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The Special Weapons Dalek Serial 7H:
Remembrance Of The Daleks

Working Title: Nemesis Of The Doctor.

Starring: Sylvester McCoy (The Seventh Doctor), Sophie Aldred (Ace).

Plot
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.

Production
It was at the suggestion of BBC script editor Caroline Oulton that Ben Aaronovitch submitted a story idea called Nightfall to the Doctor Who production office around the start of 1987. Andrew Cartmel, who had only recently become Doctor Who's script editor, felt that Nightfall was not suitable for his show, but was impressed by Aaronovitch's writing and arranged a meeting between the two. The result of this was that Aaronovitch was asked to submit an idea for a three-part serial which could be made entirely on location. Within weeks, Aaronovitch had devised Storm Over Avallion, based on the Arthurian myths. Unfortunately, Kevin Clarke's Nemesis -- which included a medieval subplot -- was already in the planning stages at this point as well, and so it was decided to hold Avallion over for possible use in future seasons.

Producer John Nathan-Turner, meanwhile, had once again had his request to be moved off Doctor Who turned down. The reason given him this time was that new Head of Drama Peter Cregeen wanted time to settle into his role, and did not want to make any major changes to his department. Since Nathan-Turner was not willing to resign from the BBC, this meant that he would have to remain on Doctor Who for an eighth season. The benefit of this was that it meant there was considerable stability in the production office, allowing Nathan-Turner and Cartmel to begin planning for the show's future. They both felt that Doctor Who had lost some of its sense of wonder, and the Doctor himself was no longer a very mysterious figure.

Beginning with Season Twenty-Five, then, they decided to begin taking steps to restore both of these elements, aided and abetted by the stable of eager new writers they had started to build up, Aaronovitch amongst them. In particular, Cartmel wanted to start laying hints that there was more to the Doctor's background than had heretofore been revealed. Sylvester McCoy, who himself had finally had time to think more thoroughly about his portrayal of the Doctor (after being cast virtually at the last minute prior to the start of production on Season Twenty-Four), was enthusiastic about this new direction for the character and worked closely with the production team in its development.

Meanwhile, for Doctor Who's silver jubilee, Nathan-Turner decided he wanted to bring back at least one of the Doctor's two most popular nemeses: the Daleks and the Cybermen. Dalek creator Terry Nation, now living and working in California, was offered the chance to write a serial for the new season, but turned it down. Nation did, however, invoke his right to approve any scripts featuring the Daleks. Around October, Cartmel contacted Aaronovitch and asked him to scribe a four-part Dalek story, to which the writer quickly agreed. In line with the overall new, more serious approach to Doctor Who, Aaronovitch was asked to reinvest the Daleks with a degree of menace. This would be most clearly seen in the sequence in which a Dalek rises up over a staircase in pursuit of the Doctor -- finally putting the lie to a quarter-century-old joke. The first episode of Aaronovitch's serial, titled Nemesis Of The Daleks, was commissioned on October 30th.

Aware that Doctor Who's twenty-fifth anniversary was forthcoming, Aaronovitch decided to tie his story directly with the very first Doctor Who serial, 100,000 BC -- and in particular its first episode, An Unearthly Child -- by revealing just what the Doctor was doing in 1963 London. His initial idea for his storyline, called Nemesis Of The Doctor, was littered with connections to An Unearthly Child, until it was pointed out that the Season Twenty-Two story Attack Of The Cybermen had also revisited the setting (albeit set in 1985); Aaronovitch therefore scaled back some of his references. Aaronovitch also drew on the ideas put forward in the most recent Dalek serial, Revelation Of The Daleks, of a schism in the Dalek ranks. Consequently, he included two Dalek factions -- the "Red Daleks" led by the Emperor Dalek (from Season Four's The Evil Of The Daleks) and the "Blue Daleks" led by the Black Dalek (also called the Dalek Supreme). Finally, 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. Aaronovitch also considered making use of other elements of Dalek continuity -- including the Thals and the Ogrons -- but eventually rejected these for fear of overcomplicating the story.

