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Dr Who and the Daleks

Review by: 
Black Gloves
Release Date: 
Studio Canal UK
Aspect Ratio: 
Directed by: 
Gordon Flemyng
Peter Cushing
Roy Castle
Jennie Linden
Roberta Tovey
Barrie Ingham
Bottom Line: 
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Now you can see them on the big screen in colour! Closer than ever before!

At 5.15 on Saturday the 23rd November 1963, the very first episode of a new science fiction drama for all the family titled “DOCTOR WHO” was broadcast on BBC1. It achieved moderate if unspectacular viewing figures at first, and indeed the long term future of the adventures in space and time of this mysterious alien traveller and his companions, were far from assured during the programme’s first few weeks of transmission. But such uncertainty was to change rapidly with the broadcast of the show’s second serial, an apocalyptic seven-part SF adventure fantasy called “The Mutants”, set on an alien world devastated by a neutron bomb where two very different races of survivors – friendly, pacifist, jungle-dwelling humanoids called Thals and ruthless, war-mongering machine-like creatures called Daleks, who live in a futuristic metallic city – are locked in conflict in the petrified ruins of the planet Skaro. While the series up to now had been averaging viewing figures of around the 4 million mark, the transmission of this story saw them rise sharply across the following seven week run of episodes, from the 6.9 million who viewed part one to the heady figure of  10.4 million that had been reached by episode seven. This was the story that helped firmly establish DOCTOR WHO in the public imagination, and armed the show’s first producer Verity Lambert with the ammunition she needed to secure the programme’s immediate future, obtaining authorisation from Donald Baverstock, the then Controller of Programmes at BBC Television Centre, to allow it to continue its run for at least a further thirty-six weeks,  a figure which was later to be extended to forty-two.

By 1964 DOCTOR WHO had well and truly arrived, but its creators had inadvertently also spawned a monster far more powerful than anyone had intended, which not only captured the hearts and imaginations of the nation’s children but also brought the lofty, idealistic public service ideals of John Reith (the first Director-General of the BBC) into close contact with hard commerce for the first time in the organisation’s history, as the unsought money-making opportunities which had now been suddenly opened up by the huge popularity of the Daleks, began to dawn on the BBC hierarchy.  For it was these metal monsters who were primarily responsible for galvanising the viewing figures during the show’s earliest weeks and after their inevitable re-appearance in the 1964 story “The Dalek Invasion of Earth” a year later, these dome-headed metallic creatures became directly responsible for the setting up of BBC Enterprises, which was first conceived simply in order to oversee the licensing of Dalek merchandise in an age when commercial TV spin-offs like this were all but unheard of. Dalekmania was sweeping across the nation and Dalek-mad kids in every town were quickly swamped with consumer goods of every conceivable sort: everything from Dalek jigsaws, sweets, kites, lunch boxes, masks, and battery operated Dalek toy models -- even (surly the pièce de résistance) a full-sized Dalek ‘play costume’ went on the market during the height of the nation’s obsession with all things Dalek shaped!

