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Death to the Daleks (TV story)

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RealWorld
Death to the Daleks
BellalAndTheCity
Novelised as: Death to the Daleks
Doctor: Third Doctor
Companion(s): Sarah
Main enemy: Daleks
Main setting: Exxilon
Key crew
Writer: Terry Nation
Director: Michael Briant
Producer: Barry Letts
Release details
Story number: 72
Number of episodes: 4
Season/series: Season 11
Premiere broadcast: 23 February - 16 March 1974
Premiere network: BBC1
Format: 4x25-minute episodes
Production code: XXX
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Death to the Daleks was the third story of Season 11 of Doctor Who. It was the first time Sarah Jane Smith was on a planet other than Earth and the first time she encountered the Daleks.

Synopsis Edit

An energy drain makes uneasy allies of the Third Doctor, Sarah, a Marine Space Corps expedition and a squadron of Daleks. All are trapped on the planet Exxilon with its hostile natives. The key to escape lies at the heart of a powerful and mysterious lost city, but only after a series of deadly traps.

Plot Edit

Part one Edit

The Doctor and Sarah are en route to Florana for a vacation when the Doctor's TARDIS suffers a series of power failures. An unknown force somewhere on the nearby planet Exxilon is causing the energy drain. They barely land on the arid planet and go to find the source. The Doctor and Sarah exit the TARDIS, but Sarah goes back to change clothes (she's wearing a swimsuit). The Doctor, exploring, is pursued and captured by the primitive, xenophobic natives.

Sarah searches for the Doctor but, after finding his lamp covered in blood, is chased by the natives. She escapes to an enormous City that pulses with energy, but is captured by the native Exxilons. They consider her presence near their sacred city an abomination and prepare her for sacrifice.

The Doctor, meanwhile, encounters a Marine Space Corps expedition whose ship has also crash landed because of the power drain. The team - Lieutenant Dan Galloway, Lieutenant Peter Hamilton, Captain Richard Railton, and civilian geologist Jill Tarrant - are in search of the rare mineral parrinium, found only on Exxilon. It is needed desperately to cure a galactic plague. Along with Commander Stewart (badly wounded after a previous Exxilon attack), they are the only survivors of their expedition. Another ship lands nearby; the Marines initially mistake it for a rescue vessel, but a squad of Daleks emerge, guns at the ready...

Part two Edit

ExxilonsDestroyDalek

A Dalek is destroyed by the Exxilons

The energy drain has disabled the Daleks' energy-based weaponry, much to the Doctor's glee. They are also seeking parrinium; their own worlds are falling victim to the plague - or so they say. What they don't say is that there are several more Daleks hidden on their ship. The Doctor, the Marines and the Daleks are forced into an uneasy alliance to find the source of the energy drain so they can escape. However, they are all captured by the Exxilons in a skirmish that ends with the death of Captain Railton and one of the Daleks. The Doctor saves Sarah from sacrifice, but is recaptured and is himself sentenced to die for assault on the High Priest.

Back at their ship, the remaining Daleks replace their electronic weaponry with mechanical projectile weapons and quickly master the Exxilons. In the confusion, the Doctor and Sarah flee down a nearby tunnel. The Daleks then "negotiate" a deal with the High Priest, which forces the natives to mine the parrinium. In return, members of the Space Corps are in charge of wiping out a renegade group of Exxilons. The deal also states the Doctor and Sarah will be returned to the Exxilons - dead or alive. Peter and Jill protest, but Galloway (who has taken charge despite the last wishes of expedition commander Stewart) insists it's the only way if they want the parrinium.

In the tunnel, Sarah realises that the sacrificial ritual had been meant to end with them being sent down the tunnel - something in here was meant to complete the sacrifice! Both realise that this is probably the source of the strange roars they hear echoing in the tunnel. She also wonders how the Daleks were able to move if they were robots (and thus electronic); the Doctor explains that Daleks move by psychokinetic power (and are thus unaffected by the power drain). At a junction the Doctor has Sarah wait whilst he has a look down the other tunnels for a way out. While she waits she is frightened by the appearance of another Exxilon...

In the new tunnel, the Doctor is about to head back when an enormous, metallic, snake-like creature rears up to strike at him...

Part three Edit

Daleks Exxilon city

The Daleks pursue the Doctor into the city.

The Doctor ducks out of the root's way, but he can't do it for ever.