One concept which had evolved out of the regular discussions between Cartmel and his writers was that Doctor Who was set in a universe where some of our fictional characters are actually real (much like the Doctor himself). To this end, Aaronovitch included numerous references to Professor Bernard Quatermass and his British Rocket Group, from the popular Fifties science-fiction Quatermass serials. This also inspired the episode two scene in which a BBC continuity announcer advises the imminent start of a brand-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 designer Mike Tucker. A Doctor Who fan, Tucker mentioned that he had always wanted to build a domed Emperor Dalek prop (like the version seen in the TV Century 21 Dalek comic strip, not The Evil Of The Daleks) which would split open to reveal Davros inside. Aaronovitch had intentionally excluded Davros from Nemesis Of The Daleks, believing he tended to overshadow the Daleks and reduce them to mere henchmen. However, he seized upon Tucker's idea and wrote Davros into his adventure's final scenes. Unfortunately, it was principally this element which met with Terry Nation's disapproval when, in late December, he was sent Aaronovitch's drafts for vetting. After a great deal of debate, Nathan-Turner managed to convince Nation to let Nemesis Of The Doctor proceed, after agreeing to expand Davros' role somewhat in future drafts. The producer would eventually elect to simply stop sending Nation later versions of the scripts.

Cartmel, meanwhile, noted that although Aaronovitch had followed through on his new vision of the Doctor as a darker, more subtle character, the result was that Ace tended to dominate the spotlight. Aaronovitch was asked to redress the balance somewhat. Cartmel also found that the writer had badly overwritten his four episodes. To compensate, several subplots -- such as a threatened nuclear strike on London, a dangerous trip from Totter's Lane to Coal Hill School for the Doctor and Ace, and Harry's extermination by the Daleks -- were eliminated. Other changes included Ratcliffe being renamed from Gummer (the latter perceived to sound too similar to Gilmore) and the excision of an exchange in which the Doctor tells Mike that the aliens are called Daleks, which explains why Rachel knows their name in later scenes.

More significantly, in Aaronovitch's original version, the Doctor destroys the Black Dalek in episode four with a gun which had been stored alongside the Hand of Omega (originally, the Hand of Rassilon). This was intended as a parody of the quick-draw tradition in Hollywood westerns, but it was felt to be too out of character for the Doctor, particularly by McCoy. Aaronovitch therefore rewrote the scene so that the Doctor talks the Black Dalek into destroying itself. By this stage, the adventure had been renamed Remembrance Of The Daleks.

The director assigned to Serial 7H was Andrew Morgan, who had worked on Time And The Rani a year before. He and visual effects designer Stuart Brisdon decided to ignore Aaronovitch's suggestions of "Red" and "Blue" Daleks in favour of giving the "Imperial" Daleks a white-and-gold livery, and the "Renegade" Daleks a more traditional grey-and-black scheme. This was done partly to maintain continuity with Revelation Of The Daleks, but also because Brisdon hoped it would save him the trouble of repainting the Dalek props remaining from that production. In the end, though, because so many Daleks were required for Remembrance, all the extant Daleks ended up becoming Renegades while the Imperial Daleks had to be newly constructed, along with the Emperor Dalek; the Black Dalek was borrowed from BBC Enterprises and refurbished. Aaronovitch had envisioned the Special Weapons Dalek as an armed floating platform which could be achieved through a combination of model and electronic effects. Ultimately, though, it was decided to hew the design closer to that of a traditional Dalek; this too had to be built from scratch. These requirements, combined with the Dalek spacecraft, the considerable pyrotechnics, and various other demands eventually pushed the visual effects costs for Remembrance Of The Daleks more than twelve thousand pounds overbudget.

Location work took place at a variety of London locations and began on April 4th, 1988. The explosions caused by the Dalek battle taped on this day were of such magnitude that car alarms were sent off and the police sent to investigate what was believed to be a possible terrorist attack by the Irish Republican Army! Because of the complexity of the production, Nathan-Turner assisted Morgan by directing various second-unit shots beginning on the 5th. In seeking a location for the junkyard at 76 Totter's Lane, it was originally hoped that the site used in Attack Of The Cybermen, in Acton, might be revisited. Unfortunately, its proximity to local residences would make the necessary pyrotechnics impossible to realise, and so a new site near the Kew Bridge railroad station was chosen instead. A continuity error occurred on this day when the sign painter printed the name on the scrapyard as "L.M. Forman" instead of "I.M. Foreman"; although the 'L' could easily be changed to an 'I', the missing 'e' could not be corrected in time for recording.

For Coal Hill Secondary School, the production team travelled to St John's School in Hammersmith, which was between terms, beginning on the 9th. It was on this day that Sophie Aldred inadvertently damaged a real Dalek casing with her baseball bat rather than a dummy prop, when the latter was not substituted before the cameras began rolling. On the final day of location work, the 12th, Sylvester McCoy contributed one of his ad-libs, seizing on Simon Williams' infamous nickname "Chunky" and ascribing it to Williams' character, Group-Captain Gilmore.

