Factual Factual Programmes
Last updated 25 May 2016


My Life As A Dalek



World Premiere: Sat 22 Feb 2003 - 10:30am GMT [Radio 4] (United Kingdom)
Running Time: 30 minutes


BBC Genome Project: see entry



Mark Gatiss peeks below the skirts of Dr Who's most feared adversary to celebrate their 40-year reign of galactic tea-time terror.

On the 40th anniversary of the first appearance of the Daleks, My Life as a Dalek is an affectionate tribute to Dr Who's celebrated pepper-pot adversaries. We talk to the many men and women who donned the tin headgear and those who created and styled the arch-enemy of the man from Gallifrey.

"Ex-ter-min-ate ... Ex-ter-min-ate ... You must die."

The Daleks were Dr Who's arch nemesis, a force to be reckoned with and feared beyond all others. From their subtle beginnings in the second series of Dr Who, to their cameo off-screen appearance in the tele-move of 1996, a new Dalek story on Doctor Who was an event to be eagerly anticipated.

As the years progressed and different production teams (and Doctors) came and went, the Daleks would always return, a sure fire bankable winner in the range of Dr Who's monsters.

This programme traces their history and leaps forward to speculate on their destiny. We hear from actors, designers, creators, fans and enemies of the Daleks to reveal fascinating inside stories about their monstrous appearances from the planet Skaro.

We hear how the original designer commissioned to come up with the Dalek design was Ridley Scott, who turned the job down and went on to blockbuster film status.

Actor-Operators recall the heat and pain of being a Dalek. "We'd rehearse in our underpants with sink plungers at the end of our extended arms. It wasn't a job you would die to get."

Collectors of original Daleks (those produced by the Shawcroft design studios), will pay over £20,000 for a well-preserved early one. "You can identify a genuine article", says one collector, "by the thickness of the very fine mesh around the head basket".

Writer Terry Nation's original notion was to see the Daleks as "futuristic slave traders" crossing the galaxy and capturing other creatures to act as their agents.

Once the concept was given a design the only thing that was needed was the voice and Roy Skelton (for 20 years, the voice of the Daleks) employed numerous radiophonic tricks to make the "exterminate" the perfect grating cry. He describes how elated he felt when visiting a school playground to be surrounded by "ex-ter-min-ating" children.

And who can forget the brilliant Deadringers sketch when, to the bemusement of the store manager, the Doctor rings B+Q to see if they stock the component parts for a Dalek?

Forget Cybermen and the Yeti. Whether you cowered behind the sofa or laughed at their rumbling over rough ground, you have to admit that the Daleks deserve their own show.

Among those taking part are actors Terry Malloy (Davros), Roy Skelton (voice of the Daleks), John Scott Martin and Cy Town (Dalek operators), Frazer Hines, Alexei Sayle and Rula Lenska (who all had to help defeat the Daleks).

Designer Ray Cusack recalls the original concept, producer Verity Lambert talks about the moment when BBC executives nearly turned the Dalek design down on the grounds that it was "just another bug-eyed monster" and Sci-Fi writer Kim Newman talks about its fascist overtones.

"What is a Dalek?: A wrinkled prune encased in an pepper-pot shaped invalid carriage".

Link Credit: Details from BBC Website

Production Team
ProducerDavid Prest