted green for Victory of the Daleks and it stayed in that form until it returned to bronze for Asylum of the Daleks in 2012 where it performed most of the prominent roles.
NSD4 was the final Specialist prop made for screen, ten months after the first pair, to complete a set of four needed for The Cult of Skaro. The new casing was made to a very high standard and weathered in keeping with the others.
The prop was painted green for Victory of the Daleks and when it was subsequently returned to its bronze and gold livery, the upside-down slat that had been seen on NSD2 in Series Four transferred to its own shoulders.
The casing also has a more significant role playing the Sewer Dalek whose casing is pierced by Missy and then taken over by the liquid mutants. The upside down slat can be seen once again, along with more subtle identifying marks such as a smudge on the front slat.
Since 2012, weathering on bronze Daleks has not been common. The new batch built for ‘Asylum’ are all ‘clean’ and when NSD2 and NSD4 were repainted from green back to bronze the weathering was left off them too. Another Dalek which can therefore be picked out of the crowd easily is NSD5 because it still carries its original weathering.
NSD5 was built in 2008 by the BBC Cardiff team, headed by Penny Howarth, to ensure there were four props for Journey’s End / The Stolen Earth (with NSD3 having been retired). It was put on display at Media City in Salford in 2012 and it was from there that the prop was reacquired.
The weathering on this Dalek is not as extensive as MT1 but there are still discernible rings around the hemispheres and darkening of the skirt’s corners. The grime makes it appear as if the channels in the middle of the slats have shadows in them.
Further verification of this prop’s identity comes in the form of a number of scuffs and dents on its skirt, most notably on panel R2 about half way down.
The Supreme Dalek
One final Dalek which should be mentioned is The Dalek Supreme. Built by Penny Howarth’s team back in 2008, this Dalek had been on display at the Doctor Who Experience for some time.
It was repainted prior to going before the cameras again in 2015. This had the effect of removing the weathering from the prop, however it still carries the same ID badge as before, again providing some interesting continuity issues after the character had been previously blown up.
Perhaps the ID badges read more like titles than names, and all Black Daleks have the same ID tag, as do all ‘Supremes?’
Eyeing up Davros
When Davros returned in The Stolen Earth, he was given a makeover much like his own creations had for their return in 2005. We cover in detail the work of Peter McKinstry and MillenniumFX for that story on our Series Four page.
Playing the part again was Julian Bleach, and for his appearance this time, he was given a new reworked prosthetic mask sculpted by Neill Gorton at MillenniumFX. The mask ‘aged’ Davros a little more than has been seen previously and was arguably slightly closer in look to that of the original ‘Genesis’ mask.
The chair essentially remained the same with the exception that several holes were drilled into the side of the control panel so that various cables could be attached. The holes were covered when the chair was used outside the infirmary.
For the return of Skaro, designer Michael Pickwoad took great delight in rewatching the first Dalek story and basing his set designs on Raymond Cusick’s designs for the city in The Dead Planet.
The corridors had the same distinctive arched look and the controls in the main control chamber were all able to be manipulated by a sucker rather than hands. The main chamber itself was a re-purposed set from Under The Lake that was filmed prior to the Dalek episodes.
The first Dalek onscreen was actually a bit of an oddity. Seen outside the city rounding up Missy and Clara, the prop was a CGI creation that took cues from Daleks AB2 and AB3. An ‘error’ in the model occurred when the lights were positioned too close to the top of the dome. Coupled with the white eyestalk discs, ironically, another canonical Dalek variant was produced!
When Missy and Clara are brought into the control chamber, they are accompanied by AB3 and later Missy playfully tweaks a hemisphere on NSD5.
The Dalek action in The Magician’s Apprentice revolves around the main chamber and most of the accumulated props appeared. Tracking the props around the set is incredibly hard as they were moved as shots required. For example, NSDA5 is seen at opposite ends of the chamber during the shots of Clara and the TARDIS being “exterminated”
More of the city and its corridors are seen during The Witch’s Familiar and early in the episode NSD5 and HAD-SWD travel to Davros’ infirmary to search for the missing Doctor.
Down in the sewers NSDA2 and NSDA4 got their first use. NSDA2 had been adapted with a special system (created by RealSFX) so that brown sludge could be pumped from its neck and in a move reminiscent of Daleks in The Space Museum and Resurrection of the Daleks, NSDA4 was fitted with a hinge on the back of its dome so that it could be lifted easily.
