According to reports, Dr Robin Bunce – a Cambridge University academic – believes that the reason most people are scared of the Daleks is because they are â€œthe nightmare future that we dreadâ€.
Bunce apparently suggests that as viewers we fear them because one day we could become them (something that is near enough true if you believe events in The Parting of the Ways):
â€œWe recognise them as evil because they have lost all that we hold most dear.â€
This may be a valid statement with some good ideas but in its entirety it is not an altogether breakthrough idea.
Yes, the Daleks did have their humanity genetically removed millennia ago by their creator and they have strong moral parallels with the Nazis, who were a frightening bunch of phsychopaths who lost a lot of their humanity during World War 2, something that put the fear of God into innocents who had to answer to them. But from another angle, you could say that the Daleks really terrifying selling point is their firm belief and conviction that what they do is for the greater good.
Think of the Ninth Doctor explaining to Van Statten in Dalek that the reason the creature will kill everyone is because it â€œbelieves that itâ€™s the right thing to doâ€. It isn’t fears of becoming the creature that makes a viewer hide behind the sofa itâ€™s the unnerving fact that in reality if you ever came across a Dalek, you would not be able to reason with it or survive the encounter. It would kill you in a heartbeat with no remorse and for little or no reason. The thought of that is enough to make anyoneâ€™s skin go ever so slightly cold once in a while. An enemy that can be reasoned with is one that you can possibly defeat but an enemy that has no wants or desires apart from your death is one that you could only try and run from in the best case scenario.
Now if Mr Bruce had said that we fear the Cybermen because they could be a nightmare future for the human race, thatâ€™s something that gets a little closer to home every day…