 What drove the success of this, the first and still the most popular of DOCTOR WHO monsters, is hard to pin down precisely, but curiously it doesn’t seem to be the case that children necessarily found them to be scary. Fascination seems to have been their main response. Although writer Terry Nation’s original script undoubtedly describes something that can be recognised as what we later came to know as a Dalek (hideous machine-like creatures, they are legless, moving on a round base. They have no human features. A lens on a flexible shaft acts as an eye. Arms with mechanical grips for hands), the inspired elements which went into their on-screen realisation were mainly the work of BBC production designer Raymond P. Cusick, who was responsible for the ‘60s space-age look of the creatures, utilising Sputnik-inspired curved surfaces made of fibreglass, and a pyramidal ‘pepper pot’ shape thought-up mainly for practical purposes to enable a human operator to move them about manually from the inside. The Daleks in Cusick’s refined vision of Nation’s concept became part sophisticated armoured tank, part futuristic vehicle with a built-in ‘death ray’; and with their gliding motions being inspired by the skirts of Russian folk dancers, and Brian Hodgson’s innovations which made their grating, electronic-staccato vocalisations  – contrived by the process of feeding the spoken voice through one of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s ring modulators set at a frequency that turned the resultant signal on and off at thirty times per second, and then passing the result through a graphic equaliser – the metallic creatures became a curiously compelling spectacle as well as inherently monstrous. Script editor David Whitaker might also be said to have played an important role in their evolutionary development during the early draft stages of Nation’s script, by placing an emphasis on the notion that the Daleks should be viewed as an uncompromising, fascistic army of malevolent genocidal killers, a trait which led to them coming more and more to be associated with the Nazis and their ‘Final Solution’ programme than Nation may have planned at the time – although the Daleks’ EXTERMINATE mantra  would take longer to become a fully integrated part of their image.

Terry Nation certainly profited visibly from the Daleks’ indomitable rise through the ranks of pop culture, though. A working writer who had previously mainly been associated with radio and TV comedy, and in particular with comedian Tony Hancock’s unsuccessful post Galton & Simpson ATV series (Hancock also later claimed Nation stole the idea for the Daleks from his own outline for a dystopian SF story that featured dustbin-like machine monsters), Nation was made a very rich man indeed as a result of the cavalcade of spin-off merchandising which came on the market sporting the Daleks’ image in the wake of the broadcast of “The Dalek Invasion of Earth”. Script Editor Terrence Dicks later joked that Terry Nation was the only man who ever made any money out of Doctor Who! Nation co-owned the rights to the Daleks alongside the BBC, since the company’s in-house script department had recently been scrapped by Head of Drama, and prime mover in the creation of DOCTOR WHO, Sidney Newman, meaning Nation was now being employed as an outside freelancer who was being brought in to work for the show, and thus any work he produced was no longer automatically owned by the BBC. This was unfortunately not the case for BBC staff-designer Raymond Cusick, who after becoming aware in February 1964 that his design was proving something of a money-spinner for both Nation and the BBC, tentatively asked his head of department if there might be any remuneration forthcoming to him seeing as how the design he invented was now appearing everywhere from comic books to playing cards. The BBC’s response was, predictably, in the negative … although he was later granted an ex gratia payment of £100 – which, after tax, worked out at the princely sum of £80 and ten shillings!

As well as the many toy manufacturers who were now eager to cash-in on the excitement being generated by Dalekmania, there was also Milton Subotsky and Max J Rosenberg -- the British-based American film producers behind Hammer’s big rival in the horror market, Amicus Productions – who also spotted a possible gap in the market (and a partnership opportunity with their Regal Films production partner and American distributor Joe Vegoda) for colourful, U Certificate, summer holiday matinee kiddie fodder -- and they figured that it might be a gap that they would be able to fill with Nation’s popular creation.

Mindful that Hammer Film Productions had obtained its first big hit through capitalising on the popularity, in the early-‘50s, of the Nigel Kneale-scripted BBC TV SF series “Quatermass”, producing its own 1955 movie version based on the same material -- Subotsky had been especially quick off the mark, and early on acquired the rights to Nation’s first DOCTOR WHO Dalek serial for just £500 -- evidently before the BBC had fully realised the commercial potential their new tea time show might potentially have for filling the Corporation's coffers. Hammer had also recently been busy mining the children’s film market seam with several home-produced pirate adventure capers, shot for release in the summer holiday season when children would be off school and thus a likely captive audience for such swashbuckling fare. But with Dalekmania in full swing by 1964, Subotsky and Vegoda knew that they had with their acquisition of the DOCTOR WHO property, ample means at their disposal of giving Hammer a run for its money. As it coincidentally turned out, the BBC was to provide the film with plenty of free promotion when it obligingly commissioned another Dalek-themed DOCTOR WHO story called “The Chase” (also written by Terry Nation) which was  broadcast in the six weeks immediately leading up to the film’s London premier on June 25th 1965, even making use of the film’s much sturdier Dalek props  which were happily lent out by a canny Vegoda after production had wrapped -- thus preparing the way for the Daleks’ first, full-colour, widescreen Techniscope outing on the silver screen.

