Day Of The Doctor
2013 was a momentous year for Doctor Who. On 23rd November the show would reach its 50th anniversary and fans would be expecting an extravagant celebration of the show. Having elected to write the anniversary story himself, Steven Moffat was acutely aware that the tale would need to feature elements for the fans and casual viewers alike. But he also hoped that, rather than just being a ‘nostalgia fest’, he could progress the show into the next fifty years. He was under a huge pressure and planning was underway well over a year before the anniversary date.
Moffat began writing his script in the final weeks of 2012. He based his draft on the ending of the Time War, a huge conflict between the Daleks and the Time Lords, which had been alluded to many times since Russell T. Davies brought the show back in 2005. A precedent had been set in previous anniversary tales of bringing back earlier incarnations of the Doctor and Moffat hoped to persuade David Tennant and Christopher Eccleston to return to the show. Ultimately, Eccleston declined to reappear and Moffat had to resort to a backup plan of including a hitherto unseen incarnation of The Doctor and pulled off a massive coup in casting John Hurt in the role.
Since the shows’ earliest days, the Daleks had always been hailed as The Doctor’s greatest enemy and as such the setting of The Time War was the perfect way to include them in the celebrations. The general public would certainly be expecting them despite them only ever having briefly appeared in one of the previous anniversary stories – The Five Doctors. As it happened, the final 50th anniversary script also only featured the Daleks briefly. They were generally used in ‘flashback’ to the Time War and one set-piece later in the story. It would be a monster that hadn’t been seen since 1975 that would take most of the limelight – the Zygons. The news of their inclusion delighted the fans.
Recording was slated to begin in March 2013 with Nick Hurran directing. He had been responsible for the highly cinematic Asylum of the Daleks and would be the perfect choice for the anniversary tale which would also be produced in 3-D.
An Adventure In Time And Space
As production of Day of the Doctor was getting under-way, another anniversary related project was winding down. The writer of Victory of the Daleks, Mark Gatiss, was producing a ‘docu-drama’ about the early years of Doctor Who. The drama featured David Bradley as William Hartnell and featured events leading up to the broadcast of the first episode in 1963 through to The Tenth Planet in 1966 when Hartnell left the show.
A number of recreations of monsters and sets appeared in the drama and the Daleks would obviously be included having been the first ‘monster’ of the show. Prop maker, Paul McNamara, was commissioned to make four Dalek props. They had to be able to switch very quickly between two different Dalek designs – those for The Dead Planet and The Dalek Invasion of Earth and as such were made with two sets of eyestalks that could be swapped over. McNamara drew on plans provided at The Project Dalek Forum. Budget and time constraints meant that some short-cuts were needed but, on the whole, the Daleks produced were fairly accurate representations of the four original Daleks.
Just as one institution was reaching a milestone another was marking the end. In February 2013, the BBC Television Centre in London was entering into its final weeks before its closure and relocation to Broadcasting House in Portland Place. TPE EC1/SP had been in residence at TVC since 2011 and featured briefly in Asylum of the Daleks. Shortly after the transfer it received some refurbishment of its own with a repaint which covered several of the serious scratches that had appeared around the prop.
It gained another TV appearance soon after on 30th March when it made the short trip to the BBC News Studio. It was the launch night of the second half of Series Seven and the BBC interviewed Paul Griggs of the Merseyside Local Group on his thoughts of the opening episode The Bells of St. John and the upcoming anniversary. A video can be seen here. It was soon back in its usual job of delighting visitors to the BBC Studios.
Recording for Day of the Doctor began in March but the majority of the work with the Daleks props was taped at the end of the production in May.
As mentioned previously, most of work for the props was to feature in the ‘flashback’ to the ‘Fall of Arcadia’ when the Daleks storm Gallifrey. As with Asylum of the Daleks, Hurran produced an incredibly cinematic section of huge scale that rivalled the look of big budget movies. CGI Daleks in their battlecraft enhanced the effects still further. However, the choice of shots, fast paced nature and the covering of dirt and grime means that accurate identification of all the Dalek props is near impossible, although, at least six were used.
