Serial R:
The Chase


The Daleks manage to construct their own time machine and begin pursuing the TARDIS across time and space with the singular intent of capturing and killing the Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki. The chase brings the time travellers to a dying desert planet, the Empire State Building, the Mary Celeste, a haunted house, and finally Mechanus, a planet dominated by robotic Mechonoids from which they may never escape.


Fresh from completing The Dalek Invasion Of Earth earlier in 1964, Terry Nation was hastily commissioned to write another Doctor Who story on October 6th by new story editor Dennis Spooner. This serial, intended to wrap up the second production block, was originally planned to be six episodes long. After the decision was made to reedit the third and fourth installments of Planet Of Giants into one single twenty-five minute episode, thought was briefly given to extending Nation's storyline to seven parts as compensation, though this was never pursued.

By mid-December, however, Nation's idea was abandoned, and on December 16th he was commissioned to write a new six-episode serial in its place. Accorded the functional title of “Daleks III”, this adventure would feature a third encounter between the Doctor and the increasingly-popular Daleks. Early in 1965, a further nine episodes were allocated to Doctor Who's second production block. One of the constituent stories would be retained as part of Season Two (with the remaining episodes held over to lead off the third season), and so this meant that Nation's adventure would no longer be the season finale.

The Chase would introduce a major new monster: the Mechonoids

As with the Zarbi in Bill Strutton's The Web Planet, which was in production while Nation was drafting his scripts for Serial R -- now called “The Pursuers” -- the Dalek sequel would feature the introduction of a major new monster. These were the Mechons, whose name was eventually changed to “Mechonoids” (although this would be misspelt “Mechanoid” in the closing credits, and on subsequent merchandise); their planet was first “Mechon” and then “Mechanus”.

The denizens of Aridius (originally “Aridus”) were envisaged as ugly, hunchbacked creatures. Nation's drafts originally introduced the Fungoids on Aridius, as opposed to confining them solely to the Mechanus sequences. The Doctor's explanation of the haunted house existing in a realm of human thought was in fact Nation's initial concept for the segment, which producer Verity Lambert felt was straying too far from the conventional Doctor Who approach; Baron Frankenstein was at one point included in these scenes, while the Grey Lady was a late addition. Nation discarded several further ideas for the serial, including sequences set in ancient Egypt (where the first of the Great Pyramids would be erected over the remnants of a destroyed Dalek), the planet Stygian whose inhabitants were invisible, and the mist-shrouded world of Vapuron. These ideas would subsequently be recycled in The Daleks' Master Plan.

Another amendment made to the story -- which once again became generically referred to as “Dalek Three” -- was the introduction by Spooner of the Time-Space Visualiser (given to the Doctor at the end of the previous story, The Space Museum), replacing the “Time Curve Visi-Scope”, which Nation had conceived as an invention of the Doctor's. The Visi-Scope/Visualiser scene originally depicted the time travellers watching a speech by Winston Churchill instead of a performance by the Beatles. At one point, Anne Hathaway appeared in the Shakespeare scene.

During the early months of 1965, both William Russell and Jacqueline Hill were contemplating leaving Doctor Who upon the expiry of their contracts with the Dalek story. Nation was therefore asked to include a new character in his scripts to replace Ian in the regular cast; this was an astronaut named Roger Bruck. Due to the uncertainty surrounding the lead cast, Nation elected not to write the final scenes of the serial, which had acquired its final title of The Chase, instead leaving it to Spooner to determine the fates of Ian, Barbara and Roger. Around early May, by which time it was known that both Russell and Hill would indeed be leaving Doctor Who, the new companion became known as Michael Taylor.

The new companion was an astronaut named Roger Bruck, who then became known as Michael Taylor

Richard Martin, who had been involved with both previous Dalek stories, returned to direct The Chase, having recently completed The Web Planet; Christopher Barry had earlier been considered for the post. Martin was reunited with Ray Cusick, the designer who had created the Daleks' visual appearance for their debut story. Cusick was unhappy with the modifications made by Spencer Chapman on The Dalek Invasion Of Earth, such as a rear-mounted radio dish and larger fenders, and had these removed. Unlike that serial, no new Daleks had to be constructed for The Chase, although two casings from the Aaru film Dr Who And The Daleks were refurbished and used in the background of some scenes.

Production began with a day's location filming on April 9th at Camber Sands in East Sussex, which doubled as the surface of Aridius. Action then moved to the Ealing Television Film Studios, where filming took place from the 12th to the 15th. This involved the historical “footage” which would appear on the Visualiser, the Mary Celeste scenes, and the battle between the Daleks and the Mechonoids.