NSD4 is the prop that approaches Missy initially but when she pierces the Dalek, it is swapped for NSDA2 to complete the effect of the brown Dalek remains getting spewed from the neck section. The gunge was made from food additives with some colouring to give it the brown colour. Its upside-down slat can just be seen under the sludge.
NSDA4 is then used when Missy lifts the dome of the Dalek.
A fourth prop was also needed for the scene. A special ‘opened’ Dalek was required that Clara could sit in. The prop was built by Alan Hardy in the BBC Cardiff props department. It was designed with open skirt, shoulder and neck sections revealing the complicated workings within. Rather fortunately, the workings included a little seat for Clara!
The Dalek is initially ‘opened’ by CGI before swapping to the practical version. Unfortunately the CGI model included weathering which was missing from the practical version which was slightly jarring in the finished scene. NSD4 then returns to complete the sequence.
As the story progresses towards the the explosive climax, model recreations of the corridors sets were built to expand the range and apparent size of the sets. Unfortunately, as with Into the Dalek, the use of inaccurate 12″ Character Option toy Daleks rather gives the game away.
Lurking in the rear of the model set was also a Product Enterprise ‘classic’ Dalek toy in the same scale. It was painted to resemble the colouring of AB3 but also included a silver oval.
Through a mixture of the model work, CGI and the swapping of heads, this story had already introduced several new semi-legitimate variants of Daleks. But in a blink-and-you-miss-it moment at the climax, there’s actually another oddity.
One bronze Dalek has a completely black eye stalk (including the discs) and a 60s-style sucker attachment. The reason for this quirky assembly is because this prop was an FX prop designed to only appear for a moment before part of the ceiling collapses on its head.
Regular viewers of Doctor Who will have seen this Dalek destroyed several times before. It is actually the same ‘This Planet Earth’ Dalek that meets its doom several times in Into The Dalek. Rather understandably, in its brief use in The Witch’s Apprentice, its already looking rather worse for wear before being blown apart once again!
At the end of the filming the props were dispersed back to their original locations and owners. MT1, which normally resided at BBC Birmingham, had a short stay at Broadcasting House in London before moving back to it usual ‘home.’
Hell Bent On Promotion
Despite a controversial moment involving Davros, the episodes were very well received by fans and critics when they were transmitted in September 2015. Viewers were finally treated to the sight of ‘classic’ Daleks taking centre stage with ‘New Series’ Daleks and not looking out of place.
However, one form of Dalek had been conspicuous by its absence. In a story that was perfect for one of their number to be included, the New Paradigm props were missing. Having not been seen in Day of the Doctor, Into the Dalek and now, the Series Nine episodes, it seemed their days were finally numbered.
Promotion for the story was heavy. As with Series Seven, the season was being launched with the Daleks which was guaranteed to gain extra interest in the media.
Much of the focus was on the ‘classic’ Daleks and a series of images, featuring Peter Capaldi surrounded by Andrew Beech’s four Daleks, were released to the press.
Doctor Who Magazine employed Dalek 63•88’s Gavin Rymill to produce another CGI multi-Dalek cover and also invited him to visit the set with a view to producing an article for the publication. You can read more about the visit on our special page here.
The bronze Daleks were also out and about for a series of promotional opportunities. NSDA5 was pictured in a number of locations in the Westminster area including the tube station and, in a nod to pop culture, both NSDA5 and NSD4 appeared at Abbey Road.
In a fun attempt to ape The Beatles ‘Abbey Road’ album cover, the two Daleks were pictured on the famous zebra crossing outside the studios with Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman. NSDA5 was looking rather worse for wear with its eyestalk heavily taped up.
The Daleks also made a cameo appearance in the Series Nine finale, Hell Bent. A single Dalek stands trapped by cables in the Cloisters. The prop chosen for the scene was the ageing NSD2. The prop was already looking looking slightly worse for wear having been touched up a number of times in recent months, but it was given a heavy covering of dirt and dust to make it look as if the Dalek had been trapped for many years.
Experience A Day Of The Daleks
Off screen, a number of the Dalek props had been busy throughout the year and another new batch of This Planet Earth props was needed for the UK Tour of the Symphonic Spectacular in May 2015, replacing the NPD versions which were now deemed out of date.
Four new ‘NSD’ Daleks were constructed for the shows, and like the MillenniumFX ‘Live’ NPD props (see Series Five), they were fitted with a black drape hanging from the underside of the fender which would help hide the operators feet onstage.
