47 Cool Things About
“Genesis of the Daleks”
(And 3 Stupid Ones)
(But we're not telling you which is which)
(We're expecting you to work that out for yourselves)
By Alan Stevens and Fiona Moore
Originally published in Celestial Toyroom Issue 419-420
Eden metaphors #1: Nation’s storyline originally had the
conversation between the Doctor and the Time Lord taking place in a
Maloney red-penciled this,
undoubtedly because it would
mean adding (the time and expense of) another location to the shoot.
Robert Holmes Recyclingwatch: There is a distinct resemblance
between the Time Lord sequence at the start of this story and the Time
in “Terror of the Autons.”
When the Time Lord says
“we foresee a time when [the Daleks] will have destroyed
all other lifeforms and become
the dominant creature in the universe,”
replies “that’s possible”-- meaning that,
as implied elsewhere in the series, the Time Lords can’t see
into their own future.
We’re also into Holmes’ image of the Time Lords of
“The Deadly Assassin,” as a corrupt and evil group
who, rather than dirty their own hands, give the Doctor a mission so
morally dubious that he eventually can’t bring himself to
carry it out.
The artillery barrage they encounter in episode 1 is very similar to
the barrage the Doctor encountered in “The War
Games”, even down to closeups on the female
companion’s terrified face as she holds her hands over her
ears. David Maloney Recyclingwatch.
Watching the land-mine sequence conjures up images of what would happen
if the Time Lord had to go back and report to the High Council,
“well, we sent someone, but he trod on a land mine three
minutes later and died. Sorry.”
The original script has the Doctor and companions taking the gas-masks
out of the packs of the dead soldiers, where the TV version has them
taking the masks off their faces.
The Doctor’s point about “kaleds” being
an anagram of “daleks” only works if the Kaleds are
using the Roman alphabet.
“We’ll find out what’s different about
them... by autopsy.”-- Nyder, "Genesis of
“You might be able to identify [the Master] afterwards....
I've got the R.A.F. to lay on a rocket strike.”-- The
Brigadier, "Terror of the Autons". Robert Holmes Recyclingwatch.
Mind you, Terry Nation Recyclingwatch: Lone woman stalked by menacing
figure who later turns out to be friendly, mutants, hand reaching out
to unsuspecting woman, Doctor/companion befriended by a native,
time/space travel through magic bracelet, some Skaronian race using
other humanoids for slave labour (the twist here is that it’s
the Thals), monstrous creatures used as guard animals.
There’s a clear implication that the Thals are also chucking
their mutated citizens out into the wasteland to die or shamble about
“Tarn” was originally named
“Gitane.” As well as being French for
“gypsy,” this is the name of a brand of French
cigarettes, providing another indication of where Nation gets his names
“Ronson” is also a well-known brand of cigarette
Eden metaphors #2: “neidr” is Welsh for
“snake,” but see below...
It’s not just the Kaleds and Thals who are obsessed with
ethnic purity, as the Mutos have decided to kill all
“norms” (by which they mean the so-called normal
members of both the other two groups).
In the first scene with Ronson, we can clearly see that the
Doctor’s membership card in the Alpha Centauri Table Tennis
Club is among his possessions. “Robot”
The Kaleds’ obsession with racial purity is such that their
security scanners explicitly make a record of a subjects’
A gunless Dalek being put through its paces by a scientist for a group
who’ve never seen one before, which then goes up to the
Doctor and identifies him as different; also, a process aimed at
“humanising” Daleks. David Whitaker (who had
absolutely nothing to do with Doctor
at this point) Recyclingwatch.
Establishment of a fascist Think Tank in an underground bunker with a
minefield and a chief scientist obsessed with creating a robot which
winds up killing him, plus business with nuclear missiles. Terrance
Dicks (who also had absolutely nothing to do with Doctor Who
The sound we hear when the Doctor and Harry first peer into the
proto-Dalek “nursery” isn’t the Kaled
mutant noise, it’s the Mire Beast noise.
Public service announcement for all nitpicky fans who insist that Sarah
should be showing signs of radiation poisoning after a few hours
working on the Thal rocket: The effects of radiation are cumulative.
The normal one-year dose limit for people working directly with
radioactive material in the nuclear industry is 50 millisieverts; 100
millisieverts is the point at which an increased cancer risk is
noticed, and it takes 400 millisieverts for most individuals to start
showing symptoms of radiation poisoning. So unless that rocket is
putting off enough radiation to seriously endanger the Thal guards as
well (radiation suits notwithstanding), a few hours’ exposure
isn’t going to make much difference.
The Dalek is not only a means of ensuring the survival of the Kaleds,
in some form, but also a weapon which will end the war, and is thus,
despite Ronson’s complaints, perfectly in line with what the
Elite was set up to create.
And as for Ronson’s assertion that it’s a
“conscienceless monster,” judging by the rest of
the Kaleds’ obsession with killing, experimenting on and
otherwise inconveniencing anything even marginally different to
themselves, it’s got some stiff competition from its parent
Ronson's objections to the Daleks appear to stem from the ingrained
Kaled obsession with racial purity: The "ultimate creature" has been
created using similar processes to those which produced the Mutos.