At the junction, a terrified Sarah is reassured by the Exxilon, who introduces himself as Bellal. Along with another Exxilon, Gotal, they conceal Sarah from pursuing Daleks, who head down both tunnels after the Doctor. In the tunnel the Doctor is in, the Dalek comes across the root probe and is destroyed, allowing the Doctor to escape and reunite with a very relieved Sarah.

As they are guided away, Bellal explains to the Doctor and Sarah about Exxilon. Their civilisation was once very technologically advanced, including space travel. Thousands of years ago, the Exxilons built the enormous City, one of the Seven Hundred Wonders of the Universe. It became sentient and drove them out, and the Exxilons gradually degenerated into their current primitive society which worships the thing that destroyed them. Bellal and Gotal are from another, much smaller faction which wishes to destroy the City. After Bellal draws several of the images he has seen on the City walls, the Doctor realises that the advanced Exxilons had been to Peru on Earth. He decides they must infiltrate the City to deactivate the energy drain. Before he leaves with Bellal as guide, he tells Sarah to make sure the Marines are ready for take off when the beacon is disabled, because the Daleks will destroy their ship once they have full power again.

On the surface, the deal between Dalek and human is fast becoming uneasy. The Daleks are upset the Exxilons are not mining fast enough, much to Galloway's distaste. After another root comes to the surface through a body of water and kills an Exxilon and a Dalek, the Daleks are forced to move the mining operation to another location, as the Exxilons are refusing to go back to work otherwise.

The Daleks decide on a two-pronged plan to restore power: two Daleks are sent to infiltrate the City and hopefully destroy the controls (and thus restore power), while Hamilton and Galloway are made to scale the City walls to plant bombs on a beacon at its summit to blow it up.

The Doctor and Bellal arrive at the City and the Doctor manages to work out how to get in - a non-matching symbol. With the Daleks in hot pursuit, they get in and face their next test in a room with several skeletons - evidence of their fate if they are unable to pass the next test. The Doctor traces a maze pattern without error, opening the next door just before the Daleks enter the first room. As the Doctor and Bellal come to a corridor with a chessboard pattern, the Doctor snaps "Stop - don't move!"

Part four Edit

The pattern is an electrified trap, but the Doctor is able to negotiate it with his sonic screwdriver. The 7000-volt electrical charge causes only minor damage to the Daleks. The next two tests are of the mind - the Doctor has to use his sonic screwdriver to stop Bellal killing him - and of their sanity - they manage to survive after the Doctor denies the reality of the mind-warping illusions. This opens the final area - the City's control centre, where the Doctor promptly starts tinkering with the City's "brain". It responds by triggering the creation of two humanoid "antibodies" to destroy the intruders; the Doctor orders Bellal to let him know when they're finished while he keeps working.

At the mining camp, Sarah finds Jill Tarrant and the pair hatch a plan to replace the Daleks' parrinium sacks with sand-filled ones, whilst the real parrinium sacks are moved to the Earth spaceship. As dawn breaks, a Dalek guard finds that Jill has escaped, and promptly self-destructs in remorse.

On the City exterior, Hamilton and Galloway have finally reached the summit and plant one of the two Dalek bombs on the beacon. Galloway, however, insists on keeping the second bomb, pointing out that the Dalek guard at the base won't be able to see them keeping it and that one bomb will be enough to do the job. They start to descend.

The Doctor has almost finished with his interference with the City's "brain" when the antibodies attack him and Bellal. Fortunately, the pursuing Daleks arrive and promptly fire on the creatures, causing them to turn their attention to the Daleks. The fight causes a lot of damage in the control room, and that plus the Doctor's tinkering causes the City to start to die; the Doctor and Bellal escape.

The Dalek bomb goes off, and power is restored. As the Doctor and Bellal escape they join up with the other humans, only to find that the Daleks are not only about to leave, but that they really were behind the plague. As soon as their ship is in orbit, the Daleks will drop a plague bomb to wipe out life on Exxilon and prevent anyone else from coming to the planet to get more parrinium, while the large quantity they mined will allow them to hold the galaxy to ransom.

However, Galloway, who hid on board before the launch while loading the parrinium, sacrifices his life to destroy the Dalek ship with his stolen bomb. Sarah and Jill Tarrant then reveal that they had replaced the Daleks' parrinium with bags of sand, and that the real stuff is on their ship. Jill Tarrant and Peter Hamilton will now await the arrival of a rescue ship to bring the much-needed plague cure to the afflicted planets.

