Serial 4E:
Genesis Of The Daleks


The Time Lords intercept the Doctor, Sarah and Harry as they transmat back to Nerva, and send them to Skaro in the distant past in order to prevent the creation of the Daleks. There they discover the planet's two native races, the Kaleds and the Thals, are nearing the climax of the Thousand Year War. As the conflict reaches its terrible conclusion, Sarah discovers that a disfigured Kaled scientist named Davros has already accomplished what the time travellers were sent to stop: the genesis of the Daleks.


Despite the Daleks' infamy as Doctor Who's premiere monster, their 1964 introductory story, The Daleks, had furnished them with only cursory origins. The scripts by their creator, Terry Nation, merely hinted that they were the mutant descendants of a race called the Dals, survivors of an atomic war. Starting in 1965, Nation and former Doctor Who story editor David Whitaker expanded on these notions in the Dalek comic strip running in the TV Century 21 magazine. They revealed that the monsters were the result of experiments by the scientist Yarvelling, who was now referred to as a member of the Dalek -- not Dal -- race. Later, in a 1973 edition of the Radio Times, Nation suggested a totally different genesis. In his short story We Are The Daleks!, the Daleks were created on Ameron by scientists from Halldon, who had captured and accelerated the evolution of early man.

But with no concrete background for the Daleks given in the Doctor Who TV series itself, in late 1973 the outgoing production team of producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks encouraged Nation to explore the beginnings of the Daleks in a new storyline. Nation had contributed a Dalek serial to each of the previous two seasons -- Planet Of The Daleks and Death To The Daleks -- but his initial effort for Season Twelve had been rejected as being too derivative of his earlier works. Starting anew with Letts' and Dicks' suggested approach, Nation crafted a new storyline which veered away from both the TV Century 21 and Radio Times versions of the Daleks' origins (although he made an effort not to contradict The Daleks itself).

Terry Nation's initial effort for Season Twelve was rejected as being too derivative of his earlier works

The six scripts for “Daleks -- Genesis Of Terror” were commissioned on April 4th, 1974. New script editor Robert Holmes was not particularly enamoured of the Daleks, preferring to introduce new monsters rather than rely on old standbys. Nonetheless, Letts convinced him to proceed with the project, impressing Holmes with his excitement for the concept of a story which explored the beginnings of the Daleks.

For the new serial -- given the production code Serial 4E -- Nation decided to concentrate on the character of Davros, who would be revealed as the creator of the Daleks. Aware that Dalek dialogue was often very tedious to write and to watch, Nation envisaged Davros as having aspects of both humans and Daleks, enabling him to act as a mouthpiece of sorts for the monsters. Hence the base of his travelling machine, his single artificial eye, his electronically-modified voice and even his single arm were all designed to evoke the form of the Daleks themselves, but Nation retained human speech patterns for the character. Nation was also keen to depict Davros as surviving the story, in an effort to avoid the mistake he had made at the climax of The Daleks, in which he had effectively killed off his creations, not anticipating their impending popularity.

Nation's scripts went through minor changes during their development. The role of a Kaled officer named General Greiner was subsumed by Ravon, while Sevrin was paired with a second Muto named Marrass. The character of Tane was originally called Gitane, and Kravos was named Fenatin. Nation intended the Mutos to be much more bestial in appearance, their forms usually hidden by their rags. The writer had also put greater emphasis on the subplot in which Sarah contracted radiation poisoning, recalling a similar story strand in The Daleks. The brutal nature of the war between the Kaleds and Thals was inspired by the 1936 film Things To Come, while Nation also decided to play up the Nazi allusions which, he now realised, had influenced his original conception of the Daleks.

The story's title had become the more standard Genesis Of The Daleks by the time new Doctor Who producer Philip Hinchcliffe took the reins of the programme. Like Holmes, Hinchcliffe disliked the Daleks. He decided to tailor the story to something closer to his vision of Doctor Who by approaching it in a more mature manner than previous Dalek stories. This ethos met the approval of director David Maloney, whose last work on the show had been Planet Of The Daleks. It was Maloney who scrapped Nation's version of the Doctor's opening meeting with the Time Lord -- originally set in a serene garden -- and replaced it with the no-man's-land ambush, to Nation's disapproval. Maloney envisaged the scene as an homage to the classic 1957 Ingmar Bergman film, The Seventh Seal.

David Maloney scrapped Terry Nation's version of the meeting with the Time Lord, set in a serene garden, in favour of the no-man's-land ambush

Work on Genesis Of The Daleks began shortly after New Year's Day 1975. Five days were spent at Bletchworth Quarry in Bletchworth, Surrey, from January 6th to 10th, filming material set in the wastelands of Skaro. Having struggled with the Daleks on location during the making of Planet Of The Daleks, Maloney intentionally arranged his shooting schedule so that they would appear only in the studio on Genesis Of The Daleks. The scaffolding escape sequence was then recorded at the Ealing Television Film Studios on the 13th and 14th. Model filming on the 16th took place on the premises of Bura & Hardwick in North London.

Genesis Of The Daleks was taped in three studio sessions, fortnightly on Mondays and Tuesdays. The first of these occurred in BBC Television Centre Studio 1 on the 27th and 28th of January. The first day concentrated on episode one, and also included the part three material set in Command HQ. The second day saw the completion of most scenes from the second episode, in addition to those occurring in the detention room and the adjacent corridor for the fourth installment. Michael Wisher, playing Davros, prepared for his masked role by wearing a paper bag over his head during rehearsals, to help him convey much of the emotion of the part purely through dialogue.

