Serial 6P:
Resurrection Of The Daleks


The Doctor, Tegan and Turlough are nearly torn apart in a Dalek time corridor which connects a warehouse on modern-day Earth with a spacecraft in the future. The Daleks have lost the war with the Movellans due to a virus which affects only their kind. Now, with the help of the mercenary Lytton, they intend to free the imprisoned Davros and force him to create an antidote. Once successful, the Daleks will at last be in a position to destroy the Movellans and rampage across the cosmos.


To conclude Doctor Who's twentieth season, producer John Nathan-Turner and script editor Eric Saward decided that the time was right to pit Peter Davison's Fifth Doctor against the Daleks. The iconic monsters had been absent from television screens since Destiny Of The Daleks, which had opened Season Seventeen. Dalek creator Terry Nation was now living and working in Hollywood, and would not likely be interested in contributing a new Doctor Who script. Nonetheless, he retained the right to approve the use of the Daleks, so it was agreed that writing duties should be assigned to Saward himself, since he would be in the best position to respond to any script changes Nation might require. On March 29th, 1982, formal permission was sought for Saward to tackle the proposed Dalek serial.

Meanwhile, Nathan-Turner contacted Nation's agent, Roger Hancock, to obtain approval in principle for the new story. To his dismay, however, Hancock indicated that Nation would not authorise another writer's use of the Daleks, since he had been disappointed in the past by those Dalek serials not authored by himself. For a time, it appeared that plans for the Dalek serial would have to be dropped, until Nathan-Turner encountered Nation himself at a Chicago Doctor Who convention that July. This was the first fan event Nation had ever attended, and he was amazed by the way that the audience reacted to his presence and clamored for the Daleks. Overwhelmed by the experience, he gave Nathan-Turner the green light for Saward to start working on the project.

Overwhelmed by fan response to the Daleks, Terry Nation gave the green light for Saward to work on a new Dalek serial

Saward immediately began assembling a storyline entitled “The Return” (with “Warhead” also considered at one point). Saward wanted to write an adventure in the action-oriented mold of his popular Cyberman story, Earthshock, from Season Nineteen. Viewing previous Dalek serials, he decided that the character of Davros was essential in order to alleviate the tedium of Dalek dialogue. He also wanted to introduce a new character, an anti-heroic mercenary named Lytton, who might be popular enough to bring back in the future.

The completed storyline for “The Return” was despatched to Nation in September. Production was due to begin at the start of January 1983, so an expeditious response was needed to give Saward time to write his scripts. Unfortunately, after a month, Nation still had not passed comment; faced with the decision of abandoning “The Return” or gambling that Nation would eventually approve the storyline, Nathan-Turner and Saward decided to keep “The Return” on the schedule.

Nation finally contacted the production office in early November. He was generally happy with “The Return”, but wanted the Daleks to appear more formidable. He also refused to allow Saward to kill off Davros, and requested the removal of the Dalek Emperor (a creation of former story editor David Whitaker in the mid-Sixties) in favour of the Dalek Supreme. Saward now had to work hurriedly, both to finish his scripts and to address Nation's concerns. The writer was disappointed in the end result, which he felt was crammed too full of incident.

“The Return” was assigned the production code Serial 6K, and was to be helmed by Peter Grimwade, who had worked on Doctor Who as both a director -- most recently on Earthshock -- and as a writer, having contributed Mawdryn Undead to Season Twenty. Unfortunately, during the fall of 1982, the BBC was crippled by labour action on the part of its electricians' union. A work stoppage in November resulted in the postponement of the studio dates for Enlightenment, the fifth story of the season and one which tied up a number of crucial plotlines. When the strike finally ended in December, Nathan-Turner had little choice but to give Enlightenment the two studio blocks originally allocated to “The Return”, from January 16th to 18th and January 30th to February 1st.

Peter Davison, Janet Fielding and Mark Strickson had all decided to leave Doctor Who during Season Twenty-One

Sadly, this meant that “The Return” would have to be dropped. The official decision to curtail Season Twenty to just twenty-two episodes came on January 3rd, the day before Grimwade and his team were slated to begin a two-day location shoot in London. In commiseration, Grimwade decided to take his crew (which would have included designer Malcolm Thornton, visual effects designer Peter Wragg, costume designer Jan Wright and make-up designer Jean Sheward) out for lunch. Nathan-Turner was not invited because Grimwade had intended to take the producer to supper instead; this was not communicated to Nathan-Turner, who felt that he had been intentionally snubbed. This unfortunate misunderstanding marked the start of a steady deterioration in Nathan-Turner's relationship with Grimwade, and came at a time when the producer's rapport with Saward was also beginning to sour.