Everyone turns to look at the City as it melts away, screaming as it is destroyed. The Doctor bemoans the City's destruction - now the Universe has only six hundred and ninety-nine Wonders...

Cast Edit

Crew Edit

References Edit

Daleks Edit

  • The Daleks move through psychokinetic power (which presumably allows them to fire their weapons).
  • The Doctor describes the Daleks to Sarah as "only half robots...Inside each of those shells is a living, bubbling lump of hate."
  • Galloway refers to the Daleks as "the wee saltshakers."

Elements Edit

  • Parrinium is a chemical that is rare on Earth but is as common as salt on Exxilon. It's the cure for the space plague, which was caused by the Daleks' "plague missiles".

Locations Edit

  • When the Doctor first sees the City, he proclaims it must be one of the Seven Hundred Wonders of the Universe; as it is destroyed, he complains that now there are only six hundred and ninety-nine.

Medicine Edit

Military Edit

Songs Edit

Species Edit

  • The Doctor believes the Exxilons travelled to Earth and taught the Peruvian Incas how to build their temples.

Planets Edit

  • The Doctor was intending to take Sarah to the planet Florana, which has effervescent water.

TARDIS Edit

  • The TARDIS has emergency storage cells in case of power failure. Without power, its doors need to be hand-cranked.
  • The TARDIS control room is illuminated by hexagonal lights set high on the walls, one of which fades as the TARDIS is drained of its power.

Story notes Edit

  • This story had the working titles of The Exilons and The Exxilons.
  • This story originally did not feature the Daleks. They were included because of Barry Letts' and Terrance Dicks' desire to cash in on the Daleks' popularity.
  • This story marks the first time the Daleks' weapons do not function on screen. The Daleks can modify their casings relatively quickly, replacing their energy weapons with slug-throwing rifles.
  • The Daleks target practice with their new projectile weaponry using a miniature police box.
  • Many of the Dalek casings used for this story dated from the 1960s (due to the unsatisfactory quality of the casings produced for TV: Planet of the Daleks).
  • The cliffhanger to part three — the Doctor and Bellal walking towards a patterned area on the floor, only for the Doctor to say "Stop - don't move!" — was not originally going to be the cliffhanger. The original cliffhanger was going to be at the scene where the Doctor is trying to deduce the answer to the logic test concerning symbols, when two Daleks appear. Specifically, the cliffhanger would have hinged on the zoom towards the Dalek's gun. This was changed, however, for timing reasons.
  • The 625 line PAL colour videotape of part one was later somehow lost from the BBC archives, but a replacement copy was later found to complete the serial. This is the latest known episode of Doctor Who to be, for a time at least, considered lost.
  • Clips from this story were used in part 5 of the 2001 documentary series "SF:UK".
  • Radio Times credits Duncan Lamont (Dan Galloway), John Abineri (Richard Railton) and Julian Fox (Peter Hamilton) as 'Lt. Dan Galloway', 'Capt. Richard Railton' and 'Lt. Peter Hamilton'.
  • The surname of Murphy Grumbar (Dalek Operator) is misspelt as 'Grunbar' on all four episodes.
  • This would be the final televised Dalek story not to feature their creator Davros or use the traditional "of the Daleks" naming convention until TV: Dalek in 2005.
  • The arrowhead insignia the Marine Space Corps wears is similar to both the insignia of Star Trek's Starfleet (from which it is rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise) and the villainous Federation of Terry Nation's later project Blake's 7 (from which it is rotated 180 degrees).

Ratings Edit

  • Part one - 8.1 million viewers
  • Part two - 9.5 million viewers
  • Part three - 10.5 million viewers
  • Part four - 9.5 million viewers

Filming locations Edit

Production errors Edit

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • When the 'root' beneath the City destroys the Dalek in the far shots it has white speech globes and when zoomed in it has orange. The other Dalek in the tunnels has the default white lights.
  • The wires holding up the City 'roots' are clearly visible, especially in the location filming.

Continuity Edit

DSC01801

1987 release (BBCV 4073)

Home video and audio releases Edit

VHS Release Edit

Death to the Daleks was released on VHS in 1987 in the omnibus format. It was later released in 1995 in the episodic format for the UK, Australia, and the US.

DVD release Edit

The restored serial was released on DVD on 18 June 2012.

External links Edit

Footnotes Edit

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