With the construction of the six new bronze Daleks for Asylum of the Daleks coupled with the existing Daleks, the BBC now had a pool of props to choose from. However, NSD5 remained at Media City in Salford again and wasn’t used in the production. Despite the availability of the new props, it was the older NSD2 and NSD4 that took most of the limelight in the close up shots. These two props were operated, as usual, by Barnaby Edwards and Nicholas Pegg. NSD4s reversed long slat on its right side was clearly visible in one brief shot when the Daleks surround some of the inhabitants of Arcadia. NSDA1 and NSDA5 also make brief appearances in the sequence.
The first Dalek to appear on screen in the Arcadia sequence was actually part of a clever 3-D effect. A special ‘exploded’ Dalek was arranged against a green screen so that the actors and camera could move around it. The prop included one of the ‘damaged’ skirt sections and the cracked dome of NSDAD1 that were both made for Asylum of the Daleks. The sections were hung on wires and a number of cables were arranged around the Dalek to create the impression it was mid-explosion. Unfortunately, the gun and arm were hung on the wrong side so it looks like they have swapped positions in the final footage.
For another explosive Dalek ending, Danny Hargreaves required a lightweight prop. Having enjoyed the prop-building services of This Planet Earth, Hargreaves approached them to supply a Dalek which would meet its doom. Aware of the opportunity to put his craftsmanship in front of the production team, prop-builder Toby Chamberlain took a lot of time and effort over the props’ construction, despite knowing the sad fate that would meet it. When the Dalek was delivered, the Cardiff crew were indeed impressed by the quality of the build.
Not long before transmission of the episode, Chamberlain had the opportunity to speak to Hargreaves about the prop and asked which scene he could expect to see his Dalek meet its demise. Hargreaves informed him that such was the beauty of the prop, the FX crew felt it wasn’t appropriate to destroy it, and so it had featured as a hero prop instead, appearing as the Dalek surrounded by flames which became an iconic image taken from the story.
The prop was also unfortunate enough to confront all three Doctors who needed it to enable them to enter the Black Archive at the Tower of London. They levelled their Sonic Screwdrivers in defiance and propelled it backwards to its doom!
Two further Dalek props were required to complete the sequence. With the ‘This Planet Earth’ prop featuring in the shots from the Doctors’ point of view, it was then NSDA1 that was used with Smith, Tennant and Hurt on the green screen set that was required to complete the effect. Filmed from behind, the Dalek is seen reversing quickly towards the viewer while the three actors point their Sonic Screwdrivers at it. The shot revealed that another prop now had an upside-down slat. Like NSD4s, NSDA1 now had a slat on the back of its shoulders that was reversed.
Scott Wayland’s pre-cut and reinforced prop, that had been used for an explosion in Asylum of the Daleks, was also required again. Initially a Dalek Sec copy in black, it was given an all bronze finish and dirtied down as per the main props. It was then mounted on a mechanical device so that the RealSFX team could then ‘spin’ the Dalek through the air. One of the hemispheres on the side of the prop was removed and a hole cut through the skirt for the prop to be mounted on the mechanism. It was filmed in close up so as not to give away the fact that the prop was already pre-cut. Finally, it was removed from the mechanism and filmed dropping to the floor to complete the shot. However, the prop was swapped again for NSDA1 when the Dalek was seen prostrate in the background of the remaining Black Archive scenes.
A number of props from the shows’ recent history were scattered around the Archive and the neck and dome of the red Supreme Dalek from Series Four was briefly seen being held in a small cell.
Unfortunately one sequence that would have tied up the continuity of the 1960s Daleks movies had to be dropped due to rights clearance issues. It was planned that movie posters of Dr.Who and the Daleks and Daleks Invasion Earth – 2150AD would be displayed in the Archive then, as they passed them, Kate Stewart explained, to a bemused Clara, that films had been made of The Doctor’s life.
Clever use was also made of toy Daleks in the Arcadia sequence. Manufacturer, Character Options, had been criticised for the accuracy of their original remote control Dalek, but their second attempt (an 18 inch tall version) was much closer to the real props and good enough for Mike Tucker and The Model Unit to use several of the toys to complete the model shot of the TARDIS breaking through a wall and destroying the Daleks. This was taped on 13th and 14th of April at Roath Lock.
