Daleks from Dr. Who

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I think the entire world knows who these guys are, however many Americans sadly will not (maybe I'm just speaking for my brother!).  These are the classic villains of the British television phenomenon "Dr. Who".  This ongoing series has survived Dr. after Dr. since the 60's.  Dr. Who is an acquired taste, and once you've reached that point the appeal never leaves.

Synopsis contributed by Christopher Callanan:

Daleks! The heavily armed and heavily armored casings for a race of mutants from the planet Skaro. These cybernetic creatures were first introduced in the second Dr.Who story to be broadcast in 1963. The time travelling Doctor arrives on Skaro and eventually discovers that there are two races that have survived a distant and protracted nuclear war, the peace loving Thals and the malevolent Daleks.

The Daleks were created by Terry Nation, a writer who had originally set out to be a comedian. After being told that " your jokes are fine, it's you that isn't funny" he then went on to write sketches for various famous comedians.  After falling out with the British comedian Tony Hancock, Nation accepted an offer to write for a forthcoming TV series to be entitled 'Dr.Who'.  At the end of his story the Daleks all died. Terry Nation must have been astonished when the Daleks became immensely popular. He had only written the script to pay for central heating to be installed in his house.

'Dalekmania' swept the United Kingdom and between 1964 and 1965 many items of Dalek merchandise were eventually produced. Part of their everlasting appeal undoubtedly lies with the interesting design. This was all because of the BBC designer Raymond Cusick. The Daleks might well have looked far different though.  Ridley Scott, who later made 'Blade Runner', 'Alien' and 'Black Hawk Down' was also a BBC designer at the time, and the job of designing the Daleks nearly went to him. Meanwhile, on' Dr.Who' the Daleks had returned and were shown to have invaded Earth in the far future.

Curiously, two of what were probably the most interesting scripts featuring the Daleks were not written by Nation, but by a former Dr.Who script writer, David Whittaker. His first Dalek story, "Power of the Daleks", introduced Patrick Troughton to the role of the Doctor. In this, the Doctor arrives at an Earth colony on the planet Vulcan. There, the chief scientist Lesterson has found a space craft which contains some hybernating Daleks. Knowing nothing about them he concludes that they are merely robots and sets about re-activating them. The Daleks manipulate the humans and pretend to be innoccous and helpful 'servants' until they have created a Dalek army to exterminate the humans.

Whitaker's second Dalek story, "Evil of the Daleks", takes place in the 1960's London, Victorian England and , finally, on Skaro.  The Daleks manage to force the Doctor into running tests on humans to discover the 'Human Factor'. The Doctor isolates and transplants this into some Daleks... making them friendly instead of hostile. The Emperor Dalek on Skaro finally reveals that this was all a trick to really isolate the 'Dalek Factor' which the Daleks will force the Doctor into transplanting in humans throughout Earth's history. However, the friendly Daleks question orders and a civil war ensues. "The end, the final end" the Doctor says.  Terry Nation had, meanwhile, attempted to sell the Daleks to American TV channels, but nothing came of this. Therefore, the Daleks later returned to pit themselves time and again against the Doctor.

One of the finest stories came in 1975 with 'Genesis of the Daleks'. This
took the Doctor, now played by Tom Baker, to Skaro on a mission to avert the creation of the Daleks. Their creator was revealed to us as Davros, a brilliant scientist and megalomaniac who would stop at nothing to continue his research. Eventually, his Daleks exterminate him, and having done so proclaim their intentions of growing stronger.

Today, almost forty years after their debut, the Daleks are still immensely popular. Their name even has an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of English, and several years ago a British stamp was issued with a picture of a Dalek.

Official BBC Dr. Who Site
What? A Female Doctor! Actually, I've seen these fan videos.  They are pretty fun!  The videos are created by Ryan K. Johnson and he sells them quite reasonably.  Thanks Karyn and Rich for introducing me to this.
The Daleks
The First History of the Daleks
Dalek Extermination page
This Planet Earth
Plastic Fantastic! See Dr. Who Characters Lego Style!
EarthStation1's TV Sounds Showcase: Doctor Who Wavs
BBC Online