The original idea for the Beatles segment was to depict the band performing at a fiftieth-anniversary concert, with the Fab Four dressed up as old men. It appears that the musicians themselves were interested in the proposition, but it was vetoed by their manager, Brian Epstein. Subsequently, it was thought that an appearance by the Beatles on Top Of The Pops might be used instead, but no footage was available as most editions of the programme were destroyed after broadcast. A November 1964 recording of I Feel Fine was then considered. In the event, however, footage of the band performing Ticket To Ride at Riverside Studios on April 10th was made available to Martin's team.

The Executioners was recorded on April 30th; as usual, all six installments of The Chase were taped on Fridays. This evening saw Doctor Who return to its regular studio home of Riverside 1 after a brief relocation to Television Centre for The Space Museum. On May 6th, director Douglas Camfield (who had recently handled The Crusade) and a stills photographer accompanied William Russell and Jacqueline Hill on an excursion to several London landmarks. Images taken at this time would later be inserted into the final episode of The Chase. On May 10th, Camfield also supervised the filming of the London bus segment at Ealing while working on his own assignment, The Time Meddler.

After playing Morton Dill in episode three, Peter Purves was recommended to Verity Lambert for the part of the new companion

Part three, Flight Through Eternity, was recorded on May 14th. Cast as obnoxious tourist Morton Dill in this episode was Peter Purves, whom Martin had passed over for a role as a Menoptra in The Web Planet. Purves had abandoned teaching for acting, gaining some experience in repertory theatre before being cast in a handful of television programmes, including episodes of Z Cars, Armchair Theatre and Court Martial (the latter two under the direction of Hill's husband, Alvin Rakoff). Purves proved popular with several members of the Doctor Who team, and he was recommended to Lambert for the part of the new companion, Michael. Lambert and Spooner concurred, and offered Purves the role upon the completion of Flight Through Eternity. Purves spent the next week working with Spooner to better define the character; around this time, his name was changed to Steven.

On May 21st, Purves was formally contracted to play the new companion through the first story of the next recording block. Also on that day, Maureen O'Brien received a contract extension covering the same period, while on the 24th, William Hartnell was retained through Serial Y, midway through Season Three.

In episodes four and five, Edmund Warwick joined the cast to play the Doctor's robotic doppelganger in scenes involving both the real and artificial Doctors. According to Warwick, this part was written especially for him, as a thank-you for his emergency replacement of Hartnell when the latter was injured while rehearsing an episode of The Dalek Invasion Of Earth. The decision was made to confine Warwick's appearances to long shots, and to dub over Hartnell's voice for all the robot's lines. Unfortunately, one piece of dialogue was not replaced, and was transmitted in Warwick's own voice. Unusually, recording on the fifth episode, The Death Of Doctor Who, began in the afternoon rather than the evening. This was arranged to capture the sequence of the Doctor fighting with the robot, which would be physically taxing for Hartnell to perform.

The Planet Of Decision, recorded on June 4th, saw the return of Purves, now playing Steven Taylor. Unfortunately, the Mechonoids proved less than successful as monsters, their unwieldy bulk making them very difficult to use effectively. As a result, they would join the Zarbi of The Web Planet in the ranks of monsters which would endure primarily in Doctor Who spinoffs, such as the TV Century 21 Dalek comic strip, rather than the programme itself.

June 4th was the final day on Doctor Who for both William Russell and Jacqueline Hill

Due to the need for Spooner to write the next serial in production, The Time Meddler, this was the final story on which he was credited as story editor. In principle, Spooner handed over the job to Donald Tosh at this stage; Tosh had been trailing him throughout the production of The Chase. However, Spooner would continue to do some uncredited story editing for several more weeks. Spooner moved over to join Nation as writer and assistant editor on The Baron. In addition to writing further episodes of Doctor Who, Spooner provided scripts for a variety of series, including Doomwatch, UFO, and The New Avengers. He was a script editor on Bergerac, and helped create programmes such as Randall And Hopkirk (Deceased). Spooner died of a heart attack on September 20th, 1986.

This was also the final day on Doctor Who for both Russell and Hill. Hartnell was particularly upset about their departure, which left him as the lone original regular remaining on the show. Ironically, Russell and Hill would immediately find themselves reteamed in a stage version of Separate Tables.

