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…
Every Dalek Ever … Again!
Back in Series 7, the Asylum of the Daleks boasted a prop from every era of Doctor Who. Unfortunately for the hardcore fans, the fast editing, the dark set, the weathering on the surface and the prominence of the NSDs (New Series Daleks) made it difficult to clearly see what was on show. Click here to read about the eight classic Daleks and many other props in the asylum.
Writer Steven Moffat said ahead of Series 9 that we could get to see the Daleks at home, at the height of their power. For the recording of this epic confrontation entitled The Magician’s Apprentice / 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 this, the 40th anniversary of the origin story, Genesis of the Daleks.
Initially we focussed on the Classic Daleks, because those had drawn a lot of attention. But in the week following The Magician’s Apprentice we checked over some of the bronze props and updated the page with some new information. Following broadcast of part two, have continued to research update this page to give a fuller account of the 20 props used on in production. Make sure you Like our Facebook page and check back soon for updates!
The Andrew Beech Quartet
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 belong to 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 1 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, following some refurbishment. The work was carried out by Mike Tucker who was asked to change the props (termed AB1 and AB2) to create a timeline of Dalek development.
To make AB1 a little more distinctive than the typical 1960s “drones”, Tucker painted the dome black and fitted it with new lights which turned it into one of the props from Evil of the Daleks. During that adventure, the black dome served to distinguish them from the human Daleks who had silver heads, but in fictional terms their status is a little unclear. They’re referred to as “Black Daleks”, which was previously a term applied solely to one commander per story, but in Evil there are many of these black domes. They are often referred to as “Throne Room Daleks”, because they are so strongly associated with the Emperor Dalek but they were never exclusively seen there.
Dalek AB2 was rolled back even further so that it represented an even earlier model, that of the first Dalek story, which involved removing the slats and mesh, and providing it with ping-pong ball lights.
In 2013, this newly converted pair (AB1 and AB2) was used in Asylum of the Daleks along with a number of other Daleks borrowed from the Experience.
In order to ensure there was a full complement of props on display, and also to help allay suspicion regarding the depleted number of exhibits, two new shells were cast by Steve Allen and Dave Brian, and the props were completed by Mike Tucker. These became AB3 and AB4.
Following their return from recording in the asylum, AB1 and AB2 remained in their weathered state for a while, before being cleaned up.
For their appearance in The Magician’s Apprentice / The Witch’s Familiar, the Doctor Who Art Department 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 was released in the buildup 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 1980s Daleks
Unlike the Asylum of the Daleks, The Magician’s Apprentice / The Witch’s Familiar does 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.
Cataloguing the props in apparent chronological order, we therefore skip ahead to those which seem to hail from the 1980s.
Remembrance Renegade (DH1)
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. 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 this is 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 which had three blue LEDs for its light, hence the Renegade ended up with the same oddity.
You can read all about the owner’s account of his involvement on his blog, here.
The Special Weapons Dalek (SWD2)
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 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 weathering on this replica is more accurate to the original ‘character’ from 1988 than the authentic prop is now.
The prop had its neck section rigged to flash with orange light, which was a modification that probably 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 2 and 3, this new prop belonging 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 HADG and HADD, 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. But in a room full of official casings, these creations certainly don’t stand out as being of lower quality.
The bronze Dalek (Goldie) 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 Sec are made from plastic rather being cast from solid resin.
The Old Guard
The Original MT1
Although the Dalek which brings Clara and Missy into the Dalek city is a classic design (and a CGI one at that), 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.
There are numerous other, more technical details that confirm this prop, such as the sharp edges on the lower collar that show it to be first generation, rather than one of the remoulded copies which result in smoother corners each time it’s copied.
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 by Nick Robatto’s team in 2013, 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. The Dalek 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.
NSD2 once again took centre stage in The Magician’s Apprentice / The Witch’s Familiar, appearing at the fore in publicity photos and behind Missy when she flirted with the enemy.