The scene was concluded with the use of the shoulder section of the pre-distressed NSDAD1 created for Asylum of the Daleks. The neck and remote controlled dome of NSD2 was placed on the ‘damaged’ shoulder section and then laid on its side to give the illusion it had been broken in half by the TARDIS. For the explosive ending of the Dalek, Scott Wayland’s prop was reused again and switched with NSDAD1 to be blown apart spectacularly.
In the background of the scene, another recycled prop from Asylum of the Daleks could be seen. It was one of the highly distressed skirts sections used for the aftermath of the Dalek explosion. This skirt had been custom built with destruction etched into its surface and mottled with a blistering or bubbling effect which gave the impression that the casing had been subjected to intense heat. Tubes were added that emerged from the damaged areas and some hemispheres were missing. Causing a slightly continuity hiccup, where one hemisphere is missing, the surface is shown to be smooth. In Asylum of the Daleks, a recess had been created to give the impression that the hemispheres were in fact complete balls.
Principal photography ended on 4th May and with Series Seven concluding on the 18th, it would be a long wait for the fans before they could see the Anniversary Special. With speculation of what it contained now occupying huge sections of internet fandom, the BBC were fully aware of the mounting excitement and several events leading to the big day in November only served to build the suspense even further.
When the TV BAFTAs came around on 12th May, there was a surprise for Dalek fans. With the BBC trying to keep the show in the public’s minds for the anniversary year, they arranged for two of the new NPD-A Daleks to appear on the red carpet at the Royal Festival Hall in London. The white Supreme and one of the burgundy Daleks mixed with stars including Ant and Dec and Jerome Flynn. Their use instead of the bronze props seemed to suggest that, despite getting little screen time in Asylum of the Daleks and completely unused in the Day of the Doctor recording, the expensive creations were still in Steven Moffat’s plans going forward.
On 2nd July, as part of their summer tour of Wales, Prince Charles and Camilla Duchess of Cornwall were invited to view the BBCs new Roath Lock Studios. It was an ideal way to celebrate the opening of the studios and Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary. Greeting the Royal couple outside the studios were NSD2 and NSDA5. Getting a rare outing in daylight, NSD2 was showing signs of having been hurriedly touched up. Its skirt now had patches that had clearly been hand-painted.
Once inside, they were introduced to the stars of the show and another selection of Daleks including the white and blue NPD-A Daleks, NSDA2 and NSDA4. Press images reveal that yet another Dalek was now fitted with an upside-down slat, taking the total to three. NSDA2s third long slat on its left side was now reversed but not only that, it was also the slat that should have been in the first position on the right side. Its special shape, which normally fits around the recess by the arm box looked odd and ill-fitting.
Prince Charles got into the spirit of the occasion when Nicholas Briggs gave him some lessons in how to talk like a Dalek using the ring modulator. The Royal couple also got to find out about Special Effects with Danny Hargreaves and set design with Michael Pickwoad.
Later that same month came the third Doctor Who prom at the Royal Albert Hall. Two performances on the 13th and 14th included some music from the classic show, celebrating the full history. This section was performed by Mark Ayres and members of the original Radiophonic Workshop. As was customary, a Dalek invasion took place and this time NSD2 and NSDA4 stormed the stage to aggravate conductor Ben Foster. NSD2s first long slat on its left side now had a dribble of bronze paint coming from the lower bolt hole from its refurbishment after Day of the Doctor recording.
Rising from the centre of the auditorium was a burgundy NPD. But this wasn’t one of the new props. It was actually one of the NPD props made for the ‘Live’ show by MillenniumFX in 2010 and had been repainted to the new burgundy finish.
NSDA5 and the Supreme NPD-A were used outside the Hall in a series of photos to promote the Proms. Also appearing in the pictures were Cerys Matthews and Katy Derham who were the BBC presenters for the Prom Season.
Days later, came one of the more enterprising promotional events for the anniversary year. Several Dalek and TARDIS props were dispatched to Heathrow Airport to be displayed for travellers. NSD2, the Red Supreme Dalek from Series Four, and the distressed white Supreme Dalek from The Wedding of River Song all took up prominent positions.
Andrew Beech’s Daleks, AB1 and AB2, also featured. They had been in storage since their use in Asylum of the Daleks and hadn’t been returned to the Doctor Who Experience from where they had been borrowed from originally. They were still covered in the dust and cobwebs from the previous year although, rather oddly, AB1 was now sporting a different skirt which was clean.