On 20th October, TPE BBC-B had a brush with Royalty when it was part of a BBC display at a reception held for the visit of the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, to the UK. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were the hosts on the second day of the state visit.
The BBC section also featured a TARDIS prop and a live performance by cast members of Poldark. James Bond’s Aston Martin was also on display and Jackie Chan also met the attendees.
The prop was back to its normal day to day duties when in late November it was part of the BBC Books stand at the ComicCon in London. The Dalek was helping to promote the ‘Doctor Who: Impossible Worlds’ book by Mike Tucker and Stephen Nicholas.
A few days after TPE BBC-Bs starring role at the Royal reception, on the 24th October, The Doctor Who Experience held a special ‘Dalek Day’ focussing on all things Dalek. Regular operators Barnaby Edwards and Jon Davey were on hand to give talks and demonstrations on how they manipulate the props and there were displays of many of the Dalek props that had been exhibited in recent years.
Arguably, the stars of the show were the refurbished Davros and Emperor props that were getting their debut. Over the autumn of 2015, Mike Tucker and his team at The Model Unit, were given the task of refurbishing the original Davros chair and Emperor Dalek from Remembrance of the Daleks. With Tucker gaining access to the original ‘Stan Mitchell Davros’ mask mould, he was able to create two new Davros ‘heads’ to complete the props. The Davros chair was refurbished back to its last screen appearance in Revelation of the Daleks.
Dalek 63•88’s Jon Green was attending on the day and was given a brief preview before the props were revealed! You can read more about the refurbishment of the Emperor prop on our exclusive page here.
NSD2, now untangled from the Cloisters, went on display at the Roath Lock Studios for visitors on the ‘TARDIS tours’. A number of the cables it had been adorned with were still attached to the prop.
The BBCs ‘Children In Need’ charity had a long association with Doctor Who since its first broadcast in November 1980. There had been guest appearances, previews of upcoming stories and even a 3D special, Dimensions in Time, in 1993.
The show featured once again in November 2015. In addition to the, now annual, preview of the upcoming Christmas Special, Harry Hill featured Doctor Who as part of his ‘TV Burp’ look at the history of television. The ageing NSD4 was given some brief screen-time as it zoomed past the camera. A huge chunk of the lowest neck ring was missing which made the state of the prop look even worse. This would be NSD4s final TV appearance as a BBC prop. A few months later it was destined to belong to a new owner.
Having arranged a hugely successful ‘Doctor Who Festival’ in 2013 for the 50th anniversary, the BBC were keen to try again. A similar event was arranged at the London Excel in November running between the 13th and the 15th. It was incredibly popular again, selling out very quickly.
As with the first ‘Festival’, a number of Dalek props were on display and included the ‘opened’ Dalek prop from The Witch’s Familiar, the exhibition Davros prop (see Series Four) and the This Planet Earth Daleks created for the ‘Symphonic Spectacular’ earlier in the year. Barnaby Edwards and Nicholas Briggs demonstrated how the Daleks were operated and voiced using these Dalek props.
RealSFX had a display again and their This Planet Earth prop from Day of the Doctor was available for photographic opportunities. As per previous events, Danny Hargreaves gave several talks about his special effects work on the show and appearing with him on stage was the This Planet Earth prop that he had blown up several times in Into The Dalek and The Witch’s Familiar.
2016 was another ‘rest’ year for Doctor Who with only the Christmas Special to be transmitted. Therefore, Dalek appearances throughout the year were fewer with no need to promote the series. However, in April, they did get some more screen-time when the BBC took the chance to announce the Doctor’s new companion a whole year before Series Ten would be transmitted.
Steven Moffat scripted a short scene that introduced Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts. It was transmitted on 23rd April during half time of the FA Cup Semi-Final. Most of the Dalek shots were made up from clips from Into the Dalek but Jon Davey operated NSDA5 for the climax of the scene. Moffat revealed that he would try to incorporate the scene into Series Ten.
June saw the end of official BBC use for one of the oldest of the New Series Daleks. NSD4 had been in constant use since it was made by Specialist Models for the finale of Series Two but, in a surprise to fans, it came up for auction at Bonhams on the 29th.
However, it wasn’t the BBC that were selling the prop. Back in 2005, the Radio Times had run a competition to win a screen-used Dalek. The winner, Honey Jones-Hughes, was announced in April 2006. NSD3 had been used in promotion of the competition and was also pictured with Honey in the Radio Times.
