DalekStory Number: 161 (1.6)
Writer: Robert Shearman
Director: Joe Ahearne
Executive Producer: Russell T Davies, Julie Gardner, Mal Young
Starring: Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper, Corey Johnson, Bruno Langley
No of Episodes: 1
First Broadcast: Sat 30 Apr 2005
Running Time: 45 minutes 20 seconds
Average Audience: 8.63 Million Average AI: 84
|↑04 Aug 2004|
Doctor Who to face Daleks in new BBC One series
Mal Young, BBC Controller of Continuing Drama Series, and Tim Hancock, agent for the Terry Nation Estate, announced today that the Daleks will return in the new series of Doctor Who which is currently in production for transmission on BBC ONE in 2005.
Hancock says: "I am absolutely delighted that the Terry Nation Estate and the BBC have been able to reach agreement on terms for the use of the Daleks in the new Doctor Who series.
"We look forward to working closely with the production team in the forthcoming months."
Young added: "As well as coming face-to-face with a number of new and exciting monsters, it's good news that the Doctor will also do battle with his arch enemy the Daleks in a series which promises to surprise and entertain a new generation."
|Credit: BBC Press Office|
|↑21 Apr 2005|
Doctor Who Press pack - phase five
Writer Rob Shearman still feels like he was handed a winning lottery ticket, only to discover it was a double rollover week.
Delighted to be asked to write for the new series of Doctor Who, he was then stunned to be given the job of bringing the Daleks - or rather a solitary, suffering Dalek - back into the Doctor's world.
"To be honest, I was staggered," he admits. "I assumed (lead writer and co-Executive Producer) Russell T. Davies would want to handle such a key episode, but he gave it to me and I was absolutely thrilled to get it."
Russell had been impressed by a 2003 Doctor Who audio play featuring the Daleks which Rob wrote, and he used its basic plot for the brief storyline which he gave Rob as his starting point for reviving the Doctor's arch enemy.
The Daleks, pitiless metal-clad creatures hell-bent on conquering the entire universe, first appeared in the show in 1963 and remain its best-known monsters. But they don't scare everyone...
Rob recalls: "When I told my wife that I'd been given the Dalek episode she wasn't impressed because, as she remembered them, they weren't anything to be that afraid of, and in a way she's right.
"So the way I approached it was to focus more on the creature inside the machine, to make it a proper character who elicits our sympathy at first but then displays all its evil and cunning.
"What Russell has done so well is humanise the series and make it more emotional. So to have the Dalek as the Doctor's biggest foe, it needed at least some of the depth of character that the Doctor now has in Christopher Eccleston's portrayal."
When we first encounter the Dalek, it is in a wretched state - isolated, imprisoned, tortured - but it still unnerves the Doctor.
Rob says: "There was always something a bit clinical about the previous Doctors - they never showed fear. But Russell said 'Who wants to watch a hero who's never frightened of anything?'.
"Hence the Doctor's terror when he realises he's in a cell with a Dalek. I think Chris has made him far more real, in a way, than his predecessors."
An accomplished writer for the theatre, TV and radio, Rob enjoyed "replaying" his childhood in the new series, having become a firm Doctor Who fan at the age of 11.
"I was too scared to watch it before then," he laughs. "I've been taken aback by all the excitement about the Daleks' return," he adds.
"People seem to have high expectations. I hope, in the nicest possible way, they manage to traumatise a whole new generation of viewers!"
From Weatherfield to a secretive bunker in Utah is quite a journey, but for former Coronation Street star Bruno Langley it is all in a day's work.
Bruno, who played straight-turned-gay Todd Grimshaw in the soap for three years, joins The Doctor and Rose in episode six of Doctor Who, which also sees the return of the Doctor's greatest foe: the Daleks.
He plays scientist Adam Mitchell who works for megalomaniac billionaire Henry Van Statten (played by Corey Johnson), a collector of strange artefacts which he keeps in his secure bunker in Utah.
"Adam is a guy from England in his early twenties who works at Van Statten's underground base," says Bruno.
"His job is to research the stuff that Van Statten buys and tell him what they are."
But in the very depths of Van Statten's bunker is something that the collector has not even allowed Adam to see - the last of the Daleks, although Van Statten doesn't know that that's what it is.
"It is so top secret that even Adam hasn't been allowed near it," says Bruno. "I think Adam is probably a bit of a liability and his boss doesn't completely trust him.
