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Remembrance Of The Daleks
Two factions of Daleks arrive on 1963 Earth via a time corridor. They are in search of the Hand of Omega, a powerful and ancient Gallifreyan stellar manipulator the Doctor was hiding prior to his first inadvertent trip with Ian and Barbara. With the help of the British army, it is up to the Doctor and Ace to defeat both of the warring Dalek factions, even as the Daleks' human allies infiltrate their party.
By 1987, Ben Aaronovitch had spent almost half a decade trying to break into television scriptwriting. One of his submissions caught the eye of BBC script editor Caroline Oulton, who suggested two programmes for which Aaronovitch's talents might be suitable: a police drama called Rockliffe's Babies and Doctor Who. Rockliffe's Babies was then in the process of winding down its two-season run, but Aaronovitch had more luck with Doctor Who. In May, he submitted an idea called “Knight Fall” to script editor Andrew Cartmel. Cartmel didn't think “Knight Fall” itself was appropriate for the programme, but met with Aaronovitch and encouraged him to try again.
In June, Aaronovitch worked on a proposal entitled “Transit”, and by the end of the summer he was making better headway with “Storm Over Avallion”, inspired by the legends of King Arthur. Around the same time, in late August, the BBC confirmed to producer John Nathan-Turner that Doctor Who would continue into its twenty-fifth season. Sensitive to the expectations of such a milestone year, Nathan-Turner wanted to start the season off with a major attraction, and soon settled on bringing back the Daleks, who had last been seen in Season Twenty-Two's Revelation Of The Daleks. On October 9th, the production office began formally securing permission to use the Daleks from their creator, Terry Nation.
Although “Storm Over Avallion” had not yet been formally commissioned, the production team had seen enough of it to observe that Aaronovitch had a flair for the kind of fast-paced action they wanted for the new Dalek story. As such, Aaronovitch was asked to cease work on the Arthurian tale and instead begin devising the Season Twenty-Five premiere. (“Storm Over Avallion” would later be resurrected as Battlefield in 1989.) In addition to pitting the Doctor against his oldest enemies, Nathan-Turner and Cartmel wanted this adventure to begin addressing a concern they shared that Doctor Who had lost some of its sense of wonder, and that the Doctor himself was no longer a very mysterious figure. Cartmel, in particular, wanted to start laying hints that there was more to the Doctor's background than had heretofore been revealed. This was greeted enthusiastically by star Sylvester McCoy, who himself had finally had time to think more thoroughly about his portrayal of the Doctor (after being cast almost at the last minute prior to the start of production on Season Twenty-Four) and wanted to invest the character with a greater sense of darkness and moodiness.
On October 30th, Aaronovitch was commissioned to write the first episode of his Dalek adventure under the title “Nemesis Of The Doctor”. At this point, it was planned to be the third story into production for Season Twenty-Five, and was designated Serial 7K. Aaronovitch decided to tie his story directly to the very first Doctor Who serial, 100,000 BC -- and particularly its first episode, An Unearthly Child -- by revealing just what the Doctor was doing in 1963 London. Subsequently, however, it was pointed out that the Season Twenty-Two story Attack Of The Cybermen had also revisited the setting of An Unearthly Child (albeit in 1985), prompting Aaronovitch to scale back some of his references.
Aaronovitch also drew on the idea put forward in Revelation Of The Daleks that there had been a schism in the Dalek ranks. Consequently, he included two Dalek factions -- the “Red Daleks” led by the Emperor Dalek and the “Blue Daleks” led by the Black Dalek. Observing that Terry Nation had always intended the Daleks to be a metaphor for the Nazis, Aaronovitch drew upon the burgeoning racist and fascist sentiment in early-Sixties England; he was keen that his story not present an overly romanticised depiction of the period. He also considered making use of other elements of Dalek continuity -- including the peaceful Thals who shared the Daleks' homeworld of Skaro, and the Daleks' brutish servants the Ogrons -- but eventually rejected these for fear of overcomplicating the story.
Finally, Cartmel encouraged Aaronovitch to make substantial use Ace, as part of a broader plan to give the character more exposure than many past companions. Sophie Aldred's option for Season Twenty-Five was officially taken up on December 1st, although she and Nathan-Turner had agreed to her continued association with Doctor Who while making her debut story, Dragonfire, in August. McCoy's contract had already been renewed back on November 19th.