“Dr Who and the Daleks” is charming, silly and enjoyably inconsequential. As child-friendly fare goes it is, in the words of cultural critic James Chapman, ‘more “Magic Roundabout” than “Brothers Grimm” despite the supposedly eerie studio-bound jungle planet setting it employs, with its petrified flora and fauna bathed in pellucid green illumination. Very much a product of its time in the mid-60s, here the mechanised Dalek army becomes a fetching race of large, brightly coloured dinky toys, cruising about a retro-futuristic space-age city that’s attractively decorated in blinking lights, pink plastic corridors and gold-painted Dalek ‘eye-stalk’ surveillance cameras. Dalek Command’s control room even sports a mod-tastic selection of lava lamps as part of its uber-stylish interior décor: ‘fab’ ‘60s furnishings being apparently a cute side-line the metal monstrosities liked to indulge in when not busy plotting the genocidal destruction of their arch-enemies the Thales.

The movie was unashamedly made to appeal primarily to young children rather than the generalised family audience that the BBC series had been attempting to cater for since its inception two years earlier -- which is why, despite the title, the brightly coloured Daleks are most definitely highlighted as being the main appeal of the picture, rather than the Doctor or his companions -- a fact that the Dalek-heavy emphasis of the trailer for the film makes abundantly clear. Indeed, despite the fact that he never earned what should have been his share of the proceeds for designing them, Raymond Cusick’s classic Dalek aesthetic  is about the only recognisable element of the original series which remains unaltered for Doctor Who’s big screen debut … aside from the TARDIS’s blue police box exterior that is. Even then, one essential detail of Dalek design had to be amended in the interests of preserving the film’s U certificate: in this version their weapons now spray puffs of gaseous vapour rather than issue a deadly, vaporising death ray.

The film was made as a mid-priced picture in real terms but still cost much more than Subotsky and the New York-based Rosenberg were accustomed to spending on their usual budget priced pictures, and, indeed, the modest budget here was quiet enough to make the world of the Daleks look demonstrably more colourful and exotic than it had ever done when broadcast from out of the BBC’s cramped Lime Grove Studios, or when subsequently viewed by its audience on their fuzzy, black and white 1960s TV screens. This incarnation of Nation and Cusick’s creation comes in a variety of ranks differentiated by their variously coloured outer shells: metallic silver and blue for the soldier class Daleks (sporting traditional ‘sink plunger’ arms), a red coloured mechanic type (with a mechanical claw arm, similar to what Nation had described in his original script) and a black and gold liveried Dalek commander.

Since Amicus Productions was associated by now almost exclusively with horror and exploitation, Subotsky and Rosenberg got together with their main financier, Joe Vegoda of Regal Films International, to form a new company just to release this film (and the following year’s second Dalek feature) for the juvenile market. The company was christened Aaru Films, in a move that was dreamt up as a means of sidestepping the fear that parents might be wary of allowing their children to see a matinee movie that had the Amicus name associated with it. Before production got underway at Shepperton Studios, Terry Nation attended a couple of meetings about the project with Subotsky but ended up leaving most of the subsequent discussions to DOCTOR WHO’s script editor of the day, David Whitaker. While the Daleks did, by and large, survive their transition to the big screen relatively unscathed, the conceptual underpinnings of the show which had initially provided a home for them in the first place were to undergo a radical overhaul. Nation’s story was adapted for the big screen by Subotsky himself, who had always fancied himself something of a writer, although his efforts weren’t generally considered particularly inventive even by his own partner Max Rosenberg, who apparently thought as little of Subotsky’s formulaic Dalek movie script as he did of most of the rest of his output for Amicus. Since DOCTOR WHO was unknown in America at the time, Subotsky was able to dispense almost entirely with the central idea which motivated the show: that of the protagonist being a mysterious alien traveller in time and space who is accompanied by his equally unearthly Granddaughter and her unwitting schoolteachers. It was considered too complicated to establish such a backstory during an eighty-minute-long feature that was primarily aimed at promoting the Daleks rather than any of the other characters. But the fact that William Hartnell and the rest of the TV cast were too busy filming the series every week to be made available for the film necessitated big changes being made in the casting anyway.

