The Dead Planet
Known by both titles, although at the time of transmission episodes had individual titles as opposed to generic story titles.
This was the story that launched Doctor Who into the cult TV show it has become today. Running for 7 episodes following on from the first story An Unearthly Child it marked the very first appearance of Doctor Who’s most popular monster – The Daleks. In fact so popular were the metal meanies they got their own strip in TV Comic and even in the 1960’s merchandising dropped in to lend a hand with toys and even vinyl Dalek Suits. Dalek mania set in and the programme would never be the same again.
Heading back to earth 1963 the Tardis’ navigational functions fail and the crew land instead in a petrified forest on the edge of a city on the planet Skaro. The Doctor’s curiosity gets the better of him and he insists on exploring the planet and particularly the city. When the others do not agree the Doctor engineers a fault with the TARDIS by emptying the mercury fluid lInk. This forces the crew to explore the city in search of fresh mercury.
Once inside the city, Barbara becomes separated from her friends. It is Barbera that features at the end of the first episode in what is now sen as an iconic cliffhanger,being threatened by an unseen creature with a metal arm – this marked the first appearance of a Dalek although the creature is not revealed in full until episode 2. Before long, the rest of the crew is captured by the Daleks. One by one they fall victims of radiation poisoning, the only exception seems to be Susan.
Susan is eventually sent to retrieve anti-radiation drugs from the TARDIS, where she encounters a second species, the Thals, who are at war with the Daleks. Susan attempts to broker peace between the two groups, and while it appears to work, the Daleks eventually betray the Thals, opening fire on them at what was supposed to be a peaceful exchange of food.
In the ensuing chaos, the Doctor and his companions escape with the Thals, and learn their version of the history of their planet. They also learn that the Thals are avowed pacifists. In order to save them from the Daleks, the TARDIS crew convinces the Thals of the importance of aggression and warfare, and manages to lead the Thals in a successful genocide against the Daleks. At the end, it is believed the Dalek race has been destroyed.
Carole Ann Ford
Written By: Terry Nation
Produced By: Verity Lambert
Original Run: 21 December 1963-1 February 1964
Spin Offs: A film version based around the story and starring Peter Cushing as Doctor Who was released in 1965
Comedy Connections: Terry Nation who created the idea of the Daleks was actually a gag writer before turning his hand to television.