The last three episodes of “Nemesis Of The Doctor” were commissioned on December 18th. The Time Lord device was briefly called the Hand of Rassilon before swapping ancient Gallifreyan pioneers and becoming the Hand of Omega. The head of the Association was Mr Gummer, while Rachel's surname was Israel instead of Jensen. The Special Weapons Dalek was part of the Black Dalek's Renegade forces, whereas the Imperial Daleks made use of a floating assault platform. In part four, the Black Dalek had nuclear charges attached to the Hand as a safeguard against an attack by the Emperor's forces, only for the Doctor to commune with the Hand and induce it to disarm the explosives. In the story's closing moments, the Doctor killed the Black Dalek with a handheld weapon generated by the Hand -- referred to as a Novagun or the “Finger of Omega” -- in a scene intended as a parody of the quick-draw tradition in Hollywood westerns.
One notion which had evolved out of the regular discussions between Cartmel and his team of prospective writers for Season Twenty-Five was the idea that Doctor Who is set in a universe where some of our fictional characters are actually real (much like the Doctor himself). To this end, Aaronovitch included references to Professor Bernard Quatermass and his British Rocket Group, created by Nigel Kneale for the BBC's science-fiction serial The Quatermass Experiment in 1953 and revived in two sequels. (Near the end of the story, he also intended to allude to the replacement of Gilmore's Countermeasure Unit with the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce led by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.) The same concept inspired the episode two scene in which a BBC continuity announcer refers to the imminent broadcast of an episode of a new science-fiction series -- the intent being that this would be the Doctor Who universe parallel of Doctor Who itself.
As Aaronovitch completed work on his first draft, he happened to speak with visual effects assistant Mike Tucker. A Doctor Who fan, Tucker mentioned that he had always wanted to build a domed Emperor Dalek prop -- akin to the version depicted in the Dalek comic strip published in the pages of TV Century 21 in the mid-Sixties -- which would split open to reveal the Daleks's creator, Davros, inside. Aaronovitch had been skeptical of using Davros, whom he felt tended to overshadow the Daleks and reduce them to mere henchmen, but now seized upon Tucker's idea for the serial's climax. Unfortunately, after receiving Aaronovitch's draft scripts in January 1988, Nation responded to object to “Nemesis Of The Doctor”, and the minimal role played by Davros in particular. Happily, Nathan-Turner was able to assuage Nation's concerns, and his agents gave the project their formal approval on February 16th.
By now, it had been decided that the Dalek story would be first in the production queue for Season Twenty-Five, designated Serial 7H, and directed by Andrew Morgan who had also made Time And The Rani. Aaronovitch continued to work on his scripts, especially in light of concerns that they were substantially overlong; one notable deletion was a lengthy battle sequence in part three as the Doctor and Ace travel from the builder's yard to Coal Hill School. The final confrontation with the Black Dalek was also reworked to have the Doctor talk it into destroying itself, as both McCoy and Morgan felt that the Doctor's use of a gun was out of character. At this stage, Gummer became Ratcliffe (to avoid confusion with the name “Gilmore”), while the serial gained the new title Remembrance Of The Daleks.
A major task facing visual effects designer Stuart Brisdon was the accumulation of sufficient Dalek props for Serial 7H. In addition to the brand-new Emperor Dalek and Special Weapons Dalek casings, there was also the need for enough Daleks to make up both the Imperial and Renegade factions. It was decided that the Black Dalek's forces would consist of six previously-built props (most of them emanating from Revelation Of The Daleks), while the Emperor's troops were four new constructions. Brisdon was eager to modernise the Dalek props, but Nathan-Turner was resistant to his proposed changes; the designer's principal victory was in making the manipulator arm less obviously akin to a toilet plunger. It had now been decided that the Daleks' colour scheme should reflect the liveries seen in Revelation Of The Daleks. As such, the Imperial Daleks would be cream with gold trim (instead of red with black trim) while the Renegade Daleks would be grey with black trim (instead of blue with silver trim).
The first day of filming for Season Twenty-Five was April 4th. Ratcliffe's yard was a property on Theed Street in London, while the episode four battle between the Dalek factions was filmed under a rail bridge at Windmill Walk. The explosions detonated by the visual effects team drew the attention of the police, who arrived to investigate the possibility of an attack by the Irish Republican Army on the nearby Waterloo East station. Morgan's team returned to both locations, completing the work at Theed Street on the 5th (when more pyrotechnics were strong enough to set off car alarms and damage several of the Dalek casings) and at Windmill Walk on the 6th.
The rest of April 6th and the entirety of the 7th was spent at the Kew Bridge Steam Museum in Brentford, Middlesex for scenes in and around Totter's Lane. Originally, it had been hoped that the London Scrapyard might be used (as in Attack Of The Cybermen) but there was concern about the proximity of private residences, given that more large explosions were planned. Unfortunately, a continuity error occurred at the Museum when a sign painter printed the name on the scrapyard gate as “L.M. Forman” instead of “I.M. Foreman”. Although the leading 'L' was easily changed to an 'I', the missing 'e' could not be corrected in time for recording. April 8th was a busy day, with Morgan's team working in several different London venues. In addition to several street scenes, the graveyard was Willesden Lane Cemetery, while establishing shots were taken for the Army HQ at TA Hall and the funeral parlour at John Nodes Funeral Services.