The new owner of the Dalek was unable to take it due to lack of space at home and so a ‘deal’ was struck whereby the BBC could continue to use the Dalek until the space was available. However, as NSD3 had been retired from use in 2009 after being on display in Blackpool, it was a different prop – NSD4, that was handed over when the time came.
NSD4 did have one last job to perform before its retirement. It was photographed with Peter Capaldi for the cover of the 500th issue of Doctor Who Magazine (dated July 2016). The cover was a modern reproduction of the very first issue of Doctor Who Weekly back in 1979 when Tom Baker appeared with Goon ii in a photograph taken at the time of Genesis of the Daleks.
When Bonhams received the prop, it was looking a little worse for wear. The metal sections of the lights were missing and the neck appeared to be collapsing. It didn’t deter the bids though and the hammer fell at £16,250 (including premium).
Also in June, the Daleks became part of real-life science when, as part of the ‘Swab & Send’ project, TPE EC1/SP was swabbed for potential bacteria. The project was the brainchild of Dr. Adam Roberts and encouraged school children and other interested parties to send samples to his lab for analysis for antimicrobial activity in the search for new anti-biotics. The use of the Dalek ensured media interest and pictures of the swab being taken hit the websites of the national newspaper websites.
The Dalek was usually stationed at Broadcasting House and had been seen in Asylum of the Daleks. It would be seen on TV again in 2017 when a momentous decision was taken for the future of Doctor Who.
Series Ten And Beyond
Series Ten was Steven Moffat’s final series before handing over to new show-runner Chris Chibnall. He had been behind some bold moves with the Daleks, not least reintroducing the ‘classic’ designs into the series. However, Series Ten wasn’t due to feature a full Dalek story. There was though the small problem of fitting Bill’s introduction scene into it somewhere.
By expanding the scene’s scope, he was able to include parts of the original 2016 scene into The Pilot – the first episode of the season. The new sections were set in the Dalek/Movellan war and utilised the same sets, albeit greatly expanded. Having not been seen since 1979s Destiny of the Daleks, the Movellans were recreated for the brief battle sequences.
As has happened in the 2016 filming, it was NSDA5 that confronted the Doctor and Bill. NSDA4 was also on set and very briefly appeared when it was seen to attack Nardole. The episode was broadcast on 15th April 2017.
The iPlayer showing of episode four of the series, Knock-Knock, included a new 3D audio system being tested by the BBC – Binaural. Although surround sound had been used for a number of years, binaural was designed to give spacial 3D effect with normal stereo headphones.
A special preview event was held at the location that the story was recorded at – Fields House in Newport. A number of invited journalists were given iPads and headphones and encouraged to take up a location in the creepy house to watch the episode. To make things even more creepy, a number of Doctor Who props were scattered around the various rooms. NSDA5 was taken along and can be seen briefly in a video explaining the audio system on the BBC Doctor Who site.
The hype surrounding the new series was a perfect tie in for the BBC Live Lessons. The lessons were a series of online live broadcasts in April by the BBC Learning department for schools across the country. Doctor Who was a perfect fit for the ‘micro:bit’ lessons. The ‘micro:bit’ was a tiny programmable computer developed by the BBC to encourage teenagers to learn coding.
The Doctor Who team joined with BBC Learning to develop a lesson based around the show and the Daleks. The Doctor challenged the school children to help him defeat the Daleks by using their ‘micro:bits’. Peter Capaldi filmed a special scene to set up the challenge and a Dalek prop appeared in studio alongside presenters Iain Stirling and Julia Hardy.
The Dalek selected for use in the lesson was the little used NSDA3. The prop had remained on display at The Experience for most of its time since its manufacture in 2012. Long time operator, Barnaby Edwards, took control of the prop and Nicholas Briggs voiced it once again.
In the build up to the Series Ten, a number of pictures of Peter Capaldi were released to the press. They included two New Series Daleks – NSDA5 and TPE EC2/EC1. The pictures made a number of the more fashionable magazines.
The shoot also provided a picture of Capaldi sat in TPE EC2/EC1 that appeared on the rear of the programme for the special screening of the first episode of the Series Ten finale – World Enough and Time at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff on 24th June.
Four days later, Bonhams were the focus again when another screen-used Dalek went up for auction. This time it was HireADalek’s copy of Dalek Sec – HAD-D, which had appeared in both Asylum of the Daleks and the episodes of Series Nine. Despite the prop not being from a BBC source, it still went on to fetch an incredible £18,750. The rest of the HireADalek props were also sent to Australia where they joined ‘HireADalek-Australia.’