Thus, the mysterious Doctor of the TV show, a traveller in the fourth dimension, here becomes an affable, absent-minded, white-haired and slightly doddery inventor from Earth who builds a time machine in his back-garden out of a police box (that must be illegal, surely?) with the help of his youngest granddaughter, eight-year-old Susan (Roberta Tovey). The main character is actually called Dr Who here, and is played by Peter Cushing, who had become well-known enough through his Hammer roles by now to grab the film sufficient attention at the American box office, despite the country’s complete indifference at this stage to the TV origins of the character he was supposed to be playing. Rather than the irascible and, in his first few adventures, often untrustworthy anti-hero of the original series, Cushing’s Dr Who is a likable, good-tempered eccentric dressed in Rupert Bear-style check trousers and a russet-coloured frock coat -- although it is notable that he still indulges in some of the TV Doctor’s irresponsible deceptions, for while Subotsky’s screenplay might have fundamentally altered all the main protagonists’ characteristics and personalities, it still chronicles more or less the same events as had already been seen in Nation’s TV script two years previously. If Cushing’s differing portrayal of the central character achieved one thing  that might have had an impact on the actual TV series, though, it was the tacit implication it may have seeded, that the Doctor didn’t necessarily always have to be played by the same actor (or even with the same persona always intact) for the show to retain its intrinsic character.  

Anyone who might have stumbled into a cinema during the summer of 1965 expecting to see anything that remotely resembled in tone the otherworldly character of the TV series, would have had those expectations very firmly quashed within seconds of the opening titles hitting the screen, when the impressive Techniscope aspect ratio is immediately splashed with psychedelic patterns and Malcolm Lockyer’s main musical cue replaces the eerie ambient electronica of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s treatment of Ron Grainer’s original (and now iconic) TV theme with a mid-paced jazzy pop shuffle that backs up a lilting Hank Marvin-style twangy guitar melody, picked to the accompaniment of wailing trumpet blasts and a full orchestra. The opening scene consists of a simple and rather charming sight gag in which the freckle-faced eight-year-old Susan (Roberta Tovey) is shown with her head buried in a book of advanced physics, while her older sister Barbara (Jennie Linden) peruses a similarly abstruse looking text book on science. The camera pans across the flock wallpaper and china ornaments on the sideboards, only to find Cushing’s Dr Who delightedly thumbing through an issue of Eagle Comic, home of British ‘50s space-age hero Dan Dare!  

This throwaway gag sets up the cheerful comic book adventure aesthetic that the rest of the film is to adopt from hereon in, but also establishes Dr Who as a character children can identify with: he’s one of them and has the same interests at heart, despite being a funny old man with eccentric habits. Susan meanwhile, is much younger than the teenage Susan of the TV series, indicating the early-school age group the film seems to be pitching itself at. But she is also the most resourceful of all the protagonists and perhaps the most intelligent of them too. It is also made plain that Susan has actually helped her Grandfather invent TARDIS (no definite article is ever used in discussion of the time machine here), seemingly as an afterschool hobby. The Dr’s ‘little fellow scientist’ is on hand with complex pseudo-scientific explanations throughout the film while Barbara is similarly just as clued up on the amazing machine, which retains its bigger-on-the-inside properties even though Peter Brachacki’s classic interior design, with its central console and clinical futuristic look, has been abandoned here for a messy, visually unappealing hotchpotch of hanging wires which loop down from the ceiling among circuit boards and other transparent Perspex dome-like ‘devices’ full of complex wiring; and oddly, a large hand-cranked red lever in the middle of the floor has to be yanked in order to send the time machine off on its travels.