Fortunately, “The Return” was never far from the production team's thoughts, and when they began working on Season Twenty-One the following spring, it was agreed that the story could be reactivated with relatively few alterations. The most significant change would be the departure of Tegan Jovanka at the end of the adventure. Peter Davison, Janet Fielding and Mark Strickson had all decided to leave Doctor Who during the twenty-first season, and so Nathan-Turner and Saward had elected to scatter these departures throughout the year; Fielding would be the first to be written out. A happy consequence of the delay in production was that Saward now had the opportunity to revisit his scripts, tightening up the excess of plot which he had been unable to deal with back in December. The story's title now became “The Resurrection”, and finally Resurrection Of The Daleks.

Serial 6P, as the production had been redesignated, would now be directed by Matthew Robinson. Robinson's previous credits included episodes of Angels, Coronation Street and Softly, Softly: Task Force. One of the major tasks which faced the new director was the casting of Davros. Michael Wisher, who had originated the role in 1975's Genesis Of The Daleks, had agreed to reprise the part for “The Return” after being unavailable for Destiny Of The Daleks (when Davros was instead played by David Gooderson). Sadly, Wisher was committed to a stage production of The Dame Of Sark during the revised recording dates.

The attack on the space station marked the first use of a motion-controlled rig in Doctor Who

In his place, Robinson cast Terry Molloy, best known as a castmember of the long-running radio drama The Archers. The mask originally worn by Wisher -- and adapted for Gooderson -- was too large for Molloy, and so a new mask was created using a cast of the actor's head. The serial's postponement also meant that regular Dalek voice artiste Roy Skelton was no longer available to lend his talents to the story. Instead, Robinson hired Royce Mills and Brian Miller; Miller, who had played Dugdale in Snakedance a year earlier, was the husband of former Sarah Jane Smith actress Elisabeth Sladen.

Recording for Resurrection Of The Daleks began with location filming on September 11th and 12th. Saward had written the action as taking placing in Wapping, with the TARDIS landing at Wapping Pier Head. However, negotiations to film in this area of London had broken down over the fees demanded by the warehouse owners. Robinson instead chose to film in the Shad Thames area of Bermondsey, and the TARDIS would now materialise at Butler's Wharf. Visual effects designer Peter Wragg -- the only member of the crew to be retained from the team Grimwade had assembled -- then recorded model footage for the serial. The attack on the space station marked the first use of a motion-control rig in Doctor Who.

Studio taping for Serial 6P took place in two three-day sessions. The first of these occurred from September 21st to 23rd in BBC Television Centre Studio 8, and involved all of the scenes set on the space station. The first day dealt with material on the bridge, as well as in the prison and the corridor beyond. Action recorded on the 22nd and 23rd was set in numerous corridors, with the laboratory set also in use on both days. In addition, sequences in the self-destruction chamber were taped on the 22nd, and those in the TARDIS console room on the 23rd. As with Destiny Of The Daleks, four Dalek casings were available for Robinson's use, assembled from a variety of parts dating back to the Sixties and Seventies.

The clip of Leela was inadvertently omitted from the scene in which the Daleks probe the Doctor's memories

The second studio block, which spanned October 5th to 7th, saw the venue shift to TC6. The first two days were dedicated to scenes in the warehouse -- the “alien artefact” level on the 5th and the “time corridor” level on the 6th. This left all of the material aboard the Dalek spaceship for the final day, including the scene in which the Daleks probe the Doctor's memories. Nathan-Turner was aware of the popularity amongst fans of flashback segments he had included in the three previous seasons -- in Logopolis, Earthshock and Mawdryn Undead -- and was keen to incorporate another such sequence in Resurrection Of The Daleks. To this end, continuity adviser Ian Levine compiled clips depicting every Doctor and companion, beginning with Turlough (from Terminus), Tegan (Logopolis), Nyssa (Black Orchid), Adric (Warriors' Gate), the Second Romana (Warriors' Gate), the First Romana (The Ribos Operation), K·9 (Warriors' Gate), Leela (The Face Of Evil), Harry Sullivan (Terror Of The Zygons), the Fourth Doctor (Pyramids Of Mars), Sarah Jane Smith (Pyramids Of Mars), Jo Grant (The Mutants), Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart (The Ambassadors Of Death), Liz Shaw (Spearhead From Space), the Third Doctor (The Mutants), Zoe Heriot (The War Games), Victoria Waterfield (The Enemy Of The World), Jamie McCrimmon (The Enemy Of The World), the Second Doctor (The War Games), Ben Jackson (The Tenth Planet), Polly (The Tenth Planet), Dodo Chaplet (The War Machines), Sara Kingdom (The Daleks' Master Plan), Katarina (represented by a publicity photo taken during the making of The Daleks' Master Plan), Steven Taylor (The Time Meddler), Vicki (The Rescue), Barbara Wright (The Daleks), Ian Chesterton (The Daleks), Susan (The Daleks), and finally the First Doctor (The Daleks' Master Plan). Unfortunately, the clip of Leela was inadvertently omitted during editing.