The second block, on February 10th and 11th, shifted to TC8. Most of the rest of episode three was taped on the Monday, as was the outstanding material from part two, set in the rocket silo and the ductwork. Only the sequences in the launch room and the lab remained for the third installment, and these were completed on the Tuesday, alongside the bulk of episode four and part five scenes taking place in the trench and the Thal corridor. By this point, the decision was made to tone down some of the serial's more overtly Nazi-esque imagery -- the iron cross Nyder was seen to be wearing at the start of the story, for instance, vanished at this stage.

Finally, the last two days -- February 24th and 25th -- involved the taping of the fifth and sixth installments, respectively. This session took place in TC6. Genesis Of The Daleks was scheduled to air before Revenge Of The Cybermen, the serial which had preceded it into production, and the next adventure to be made as part of the twelfth recording block -- Terror Of The Zygons -- would be held over to start a new season in the autumn. This meant that all of Season Twelve was now in the can.

Mary Whitehouse described Genesis Of The Daleks as “tea-time brutality for tots”

Critics of Doctor Who had been fairly silent since the early Seventies, when stories such as Terror Of The Autons had incited calls for a reduction in the series' violent and horrific content. With the broadcast of Genesis Of The Daleks episode one on March 8th, however, these cries were heard anew. As had happened earlier in the decade, Mary Whitehouse of the National Viewers' And Listeners' Association lead the charge, going so far as to describe the serial as “tea-time brutality for tots”. Even Nation himself was forced to admit that he considered Genesis Of The Daleks inappropriate viewing for his children, then aged eight and three.

Despite the furour, Hinchcliffe simply noted that he had ensured the violence was not of the sort which children could copy, and that ultimately it was the parents who bore the responsibility of deciding what programming was suitable for their offspring. This was hardly enough to mollify Whitehouse and her supporters, however, and Genesis Of The Daleks would not be the last time that she and Hinchcliffe would cross sabres.

  • Doctor Who: The Handbook: The Fourth Doctor by David J Howe, Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker (1992), Virgin Publishing, ISBN 0 426 20369 8.
  • Doctor Who: The Seventies by David J Howe, Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker (1994), Virgin Publishing, ISBN 1 85227 444 1.
  • Doctor Who Magazine #250, 9th April 1997, “Archive: Genesis Of The Daleks” by Andrew Pixley, Panini UK Ltd.
  • Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #8, 1st September 2004, “You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet” by Andrew Pixley, Panini Publishing Ltd.
  • In-Vision #4, May 1988, “Production” edited by Justin Richards and Peter Anghelides, Cybermark Services.

Original Transmission
Episode 1
Date 8th Mar 1975
Time 5.30pm
Duration 24'30"
Viewers (more) 10.7m (23rd)
· BBC1 10.7m
Episode 2
Date 15th Mar 1975
Time 5.30pm
Duration 24'51"
Viewers (more) 10.5m (15th)
· BBC1 10.5m
Appreciation 57%
Episode 3
Date 22nd Mar 1975
Time 5.30pm
Duration 22'38"
Viewers (more) 8.5m (42nd)
· BBC1 8.5m
Episode 4
Date 29th Mar 1975
Time 5.31pm
Duration 23'38"
Viewers (more) 8.8m (36th)
· BBC1 8.8m
Appreciation 58%
Episode 5
Date 5th Apr 1975
Time 5.30pm
Duration 23'37"
Viewers (more) 9.8m (30th)
· BBC1 9.8m
Appreciation 57%
Episode 6
Date 12th Apr 1975
Time 5.55pm
Duration 23'30"
Viewers (more) 9.1m (26th)
· BBC1 9.1m
Appreciation 56%

Doctor Who
Tom Baker
Sarah Jane Smith
Elisabeth Sladen
Harry Sullivan
Ian Marter
Michael Wisher
Peter Miles
Dennis Chinnery
Guy Siner
Time Lord
John Franklyn-Robbins
Kaled Leader
Richard Reeves
Dalek Operators
John Scott Martin
Cy Town
Keith Ashley
Stephen Yardley
James Garbutt
Drew Wood
Jeremy Chandler
Thal Soldiers
Pat Gorman
Hilary Minster
John Gleeson
Tom Georgeson
Ivor Roberts
Thal Politician
Michael Lynch
Thal Guard
Max Faulkner
Dalek Voice
Roy Skelton
Harriet Philpin
Kaled Guard
Peter Mantle
Andrew Johns

Written by
Terry Nation
Directed by
David Maloney
Produced by
Philip Hinchcliffe

Production Unit Manager
George Gallaccio
Production Assistant
Rosemary Crowson
Theme Music by
Ron Grainer &
BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Title Sequence
Bernard Lodge
Incidental Music by
Dudley Simpson
Special Sound
Dick Mills
Visual Effects Designer
Peter Day
Davros' mask
John Friedlander
Costume Designer
Barbara Kidd
Make up
Sylvia James
Studio Lighting
Duncan Brown
Studio Sound
Tony Millier
Film Cameraman
Elmer Cossey
Film Sound
Bill Meekums
Film Editor
Larry Toft
Script Editor
Robert Holmes
David Spode

Working Titles
Daleks -- Genesis Of Terror

Updated 9th January 2011