2017 saw the final days of the Doctor Who Experience in its current form. The lease on the hall expired and the exhibition closed on 9th September. At the time of writing there was no news on whether the display would move elsewhere.
In the finals weeks, the ‘exhibition’ Davros prop was now set in a recreation of the infirmary from the Series Nine episodes.
As with previous displays, the prop consisted of a special ‘exhibition’ skirt section with the original hero control panel (complete with the covered holes as seen in Series Nine). Instead of updating the head with the new Series Nine mask, the head remained as the original Series Four exhibition version.
The Dalek props continued to stay on display but they had done some swapping in the months since the ‘Dalek Day’ in 2015. In the main hall it was NSDA4 now representing the New Series Daleks. The hinge on the back of its neck and dome was still in place.
NSDA3, which had been situated there for most of its life, had moved into Roath Lock studios for the ‘TARDIS Tours’.
Sadly, visitors of the final set of tours could see NSD2 partially dismantled and hidden away underneath the stairs to the entrance of the TARDIS set. It was still covered in the dust and grime from its appearance in the Cloisters. It remains to been seen whether the last of the Specialist Models Daleks will be cleaned up for use again.
On 16th July, the BBC announced Jodie Whittaker as the first female to play the Doctor and would replace Peter Capaldi in the role in the Christmas 2017 tale – Twice Upon a Time. It was a momentous decision for the show and one that created huge swathes of opinions across fandom and casual viewers alike.
Such was the debate, it even merited discussion on the daytime news and opinion shows. The day after the announcement, The Victoria Derbyshire Show included one such debate. The show was located at Broadcasting House in London and so TPE EC1/SP made the short journey down the corridor to the studio where it stood in the background. The same prop also appeared the following Sunday on Sunday Morning Live in a similar feature.
Not content with its sudden rush of TV appearances, the prop was then sent to Edinburgh to feature in the BBC venue at the Fringe Festival during August. Many of the performers were interviewed for BBC Breakfast and the Dalek could be seen in the background watching over proceedings.
The theme of Daleks appearing in unusual locations continued when the Specialist Models Dalek – NSD-S, made a surprise appearance at The Guernsey Museum at Candie in September. It was part of a larger Science Fiction display which also included an excellent replica of Davros owned by Chris Balcombe (who also owns Dalek One-7).
Bonhams was the focus again for Dalek fans on 13th December when Dalek AB1 came up for auction. Owned by Andrew Beech, the prop had been constructed in the early 1990s and came to be used at The Doctor Who Experience and appeared in the Dalek stories of Series Seven and Series Nine. More about its life can be read on our Series Five and subsequent pages.
It was another surprise for fans as they had assumed the Dalek collection seen at The Experience would be kept together for future appearances. The prop gained a respectable £17,500 (including premium) and would make its new home in the USA.
Peter Capaldi made his final regular appearance in Doctor Who, on Christmas Day 2017. In the adventure, Twice Upon a Time, David Bradley played the role of the first Doctor proper having played William Hartnell in the docudrama, An Adventure in Time and Space, in 2013. There was also a cameo role for NSDA1 a.k.a. ‘Rusty.’
Having been made for Asylum of the Daleks in 2012 and used briefly in Day of the Doctor, the prop was heavily distressed and added to for use in Into the Dalek in 2014. The prop was now highly recognisable and so unsuitable for use in the Series Nine tale. It was on permanent display at The Doctor Who Experience from 2014 onwards. Fans would be forgiven for thinking the prop wouldn’t be seen onscreen again, but in a surprise move, it appeared again for Capaldi’s last stand.
The Dalek remained basically the same as it had done in Into the Dalek but had some additional boxes added to its skirt that would receive tubes of light that linked to the nearby computer banks. The eye had also been repaired as it had been damaged whilst on display. A small continuity error occurred during the scenes. When Rusty first ejects his gun there is nothing left in the socket. Later, a short metal stump has appeared.
It was a fitting appearance for Capaldi’s final story as the Twelfth Doctor had helped to create the ‘good Dalek’.
There are very few constants in the worlds of Doctor Who but Doctor Who & The Daleks is one of them. With a new Doctor and show-runner in place, it surely won’t be too long before the Daleks are back on our screens.
Steven Moffat – Doctor Who Monthly 491
Thank you to -JAMIE-@AMadmanNotABox