Doctor Who News dw50rev-thedaleks4

Published on March 3rd, 2013 | by Philip Bates

Did Chimneys Inspire the Daleks?

Daleks? Oh, they’re based on salt and pepper pots.

WRONG! What idiot told you that?! They’re actually based on chimneys. Don’t look at me like that.

The Doctor encounters the Daleks for the first time

Okay, so there’s a sort of truth behind the salt and pepper thing – but only in that designer, Raymond Cusick, pushed a shaker around a table once to demonstrate how the menaces from Skaro would move. The Sun, however, claims that the recently deceased genius got the idea from a visit to Gloucester during which he supposedly saw a chimney stack at the High School for Girls.

This is, apparently, common knowledge at the high school, and to lend authority to the piece, an expert spokeswoman told The Sun:

Whoever was working on Doctor Who saw it on top of the school.

You’re probably convinced already.

The newspaper also helpfully has a picture of a pepper pot next to the article, in case you’ve never seen one before.

Planet of the Daleks 3

Seriously though, it’s quite plausible; there’s certainly a resemblance there. But then, it’s far more likely that Cusick got the idea for the Daleks from many different sources. A designer with tunnel vision isn’t going to last long, so I don’t see why the designer responsible for so many stunning visuals during 1960s Doctor Who didn’t get inspired by pepper pots, ballet dancers, chimneys, road sweepers, eggs and sink plungers.

Yes, sink plungers. If you look closely, I think you can just about make out what I mean.

Maybe, nearly fifty years after they first appeared on TV, we should stop trying to discover how Raymond Cusick realised the Daleks so brilliantly, and just be thankful that he did…?

(Thanks to The Sun.)


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About the Author


When he’s not watching television, reading books ‘n’ Marvel comics, listening to The Killers, and obsessing over script ideas, Philip Bates pretends to be a freelance writer. He enjoys collecting everything.

4 Responses to Did Chimneys Inspire the Daleks?

  1. avatar Bradondo says:

    Willikers! I found this photo of the chimney in question and it does look like a Dalek–or at least the top half of a Dalek. I can see how Cusick may have used it as part of his design:

  2. avatar Gruff says:

    I pass this quite often and can see what is being said, but did Raymond Cusick really spend much time in Gloucester when he was a London based designer in 1963?

    I suppose he could have seen it in a photographic collection of architectural features, but I see it as unlikely. More likely that someone has pulled the leg of a copywriter for this unmentionable rag.

    Shame as I always like a Gloucestershire link to Who, but it’s pretty tenuous!

    • Perhaps he also spent hours in the countryside looking at the glass discs on the newly-constructed pylons…

  3. avatar Sarah says:

    Can I just say, I go to this school and nobody there really believes it. I mean, we all call it the dalek, but there’s nothing else to call it. This ‘spokeswoman’ they found was evidently either non-existent or a very naive student. It’s also NOT a chimney; they wouldn’t be on the middle of the roof, and if you go past it, you can see the actual chimney on the other ends of the gable. As far as I know, it’s a dovecote, for some strange reason somebody felt it necessary. (Neither is it a ventilation system as I have seen on many comments on newspaper articles)

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