"But Adam seems to know that some experiments have been done on the Dalek - he knows that they have been mean to it and have been trying to drill into it."
Van Statten's attempt to get a reaction from the Dalek has unexpected consequences, because it results in the arrival of The Doctor.
"The Doctor and Rose turn up at the base because they get drawn off-course when the Dalek sends out a distress signal," explains Bruno.
Adam, who gets to travel in the TARDIS in episode seven, takes a shine to The Doctor's time-travelling companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper).
"Obviously she's a very pretty girl and Adam hasn't seen any girls for a long time," says Bruno. "He's a bit nerdy and takes pride in showing Rose all the artefacts that he has been working on."
Bruno landed his role in Doctor Who straight after Coronation Street. "I auditioned for the part the same day as doing television interviews that tied-in with leaving The Street," he says.
"I found out a few days later that I'd got the part and I couldn't have asked for a better next role because Doctor Who is another great institution."
But as he's only just turned 22, Bruno's memory of old episodes of Doctor Who aren't that strong. "I do remember Tom Baker wandering around with his long scarf, but not much else," he says.
But he can understand why people are scared of the Daleks. "It's that whole thing like in The Terminator films of something chasing you that you can't get away from. Everyone can identify with that."
Historically, the feared Daleks have never managed to get up stairs but there is a shock in store for viewers this time round as they've made some modifications.
And it is Bruno's character Adam who sees the results for the first time. Says Bruno: "Adam says: 'Big alien death machine defeated by a flight of steps' then the Dalek says: 'Elevate' and starts to fly.
"It's a moment everyone has been waiting for and when that clip was shown at the premiere of the series in Cardiff everyone clapped and cheered!"
After filming Doctor Who, Bruno then shot scenes for the forthcoming The League of Gentlemen film, The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse.
Norfolk-born Bruno's next job is playing Romeo in a production of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet at Stafford, alongside Scarlett Johnson (who played Vicky Fowler in EastEnders).
"It's my first professional theatre," he says. "It is very daunting but something I have to do if I want to progress further. Hopefully it will be fun to do and if it is then I'll do much more theatre."
How to help make the audience feel sorry for a Dalek - that was the challenge facing Nicholas Briggs, as the new series of Doctor Who revives the Doctor's most notorious enemy.
The creature in question has been incarcerated by all-powerful American billionaire Van Statten (played by Corey Johnson), who collects alien artefacts.
The Dalek is his prize exhibit, albeit a damaged one that refuses to communicate despite being tortured.
Nicholas, who voices the Dalek, says: "The Dalek is initially very vulnerable and suffering from a mental breakdown. He came shooting to Earth through the time-space vortex many years ago and spent God knows how long in a huge crater just screaming.
"Now he's in the hands of Van Statten - who has done all sorts of nasty things to him to try and make him talk - and he's kind of gone off the rails.
"The Dalek in this story in very much a character. That might sound ludicrous as people tend to think of Daleks as machines that go round shouting orders, but there is a living creature inside the machine and he strikes up a real relationship with the Doctor and Rose."
Nicholas was certainly the right man to create sympathy for an abused and isolated example of the Doctor's old foe - he began voicing Daleks five years ago on Doctor Who audio CDs.
"Russell T. Davies and I talked about how I should slightly push the envelope in terms of making the Dalek more expressive - something I've been trying to do on the CDs for years - so it's not just that flat monotone all the time," he explains.
"There are a lot of scenes in which the Dalek, the Doctor and Rose have real conversations, so I had to find a way of making him sound interesting. You have to find a special way of doing it, so it was a huge challenge and lots of fun - I got to say 'exterminate!' quite a lot!"
Nicholas, who also acts in person, writes and directs, admits he's been doing Dalek voices since the age of five.
"I'm a huge fan of Doctor Who, so to come on set and be a 'real' Dalek was fantastic," he says. His dialogue was spoken in real time, as opposed to being added later, with a speaker on set relaying his performance to the actors, and Nicholas hearing theirs through headphones.
The famous harsh, metallic sound of the most evil creatures in the Doctor Who universe is created, as it was in previous series, by speaking through a device called a ring modulator, invented by Bob Moog of synthesiser fame.
Nicholas has already enjoyed sci-fi success this year, having directed the BBC Radio 4 comedy series Nebulous, starring The League of Gentlemen's Mark Gatiss - one of the writing team on the new Doctor Who series.
|Credit: BBC Press Office|