Open main menu

Dalek (Doctor Who episode)

"Dalek" is the sixth episode of the revived first series of the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who. It was first broadcast on BBC One on 30 April 2005. This episode is the first appearance of the Daleks in the 21st-century revival of Doctor Who; it also marks the first appearance of Bruno Langley as companion Adam Mitchell.

161 – "Dalek"
Doctor Who episode
A security guard points a weapon at a Dalek which is hovering in the air.
The Dalek overcomes its supposed weakness.
Directed byJoe Ahearne
Written byRobert Shearman
Script editorHelen Raynor
Produced byPhil Collinson
Executive producer(s)Russell T Davies
Julie Gardner
Mal Young
Incidental music composerMurray Gold
Production code1.6
SeriesSeries 1
Length45 minutes
First broadcast30 April 2005 (2005-04-30)
← Preceded by
"World War Three"
Followed by →
"The Long Game"
Doctor Who episodes (2005–present)

The episode is set in Utah in the year 2012, in the underground bunker owned by Henry van Statten (Corey Johnson), a rich collector of alien artefacts. In the episode, the alien time traveller the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) and his travelling companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) encounter the bunker's only living exhibit: a Dalek, which breaks loose and proceeds to start killing everyone in the bunker after repairing itself.


The Ninth Doctor and Rose are drawn by a distress signal to a massive bunker beneath Utah in 2012, filled with alien artefacts collected by the bunker's owner, Henry van Statten. Rose is offered a tour of the facility by Adam Mitchell, a man who buys and catalogues artefacts for van Statten. Van Statten takes the Doctor to show him a living alien being, which the Doctor recognises as a Dalek, a race thought to have been wiped out in the Time War. The Dalek is very weak and unable to break its bonds, but when the Doctor attempts to destroy it, van Statten orders his guards to restrain the Doctor and return him to his offices. There, van Statten has the Doctor secured, noting that not only does he collect aliens, but also tortures them to gain information, and proceeds to invasively and violently study the Doctor's body to learn more about his physiology.

Meanwhile, Adam has taken Rose to the Dalek. Rose takes pity on the weakened creature and touches its casing; the Dalek promptly absorbs her DNA and the remnants of time energy she has from travelling in time, and is able to re-energise itself. It escapes its bonds, kills several guards, and connects to the Internet where it learns of the fate of the Daleks and realises it is the last surviving member of its race. With no other purpose, it proceeds to target and exterminate all non-Dalek life forms. Van Statten is forced to release the Doctor to help stop the Dalek, but the Dalek refuses to cooperate, and continues killing all those left in the Vault.

The Dalek's open casing, as shown at the Doctor Who Experience

The Dalek tries to kill Rose but it cannot, having found compassion embedded in itself from Rose's DNA. The Dalek is urged to kill van Statten, but Rose instead convinces it to spare his life. The Doctor arrives and prepares to kill the Dalek but Rose stops him, convincing him that the Dalek has developed emotions. However, the Dalek is unable to cope with these emotions, and, now aware of the hopelessness of its situation, it asks Rose to order its own self-destruction. Rose agrees, and the Dalek implodes.

Van Statten's assistant Goddard takes over the bunker, planning to wipe van Statten's memories and to fill the bunker with cement. Rose offers Adam to travel with her and the Doctor since he will have no job after this.



Rob Shearman, the writer of the episode, had his first encounter with the revived series of Doctor Who in 2003 after he created the Sixth Doctor audio Jubilee. Executive producer Russell T Davies drew heavily on Jubilee to create "Return of the Daleks" for his pitch to the BBC, a story which Davies hoped to recreate the menace shown by the Daleks in their 1963 debut The Daleks. The adventure changed the setting from the alternate Earth in Jubilee to 2012 Utah, with the lone Dalek featured being held captive by businessman Henry Van Statten, a caricature of Microsoft's chairman Bill Gates.[citation needed]