While Cushing and Tovey (who was 12 at the time that the first film was made) are here to provide identification figures for the film’s young audience, Jennie Linden doesn’t have that much to do in it apart from look glamorous for the dads accompanying their offspring to the cinema, as Susan’s grown-up, bouffant-haired sister Barbara; and the action kicks off when her boyfriend Ian Chesterton (Roy Castle) comes to visit and manages, clumsily, to activate Dr Who’s time machine by accident while being shown around its cluttered interior by Susan and her Grandfather. Light entertainer Roy Castle had previously appeared alongside Cushing in “Dr Terror’s House of Horror” for Amicus, and is employed here to provide the comic relief in the film, which mostly comes in the form of prat falls. The relationship between him and Barbara is so chaste they might as well have been made brother and sister. Subotsky, despite the reputation Amicus was building as a rival to Hammer in the horror market, always hated any suggestion of sex or violence in movies, and was happy to side-line any romantic content here. One of the reviews of the film later noted that “Dr Who and the Daleks” was 'one of the few modern films to have a nubile heroine who never so much as touches her boyfriend!'

Barbara’s accident-prone boyfriend first crashes into the house when he’s caught leaning on the front door just as Susan opens it, and he then manages to sit on the box of chocolates he’s brought as a present for Barbara. After warily being shown around TARDIS (‘you are privileged, young man, to be the first visitor to our time and space machine!’) he hits the activation leaver by mistake while hugging Barbara; and on the surface of the petrified planet, Castle continues to play the role of the likable but inept young bumbler for some time – bumping into things and crushing a petrified creature after rather gracelessly collapsing in a heap on top of it. Later in the Dalek city he gets into a spot of bother with the Daleks’ automated sliding door system, but he starts to redeem himself as the plot progresses and he comes to be a much closer approximation to the action hero William Russell portrayed in the TV version of the story by the last act of the film, when he and Barbara join some Thal enemies of the Daleks in an assault on the Dalek base.

When TARDIS promptly dematerialises after Ian’s initial faux pas, Dr Who informs the gathering that he had not yet had a chance to set a destination for the machine, and that consequently they ‘could be anywhere in the Universe, and at any time … Rather exciting isn’t it!’ This light-hearted attitude is symptomatic of the approach taken to Nation’s material by Subotsky’s screenplay, which in the TV series was made to seem dark and dystopian and was rooted in fears about the atomic age and current Cold War politics, but boiled down to a traditional adventure yarn in which the ‘naïve’ pacifism of the Thals is pitted against the Daleks’ militarised form of technocratic rationalism on a planet ruined by radiation fallout. Indeed, as Nation was writing the story in 1963 the US, the UK and the Soviet Union were negotiating the first Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. But Nation’s tale of a planet on which two warring races have evolved separately for half a-million years after the dropping of a Neutron bomb, also takes much from HG Welles’ “The Time Machine” in which the working classes and the leisured elite of Earth were depicted evolving in isolation to become the primitive Morlocks and the cultured but uselessly effete Eloi. Here the art direction of John Constable veers the film more towards the territory of fairy tale adventure though, despite the TARDIS crew’s discovery that they are all suffering from radiation sickness as a result of their explorations of the planet’s surface. In contrast to the sleekly designed Daleks, who remain trapped in their machines inside their vast, futuristic city, the Thals still retain humanoid characteristics but look like an early Bolan-esque anticipation of the flower power generation, with male and female alike sporting gold wigs and painted-on eyebrows, and making copious use of green eye shadow to boot. Despite supplying a few scares early on when Susan is pursued through the green-lit jungle created for the film on the vast soundstage at Shepperton, the Thales turn out to be a rather friendly but stupidly trusting lot, who have trekked from their home on the other side of the planet while fleeing a famine and sporting wicker baskets which they hope to fill up with food before their return.

