Published on March 11th, 2013 | by Meredith Burdett
Irony of the Daleks
Cusick passed away recently after a short illness but leaves behind a design legacy that will last for millions of years. His youngest daughter Claire Heawood recalled growing up with the man himself as she also thanked Doctor Who fans for their ‘touching’ messages.
We actually had a huge life size picture of them [the Daleks] at the top of the stairs so we used to run up and down past it, trying not to look up, scared it would get you…I remember when we were taken to Leicester Square to watch the movie and within five minutes we ran out screaming.
Cusick was given just £250 in order to create something special for the BBC and for Doctor Who, which he did with great aplomb. His design created a term called ‘Dalekmania’ But despite coming up with the design for the nastiest creatures in the entire universe, Cusick was not only surprised by their popularity, he was also the furthest you could get from the creatures he designed:
It always surprised dad if he got a letter from Canada or anywhere else around the world and he would always write back if they asked for an autograph…he was a great father, a great man. He was quite strict but he indulged us. We were always well taken care of.
Until a book called Doctor Who: The Early Years was written by Jeremy Bentham, naming Cusick as the Dalek designer, many tried to take the credit for Cusick’s work, something which Doctor Who Appreciation Society member Paul Winter recalled would irk Ray:
The thing that I happen to know that annoyed Ray for a lot of years is that people tried to claim credit for a lot of his work.
Hopefully, he saw that many all over the world recognised the Daleks as his creation before he passed away. Such was the impression that Cusick made, a former colleague of his, Jose Furtado, felt that the designer was something of a mentor to him, so much so that Furtado named his company name on Cusick’s words of inspiration:
I called it Visual Generosity because what I learnt from Ray when doing sets is to make it ‘visually generous’.
Finally, in an interesting coda, Cusick also had a keen interest in military history, and did much research for an exhibition in 2000 for the Horsham Museum about the Horsham Rifles. But Jeremy Knight, the curator at Horsham Museum, offered a slightly different opinion of Cusick’s on the Daleks:
He hated the Daleks, he just saw that as his day job, his real passion was in military history.
Either way, Cusick’s memory and work will live on forever, terrifying generation after generation of Doctor Who fan with a race of psychotically xenophobic mutants in their mini-tanks.
(Via West Sussex Gazette.)