Doctor Doctor Who Guide

Of all the ‘lost’ Doctor Who stories, “The Evil of the Daleks” is perhaps second only to “The Daleks’ Master Plan” in terms of notoriety. In terms of brilliance, it’s second to none.

I first came across this story when I purchased John Peel’s novelisation of it way back in the mid-1990s. Say what you will about John Peel’s continuity-heavy Dalek novels, his novelisations of both Troughton Dalek serials are absolutely superb. He may embellish things slightly with the odd bit of gratuitous fanwank (for example, in “The Evil of the Daleks” novelisation he postulates that the Dalek which gunned down Davros in “Genesis of the Daleks” went on to become the Dalek Emperor in this story) but on the whole he managed to capture the essence of the original serial – no mean feat considering that it’s been missing from the BBC archives for decades. For a long while the novel was the definitive version of the story for me because, unfortunately, nothing else was available! Even the existing episode released on the 'Daleks – The Early Years' video eluded me.

Recently of course, not just “The Evil of the Daleks” but all these ‘lost’ stories have had a lot more exposure thanks to the release of the soundtracks through the BBC Radio Collection; the publication of telesnaps on the BBC website; and also most recently, the release of the compilation DVD, 'Lost In Time'. Using all three sources I’ve managed to cobble together a pretty decent telesnap reconstruction of the missing episodes, and in doing so finally manage to get a real feel for this lost classic.

Much like “The Power of the Daleks,” this story is a positive triumph from the pen of David Whitaker. The long story benefits from taking place in three distinct places (and three distinct times for that matter) so the plot never seems to drag. Episode 1 picks up from exactly where “The Faceless Ones” left off; the Doctor and Jamie have said their goodbyes to Ben and Polly, and are in hot pursuit of the TARDIS that has been stolen from Gatwick Airport! The episode has that wonderful sixties feel – the Doctor and Jamie visit a café called the Tricolour where there are young ladies dancing in miniskirts, sixties tunes playing… it’s very atmospheric. The plot itself is also very compelling. At this stage in the story, everything is a mystery. Kennedy? Waterfield? Perry? All players in a game that the audience has yet to learn about. Waterfield is particularly interesting – he’s clearly a time traveller like the Doctor, though a far less scrupulous one. Waterfield makes his money bringing Victorian objects forward in time to the sixties, and selling them for a small fortune… but why? Despite his business, Waterfield doesn’t seem greedy. If anything, he seems afraid…

Of all the episodes to survive, Episode 2 may not be the best of the seven, but it certainly is the one that showcases the story better than any other. When I purchased the 'Lost In Time' DVD I’d never seen any footage from the serial other than that included on “The Tomb of the Cybermen” and “The Seeds of Death” DVDs, both of which showed the sensational ‘Final End’ of the Daleks on Skaro in Episode 7. The existing episode may be far less explosive, but it does shows us a good cross-section of the story; the back-end of the section set in the 1960s, and the beginning of the section taking place in Theodore Maxtible’s Victorian Mansion back in 1866. The episode begins with the reprise from the missing first episode, featuring the menacing form of a Dalek bearing down on the nefarious Kennedy. It’s one of those rare cliffhangers where the focal point isn’t the Doctor or any of his companions; the suspense simply comes from the revelation of a Dalek. It would have worked better if the word “Dalek” wasn’t rammed down the viewer’s throat in the title, but I guess you can’t have everything!

“That’s their purpose… at least, I imagine it is. I can’t help feeling that there is more in this than meets the eye.”

The episode also features quite a lot of exposition. We learn that Waterfield is under the duress of the Daleks, who are holding his daughter Victoria hostage. We also learn that Maxtible – a huge, bearded, bull of a man – originally brought the Daleks to the house when his crude time travel experiments (which involved mirrors and static electricity) drew their attention. Most importantly, we learn of the Daleks plan. Realising that in the end they are always ultimately defeated by humanity, they are looking for the ‘Human Factor’ that they can assimilate into their genetic makeup to make them invincible. The way they plan to get it is by forcing the Doctor to record Jamie’s emotional reactions as he tries to rescue Victoria from their clutches. 