The London Philharmonic Orchestra also made an appearance on the 16th July and played the Doctor Who theme for holiday makers.
In a very busy period for the Dalek props, NSDA5 was sent to the Museum of London to star in a exhibition celebrating 90 years of the Radio Times. A number of the Doctor Who related covers were on display alongside much of the artwork and pictures used in the magazine’s history.
NSDA5 stood in a separate, large display that featured the award winning cover of Daleks on Westminster Bridge that accompanied the Daleks return in 2005. The prop also had a number of pictures taken of it in areas in and around the museum promoting the exhibition for the press.
Doctor Who got its second Royal reception of the year when on 17th November, just days before the anniversary, the team and stars of the show were invited to Buckingham Palace.
The Countess of Wessex hosted the reception and welcomed four Doctors in Matt Smith, Tom Baker, Peter Davison and John Hurt alongside Jenna Coleman and previous companion, Catherine Tate. Stephen Moffat also attended and arranged for a number of props to be set up in the Palace’s Bow Room including K-9, two TARDIS props and two Daleks – one of which was NSDA4 which had been given a spruce up for the day.
On the 20th, Terry Nation was honoured himself when a blue plaque was unveiled at the location of his former home – Fairwater Grove West in Cardiff. Tim Hancock, the nephew of Tony Hancock (whom Nation had written for) was given the duty of the unveiling. Hancock now runs the Nation Estate. The Llandaff Society had arranged the event that was also attended by pupils from Nation’s former schools, Radnor Primary and Kings Monkton School. Having been used just days earlier at Buckingham Palace, NSDA4 made the long journey back to Cardiff to pose with the pupils and Police!
As the anniversary approached, the BBC set about upping the awareness the impending day. A special trailer was filmed that would run for several weeks prior to the 23rd November.
It featured many elements of the Doctor’s past and present and was achieved with a combination of different techniques. Actors recreated the various incarnations of the Doctor by dressing in their respective costumes and computer manipulation was used to change their faces. Many props from the past also appeared in imaginative ways including… Daleks!
Several of the new bronze Daleks were arranged around the set. These included NSDA1, which was still covered in the dust and grime from the Day of the Doctor recording, and NSDA2 which was sporting its new upside-down slat.
A number of Dalek skirts also made an appearance, including the pre-distressed versions made for Asylum of the Daleks. But there was also a rather dilapidated skirt from one of the new NSDA props on view – that of NSDA6. It had apparently been relieved of its upper sections since it last on-screen use, and its refitted hemispheres were now loose and slipping out of position. Not long after, the skirt was seen in the BBC Store at Cardiff stacked on top of the skirt of NSDAD1.
Perhaps the most interesting Dalek in the sequence appeared to be straight out of the 1970s. A gunmetal grey Dalek is seen exterminating a UNIT soldier soon after the start of the minute long trailer. The prop was actually another excellent replica build from the same source as the ‘Resurrection’ copy used in Asylum of the Daleks – Mark Barton Hill.
This time the prop was a very precise replica of Dalek Seven-2 as seen in Planet of the Daleks right down to the positions of the slats, rivets and holes in the lower collar. It was even ‘damaged’ and distressed in the same places! Very cleverly, the hemispheres were aged by overpainting the original blue colour with black and allowing it to crack to show the blue through. The Dalek included both an original eyestalk and gun from the 1970s that came from the collection of MBH.
It was another incredible build and you could be forgiven for thinking it had come straight off the set of Planet of the Daleks! To avoid confusion with his previous build, we will refer to this Dalek as MBH2 (Mark Barton Hill 2).
Friend of the show, The Radio Times, was similarly enthusiastic about the anniversary and their magazine for the week of transmission featured no less than twelve different covers – one for each Doctor. Placed side by side, they would all link to create a long diorama.
A number of different Dalek props feature across all the covers. AB1 and AB2 feature on the William Hartnell cover and Davros on the Tom Baker cover.
