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Planet of the Daleks

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Directed by  David Maloney
Script editor  Terrance Dicks
Executive producer(s)  None
Written by  Terry Nation
Produced by  Barry Letts
Incidental music composer  Dudley Simpson

Planet of the Daleks is the fourth serial of the tenth season of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in six weekly parts from 7 April to 12 May 1973.



The Doctor has been wounded after being shot by the Master. Jo Grant manages to help the Doctor into the TARDIS, where he uses the telepathic circuits to send a message to the Time Lords before he collapses. Delirious, he falls into a coma, both his hearts beating once every ten seconds. Jo dictates into the TARDIS log, a portable recording device, that she has seen this healing state before (The Dæmons), and that the TARDIS is moving, being controlled remotely by the Time Lords. When the TARDIS comes to a stop, Jo activates the external scanners to see some plants outside block the viewer by spraying a thick sap-like liquid at it. With the Doctor still catatonic, Jo leaves the ship to explore the surrounding jungle. The plants spray sap on her as she walks by, and a bit of it gets on her hand.

As Jo explores, the TARDIS is rapidly being covered by plant sap, which is hardening into a shell around it. When the Doctor awakens, he finds himself sealed in and the oxygen in the TARDIS cabin rapidly being used up. Activating the emergency oxygen supply, he discovers the tanks almost empty, and starts to suffocate from lack of air. Jo, in the meantime, discovers a spacecraft in the jungle with a dead pilot.

Taron and his men find the TARDIS and chip the hardened sap from its doors, managing to drag a nearly asphyxiated Doctor out into the open air. The Doctor thanks them and notes that he finds them familiar. When the men explain that they are from the planet Skaro, the Doctor recognises that they are Thals and tells them he was on Skaro many years ago with his three companions, Susan, Ian and Barbara (The Daleks).

The Doctor is taken to the Dalek base for interrogation and put in the same cell as Codal. The Doctor tries to use his sonic screwdriver to open the cell door, but to no avail. He and Codal then conceive of modifying the components of the TARDIS log to emit a radio frequency that will jam Dalek control impulses. Meanwhile, Jo is being cared for by the Spiridon who found her. His name is Wester, and he is one of a group of his people who are trying to fight back against the Daleks. He cures her of her fungal infection with a salve, and tells Jo that the Doctor and Codal have been captured and taken to the Dalek base. Jo is determined to try to free them, even though Wester says that if the Daleks use them for their experiments, they are better off dead.

The group flees down the corridors with the Daleks pursuing them. Finally they get away, making their way back to the cooling chamber. Once there, the Doctor asks Rebec and Taron to barricade the entrance while he finds a way to keep the Dalek army from reviving. He and Codal decide to set an explosive in the wall of the chamber containing the Dalek army, which is slowly coming to life. In the meantime, the Dalek Supreme, a member of the Dalek Supreme Council, has arrived in a spaceship, to oversee the final stages of the operation, and exterminates the Section Leader for its incompetence.

Jo and Latep finally arrive at the cooling chamber and use their bomb to destroy a squad of Daleks before joining the others. As another patrol comes through, the bomb set in the chamber wall explodes. Molten ice rushes out to flood the chamber, freezing the Dalek army for centuries to come. The group escapes over a ramp that leads to the surface while the rest of the Daleks abandon the base, which is filling with molten ice.

The group makes its way to the Dalek Supreme's spacecraft. The Doctor asks Taron not to glorify what has happened, nor make war sound like an adventure. The Thals were a peaceful people and he would hate to see them change. Taron and Rebec promise and the Thals enter the spacecraft and leave for Skaro. The Doctor and Jo run back to the TARDIS, pursued by the Dalek Supreme and the other Daleks. They dematerialise just as the Daleks open fire. The Dalek Supreme orders operations to recover the invasion force and contact the Dalek High Council for a rescue ship. The Daleks have been delayed, but will never be defeated....


The story was originally commissioned as Planet of the Daleks, but during production it briefly changed to Destination: Daleks. Episodes 2 & 4 do not feature a reprise of the previous episode's cliffhanger ending, while the reprise in Episodes 3 and 5 are re-performances. Though this latter technique was commonplace in 1960s episodes, by this time in the programme's history it was an approach almost never used.

The Dalek Supreme in this story was a modified prop from the film Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. that had been given to Terry Nation. Its eyestalk has been replaced with a conventional torch, which flashes when it speaks.

For many years, Episode 3 of the serial existed in the BBC Archives only as a black-and-white 16mm telerecording, as the 625-line colour PAL transmission master videotape for that episode was wiped for reuse by the BBC in 1976. Episode 3 was restored to full colour in 2008, using a combination of computer colourisation by Legend Films, and software developed by the Colour Recovery Working Group. This version was released on DVD in 2009. The colour masters for the other five episodes are still extant.

Cast notes

Bernard Horsfall had previously appeared as Lemuel Gulliver in The Mind Robber and as "First Time Lord" in The War Games. He appeared once more in The Deadly Assassin, as Chancellor Goth. All these serials were directed by David Maloney. Prentis Hancock (Vaber) had appeared as a reporter in Spearhead from Space and would return as Salamar in Planet of Evil and as the Shrieve Captain in The Ribos Operation.

Broadcast and reception

The serial was repeated on BBC One on Friday evenings between 5 November and 17 December 1993, as part of "Doctor Who and the Daleks", celebrating 30 years of Doctor Who. Each episode was preceded by a specially made 5 min vignette, which were 'Bigger on the Inside', 'The Antique Doctor Who Roadshow', 'Missing in Action', 'I Was That Monster', 'The Master' and 'U.N.I.T. Recruitment Film'. The repeat of Episode 3 of Planet of the Daleks on 19 November 1993 was shown in black and white, the only time since June 1969 that a Doctor Who episode has been broadcast in black and white on BBC One. The ratings achieved were 3.6, 4.0, 3.9, 3.3, 3.3 & 3.5 million viewers respectively.

Paul Cornell, Martin Day, and Keith Topping gave an unfavourable review of the serial in The Discontinuity Guide (1995), writing that it was "a typical coincidence-based Dalek story of hammy deaths and ridiculous escapes. A reworking of the themes and set pieces of The Daleks, with pacifism and an anti-nuclear stance becoming weak monologues on bravery and caution." In 2010, Mark Braxton of Radio Times described Planet of the Daleks as "an exciting story, but a tawdry spectacle" with it being "continually compromised" in production values. While he found that some elements of the story were enjoyable, he felt that it lacked emotional continuity and the Daleks did not impress. DVD Talk's John Sinnott found the story more enjoyable than Frontier in Space, praising the way Nation "filled the plot with creative other-worldly creatures and devices and used them nicely to move the story".

In print

A novelisation of this serial, written by Terrance Dicks, was published by Target Books in October 1976. The novelisation opens with the cliffhanger from Frontier in Space of a comatose Doctor pursuing the Daleks through space, even though this was removed from the Space War novelisation. A German translation was published in 1980.

In 1995 an abridged version of the novel was issued by BBC Audio as an audio book, read by Jon Pertwee. It was later reissued on the MP3-CD release Tales from the TARDIS Volume 2. An unedited audio book version was released in June 2013, narrated by actor and writer Mark Gatiss, with Dalek voices performed by Nicholas Briggs.

Home media

This story, together with Revelation of the Daleks was released on VHS in a special Dalek tin set in 1999, with episode 3 in black and white. The stories were released on VHS individually in North America. It was released on DVD alongside the previous story, Frontier in Space, in the box set "Dalek War" on 5 October 2009, with episode 3 now restored to full colour.


Planet of the Daleks Wikipedia