Saturday, 23 February 2013

Raymond Cusick 1928-2013

Raymond Cusick - the designer of the Daleks - has died at the age of 84, his family have reported.

Born in London, Cusick first planned to be a civil engineer, but then after a stint in the army he planned to instead take up teaching. Having taught art, he then took an interest in design and joined Granada Television. This then led to a move to the BBC as a staff designer, which included being assigned to the fledgling Doctor Who. Here, he was to come up with the design of the Daleks, which arguably - alongside the TARDIS interior - is one of the key elements that made Doctor Who the success it was to become.

Talking to Doctor Who Magazine about his original design, Cusick said:
I spent the whole of one Sunday doing rough sketches of what I thought it should look like. I wanted to make sure it wasn't obvious how they worked, at the same time keeping them relatively simple. I didn't want either man shape or man height, so first of all I figured out that the operator would have to be inside the shell. Bearing in mind how long he'd have to be there, I thought it would be an idea to have him sitting, pushing himself along with his feet. A small actor in a sitting position would be only 4'6" high, which killed two problems with one stone.

However, as a staff designer he was never to receive royalties for his iconic realisation of Terry Nation's creations, and his enduring contribution took many years to be properly acknowledged.

As well as The Daleks, he would continue to work on the show during its first couple of years, designing more of the TARDIS in The Edge of Destruction, the futuristic/rugged worlds seen in The Keys of Marinus, The Sensorites, The Rescue and The Chase, the 'giant' items experienced during Planet of Giants, and even delving into history with The Romans; Cusick's last assignment was sharing the design load alongside Barry Newbery for the epic twelve-parter, The Daleks' Master Plan.

Outside of Doctor Who, he worked on a variety of BBC shows including Out of The Unknown, Dr Finlay's Casebook, The Pallisers, The Duchess of Duke Street, Rentaghost, When The Boat Comes In and Play For Today.

Upon his retirement he devoted a lot of time to his hobby, writing about the battles of the Napoleonic era. Retaining his interest over his creations, he was to be reunited with their modern equivalent during Doctor Who Confidential; he also recorded commentaries and appeared in features for the BBC DVD range.

Cusick had been suffering from a short illness. He leaves two daughters and seven grandchildren.
(Raymond P Cusick 1928 - 21 Feb 2013)


Tributes to the designer have included: current voice of the Daleks Nicholas Briggs(Twitter): "I'm very sad indeed to learn that Ray Cusick, the brilliant designer of the Daleks, has passed away."; original voice of the Daleks David Graham(BBC): "I never met him personally, but he was responsible for one of the iconic designs of television sci-fi."; Dalek operator Barnaby Edwards(Twitter): "So sad to hear that Ray Cusick, the designer of the Daleks, has died. Without him, there'd probably be no Doctor Who."; Davros actor Terry Molloy(Twitter): "So very sad to hear of the death of Ray Cusick... The true Creator of the Daleks!"; and from An Adventure in Space and Time writer Mark Gatiss(Twitter): "Farewell to the great Ray Cusick. His passing is especially sad in this anniversary year but his creation remains immortal. Daleks forever!"

In the Media: BBC News; Radio 5 live Interview with David Graham; ITV News; Radio Times; AFP; Guardian; Mirror; Independent.