Finally, from April 9th to the 13th (omitting only the 10th), various sequences in and around Coal Hill School were filmed at St John's School, which was between terms, and on the adjacent Macbeth Street. For the scene where Ace wields her souped-up baseball bat, Aldred inadvertently damaged a real Dalek casing in the mistaken belief that it was a dummy prop. On the 12th, McCoy ad-libbed dialogue giving Gilmore's nickname as “Chunky”. This stemmed from an incident at the Steam Museum when actor Simon Williams misinterpreted the script's description of his character's “chunky service revolver” as referring to a specific type of gun, to the amusement of his castmates. Amongst the extras posing as Coal Hill students this day were the children of Williams, Morgan and costume designer Ken Trew, plus the sister of Jasmine Breaks (who was playing the little girl who turns out to be integrated with the Dalek Battle Computer).
With so many scenes recorded on location, Remembrance Of The Daleks was allocated just a single three-day studio block, beginning on Wednesday, April 27th in BBC Television Centre Studio 8. First, though, the various voices for the serial were recorded. Terry Molloy was already booked to make his on-screen return as Davros (a role he had already played in Resurrection Of The Daleks and Revelation Of The Daleks) and it was hoped that he could also voice the Dalek Battle Computer, to further the pretense that it was Davros, not the little girl, who was working with the Renegade Daleks. However, when other commitments prevented Molloy from attending the recording session, John Leeson (formerly the voice of the Doctor's robot dog K-9) agreed to provide a Davros-like performance in his stead.
On the first day in TC8, sets in use included the cafe, the Army HQ, and the Coal Hill School entrance hall. More material on the latter was recorded on April 18th, as well as Mike's living room, the bridge of the Dalek shuttle, and the school stairwell and cellar. Remaining cellar scenes were then completed on the 19th, together with those in the warehouse office, the funeral parlour and the Imperial Dalek mothership, in which Molloy made his final on-screen appearance as Davros. He continued to act in various television and radio programmes, including Tales Of Sherwood Forest, Chalkface and Casualty. He also reprised the role of Davros for several Doctor Who audio plays produced by Big Finish Productions, beginning with the appropriately-named Davros in September 2003.
In spite of the effort to trim Aaronovitch's scripts, the initial edits of all four episodes substantially overran their twenty-five-minute timeslots. A notable casualty of this excessive length was Davros accusing the Doctor of being “merely another Time Lord,” to which the Doctor responds that he is “far more than just another Time Lord.” Had it aired, this would have been the first explicit statement of the new direction in which Cartmel wanted to take the character. He and Aaronovitch had roughed out ideas about the Doctor being somehow linked to a shadowy figure from Gallifreyan legend called “the Other”, who was one of the three pillars of ancient Time Lord society alongside Rassilon and Omega.
The story's opening montage was originally intended to be longer, but permission was denied for the inclusion of some of the planned clips, most notably Queen Elizabeth heralding the construction of the Trans-Pacific cable on December 2nd, 1963. On the other hand, Bob Dylan turned out to be such a fan of Doctor Who that he allowed an excerpt from his protest song Only A Pawn In Their Game to be used for free. To preserve the surprise of Davros' appearance, on part three the Emperor Dalek was credited to “Roy Tromelly” -- an anagram of “Terry Molloy”.
Unfortunately, the ambitious scope of Remembrance Of The Daleks proved to be more than the Doctor Who budget could bear, incurring an overspend of more than twelve thousand pounds. As a result, BBC policy precluded Morgan from returning to the programme; his subsequent television credits included episodes of Casualty, The Worst Witch and Heartbeat. Williams, Pamela Salem and Karen Gledhill returned to the characters of Gilmore, Rachel and Allison in a series of audio plays from Big Finish Productions entitled Counter-Measures, first released in July 2012.
For Season Twenty-Five, Doctor Who was shifted to Wednesday nights from the Monday timeslot allocated to Season Twenty-Four. However, cast and crew were disappointed to learn that it was still scheduled opposite the ITV soap opera behemoth Coronation Street. While this strategy had originally been described as a counterprogramming move by the BBC, the low viewing figures for Season Twenty-Four suggested that younger viewers were being prevented from watching Doctor Who by their parents, given that many households still had only a single television.
It was originally thought that the season would begin airing on September 7th, but coverage of the Summer Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea prompted a revision of these plans, with episode one of Remembrance Of The Daleks finally heralding the start of the silver anniversary season on October 5th. It also marked a milestone of a different sort for Doctor Who, as the first episode to be broadcast with stereo sound -- and, indeed, one of the first such programmes in Britain.
|Updated 29th July 2015|
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