The rescue attempt in itself is brilliant to watch – Jamie’s like a Scottish Indiana Jones! It’s just one big set piece after another that lasts for the best part of three episodes! I know that may sound like a long time, but it really doesn’t drag at all, especially with Kemel thrown into the mix. Kemel is a bodyguard of sorts for Maxtible, who has been instructed by his master that Jamie is out to kill Victoria and who must be stopped at all costs! There are some great scenes where the two battle it out, before saving each other’s lives and forging a bond that sees them rescue Victoria at the beginning of the fifth episode. When the young Scot realises has been manipulated by the Time Lord, there are some fantastic scenes between himself and the Doctor; the events of this serial really put a severe strain on their friendship.

“You’re just too callous for me… You don’t give that much for a living soul except yourself.”

One reason that “The Evil of the Daleks” has been consistently popular with fans is that it portrays Pat Troughton’s second Doctor in a very different light. Whilst the Daleks are undoubtedly at their very Machiavellian best in this serial, the Doctor is every bit their equal every step of the way, crossing lines that before this story, many fans believed the Doctor would never cross. Here, the Doctor shows the side of personality that would come to the forefront in years to come when Sylvester McCoy would take on the role. He fights for all that is right and good, but in doing so his actions are often on the borderline between right and wrong. This is never more evident than in Episode 6 when the Doctor infects several Daleks with the ‘Human Factor’, turning them into friendly, child-like creatures. 

“Doc-tor. I am your friend.”

In itself, there is nothing wrong with this action. However, it is in how the Doctor rallies these Daleks to declare war on the rest of their species that he treads that very fine line between right and wrong.

The two final episodes of “The Evil of the Daleks” take place on Skaro, and there couldn’t be a bleaker setting for a darker story! The Doctor and the Daleks aside, these episodes are very dark in so may other ways. Maxtible’s greed and ruthlessness for example, as he mercilessly sells out all his friends and associates to the Daleks just so that he can learn the “greatest secret of all” from them – how to transmute metal into gold. Moreover, we witness first hand the carnage his greed causes – not merely the eventual deaths of those like Kemel and Waterfield, but the excruciating suffering that they go through beforehand.

“How many people must die so that my daughter may live?”

Waterfield’s struggle with his conscious is one of the most successful elements in Whitaker’s story. John Bailey gives a phenomenal performance as the Victorian, conveying every bit of the poor man’s mental anguish as his only daughter is held prisoner, and he is forced to aid her monstrous captors in their thoroughly evil scheme. There are also those like Arthur Terrell – the unfortunate fiancée of Maxtible’s daughter whose life is nearly destroyed when he is infected with the ‘Dalek Factor’…

“You will take the Dalek factor… You will spread it through the entire history of Earth!”

The final cliffhanger of the story is another classic. The realisation of the Emperor Dalek is a phenomenal achievement considering the show’s budget at the time. When Jamie says, “Look at the size of that thing!”, he certainly has just cause! Through the booming voice of their Emperor, the Daleks’ real plan is revealed – they don’t want to assimilate the ‘Human Factor’, they want to infect humanity with the ‘Dalek Factor!’ 

Of course, their plan is thwarted by the Time Lord who manages to infect enough Daleks with the ‘Human Factor’ to start a civil war. In the few minutes of existing footage from this episode, the black-domed Daleks can be seen battling it out with the humanised Daleks, leading inexorably to their ultimate destruction – as the Doctor puts it himself, “The Final End.” This final episode makes an orphan of Victoria, her father having laid down his life to save the Doctor’s, and so the story ends on quite a poignant note as Victoria, Jamie and the Doctor leave in the TARDIS, watching on the viewscreen as the Dalek race perishes in the flames of civil war on Skaro. 

So good they played it twice, “The Evil of the Daleks” could very possibly be lost forever, but there is still enough of it here for us to be certain that it is one of the very best Doctor Who stories ever. The score is brilliant; the effects are ahead of their time; the locations; the atmosphere… this is a serial that has it all. For me, it encapsulates the very best of sixties Doctor Who, and it is one of my all time favourites. A majestic end to one of the series’ best-ever seasons – worth every bit of the hype! 10/10

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