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Episode Guide
Genesis of the Daleks
Production Code: 4E
Season 12, Story Number 78
Written by Terry Nation
Directed by David Maloney

Each episode is identified with date of transmission, duration, ratings in millions, and (for 1963-1974 only) archive status.

Part One
08 March 1975 | 24'30" | 10.7
Part Two
15 March 1975 | 24'51" | 10.5
Part Three
22 March 1975 | 22'38" | 8.5
Part Four
29 March 1975 | 23'38" | 8.8
Part Five
05 April 1975 | 23'27" | 9.8
Part Six
12 April 1975 | 23'30" | 9.1
Archive Status: All six episodes exist in color on PAL 2" videotape as held by the Film & Videotape Library when audited in 1978. The master of episode 1 suffers from a small amount of quad scratching.
Tom Baker (Doctor Who), Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), Ian Marter (Harry Sullivan), Michael Wisher (Davros), Peter Miles (Nyder), Dennis Chinnery (Gharman), Guy Siner (Ravon), John Franklyn-Robbins (Time Lord), Harriet Philpin (Bettan), Stephen Yardley (Sevrin), James Garbutt (Ronson), Drew Wood (Tane), Jeremy Chandler (Gerrill), Andrew Johns (Kravos), Pat Gorman (Thal Soldier), Tom Georgeson (Kavell), Ivor Roberts (Mogran), Michael Lynch (Thal Politician), Hilary Minster (Thal Soldier), Max Faulkner (Thal Guard), Roy Skelton (Dalek Voice), Peter Mantle (Kaled Guard), John Gleeson (Thal Soldier), Richard Reeves (Kaled Leader), John Scott Martin (Dalek Operator), Cy Town (Dalek Operator), Keith Ashley (Dalek Operator)
The Time Lords intercept the transmat beam and unceremoniously dump the Doctor, Sarah and Harry in what appears to be a quarry in a battle zone. A lone Time Lord emissary explains to the Doctor that they have decided the time has come to do something about the Daleks. They would like him to prevent their development or change it so that they become less aggressive and less of a threat to the future of the universe. The Doctor reluctantly agrees - what choice does he have? - and learns that the battlefield on which they have arrived is on Skaro, just before the Daleks are due to be created.

The Doctor and Harry are captured by the Kaleds, a humanoid race engaged in a thousand year war with the Thals, by whom Sarah is taken prisoner. The Doctor meets the Kaleds' chief scientist, Davros, who has been crippled and confined to a wheelchair and mobile life support system which looks suspiciously like the base of a Dalek.

Davros has been experimenting with genetic mutations to try and discover what the final mutated outcome will be of all the chemical and radiation weapons which have devastated the planet. Knowing this form, he devises a protective casing in which the last survivors of the Kaled race will live, thus ensuring his race's continuation. What he designs is a mark three travel machine, recognised instantly by the Doctor and Sarah as a Dalek.

Unfortunately Davros is not only a genius, he is also insane and plots with the leaders of the Thals to ensure that his work is not discontinued. The result is that the Dalek machines are activated with Davros's mutants inside them and the killing begins.

What Davros has done is to ensure that his mutants have an overriding instinct to survive, resulting in a totally ruthless life form which sees all other creatures as a potential threat to itself. The Daleks intend to survive by systematically destroying all life which is not Dalek. This begins with the destruction of most of the Thals but soon moves to include the Kaled Elite Scientific Corps and ultimately Davros himself.

Against this show of power and ruthlessness the Doctor is impotent. He gets the opportunity to destroy the creatures but finds himself unable to take the ultimate step. What gives him the right to wipe out a race of intelligent creatures? Ultimately the decision is taken from him and although he later changes his mind and tries to destroy the incubator room (a task ultimately and inadvertently performed by a Dalek), his intervention means only that the Dalek menace is contained underground for longer than it otherwise would have been.

With the Doctor having achieved as much as he can, the travellers grasp hold of a Time Ring given to them by the Time Lord at the start of the adventure. The ring whisks them off through time and space.

Synopsis from Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Handbook by David J. Howe, Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker, reprinted with permission; further reproduction is not permitted.

