Genesis Of The Daleks
Working Title: Daleks -- Genesis Of Terror.
Starring: Tom Baker (The Fourth Doctor), Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), Ian Marter (Surgeon-Lieutenant Harry Sullivan).
The Time Lords intercept the Doctor, Sarah and Harry as they transmat back to Nerva, and send them to Skaro in the distant past in order to prevent the existence of the Daleks. There they discover that planet's two native races, the Kaleds and the Thals, nearing the climax of the Thousand Year War. As the conflict reaches its terrible conclusion, Sarah discovers a disfigured Kaled scientist named Davros has already accomplished what they were sent to stop: the Daleks are born.
Their introductory story in 1964 had furnished the Daleks with only cursory origins, hints that they had descended from a race called the Dals, having mutated after an atomic war. Starting in 1965, creator Terry Nation and former story editor David Whitaker expanded on this in the Dalek comic strip running in the magazine TV Century 21, which revealed the monsters resulted from the experiments of Dalek (not Dal) scientist Yarvelling. Later, in the edition of the Radio Times celebrating Doctor Who's tenth anniversary in 1973, Nation provided a totally different origin. In his short story We Are The Daleks!, the Daleks were created on Ameron by scientists from Halldon, who had captured and accelerated the evolution of early man.
Nation's early attempts at a Dalek story for Season Twelve were rejected by the outgoing production team of producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks, who felt they were too similar to earlier Dalek stories. Letts instead suggested Nation depict the creation of the monsters, a suggestion to which the writer was amenable. Instead of reusing ideas from either of his two previous Dalek "origins", Nation again crafted a different one, albeit one in which he tried not to contradict the original The Daleks serial overmuch. The scripts for the adventure, whose first title of Daleks -- Genesis Of Terror was later shortened to Genesis Of The Daleks, were commissioned on April 1st, 1974.
Neither new producer Philip Hinchcliffe, new script editor Robert Holmes nor the story's assigned director, David Maloney (whose last Doctor Who work had been another Dalek story, 1973's Planet Of The Daleks) were particularly keen on the Daleks as villains. Indeed, Holmes had been convinced to retain the serial only by Letts' enthusiasm for the project (this being essentially Letts' final input into the programme). Consequently, it was decided to try to push the envelope with Genesis Of The Daleks. For example, the opening scene was rewritten by Maloney to change its location from a pleasant garden to a hellish battleground, a move opposed by Nation.
Perhaps the biggest contribution to Doctor Who mythology offered by Serial 4E was the introduction of Davros, the scientist who brings the Daleks into existence. Nation devised Davros with the intention of giving the Daleks a spokesperson, someone who was more interesting to watch than the monotone cyborgs. He conceived Davros as a creature with aspects of both man and Dalek -- hence the base of his travelling machine, his single artificial eye, his electronically-modified voice and even his single arm all recall the form of the actual Daleks. Cast as Davros was Michael Wisher, a veteran of Doctor Who stories (including the previous serial into production, Revenge Of The Cybermen) who had also recently provided some Dalek voices. Realising most of his acting would have to be vocal, Wisher spent rehearsals sitting in a chair with a paper bag over his forehead to get into character.
Genesis Of The Daleks went into production on January 6th, 1975 with the start of location filming. Recalling his difficulties with taking the Daleks outdoors in the past, Maloney ensured that this would not be necessary for the present serial. Things moved back to the studio starting on January 28th. The conclusion of recording on February 25th wrapped up Season Twelve, but not the twelfth production block. This would continue with Terror Of The Zygons, which had been pushed back to the start of Season Thirteen.
Critics of Doctor Who had been fairly silent since the early Seventies, when stories such as Terror Of The Autons had incurred many calls for a reduction in the series' violent and horrific content. With the broadcast of episode one on March 8th, however, these cries were heard anew, and once again Mary Whitehouse of the National Viewers and Listeners Association lead the way, describing the serial as "tea-time brutality for tots". Whitehouse's views were apparently supported by Nation himself, who agreed that Genesis Of The Daleks was not appropriate viewing for his children, then aged eight and three. Of note, one of the scenes most harped upon by Whitehouse and others was the opening battle sequence, which Nation had not written. Despite the furor, Hinchcliffe simply noted that he had ensured the violence was not of the sort which children could copy, and that ultimately it was parents who should decide what was and was not appropriate for their family.