Remembrance Of The Daleks then moved into the studio for three days, beginning on Wednesday, April 27th. Rejoining the cast at this point were a few familiar faces, including former K-9 voice artiste John Leeson as the Computer voice and Brian Miller, husband of Elisabeth Sladen (who played companion Sarah Jane Smith), as a Dalek voice, a position he also filled for Season Twenty-One's Resurrection Of The Daleks. Finally, Terry Molloy returned for his third and final outing as Davros; for his appearance in episode three (prior to the Emperor Dalek being unveiled as Davros), he was credited using the anagram "Roy Tromelly" in order to preserve the surprise.

Post-production on Remembrance Of The Daleks was somewhat more intensive than usual, partly because of the many effects sequences but also because this would mark the first Doctor Who serial broadcast in stereo (as well as one of the first such programmes in Britain). Unfortunately, the Dalek voiceovers were omitted from one scene, in which the Headmaster attacks Mike. Meanwhile, various scenes were trimmed for timing reasons. The only significant cut was to the exchange between the Doctor and Davros: Davros accuses the Doctor of being "merely another Time Lord", to which the Doctor responds that he is "far more than just another Time Lord". This would have been the first outward statement of the new direction in which Nathan-Turner and Cartmel wanted to take the character. Remembrance Of The Daleks was Andrew Morgan's second and final Doctor Who serial. He has since helmed episodes of EastEnders, Casualty, The Famous Five, and other series.

For Season Twenty-Five, Doctor Who was shifted from Monday weeknights -- as had been the case the previous year -- to Wednesdays. To Nathan-Turner's disappointment, though, Doctor Who was still scheduled opposite the ITV soap opera Coronation Street. It was originally thought that the season would begin on September 7th, but coverage of the Summer Olympics in Seoul forced a revision of these plans. In the event, episode one of Remembrance Of The Daleks was transmitted on October 5th, kicking off Doctor Who's silver anniversary season.

Details
Original Transmission Details
Episode Date Time Duration Viewers Audience App.
1 5th October 1988 7.35pm 24'33" 5.5m (78th) 68%
2 12th October 1988 7.35pm 24'31" 5.8m (78th) 69%
3 19th October 1988 7.34pm 24'30" 5.1m (91st) 70%
4 26th October 1988 7.34pm 24'36" 5.0m (96th) 72%

Principal Crew
Producer John Nathan-Turner
Script Editor Andrew Cartmel
Writer Ben Aaronovitch
Directors Andrew Morgan
John Nathan-Turner, uncredited
Designer Martin Collins
Costume Ken Trew
Incidental Music Keff McCulloch

Principal Guest Cast: Jasmine Breaks (The Girl), Karen Gledhill (Allison), Dursley McLinden (Mike), Brian Miller (Dalek Voices), Royce Mills (Dalek Voices), Terry Molloy (Davros), Pamela Salem (Rachel), George Sewell (Ratcliffe), Michael Sheard (Headmaster), Simon Williams (Group-Captain Gilmore).

Novelisation: Remembrance Of The Daleks by Ben Aaronovitch (book 148), June 1990; cover by Alister Pearson.

Video Release: Daleks Limited Edition Boxed Set, episodic format, September 1993; PAL (BBC Video cat.# 5005) and NTSC (Warners cat.# E1145) formats available, covers (for the video itself and the set) by Andrew Skilleter. Packaged with The Chase. Each of four variants features a different Dalek photo on the base. Also available as part of the Davros Box Set, September 2001, packaged with Genesis Of The Daleks, Destiny Of The Daleks, Resurrection Of The Daleks and Revelation Of The Daleks.

DVD Release: Remembrance Of The Daleks, episodic format, February 2001; Region 2/4 (BBCDVD cat.# 1040) and Region 1 (Warners cat.# E1183) formats available; photomontage cover (the Region 2/4 and Region 1 covers differ, however). Extras include commentary by Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred, deleted scenes and outtakes, multi-angle sequences, original TV trailers, an isolated music soundtrack, and a photo gallery.

Rankings: 4th (82.34%, Doctor Who Dynamic Rankings website, 22nd June 1999); 6th (84.86%, DWM 1997 Annual Survey).

Sources


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