Published on March 20th, 2011 | by Christian Cawley
Steven Clark, Davros Creator?
OK brace yourselves, Kasterborites – there is a lot to take in here. This is the story of Steven Clark, who claims to have created Dalek creator Davros (not to mention the Kaleds) in a competition entry for TV Action comic in 1972.
It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Yet Mr Clark has been pushing this claim for years now, contacting various Doctor Who websites over this time and has even hired a lawyer. Today, Mr Clark appears in the Daily Mail, who report that he is indeed suing the BBC over a share of revenue made from the Davros character and to demand that he is credited as his creator.
Don’t check your calendar – it’s not April 1st. This is a genuine legal case.
For the younger fans among you, Davros first appeared in 1975 story Genesis of the Daleks, written by Terry Nation who had created the Dalek, Dal and Thal characters 12 years earlier for The Daleks. Genesis was the first time a Dalek creator had been seen on screen (previously Yarvelling had been credited as their fictional creator in TV21 comic) and indeed the first time the term Kaled was used in favour of Dal.
So with a competition in 1972 which a teenaged Steven Clark entered falling away into the midsts of time, three years later he was apparently surprisedÂ to find Davros (Michael Wisher) appearing on TV for the first time facing the Fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker.
A friend of Mr Clark said: “Steven was 16 when the episode was aired. He couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw his creation on screen. It was a mixture of emotions. He was excited, confused and angry.”
Mr Clark said: “The money aspect of it is not my primary motivation. I am proud of the character I created and I just want my work to be recognised. It would be nice to be finally linked to the character after all this time.”
With £140 million in profits generated by Doctor Who, it would seem likely that Mr Clark won’t be turning down any remuneration in the event that his claim is deemed to be valid.
One legal source said: “He is asking for damages or a pound-for-pound equivalent for all the profits generated by the character since he was introduced to viewers in 1975. The likelihood is that he will go for whichever sum is the largest.”
In late 2009 Mr Clark contacted Kasterborous with various documents – such as this Intellectual Property Office image which is part of the gentleman’s claim – as well as a fascinating chronology of events. This includes some interesting titbits, such as:
The prize was to see the character reproduced in a cartoon strip to appear in the magazine and a colour television with a licence for a year.
Steve Clark drew a character drawing his inspiration from an old Dr Who story called “The Machine Planet” with the Mechanoids which he had seen on the TV, a black and white episode with William Hartnell. The character he drew, was formed of a half-man, half-Dalek.
In naming his entry, he wrote down several names but finally settled on the name “Davros”, which was written on the top of his drawing. He wanted to think of a name which portrayed evil but did not want the name to sound like the devil. He scribbled down various names such as Davos, Devos and thought that Davros just worked. There is evidence on his drawing of his scribbles.
The BBC have not clearly acknowledged where the story idea came from or the title.Although it is suggested that Terry Nation wrote a story it is not clear.
Terrence Dicks wrote a novel in 1976 called Genesis of the Daleks.
Terrence Dicks was a producer and on the panel of judges of the comic.
Barry Letts was a director and producer for Dr Who and was also on the panel of judges.
Further the character Davros does not have a registered trade mark and the BBC are selling licenced toys and games with the character but have not protected it, why?
We opted not to report this when Mr Clark first contacted us back in 2009:
You’re also no doubt aware that by embarking on a course of action… that you’re opening yourself up to ridicule and criticism by the press and a certain section of fandom.
If Kasterborous was to carry any news item focussed solely on this issue at this stage it would be very sanitised – quite different to our usual items! – and I wonder if this would be the best treatment for the matter until you make some progress with it.
Of course, there is a precedent to all of this – Raymond Cusick, creator of the Dalek “look”, was never credited as such for many years and received a one-off payment for a design that has netted the BBC and Terry Nation a lot of money over the years. However clearly Mr Clark’s case is quite different, and we’re sure it will be dealt with appropriately by all concerned parties and the legal process.
It looks as though this is a case to which there is an obvious answer – the BBC made a big mistake tying up the ownership of Davros and Mr Clark has his dates wrong. However, we suspect that whatever happens, this could end up being quite a high-profile case should it ever reach court…