William Russell would subsequently concentrate on the theatre, although he continued to make a variety of appearances both on television and film, sometimes under his real name of Russell Enoch. These would include a regular role on the long-running soap opera Coronation Street, an episode of The Black Adder, and a cameo as a Kryptonian Elder in the 1978 feature film Superman. In 1999, Russell appeared on the BBC Video release of Doctor Who: The Crusade And The Space Museum, to record links for the missing episodes of The Crusade in character as Ian Chesterton. Russell also recorded narration for several BBC Radio Collection Doctor Who releases, and appeared twice in audio plays for Big Finish Productions, first as Lord Darzil Carlisle opposite Peter Davison's Fifth Doctor in The Game (2004), and latterly as Ian Chesterton in 2009's The Transit Of Venus.

Shortly after leaving Doctor Who, Hill retired from acting to raise a family, but returned to television in 1979. She appeared in programmes such as Romeo And Juliet and Tales Of The Unexpected, as well as accepting the role of Lexa in the 1980 Doctor Who story Meglos. Jacqueline Hill died of cancer on February 18th, 1993.

  • Doctor Who: The Handbook: The First Doctor by David J Howe, Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker (1994), Virgin Publishing, ISBN 0 426 20430 1.
  • Doctor Who: The Sixties by David J Howe, Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker (1992), Virgin Publishing, ISBN 1 85227 420 4.
  • Doctor Who Magazine Summer Special 1993, “Archive: The Chase” by Andrew Pixley, Marvel Comics UK Ltd.
  • Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #7, 12th May 2004, “I'm Into Something Good” by Andrew Pixley, Panini Publishing Ltd.

Original Transmission
1: The Executioners
Date 22nd May 1965
Time 5.41pm
Duration 25'25"
Viewers (more) 10.0m (14th)
· BBC1 10.0m
Appreciation 57%
2: The Death Of Time
Date 29th May 1965
Time 5.41pm
Duration 23'32"
Viewers (more) 9.5m (12th)
· BBC1 9.5m
Appreciation 56%
3: Flight Through Eternity
Date 5th Jun 1965
Time 5.47pm
Duration 25'23"
Viewers (more) 9.0m (12th)
· BBC1 9.0m
Appreciation 55%
4: Journey Into Terror
Date 12th Jun 1965
Time 5.41pm
Duration 23'49"
Viewers (more) 9.5m (8th)
· BBC1 9.5m
Appreciation 54%
5: The Death Of Doctor Who
Date 19th Jun 1965
Time 5.41pm
Duration 23'27"
Viewers (more) 9.0m (11th)
· BBC1 9.0m
Appreciation 56%
6: The Planet Of Decision
Date 26th Jun 1965
Time 5.40pm
Duration 26'29"
Viewers (more) 9.5m (7th)
· BBC1 9.5m
Appreciation 57%

Dr Who
William Hartnell
Ian Chesterton
William Russell
Barbara Wright
Jacqueline Hill
Maureen O'Brien
Abraham Lincoln
Robert Marsden
Francis Bacon
Roger Hammond
Queen Elizabeth I
Vivienne Bennett
William Shakespeare
Hugh Walters
Television Announcer
Richard Coe
Dalek Voices
Peter Hawkins
David Graham
Robert Jewell
Kevin Manser
John Scott Martin
Gerald Taylor
Mire Beast
Jack Pitt
Ian Thompson
Hywel Bennett
Al Raymond
Arne Gordon
Morton Dill
Peter Purves
Albert C Richardson
Dennis Chinnery
Capt Benjamin Briggs
David Blake Kelly
Patrick Carter
Douglas Ditta
Cabin Steward
Jack Pitt
John Maxim
Count Dracula
Malcolm Rogers
Grey Lady
Roslyn de Winter
Robot Dr Who
Edmund Warwick
Mechonoid Voice
David Graham
Murphy Grumbar
Jack Pitt
John Scott Martin
Jack Pitt
John Scott Martin
Ken Tyllsen
Steven Taylor
Peter Purves

Written by
Terry Nation
Directed by
Richard Martin
Douglas Camfield (episode 6, uncredited)
Produced by
Verity Lambert

Fight arranged by
Peter Diamond
Title music by
Ron Grainer and
the BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Incidental music composed and conducted by
Dudley Simpson
Film Cameraman
Charles Parnall
Film Editor
Norman Matthews
Costumes Supervised by
Daphne Dare
Make-up Supervised by
Sonia Markham
Howard King
Ray Angel
Story Editor
Dennis Spooner
Raymond Cusick
John Wood

Working Titles
Whole Story
Daleks III
The Pursuers
Dalek Three

Updated 1st January 2013