Imagine that you’re sitting peacefully in a cave, minding
your own business, when some idiot comes along and shoves his boot in
your mouth. You’d get pretty angry too.
Contrary to what the infotext on the DVD tells you,
“conchylum” is indeed a Latin word, meaning
The key reason the Council would be willing to listen to the Doctor,
however weird his suggestions and however xenophobic Kaled culture, is
clearly because the Elite, and Davros
specifically, are becoming a
threat to the power of the current establishment, and need cutting down
to size. Someone providing a good excuse to start doing so is always
This is in fact a theme running through the story. For example, the
Time Lords turn to the Doctor to solve their problem; the Elite turn to
the Daleks to solve their problem; Ronson turns to the Doctor and Harry
to solve his problem, the Thals turn to prisoners and Mutos to solve
their problem, the Council turn to the Doctor to solve their problem;
Davros turns to the enemy to solve his problem.
More fun with radiation! When a radioactive source is released, outside
of the immediate danger zone (about twelve miles), the radiation goes
straight up and more or less evenly distributes itself in the
atmosphere, meaning that the whole planet is more or less equally at
risk. The Thals’ agreement with Davros may wipe out the
Kaleds, but it’s condemned the Thals themselves to at least a
generation of increased risk of thyroid cancers and acute leukemias.
Clearly, no price is too great to pay for peace.
A political leader does a deal with his people’s ostensible
enemies, but plans to betray these enemies as well once he’s
used them to establish his own powerbase among his people, then wipe
out the very beings he uses to wipe out said enemies. “The
Daleks’ Master Plan”
The Kaleds’ means of ensuring the continuation of their
species involves the artificial gestation and maturation of genetically
modified beings on a kind of assembly-line system. The Thals have to
make do with Bettan.
Although Davros tells Gharman to introduce chromosomal variations into
the embryo Daleks to make them “without feeling or
emotion”, which would imply that the existing Daleks
don’t have those variations, Davros’ earlier
dialogue with Nyder indicates that the twenty Daleks which went off to
the Thal dome have been genetically conditioned to remove those
qualities as well.
The Doctor goes around a corner, sees a Dalek with a stack of Thal
bodies blocking its way, and ducks into hiding. We then see the Dalek
gliding around the corner with no indication that it had to push
through any obstacles. You’ll believe a Dalek can fly!
Everything Davros says can be made funnier by adding the phrase
“But first, a biscuit.” Particularly if it precedes
the line “Nyder, take charge of the tin.”
The Doctor’s suggestion to Davros that he should make the
Daleks a force for good throughout the universe finds an interesting
in the scene in Schindler’s
List where Schindler tries to
convince Goeth that he can demonstrate his power more effectively
through showing mercy than by killing people.
Despite his later concern about the contents being programmed into the
Daleks’ memory banks, the Doctor’s account of Dalek
future history appears to be a load of bollocks (“The Dalek
Invasion of Earth” took place in the year 2000? Really?).
39. Likewise Davros’ vision of future peace as the complete extermination of everything else is a mindset clearly developed from centuries of war. And yet, he also doesn’t make the connection between his philosophy and his circumstances, as at the end of the story he pleads for his life and those of the scientists. Cognitive dissonance, it happens.
There’s also an implication that the Doctor’s going
to switch off his life support system anyway, as he must be aware that
even if Davros says “this order cannot be
countermanded,” he has the authority to simply take it back
later, unless he’s in no position to. “Destroy
Davros, and you destroy the Daleks,” as he said earlier to
Sarah’s response to the Doctor’s “have I
the right?” seems to be “you have to do it because
the Time Lords told you to.” Considering what a pack of
bastards the Time Lords are, that’s not much of an argument
There’s a clear influence on the serial from the Silent Spring-led
environmental movement of the day, in reaction to the discovery that
eliminating “harmful” species (e.g. locusts) had a
knock-on effect that killed off other species (e.g., birds). Destroy
the Daleks, and maybe we won’t have bees.
The million and a half reviews of this programme that prate on about The Brothers Karamazov
miss the significant irony that the “innocent” on
whose death and torment Utopia can be built is in fact the Daleks.
Eden metaphors #3: The story features a self-described
“godlike” being creating a new species, from which
he tries to withhold the knowledge of good and evil. However, the story
is inverted; it’s Gharman, not Nyder/neidr, who is the
“snake” arguing that they should have this
knowledge; the beings never obtain it; and they wind up destroying
their creator, the snake, and pretty much everything else.
Davros, who receives unswerving loyalty from Nyder, appears to expect
the same from the Daleks. However, Nyder has obvious reasons to remain
loyal, as supporting Davros gives him power and prestige within his
society; there’s nothing encouraging the Daleks to do so.
Perhaps Nyder is the snake after all?
Clearly Nyder has not told Davros that the Doctor has destroyed the
tape, otherwise Davros would have ordered the Doctor recaptured rather
The Daleks are given a computer programme that tells them to go out and
kill Thals; they come back home and are told to kill Kaleds. No wonder
they get a little confused and just start exterminating everyone.
Davros’ realising at the end of the story that the Daleks are
monstrous and attempting to destroy them, even knowing it means his own
death, is an act which arguably redeems the character, but this is
subsequently negated by the existence of every other story featuring
Davros. Sometimes it’s not a great idea to bring back a