Moments in Time: Genesis of a GeniusBookmark and Share

Sunday, 8 March 2015 - Reported by Chuck Foster
Time Lord: Daleks.
The Doctor: Daleks? Tell me more.
Time Lord: We foresee a time when they will have destroyed all other lifeforms and become the dominant creature in the universe.
The Doctor: That's possible. Tell on.
Time Lord: We'd like you to return to Skaro at a point in time before the Daleks evolved.
The Doctor: Do you mean avert their creation?
Time Lord: Or affect their genetic development so that they evolve into less aggressive creatures.
The Doctor : Hmm. That's feasible.
Time Lord: Alternatively, if you learn enough about their very beginnings, you might discover some inherent weakness.

It was forty years today that the Doctor, Sarah and Harry were 'hijacked' from their return transmat to the Ark, pitched headlong into a 'final' battle between the inhabitants of Skaro, and discover exactly how the Doctor's most formidable foe came to be ...

Script editor Terrance Dicks often recounts the tale of how, faced with another "by-the-numbers" Dalek tale from Terry Nation, he and producer Barry Letts instead asked the writer to come up with a new storyline, suggesting an exploration of the origins of the Daleks. Taken on by the incoming team of Robert Holmes and Philip Hinchcliffe, the story was to become a darker tale in keeping with their new "house-style", and also a showcase story for new Doctor Tom Baker. Although criticised as overtly violent at the time by the National Viewers and Listeners Association ("tea-time brutality for tots"), Genesis of the Daleks is these days considered a great success and highly regarded in fandom - often topping polls as a favourite - and has been repeated some four times on the main BBC "terrestrial" television channels, more than any other Doctor Who story.

The first episode establishes that the Thals and Kaleds (which as the Doctor notes, is an anagram of ...) have been at war for so long that neither side remembers how it started, but both sides want it to end, with the Kaleds relying on the inventions of their scientific elite and its head, Davros. As the story progresses it transpires that the Daleks are mutants, a genetic experiment to determine the ultimate form of the Kaled race, and are used as weapons to wipe out the Thal enemy. But Davros's manipulation of emotions within the mutants and their conditioning to not accept any other as equal led to them wiping out the remaining Kaleds and ultimately their creator before he could stop them himself ...

Or did they? Over the last forty years we've seen Davros become a dominant part of Dalek history, from being 'resurrected' during their ongoing war against the Movellans, and again 'rescued' as they break him out of confinement. He's then seen to be engaged in creating a new race of Daleks on Necros, captured by the Daleks to be put on trial, and then revealed to have become the Emperor to a renegade Dalek faction. Through Big Finish we learned more about his own origins. Then, some twenty years after his previous appearance on television, he was back, now a veteran of the Great Time War between the Daleks and the Time Lords, and confronting the Doctor and indeed Sarah again. But as he and his creations were once again defeated, it looked as if he had finally perished in flames ... but did he? Time will tell ...

However, our Moment in Time for today occurs at the finale to Genesis of the Daleks episode one, where through the eyes of Sarah we first get to see this scientific genius, and discover what it is that he's created ...

Davros: Observe the test closely, my friend. This will be a moment that will live in history. (as a switch is flicked on the console a Dalek begins to stir) Halt. Turn right. Halt. (the Dalek obeys) Now, exterminate! (as the Dalek destroys three targets) Perfect. The weaponry is perfect. Now we can begin...

The Dalek comes to life ... (Credit: BBC)