October 7th marked Janet Fielding's final day as a Doctor Who regular, although she would return to the programme a few weeks later to record a cameo appearance for Davison's swansong, The Caves Of Androzani. In 1985, she played Tegan opposite Sixth Doctor Colin Baker in a Doctor Who sketch for the children's series Jim'll Fix It called In A Fix With Sontarans. She also appeared in programmes such as Hold The Back Page. In 1991, Fielding left acting to take up a post with an advocacy group called Women in Film and Television. She then became an agent (counting amongst her clients Paul McGann, the Eighth Doctor), and later served on the management team of a charity organisation. Fielding's attitude towards Doctor Who soured after she left the show, and she resisted numerous overtures to reprise the role of Tegan. Gradually, however, Fielding's feelings softened, and she began recording occasional appearances for Big Finish Productions' range of Doctor Who audio dramas, starting with The Gathering in 2006.

Due to the broadcast of the Winter Olympics, it was decided to air the story as two 45-minute episodes

Had Resurrection Of The Daleks followed the normal transmission schedule for Season Twenty-One, it would have aired on Thursdays and Fridays between February 9th and 17th, 1984. However, these dates coincided with the BBC's broadcast of the Winter Olympics from Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, meaning that Doctor Who would be kept off the air for two weeks.

Nathan-Turner was not keen to see the season split in half, and an alternative suggested itself. Doctor Who was the only half-hour drama remaining at the BBC, and since the spring of 1983, plans had been afoot to reformat the programme for a forty-five minute time slot beginning with Season Twenty-Two. It was now agreed that Resurrection Of The Daleks would serve as a litmus test for this change, with a reedited version of the serial airing as a pair of forty-five minute episodes on consecutive Wednesdays, February 8th and 15th. The serial would still be distributed to international markets in its original format, but the success of the two broadcasts on BBC1 helped cement the plans to remodel Doctor Who for 1985.

  • Doctor Who: The Handbook: The Fifth Doctor by David J Howe and Stephen James Walker (1995), Virgin Publishing, ISBN 0 426 20458 9.
  • Doctor Who: The Eighties by David J Howe, Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker (1996), Virgin Publishing, ISBN 1 85227 680 0.
  • Doctor Who Magazine #194, 23rd December 1992, “Archive: Resurrection Of The Daleks” by Andrew Pixley, Marvel Comics UK Ltd.
  • Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #1, 2001, “Hide And Seek” by Andrew Pixley, Panini Publishing Ltd.
  • In-Vision #74, October 1997, “Production” edited by Anthony Brown, Cybermark Services.

Original Transmission
Episode 1
Date 8th Feb 1984
Time 6.50pm
Duration 46'24"
Viewers (more) 7.3m (73rd)
· BBC1 7.3m
Appreciation 69%
Episode 2
Date 15th Feb 1984
Time 6.52pm
Duration 46'52"
Viewers (more) 8.0m (53rd)
· BBC1 8.0m
Appreciation 65%

The Doctor
Peter Davison
Janet Fielding
Mark Strickson
Rodney Bewes
Rula Lenska
Colonel Archer
Del Henney
Maurice Colbourne
Professor Laird
Chloe Ashcroft
Sergeant Calder
Philip McGough
Terry Molloy
Jim Findley
Sneh Gupta
Roger Davenport
John Adam Baker
Linsey Turner
William Sleigh
Dalek Voices
Brian Miller
Royce Mills
Dalek Operators
John Scott Martin
Cy Town
Tony Starr
Toby Byrne
Les Grantham

Written by
Eric Saward
Directed by
Matthew Robinson
Produced by
John Nathan-Turner

Title Music composed by
Ron Grainer
Incidental Music
Malcolm Clarke
Special Sound
Dick Mills
BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Production Manager
Corinne Hollingworth
Production Associate
June Collins
Production Assistant
Joy Sinclair
Assistant Floor Manager
Matthew Burge
Film Cameraman
Ian Punter
Film Sound
Bob Roberts
Film Editor
Dan Rae
Visual Effects Designer
Peter Wragg
Video Effects
Dave Chapman
Vision Mixer
Paul Wheeler
Technical Co-ordinator
Alan Arbuthnott
Camera Supervisor
Alec Wheal
Videotape Editor
Hugh Parson
Lighting Director
Ron Bristow
Studio Sound
Scott Talbott
Costume Designer
Janet Tharby
Make-Up Designer
Eileen Mair
Script Editor
Eric Saward
Title Sequence
Sid Sutton
John Anderson

Working Titles
The Return
The Resurrection

Updated 15th April 2012