Despite being friendly, makeup-wearing androgynous pacifist itinerants, the Thals have managed to develop a drug that fully counteracts the radiation sickness (a feat which apparently defeats the Daleks themselves despite Dalek City’s sophisticated-looking laboratory and endless supplies of Dalek drones willing to have drugs tested on them!); they give some to the time travellers and they’re perfectly willing to share it with their former foes in exchange for food. Subotsky’s simplistic script contrasts the Thals’ meek, trusting nature with the Daleks’ almost childish duplicity and malevolence. In their TV incarnation they would become a futuristic alien allegory for the Nazis, their EXTERMINATE catchphrase (which is never heard here) instantly conjuring associations with the Final Solution. But here, the Daleks are almost comically transparent in their villainy; even Susan is suspicious of their attempt to co-opt her help in getting the Thals to trust them, for when they enounce in their typically harsh electronic voices such platitudes as ‘the Daleks want only to help you and be your friends’ it’s hard to take such worlds seriously, coming as they do from a machine that looks like a mini mobile tank and has its weapon permanently trained on you!

But the Thals are depicted as being as childlike in their naivety as the Daleks are in their single-minded selfish desire to have their own way. ‘There’s no reason not to believe their good intentions!’ proclaims a particularly optimistic Thal leader just before sending his peace party off to their certain doom. Dr Who and his companions desperately need to persuade their good-natured hosts to give up their peaceful ways and form an army to storm the Dalek City before the metal menaces can detonate another Neutron bomb in the atmosphere in order to wipe out the Thals once and for all. They also need the fluid link from TARDIS that the Daleks confiscated when they were earlier made prisoners there, having foolishly wandered into the city because the Dr wanted to explore the place.     

The lengthy trek which is organised later by Ian and Barbara around alien swamps that conceal mutant monsters and across vast cratered mountainous landscapes (often nicely realised using matte paintings) and which took up several episodes in the TV version of the story, here gets squeezed into the last fifteen minutes of the picture and is probably the better for it, since Nation’s seven-part story did tend to lag rather in the middle. The studio backcloths are now rather more obvious in high definition than they once were and the storming of the Dalek city does seem to come off rather too smoothly to be entirely plausible, but by this point the kids in the matinee audience would have had their fun and thrills and all that’s left to do at this stage is to wind things up by launching  a good old-fashioned  countdown to herald the Daleks' neutron bomb explosion, and indulge in the enjoyable ballet-like spectacle of the Thal attack-force spinning Daleks about in circles in the central control room and having them destroy each other with their own weapons. For all their ultra-futuristic design and megalomaniacal urge to conquer, these Daleks prove pretty easy to overcome in the end -- but they look damn pretty though!    

For years this film and its (much better) follow-up were looked upon with a disdainful scorn by many DOCTOR WHO fans, but these days  it’s hard to resist the urge just to sit back and let their colourful, comic-book spectacle simply wash over you. The rudimentary plotting and threadbare motivations are beside the point in a movie which was only ever meant to feed a nation’s Dalek fetish with massive large-scale representations of the things rendered in glossy, sumptuous primary colour … and John Wilcox’s  photography certainly supplies plenty of that in abundance even if Gordon Flemyng’s direction is rather hamstrung at times by the need to fill the Techniscope widescreen with sufficiently interesting compositions, although the sets and lighting are always pleasing to the eye. Cushing’s fastidiously worked-out characterisation makes his avuncular Dr Who a delight though and, after the following year’s sequel, he would end up playing more or less the same character in all but name once again, this time opposite Doug McClure in the Amicus production of Kevin Conner’s adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “At the Earth’s Core”.

