New Series Episode 93:
Asylum Of The Daleks

Plot

Their relationship in tatters, Amy and Rory suddenly find themselves kidnapped by the Daleks and reunited with the Doctor. They have been brought together by the Emperor Dalek, who requires them to infiltrate a prison planet called the Asylum which houses the insane outcasts of the Dalek race. A spaceship has crashed there, offering a means of escape for the millions of inmates. Furthermore, one passenger survived the accident: a brilliant computer hacker named Oswin, for whom the Doctor may be the only salvation from a world of crazed Daleks.

Production

Despite having written for Doctor Who since 2005, and serving as its executive producer and showrunner since 2010, Steven Moffat had never written a Dalek story. The closest he had come was incorporating the mutants from Skaro into the menagerie of monsters which appeared in Season Thirty-One's The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang. In fact, other commitments had previously forced him to turn down the opportunity to write a two-part Dalek story set in New York City for Season Twenty-Nine. Helen Raynor had ultimately written Daleks In Manhattan / Evolution Of The Daleks while Moffat had instead contributed Blink.

For Season Thirty-Three, however, Moffat was determined to finally tackle an adventure which showcased Doctor Who's most famous villains. Mindful of the mixed reaction which had greeted the redesigned “Paradigm” Daleks introduced in 2010's Victory Of The Daleks, Moffat wanted to draw upon the long history of variant Dalek designs which had appeared in the programme dating back to The Daleks in 1963. He now intended to portray the Paradigm Daleks as a sort of Dalek upper echelon, while the design which had been used since 2005's Dalek would be brought back into service as the rank and file.

Steven Moffat was keen to have each episode of Season Thirty-Three exhibit the ambition of a feature film

During the production of Season Thirty-Two, it was agreed that Amy and Rory would be written out of Doctor Who partway through its thirty-third season. Ultimately, it was decided that their final episodes would form a mini-season which would be broadcast in the fall of 2012. A new companion would then be introduced in that year's Christmas special, who would travel with the Doctor through the balance of Season Thirty-Three in Spring 2013. Briefly, Moffat planned to include the Daleks in Amy and Rory's final story, but soon decided to give this role to the Weeping Angels, while the Daleks would instead feature in the season premiere. Moffat was keen to have each episode of the new season exhibit the ambition, scope and thrills of a feature film; for the Dalek story, he thought in terms of Die Hard, the 1988 Bruce Willis action movie about a police officer who must navigate a skyscraper full of terrorists.

Moffat was working on the script he called Asylum Of The Daleks by November 2011. The episodes which would comprise the opening segment of Season Thirty-Three would depict Amy and Rory only occasionally adventuring with the Doctor, but otherwise dealing with the normal problems and challenges faced by married couples. To emphasise this theme, Asylum Of The Daleks would see Amy and Rory on the verge of divorce. Originally, this turn of events would have been visually represented by Rory's choice to grow a beard -- despite Amy's loathing of facial hair -- which he would have shaved at the story's conclusion. Between seasons, Arthur Darvill was appearing on stage as Mephistopheles in Doctor Faustus, and Moffat planned to have him keep the beard grown for that role. However, this plan had to be abandoned when it was decided to make Asylum Of The Daleks as part of the second recording block alongside The Angels Take Manhattan. Also eliminated was the continuity-patching placement of the Dalek Parliament on “Skaro 2” (the original Skaro having been destroyed in 1988's Remembrance Of The Daleks).

Originally it was suggested that Oswin might be a Dalek whose insanity had caused it to believe itself to be human

A more significant change came in early 2012, when Moffat realised that the Doctor would never actually see Oswin in her human form. This meant that the actress portraying Oswin and the actress cast as the new companion could be one and the same. As such, Moffat did away with a suggestion that Oswin might be a Dalek whose insanity has caused it to believe itself to be human. Oswin was originally conceived as being a fan of Elvis Presley, whose music would play throughout the episode and inspire the Doctor to give her the nickname “Blue Suede Shoes”. However, when obtaining the rights to use these songs proved problematic, it was decided that the soundtrack to Bizet's Carmen would feature instead. This was proposed by Nick Hurran, who would be directing Asylum Of The Daleks and The Angels Take Manhattan; he had recently helmed The Girl Who Waited and The God Complex for Season Thirty-Two.

