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Published on May 3rd, 2005 | by Christian Cawley

Dalek Press Reaction

Love it or hate it… several major papers have reviewed this weekends Doctor Who story Dalek, which featured the return (and end of?) the most fearsome race in the series. Let’s have a sort through them…

First of all, we have the wonderful news that Dalek achieved a 43% audience share – 7.8 million viewers – against ITVs low-brow output. Lower overall audience figures than earlier in the series can be attributed to the Bank Holiday weekend weather which astonishingly for the UK was rather decent…

Rupert Smith in The Guardian was generally positive about the episode, pointing out

“…who could have guessed that the final confrontation between the last surviving Timelord and the only remaining Dalek would turn into a sci-fi Socratic dialogue?”

Smith is also sharp enough to pick up on the Asimov-inspired questioning of self which the Dalek felt obliged to do once infected with Rose’s DNA. Although no overall opinion is given (very much in the style of modern journalism in the current political climate), Rupert Smith does open with platitudes to the quality of television this year –

“If this isn’t the golden age of TV, then what is?”

Ian Johns in The Times meanwhile mixes Dalek mockery with the recognition of the Dalek’s status as a massively popular cultural icon, again referring to the quality of television across the board at present… isn’t it almost as if with the mixing of the two names “Doctor Who” and “Russell T Davies”, everyone else decided to start raising their game…?

Johns points out that:

…the return of the Doctor’s old foe, the Daleks, on Saturday, was clearly a major television event — it doesn’t get any bigger than having a Radio Times fold-out front cover.

Which is a very valid point. The chap obviously has a sense of humour too.

Doctor Who devotees have already been on the web dissecting every aspect of Saturday’s episode. How sad — they obviously spend too much time on the internet and don’t have any friends. If you disagree, I suggest we have a serious online chat about it. I’m free most nights.

So here’s an open invitation to you Ian…

Britain’s favourite Left Wing Government-bashing Left Wing newspaper The Mirror considers itself “fortunate” to have a column “amusingly” titled titled “Shelley Vision”, no doubt in honour of its writer, Percy Bysshe Shelley. While Percy finds the new theme tune flawless, he’s not keen on Daleks that have emotions. Although picking up on obvious references to US torture of prisoners at Guantanamo (also recognised by the other organ’s reviewers) the esteemed poet failed to recognise the Pathos delivered so perfectly by Nick Briggs as the Dalek in the closing seconds before its “death”.

However the article is a good laugh and its good to see 18th century poets are still in work.

Also in The Mirror, we were reminded by yet another ex-BBC employee of the debt owed to them by the corporation, this time it was Raymond Cusick. In the article “EXCLUSIVE: DALEK MAN WAS PAID £80 FOR DESIGNS”, the ex designer of the Daleks visual appearance is quoted as saying:

“I picked up what could have been a salt pot and moved it around the table. I said, ‘It moves like that, without any arms or legs. The design was already partly on paper and partly in my head at the time… I worked on the programme for three years but quite honestly I got fed up with it. Nobody, apart from my bosses, was actually saying thanks to me.

“The producer and the head of design at the time were a bit upset about it. They got me an ex-gratia payment of £100, which after tax came to £80, 10 shillings and sixpence.”

He also mentions how he only got the job because future Blade Runner/Alien/Gladiator director Ridley Scott was too busy.

Of course in 1966, £80 could buy you a second hand car. Or indeed one of the first Daleks, the first 4 being built for just £250. Perhaps Mr Cusick wasn’t so badly done to after all…

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About the Author

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A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.




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