Saturday 4 November 2023

DOCTOR WHO's first Dalek story gets major revamp for 60th anniversary

The BBC has confirmed that the very first Doctor Who story to feature the Daleks is to get a makeover and revamp for the imminent 60th Anniversary of the franchise.

Originally airing across seven episodes in late 1963 and early 1964, The Daleks was the first story to feature the titular tinpot menace, and the second-ever Doctor Who serial. The first serial, An Unearthly Child, which introduced the Doctor, the TARDIS and the first-ever companions (Susan, Ian and Barbara), had aired to fairly poor ratings, suggesting the new show would be cancelled before it ever really got off the ground. However, The Daleks was a smash-hit, almost tripling ratings over the course of its run and encouraging thousands of British schoolchildren to run around their playgrounds yelling "Exterminate!"

For the 60th anniversary, the serial has been re-edited from its original near three-hour runtime down to a breezier 75 minutes. Mark Ayres has contributed a re-edited musical score, building on the work of original composer Tristram Cary. Most impressively, the 75-minute cut has been completely colourised, with more than a year's work going into the process (the original six seasons of Doctor Who were recorded in black-and-white).

The original version of the serial will remain available on BBC iPlayer.

In the serial, the Doctor (William Hartnell), his granddaughter Susan (Carole Ann Ford) and their reluctant new companions Ian (William Russell) and Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) arrive on the planet Skaro, where an energy drain prevents the TARDIS from leaving. Outside they find a forest that has been completely petrified and evidence of a massive nuclear war in the recent past. They also discover an eerily empty, technologically-advanced city. Of course, the city is not as abandoned as first appears, and the Doctor is soon introduced to his most infamous foes.

The Daleks was originally written by Terry Nation and directed by Christopher Barry (episodes 1-2, 4-5) and Richard Martin (3, 6-7). The executive producer - today's equivalent of a showrunner - was Verity Lambert, and the script editor was David Whitaker. The serial aired from 21 December 1963 to 1 February 1964. The Daleks were designed by Raymond Cusick.

In 1965 the serial was adapted as the first Doctor Who feature film, Dr. Who and the Daleks, starring Peter Cushing as the Doctor.

The revamped version of The Daleks will be released on the BBC iPlayer on 23 November, the actual 60th Anniversary of the franchise.

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