Meanwhile, the search for Doctor Who's latest regular castmember was already under way, with a first round of auditions held in November. In early February, the finalists returned to read lines opposite Matt Smith. Ultimately, the role went to Jenna-Louise Coleman. Coleman had found success with acting while still in school, appearing as a member of an amateur theatre company called In Yer Space. Drama school beckoned, but Coleman was instead cast as a regular on the soap opera Emmerdale. She later starred in Waterloo Road, recorded appearances in television series such as Titanic and Room At The Top, and enjoyed a small role in the feature film Captain America: The First Avenger. Coleman was announced as the new companion at a press conference on March 21st, although any details about her character -- including her appearance in Asylum Of The Daleks -- were kept firmly under wraps.

Unusually, the first filming for Asylum Of The Daleks was the result, not of careful planning, but of last-minute happenstance. During Block One, most of the recording for A Town Called Mercy took place in Almería, Spain. Producer Marcus Wilson realised that the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains were ideal to represent the surface of the Asylum planet. Hurran quickly devised plans to film the relevant footage, and a minimal crew travelled to Almería's Sierra Nevada National Park on March 15th, the last day of the Spanish location shoot. Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill were joined by David Gyasi, playing Harvey.

The first filming for Doctor Who at its new Roath Lock studio took place on March 27th

The first domestic filming for Asylum Of The Daleks took place on March 23rd, with the light beam effect captured at Upper Boat Studios, home to Doctor Who since the making of the 2006 Christmas special, The Runaway Bride. However, production was now beginning to transition to the programme's new studio at the BBC's recently-opened Roath Lock facility in Cardiff Bay. The first filming for Doctor Who at Roath Lock took place on March 27th and 28th, for scenes in the Asylum corridors, the junction room, and the white room aboard the Dalek saucer.

It was back to Upper Boat from March 29th to 31st, for more corridor material as well as the chamber where Amy hallucinates that the Daleks are human. In some instances, these apparitions were played by the operators manning the various Dalek casings. By now, a substantial phalanx of Daleks had been assembled, including new constructions, existing BBC props, casings owned by BBC Worldwide, and some on loan from private collectors. Many of these represented the twenty-first-century Dalek stories (including a black casing resembling Dalek Sec from Army Of Ghosts / Doomsday and Daleks In Manhattan, and an Ironsides Dalek from Victory Of The Daleks). However, there were several whose liveries echoed earlier adventures, including The Daleks (1963), The Evil Of The Daleks (1967), Death To The Daleks (1974) and Genesis Of The Daleks (1975); the latter was borrowed from former executive producer Russell T Davies). Furthermore, Remembrance Of The Daleks (1988) was represented not only by a grey-and-black Renegade Dalek, but also by the unique form of the Special Weapons Dalek. Meanwhile, the Paradigm Daleks had undergone significant modifications to try to allay the criticism that had been levied at them by both viewers and operators -- the latter finding them far more difficult to control than the bronze Daleks with which they had become accustomed. Most notably, the Paradigm Daleks were made more symmetrical (including the removal of the rear “hump”) and they were given a metallic sheen in contrast to the bright, plasticky appearance they had previously sported.

A Dalek from Genesis Of The Daleks was borrowed from Russell T Davies

Cast and crew remained at Upper Boat on April 2nd, when the focus was on the Alaska escape pod, as well as effects shots. Then it was back to Roath Lock on the 3rd and 4th for scenes in the Intensive Care Unit and the Oswin Dalek's cell. The next day, a house on Bute Esplanade in Cardiff Bay once again posed as Amy and Rory's home, while the TARDIS set was in use at Upper Boat. Rory's capture by the Daleks was filmed on April 6th aboard a bus in Mount Stuart Square. On the 7th, it was Amy's turn to be abducted as Royal Fort House, part of Bristol University in Bristol, offered spaces appropriate for her modelling studio and dressing room.