However, this wasn’t the original Davros, it was an excellent replica owned by Chris Balcombe whom also owns the ‘Genesis’ Dalek replica featured on the Peter Davison cover. Three different shots of the same Dalek were used. The prop had received some screen-time in 2001 when it featured in a national TV and cinema advert for the Kit-Kat chocolate bar. The advert was filmed at Wandsworth Shopping Centre in May of that year and operated by Balcombe himself.
The Dalek also made an appearance on the BBCs 20th Century Roadshow. The programme, presented by Alan Titchmarsh, was a take on The Antiques Roadshow but concentrating on more modern collectables. Balcombe’s collection was featured in a short segment filmed in March 2005 at Goonhilly and his home. A clip can be seen here. He is also the owner of the original prop – Dalek One-7 as detailed elsewhere on the site.
‘Flying’ CGI NSD Daleks appear with Paul McGann and Christopher Eccleston, but MT1 also appears on the latter’s cover. A repeat of MT1 also features with Matt Smith and John Hurt.
With fan excitement at fever-pitch, the episode aired on the 50th anniversary – 23rd November 2013, and featured cinematic excitement mixed with nostalgia and hope for the future. Moffat was also able to pull off a second surprise appearance in as many years, when Tom Baker made an appearance towards the end of the tale. It was greeted with great acclaim across the board. The fans, the general public and critics alike, all hailed the episode as a success.
In the months leading up to the Special, much internet chat was given over to whether previous incarnations of the Doctor from the ‘classic’ series would (or should) appear. As it resulted, only Tom Baker had gone on to do so.
The speculation had sparked an idea off in the mind of Peter Davison. He decided to write a comedy based on his own endeavours to get a part in the special episode alongside Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy. Eighth Doctor, Paul McGann also made a brief appearance. Twisting the title of his own 20th Anniversary Special, he called it ‘The Five(ish) Doctors.’
Part of the plot involved the three actors breaking into Roath Lock Studios and hiding in Dalek casings. Three of the NPD-A props were used for this sequence – the white, the blue and one of the burgundy props.
The episode went out as a ‘red button’ feature after the Special had aired. Davison produced a very funny, ‘tongue in cheek’ comedy using self-depreciation and picking up on a number of Doctor Who clichés.
Not done with the celebrations yet, the BBC arranged a huge weekend convention starting on the 22nd November and held at the ExCel in London. Some 24,000 tickets were sold for the event which promised star guests, talks, demonstrations and displays of props from all eras of the show.
Dalek related props on show included the red Supreme Dalek from Series Four and MBH2. The Radio Times display at the Museum of London had finished in early November and so the large display showing the cover of the Daleks on Westminster Bridge was reassembled at the show. NSDA5 featured on the stand again.
RealSFX had a display at the show and the ‘This Planet Earth’ Dalek that had been supplied to them for the Day of the Doctor was displayed there. It was still covered in the dirt and grime from the recording. Danny Hargreaves also took part in a series of talks about the special effects. On stage with him was Scott Wayland’s pre-cut Dalek that had also been used in the anniversary special and Asylum of the Daleks. On cue, it was made to explode and collapse. The hole that was cut into the side of the prop for the spinning mechanism was clearly visible.
‘This Planet Earth’ also had their own stand at the display and were promoting their Daleks with a range of props from several eras of the show.
With the anniversary come and gone, thoughts then turned to the Christmas episode. An episode that would see the end of Matt Smith’s time on the show.
Time of the Doctor
Steven Moffat’s script for the 2013 Christmas special was in development during the summer period and would resolve plot strands that had been running since Matt Smith’s début in 2010.
The overreaching arc was based around the Time Lords returning to The Doctor’s universe after the events of Day of the Doctor and therefore the Daleks had a central role to play. Despite this, they actually accumulated little screen-time in the finished script of Time of the Doctor.
Recording began in studio at Roath Lock on 8th September 2013 but the Dalek props’ first use would on location three days later when the team moved to Sennybridge Training Area in Powys where a ‘mock’ village was situated. It had been built for army practice manoeuvres and its style was perfect to represent the town of ‘Christmas’.
Three Dalek props were taken to the village, these being NSD2, NSDA2 and NSDA4.
They were recorded attacking the village in their attempt to confront The Doctor. The sequences involved a large Dalek ‘cannon’ prop with resembled a cross between a Dalek gun and the sucker arm. NSDA2 was the first prop to pass the cannon and clearly showed its upside-down slat. It was followed by both NSDA4 and NSD2. NSDA2 was also the first Dalek featured passing the TARDIS as the Daleks entered the village.