“Dr Who and the Daleks” arrives on restored Blu-ray looking as lush and vibrant as one could have ever wished for considering the limitations of the Technisope format (which are explained in detail on one of the featurettes). We have a near flawless digitally re-mastered print in a new HD transfer and crystal clear restored mono soundtrack, and extras are fairly copious with this particular film too: we get a trailer and a stills gallery and an audio commentary ported over from the 2002 DVD release, which appears here again with Jonathan Sothcott moderating a pleasant and informative talk with stars Jennie Linden and Roberta Tovey. Linden talks about taking on the role of Barbara after her first feature film appearance in Hammer’s “Nightmare”, hoping it might be a good career move because of the success of the TV series. Tovey recalls auditioning for the role of Susan in front of the director at her stage school, then being called to Shepperton for a screen test. Afterwards she arrived home to find the phone already ringing to tell her she’d got the part. Both actresses recall their fellow cast members fondly, remembering Roy Castle as someone who never wasted a moment of his time, and when the cameras weren’t rolling he was always to be found in his dressing room either practising his tap dancing or his trumpet playing. Cushing is remembered by Tovey for being kind and attentive towards her during filming and for only agreeing to appear in the sequel if Roberta could be in it too. She often received cards from him afterwards signed ‘Your Grandfather’. Linden and her husband actually became very close friends of both Peter and Helen Cushing and often stayed with them at their Whitstable seafront home. Linden is able to provide a lovely portrait of what it was like to be ‘at home with the Cushings’ which tallies extensively with the impression left by his own memoirs, and she relates how Cushing had a child-like nature and was obsessed with collecting children’s toys and making model stages, one of which he made for her and gave to Linden to commemorate a recent successful stage appearance of hers. 

The disc also includes an extensive documentary look at the ‘60s phenomena of “Dalekmania” and how the two Aaru films came about as a result. It was originally produced for video back in 1995. Historian Marcus Hearn (in younger, bearded days) and the then-editor of Doctor Who Magazine, Gary Gillatt (who looks like Wizzkid from “The Greatest Show in the Galaxy”, as well as about 15 years old!)  between them provide the background information on both films, and Terry Nation also appears in some archive video footage. Cast members including Roberta Tovey, Jennie Linden and “Daleks -- Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.” star Jill Curzon also appears to discuss the making of the follow-up. Thals Barrie Ingham and Yvonne Antrobus remember their roles and how considerate Peter Cushing was towards the other actors, despite being a big international star by this time. The documentary also includes an interview with stuntman Eddie Powell, who suffered a broken ankle in a stunt that went wrong during the making of the second film, but which still got included in the final edit anyway. Finally, there’s a look at the multifarious array of Dalek merchandising which became available during the ‘60s (there’s probably just as much around again now to be fair!) and we hear what happened when John Lennon unexpectedly met a Dalek at the Cannes Film festival.

“Restoring Dr Who and the Daleks” is a brand new featurette commissioned for this release, which looks in-depth at the kind of work needed to bring the film to the HD format successfully. Historian Marcus Hearn and BFI curator Jo Botting talk about the problems presented by the original Techniscope format, while various persons from the Film and Digital Services Company Deluxe explain the many elements of their work that have to be carried out during the restoration process.

Finally author of “The Shepperton Story” Gareth Owen talks about the Regal Films partnership with Subotsky and Rosenberg and how it led to the making of the two Dalek films.

“Dr Who and the Daleks” is pure family matinee spectacle with very little threat or danger ever evinced during its shortish 80 minute running time. Instead, it’s a charming fairy tale sideways take on the original series’ most famous monster and the dark fable Nation created for them. It now looks especially glorious again, and will have as much appeal to today’s Dalek-mad fans as it did for 1960s family audiences, I shouldn’t wonder. With the original programme now in its 50th anniversary year, coinciding with the centenary of the birth of Peter Cushing in 2013, now is surly the perfect time to re-enter the colour-drenched world of the original big screen 1960s Daleks!

Read more from Black Gloves at his blog, Nothing but the Night!

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