For the next two weeks, Hurran's principal focus was on The Angels Take Manhattan. The next recording for Asylum Of The Daleks occurred on April 20th, with inserts of Amy's photoshoot captured at Upper Boat. On the 23rd, the Doctor's ill-fated meeting with Darla in the gigantic Dalek statue on Skaro was filmed at Roath Lock, followed by pick-up shots the next day, scenes in the Dalek Parliament on the 25th and 26th (in which no fewer than twenty-six Dalek casings were present on the set), and more inserts on the 27th. Last on the schedule for Asylum Of The Daleks were the scenes involving the human Oswin. They were filmed at Upper Boat on April 30th and May 1st, marking Jenna-Louise Coleman's Doctor Who debut.

Throughout 2011, several Doctor Who episodes had been promoted via specially-filmed preludes, which were released online. Based on the success of these short videos, it was decided to produce more of this enhanced content for Season Thirty-Three. For Asylum Of The Daleks, a prelude along the lines of those made the previous year would be released via iTunes, a platform on which Doctor Who was enjoying enormous commercial success. This would depict the Doctor receiving a psychic communication regarding the plight of the erstwhile Darla Von Karlsen.

Pond Life would establish the way Amy and Rory's lives still intersected with the Doctor's

For the Web-based audience, a more substantial project would be created. Initially called “The Last Days Of The Ponds” and latterly dubbed the less-foreboding Pond Life, this would be a series of five brief installments which would help establish the way that Amy and Rory's lives were continuing to intersect with the Doctor's. Written by Chris Chibnall (who had written both Dinosaurs On A Spaceship and The Power Of Three amongst the 2012 block of episodes), Pond Life would also set the scene for the marital problems which were key to Asylum Of The Daleks. It was hoped that the extra publicity provided by these special recordings would help overcome the unusually extensive break in Doctor Who's transmission -- the eight months since The Doctor, The Widow And The Wardrobe being the longest hiatus since the programme's return in 2005.

Both the prelude and Pond Life were directed by Saul Metzstein, who had recently completed work on Dinosaurs On A Spaceship and A Town Called Mercy. On June 6th, Pond Life scenes inside Amy and Rory's home were recorded at a dwelling on Church Road in Penarth, while the next day, exterior sequences were filmed on Bute Esplanade. (Some footage that Nick Hurran had taped there on April 5th also wound up in the programme.) Also on the 7th, the restaurant in the prequel was actually the Plan Cafe in Cardiff, while the Pond Life material involving Mata Hari was completed at Roath Lock along with work on the TARDIS set. More TARDIS filming took place on June 8th (for both the prequel and Pond Life), together with the scenes of the Doctor on a beach and being shown the Asylum (for the prequel) and those featuring the warlord and the Doctor in a mixing studio (for Pond Life). Finally, the Pond Life sequence aboard the Sontaran ship was recorded at Roath Lock on July 25th, during work on The Crimson Horror for the second half of Season Thirty-Three.

The five episodes of Pond Life were released online daily, beginning on August 27th. By now, several preview screenings of Asylum Of The Daleks had taken place in the UK, Canada, and the United States, prompting fears that the surprise of Jenna-Louise Coleman's appearance would be ruined ahead of the episode's broadcast premiere. Happily, however, fans and journalists largely complied with requests to preserve the secret, which was finally unveiled to the world as Season Thirty-Three began transmission on September 1st. For this episode, the Doctor Who logo in the opening titles was adorned with Dalek hemispheres -- the first of five themed logos designed to help make Amy and Rory's final episodes a special experience. The prequel was then released on the British iTunes on September 4th, following its availability in other territories two days earlier.

Sources
  • Doctor Who News.
  • Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #33, Spring 2013, “Asylum Of The Daleks” by Andrew Pixley, Panini UK Ltd.