The script went through several changes. The story itself was initially called "Creature of Lies", and Van Statten was originally called Hiram Duchesne. For a short period of time, Adam was the villain's son, but Shearman decided against it.[citation needed] The most notable change to the script happened when the Nation estate, holders of the rights for the Daleks, blocked the use of the Daleks due to the BBC licensing them out too much. The changed story contained an alien akin to a child who kills for pleasure, which eventually evolved into the Toclafane from "The Sound of Drums" and "Last of the Time Lords".[citation needed][1] Finally, the BBC were able to secure the rights from the Nation estate, and at the same time gave the episode its final name, "Dalek".[citation needed]


The episode was placed in the third production block, along with "Father's Day" and "The Long Game", the latter taken out due to delays in special effects creation. The episode's placement in the series was intentional so as to stave off an anticipated mid-series drop in viewership, although the BBC suggested that the episode be the premiere.[citation needed] Filming of the episode began on 25 October 2004 at the National Museum Cardiff,[2] before moving to the Millennium Stadium the following day, where most of the episode was filmed. Most of the filming finished on 3 November 2004, with pick-up shots completed at the show's studio space in Newport throughout the remainder of the month.[citation needed]

Critical reception and awardsEdit

Before the broadcast, media watchdog organisation Mediawatch-uk complained about certain elements of the episode, characterising Van Statten's chaining and invasive scan of the Doctor as a "sado-masochistic" torture scene. Mediawatch also objected to Van Statten's invitation to Adam and Rose to "canoodle or spoon, or whatever you British do" as inappropriate sexual language.[3]

When it was released on DVD, British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) gave the episode a 12 rating, because of the scenes where the Doctor is seen to torture the Dalek.[4] The BBFC stated:

"We are concerned about role models for children using the sort of tactics that Doctor Who used against the Dalek. If that was transferred into the playground it would be something we would want to tackle."[4]

Reception to the episode was positive. The episode's overnight ratings was 7.73 million viewers, 46% of the audience share, a figure that was finalised to 8.64 million viewers.[5][6] The Times stated that the episode was an "unqualified triumph". The Guardian commented that "Shearman's script bamboozles expectations", and the episode "should hopefully show 2005's kids what was always so wonderful about the iconic tin-rotters.". The London Evening Standard found the lack of surprise (namely, calling the episode "Dalek") the only disappointment, and Daily Mirror simply stated that "for 30 pant-shittingly wonderful minutes, BBC1's new Doctor Who was the best thing on telly. Ever."[7] In 2010 Den of Geek placed the episode as number 2 in their list of the Top 10 Dalek stories.[8]

The episode was nominated for the 2006 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form along with other Doctor Who episodes "Father's Day" and "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances". The stories came third, fifth, and first, respectively.[9]

Commercial releasesEdit

In printEdit

AuthorRobert Shearman
Cover artistAnthony Dry
SeriesDoctor Who book:
Target novelisations
PublisherBBC Books
Publication date
23 July 2020

A novelisation of this story written by Robert Shearman will be released in paperback and digital formats 23 July 2020 as part of the Target Collection.[10]


  1. ^ "50 Fascinating Doctor Who Almosts..." SFX. 7 June 2013. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
  2. ^ "Walesarts, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff". BBC. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  3. ^ Lyon, Shaun (25 April 2005). "Weekend Series Coverage". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 7 February 2009. Retrieved 26 January 2008.
  4. ^ a b "Under-12 ban on Dalek torture DVD". BBC News. BBC. 16 May 2005.
  5. ^ Lyon, Shaun (1 May 2005). "Dalek Overnight Ratings". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. Retrieved 26 January 2008.
  6. ^ Lyon, Shaun (13 May 2005). "Mid-week Series update". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. Retrieved 26 January 2008.
  7. ^ Lyon, Shaun; et al. (1 May 2005). "Saturday Series Press Roundup". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. Retrieved 26 January 2008.
  8. ^ "Doctor Who: The Top 10 Dalek stories".
  9. ^ "Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form". 2006 Hugo Award & Campbell Award Winners. 26 August 2006. Archived from the original on 28 June 2007. Retrieved 28 August 2006.
  10. ^ "New Target novel collection in July 2020". Doctor

External linksEdit