The Dalek Movies FROM THE SFX ARCHIVES

Subotsky and Rosenberg had negotiated the rights to three Doctor Who stories and the success of Dr Who And The Daleks meant there was little chance of them not exercising their rights to a second one. “The Dalek Invasion Of Earth” was a much meatier story to put up on the big screen – set against a post-apocalyptic vision of London. The TV version could never do what a movie could in terms of visualising a Dalek-ravaged capital.

Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150AD (as it was snazzily renamed) had a ballooned budget of £286,000, and it shows. Whereas the first film suffocated under its studiobound restraints, the second is out and about like a newly recovered agoraphobic. Its images of a London decimated by the Daleks still impress, even 40 years on, while the tone is decidedly more adult. It is interesting to note, however, the liberal glimpses of Sugar Puffs logos (on posters, for example), the result of a deal between Amicus and Quaker, and one of the first instances of that sometimes necessary evil of product placement in a movie.

Jennie Linden failed to return, her ambitions not quite staying on the level of a Dalek sequel, which meant Roy Castle’s Ian was out. The slapstick vacuum was filled by Bernard Cribbins, playing Tom Campbell – a reimagined David Campbell (in the TV story he was a 22nd century freedom fighter who ends up with Susan – not a hapless 20th century London copper on an accidental journey into the future). Jill Curzon was wheeled on as Dr Who’s niece Louise, while Roberta Tovey returned, one year older, as Susan.

Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150AD failed to live up to the first film’s commercial success, despite garnering better reviews. But by then audiences had endured 12 weeks of Daleks with TV’s “The Daleks’ Master Plan”, and so it’s entirely feasible that the public were, well, Dalek-ed out. Amicus’s plans to make a Dalek movie a year evaporated. The plug was pulled on plans to film “The Chase” and Peter Cushing’s Doctor was quietly retired.

The two Dalek movies are an interesting little curio aside the monolithic weight of proper Doctor Who. It never again wandered onto the big screen, despite various failed attempts. But maybe more than the TV series, these movies are a record of that brief time in the ’60s when Daleks were the coolest of the cool. No TV Doctor Who captures that dayglo ’60s exuberance more than these enjoyably silly popcorn movies. If you watch them on DVD, watch ’em on a Saturday morning. That is where they belong.

TRIVIA

Director Gordon Flemyng is the father of actor Jason (Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels) Flemyng.

Milton Subotsky also produced an underrated TV adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles.

Since there were only a handful of “qualified” Dalek operators, dancers were brought in to play stunt/extra Daleks in big battle scenes or in scenes where large numbers of Daleks were needed.

In Dr Who And The Daleks, actress Yvonne Antrobus was unavailable for post-synchronisation after the shooting of the film was complete so while she is seen onscreen as Dyoni, her voice is provided by another actress.

Steve O’Brien twitter.com/mrssteveobrien

Read more of our Peter Cushing centenary features and reviews.