Original Transmission
Date 1st Sep 2012
Time 7.20pm
Duration 48'51"
Viewers (more) 8.3m (6th)
· BBC1/HD 8.3m
· iPlayer 2.2m
Appreciation 89%


Cast
The Doctor
Matt Smith
Amy Pond
Karen Gillan
Rory Williams
Arthur Darvill
(more)
Oswin
Jenna-Louise Coleman
Darla
Anamaria Marinca
Cassandra
Naomi Ryan
Harvey
David Gyasi
Voice of the Daleks
Nicholas Briggs
Dalek 1
Barnaby Edwards
Dalek 2
Nicholas Pegg


Crew
Written by
Steven Moffat
Directed by
Nick Hurran
Produced by
Marcus Wilson
(more)

Stunt Coordinators
Crispin Layfield
Gordon Seed
First Assistant Director
Fay Selby
Second Assistant Director
James DeHaviland
Third Assistant Director
Heddi-Joy Taylor-Welch
Assistant Director
Danielle Richards
Location Manager
Nicky James
Unit Manager
Geraint Williams
Production Manager
Phillipa Cole
Production Coordinator
Claire Hildred
Asst Production Coordinator
Gabriella Ricci
Production Secretary
Sandra Cosfeld
Production Assistants
Rachel Vipond
Samantha Price
Asst Production Accountants
Rhys Evans
Justine Wooff
Assistant Script Editor
John Phillips
Script Supervisor
Steve Walker
Camera Operator
Joe Russell
Focus Pullers
James Scott
Julius Ogden
Grip
Gary Norman
Camera Assistants
Meg de Koning
Sam Smithard
Cai Thompson
Assistant Grip
Owen Charnley
Sound Maintenance Engineers
Ross Adams
Chris Goding
Gaffer
Mark Hutchings
Best Boy
Stephen Slocombe
Electricians
Bob Milton
Gareth Sheldon
Matt Wilson
Supervising Art Director
Paul Spriggs
Set Decorator
Adrian Anscombe
Production Buyers
Charlie Lynam
Adrian Greenwood
Art Director
Lucienne Suren
Assistant Art Director
Richard Hardy
Art Department Coordinator
Donna Shakesheff
Prop Master
Paul Smith
Prop Chargehand
Bernie Davies
Set Dresser
Jayne Davies
Prophand
Austin J Curtis
Standby Props
Phill Shellard
Helen Atherton
Dressing Props
Mike Elkins
Ian Griffin
Graphic Artist
Christina Tom
Graphic Designer
Chris Lees
Petty Cash Buyer
Helen O'Leary
Standby Carpenter
Will Pope
Standby Rigger
Bryan Griffiths
Props Makers
Penny Howarth
Alan Hardy
Jamie Thomas
Tom Belton
Props Driver
Gareth Fox
Construction Manager
Terry Horle
Construction Chargehand
Dean Tucker
Assistant Costume Designer
Fraser Purfit
Costume Supervisor
Carly Griffith
Costume Assistants
Katarina Cappellazzi
Gemma Evans
Make-Up Artists
Sara Angharad
Vivienne Simpson
Allison Sing
Casting Associate
Alice Purser
Assistant Editor
Becky Trotman
VFX Editor
Joel Skinner
Dubbing Mixer
Tim Ricketts
ADR Editor
Matthew Cox
Dialogue Editor
Darran Clement
Sound Effects Editor
Paul Jefferies
Foley Editor
Jamie Talbutt
Graphics
Peter Anderson Studio
Online Conform
Mark Bright
Online Editor
Jeremy Lott
Colourist
Mick Vincent
Daleks created by
Terry Nation
With Thanks to
The BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Conducted and Orchestrated by
Ben Foster
Recorded and Mixed by
Jake Jackson
Original Theme Music
Ron Grainer
Casting Director
Andy Pryor CDG
Production Executive
Julie Scott
Post Production Supervisor
Nerys Davies
Production Accountant
Jeff Dunn
Sound Recordist
Deian Llŷr Humphreys
Costume Designer
Howard Burden
Make-Up Designer
Barbara Southcott
Music
Murray Gold
Visual Effects
The Mill
Special Effects
Real SFX
Prosthetics
Millennium FX
Editor
Jamie Pearson
Production Designer
Michael Pickwoad
Director Of Photography
Neville Kidd
Script Producer
Denise Paul
Line Producer
Diana Barton
Executive Producers
Steven Moffat
Caroline Skinner

Updated 23rd August 2014