Production Team
Karilyn Collier (Assistant Floor Manager), Barbara Kidd (Costumes), John Friedlander (Davros Mask), David Spode (Designer), Elmer Cossey (Film Cameraman), Larry Toft (Film Editor), Dudley Simpson (Incidental Music), Sylvia James (Make-Up), Philip Hinchcliffe (Producer), Rosemary Crowson (Production Assistant), George Gallacio (Production Unit Manager), Robert Holmes (Script Editor), Dick Mills (Special Sounds), Duncan Brown (Studio Lighting), Tony Millier (Studio Sound), Delia Derbyshire (Theme Arrangement), Ron Grainer (Title Music), Peter Day (Visual Effects)
Story Notes
One of the series most popular episodes of all time, "Genesis of the Daleks" tells a very different version of the origins of the Daleks, which had been alluded to previously in Terry Nation's own "TV Century 21" Dalek comic strip and again in the Radio Times story "We Are the Daleks!" in Radio Times, both of which made note of the Daleks having been mutant offspring of the Dal race, experimented on by a Dalek scientist called Yarvelling. Michael Wisher provided a Dalek voice in part two as well as playing Davros, and he rehearsed for the role by using a paper bag over his head to simulate the prosthetics. The freeze-frame cliffhanger is seen at the end of Part Two for the very first time in the series history. Some of the Thal guns were previously used by the Drahvins in the season three story Galaxy 4, while part of an Ice Warrior costume is seen in one shot, representing of the mutant creatures produced by Davros in his experiments. The working title of the story was 'Genesis of Terror'. The story caused considerable outcries by the National Viewers and Listeners Association. Davros later returned in "Destiny of the Daleks" and three additional stories as well as several books and audios.
For more in-depth information about the contents of this story, a complete episode-by-episode detailed breakdown can be found at the Doctor Who Reference Guide.
Additional, more detailed information about the production of this story can be found at Shannon Patrick Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel).
DVD release
Released in the UK [March 2006] and Australia/New Zealand [April 2006] (BBC DVD catalog #1813), US/Canada [June 2006] (WHV catalog #E2503); episodic format; photomontage cover (UK version by Clayton Hickman). Includes commentary by Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Peter Miles (Nyder) and director David Maloney; "Genesis of a Classic," a 62-minute featurette looking at the making of the story, produced by Ian Levine and edited by Adi Denney, and featuring interviews with Baker, Sladen, Miles, producer Philip Hinchcliffe, executive producer Barry Letts, script editor Terrance Dicks, actors Guy Siner, James Garbutt, Dennis Chinnery, Roy Skelton, Cy Town, John Scott Martin and Michael Wisher, BBC sound person Dick Mills, lighting director Duncan Brown, visual effects designer Peter Day and makeup artist Sylvia James; "The Dalek Tapes," a 53-minute documentary produced by John Kelly, "which looks at the history of the Daleks and covers all of their appearances in the classic series" and includes rare Dalek clips and classic interviews and is narrated by Terry Molloy; a 7-minute featurette about Doctor Who models; a 6-minute continuity compilation which includes voice-overs; production text and photo gallery. Also included are PDF versions of the 1976 Doctor Who Annual and the Radio Times billings for the original transmission.
Video release
Released as “Genesis of the Daleks/The Sontaran Experiment” two-tape set in the UK [October 1991] and Australia/New Zealand [July 1992] (BBC catalog #4643), US/Canada [February 1994] (WHV catalog #E1201); episodic format, cover illustration by Andrew Skilleter. Re-released in remastered format in UK [September 2001] and Australia/New Zealand [April 2002] by W.H. Smith as part of the "The Davros Collection Boxed Set" with new photomontage cover, exclusive to their stores and not in general release.
Audio release
Released as “Genesis of the Daleks” on both LP and cassette, an abridged version of the story with narration recorded by Tom Baker. This version was rereleased along with “Slipback” by the BBC Radio Collection in 1988 on cassette (covers in the UK and US varied slightly), and later along with “Exploration Earth” by the BBC Radio Collection in 2001 on CD, both with photomontage covers. A music suite from the story was released on "Doctor Who: Pyramids of Mars" arranged by Dudley Simpson & Heathcliff Blair, released by Silva Screen (1993).
In Print
Novelised as “Doctor Who and the Genesis of the Daleks” by Terrance Dicks (Target #27), first released in 1976 with cover art by Chris Achilleos. Hardcover released in 1976. Re-released in 1991 as “Doctor Who – Genesis of the Daleks” with cover illustration by Alister Pearson. Book was abridged & illustrated for “Doctor Who and the Daleks Omnibus,” published by Artus in 1976. Released via Pinnacle Books in 1979 in US (#4); this version was also used in “The Adventures of Doctor Who” hardcover published in US by Nelson Doubleday.
For more details on the various novelizations of this story, with additional background material, artwork and details of both UK and foreign releases, visit On Target.
Screencap Descriptions
Descriptions of each story screen capture above right, top to bottom:
  • Davros (Michael Wisher), brilliant scientist... and the greatest criminal in history
  • the Doctor (Tom Baker) mulls the possibility of a universe without the Daleks, all at his fingertips
  • Sarah (Elisabeth Sladen) climbs the rocket scaffolding
  • Nyder (Peter Miles), the trusted aide of Davros
  • a Time Lord (John Franklyn-Robbins) appears to the Doctor on the surface of Skaro
  • the Doctor and Harry (Ian Marter) with the Kaled scientists
  • Davros with his new Travel Machines -- the dreaded Daleks
  • the Doctor faces Davros
  • the Doctor and Bettan (Harriet Phillips) with the Thals.. a lost cause
  • a Dalek weapon destroys a scientist