The bodies of the Specialist props were moulded ‘all in one’ meaning she shoulders are jointed to the skirt, and there a handful of subtle identifiers, such as slight imperfections in the positioning of the hemispheres on the skirt. One example being that on panel L2, the second-to-bottom hemisphere is offset to the right.
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, a new casing was made to a very high standard and weathered in keeping with the others.
After appearing at the Glasgow Science Centre in July 2008, it was painted green for Victory of the Daleks. During this repaint, the slats were removed, and when they were replaced, the one behind the armbox was positioned upside down. This error can be caught on screen when the WW2 Dalek first emerges on the rooftop.
Bizarrely, then when NSD4 was subsequently returned to its bronze and gold livery, the slat was not corrected, and thus the error is seen on subsequent occasions such as in Time of the Doctor and then in 2015 on set for The Magician’s Apprentice / The Witch’s Familiar.
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 looks much less pristine than the others.
NSD5 was built in 2008 by Nick Robatto and his team to ensure there were four props for Journey’s End / The Stolen Earth (with NSD3 having been retired). It then appeared as the bronze prop in Victory of the Daleks and other Matt Smith stories.
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.
Converted Replica TPE1
The officially licensed company from whom full sized Daleks can be bought is called This Planet Earth. For some time they had been furnishing the Doctor Who Exhibitions with Daleks of various colours and designs including bronze props.
When a number of props were taken from the Doctor Who Experience in 2013 to appear in the gloomy asylum, this included a prop which had already been on display for several years. As well as bearing the typical hallmarks of a TPE prop (such as the cowl for the eye being moulded directly onto the dome and curved slats) this particular Dalek had one very noticeable quirk. On panel R1 there is a particularly large gap between the two lowermost hemispheres.
Although some swapping of domes took place during recording of Asylum, this Dalek could generally be seen with a large blob of hardened glue to the side of its eyestalk.
When the prop returned to the Experience it was installed with chains wrapped around it to portray the ‘Oswin Dalek’ and the lump of glue was still present.
It was back before the cameras in 2015 but in a more active role, fitted out to be a fully working Dalek prop. It features amongst the main group of bronze Daleks in the control centre. It is standing guard over the TARDIS when Clara and Missy first arrive. The large gap between the hemispheres can be easily spotted behind Missy before the Daleks apparently exterminate her.
Converted Replica TPE2
A second 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.
Like TPE1, the prop was 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 ‘Impossible Worlds’ book by Mike Tucker and Stephen Nicholas.
A Fake Dalek from ‘Dalek’
Another noteworthy New Series era casing was initially positioned up on the platform alongside the Remembrance Renegade 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 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.
This replica therefore stands apart as being quite distinctive in The Magician’s Apprentice / The Witch’s Familiar, when placed alongside the others but the gold looks even more exceptionally shiny since the rest of the prop is not weathered.
One final Dalek which should be mentioned is one of the few authentic props which has appeared in older episodes – The Dalek Supreme. Built by Nick Robatto’s team back in 2008, this Dalek had been on display at the Doctor Who Experience for some time.
It is the original prop and sports a lot of accumulated damage, mainly acquired during the final scenes shot in the vault of the Crucible during Journey’s End. The prop has had refurbishment prior to going before the cameras in 2015 however it still carries the same ID badge as before, again providing some interesting continuity issues after the character was 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?
Through a mixture of model work and the swapping of heads, this story had already introduced two new semi-legitimate colour variants of Daleks. But in a blink-and-you-miss-it moment at the very end, there’s actually a third 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.
Securing the slats to the shoulders are actual cross-headed bolts, which are normally hidden by fake wooden bolt-heads on top to more like giant rivets.
We will continue to update the page over the coming weeks so don’t forget to Like our Facebook page and check back soon for updates!
If you haven’t already done so, why not read our page on Asylum of the Daleks which explains where each prop came from and how it was utilised?