The team then moved back to Roath Lock to complete recording in late September.
For the scene of the Doctor infiltrating the Dalek ship, more Dalek props were required and director Jamie Payne checked which Daleks were in store. NSDA1 was still in its dirty state from the recording of Day of the Doctor, NSDA5 was (at that time) still based at the Museum of London for the Radio Times Exhibition and NSDA6 was now out of service having been dismantled. This left NSD2, NSD4, NSDA2 and NSDA4 in store.
Needing more props, MT1 and NSD5 were recalled from BBC Birmingham and Manchester respectively. NSD5 was getting its first use since Series Five’s Victory of the Daleks. NSDA3 was also requested from display at The Doctor Who Experience.
With Payne imagining a spectacular sequence with lots of Daleks bearing down on The Doctor, he still wanted more. He turned to a previous source props for the ‘New Series’ – Mike Tucker.
Tucker had constructed and supplied the original Dalek prop used in Dalek in Series One (MT1) and had in his possession another Dalek that he had built shortly afterwards. With all the sections coming from the original moulds, the Dalek was a near perfect copy of MT1, even down to the original texturing on the fender section that had been lost on the ‘copies’ made by Specialist Models and the In-house team at Cardiff.
We will refer to this prop as MT2.
The seven BBC Daleks were given a little refurbishment with their fenders sprayed black to cover up scratches and scrapes that had accumulated. MT2 therefore stands out a little in certain shots and publicity pictures as the only Dalek with a ‘worn’ fender.
Set design for the Dalek ship was very similar to that of the asylum chambers in Asylum of the Daleks, with a number of tall columns with Dalek ‘hemispheres’ attached to them.
The eight Daleks were recorded emerging out of the darkness in the areas between the columns, before finally surrounding The Doctor. The last shot was taken from above the action and showed Daleks approaching from both sides of the set. This was achieved by a split screen effect and MT2 can be seen approaching in both sides. A lifetime ambition was achieved for Tucker, when he operated MT2 in these scenes. In the footage, one of NSDA4s ‘replaced’ hemispheres can be seen to have moved and the other very sunken.
The final major use of the props was in the chapel of the Papal Mainframe. Three Daleks enter the scene to confront The Doctor. These were the same three Daleks that had been used on location – NSD2, NSDA2 and NSDA4. NSDA2 enters first and moves to the centre and is flanked by NSDA4 on its right and NSD2 on its left.
The demise of the three Daleks was achieved by setting off pyrotechnics near to the props although interestingly, NSD4 makes a brief appearance in the sequence before being obscured by a ‘blast’. The order of the Daleks also changes with NSDA4 in the central position in the final shot of the burning Daleks.
Mike Tucker was back to his usual day job in October when on the 16th he, and his team at ‘The Model Unit’, started work on the model filming. As with Day of the Doctor, a number of the Character Options 18″ Daleks were required and destroyed for the climatic scene of The Doctor regenerating. Although, instead of these being the commercially available versions, The Model Unit arranged a specially cast version direct from the factory in China so that they were an even closer match to the main props1.
The final footage of the scene in the screen episode included some of the distressed Dalek skirt sections made for Asylum of the Daleks.
With the recording complete the assembled Dalek army was once more dispersed back to their usual locations. MT1 returned to BBC Birmingham, NSD5 to BBC Media City in Manchester, NSDA3 returned to The Doctor Who Experience and MT2 back to Mike Tucker.
In the December weeks running up to Christmas, the Radio Times devoted a cover to promoting the special. Rather oddly, despite the story not featuring them, two of the NPD-A props appeared with Matt Smith – the blue and burgundy versions.
Time of the Doctor was transmitted on Christmas Day 2013 and signalled the end of the Matt Smith era. Smith had won over many fans and his time had come to a very satisfying conclusion. Dalek fans had been a little disappointed by Asylum of the Daleks and subsequent lack of screentime in the 2013 specials, however, with Peter Capaldi now on board the TARDIS, there was always hope for the future. In fact, it was only a matter of weeks before the Dalek props would be required again…
Thanks to Mike Tucker