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(Not Very Good) Resemblance of the Daleks

Enthusiastic toy collector discovers and restores a genuine screen-used Dalek prop from Dr Who! (SPOILER: It’s not)

In a weird alternative universe where the internet doesn’t exist (or ‘Cornwall’ as it’s better known) lives toy collector – or ToyMan if you will – Phil Chapman. Being internet-ually challenged without the assistance of Google Image Search, he is unable to access basic information about what things look like.

Which posed a particular problem when Phil embarked upon a ‘restoration’ project. Because in order to ‘restore’ something, you have to know what its original appearance was like. And furthermore, you also have to identify whether the thing you are ‘restoring’ is actually a genuine artefact and not just the pet project of someone who shares the same inability to identify simple shapes and forms as you.

It all started when Phil’s friend sadly died and he found something unusual in his shed (no, not that). Using only available resources scavenged nearby, Phil set about rebuilding his find. What emerged from the reconstruction was something almost, but not quite, entirely unlike a Dalek. Hang on, isn’t that basically the plot of Resolution?

His ‘Dalek’ is now on display at Liskeard and District Museum. Now kitted out with a motion sensor, the Dalek, according to Tina Barrett of Liskeard Information Centre, ‘…gives you full extermination when you are near and our free downloadable Zappar app (to smartphone or our museum iPads) means you can get a fully interactive experience with him which you can then share straight to social media.’ Whoa!

And – according to CornwallLive – the ‘Dalek’ even utters ‘its immortal catchphrase’, EXTERMINATE! Let’s hope they’ve got Dick Briggins to bring his disc modulation device to record the authentic Dalek, um, battle cry catchphrase. And others such as, ‘find, locate, destruction’, ‘my eyesight is impeded’, and ‘you are an antagonist of the Daleks’.

While I can’t help but warm to Phil and his lovingly demented Dalek, he really doesn’t help himself: “There aren’t many original Daleks left as they were often blown up in the series, or went off the side of cliffs,” says Phil, confidently. “Ultimately, a lot of them were destroyed.”

If only there was some kind of well-researched source of information on the whereabouts of all the original Dalek props. You’d call it something like and have a page titled, I don’t know, ‘Where are they now’ which would painstakingly detail the current known locations of every Dalek prop from 1963 to the present.

But that’s too easy for Phil, who didn’t – for example – contact Who experts like Richard Bignell, Andrew Pixley, or my seven-year-old son to authenticate his find. No, he set about doing his own Doctor Who viewing marathon. Imagine Phil’s reaction when the first Dalek was revealed in The Survivors, ‘No, no. That’s all wrong! What is this flabby-headed monstrosity with a massively unwieldy eye stalk and misaligned skirt balls?’

But Phil persevered. Good on Phil. CornwallLive reports that he poo-pooed claims that the prop was from the ‘Doctor Who film Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D., starring Peter Cushing as the Time Lord’. Phil wasn’t swallowing that theory, however plausible and accurate-sounding. It’s not clear, but it seems Phil had a eureka moment during Planet of the Daleks episode three when the cavern full of deep frozen Daleks is revealed. Yes, following episode after episode of portly Dalek machines, at last Phil caught a glimpse of the correct design.

Misleading ‘facts’, and the evidence of one’s own eyes, be damned. These were not Louis Marx toy Daleks badly painted black and operated by lolly sticks; they were the true Kaled race in all their pointy-headed glory. A fact only confirmed in their mind-blowing re-appearance in episode six.

In a budget-busting decision, cleary the BBC had ordered several hundred life-size ‘true’ Daleks to be built in the original classic design. In a strange quirk of fate, from the hundreds made, just one prop had survived either being blown up or going off the side of cliffs. And Phil was the man to restore it to its former glory.

‘Many of the features have now led Phil to believe it was used in the TV series,’ reports CornwallLive, ‘possibly in the early 1970s meaning it could have done battle with Jon Pertwee.’

So if you want to view the only surviving true Dalek, head to the Liskeard and District Museum, where you can also enjoy an exhibition of the history of local medicine, featuring some gruesome instruments. Which may or may not be items from a Fisher Price children’s medical kit.

IMMEDIATE UPDATE: Apparently some ‘experts and fanatics’ – we’ve had enough of them, frankly – have shared straight on social media that Phil’s Dalek is ‘dimensionally wrong’, ‘looks nothing like an actual TV Dalek’, and ‘it’s not made in the correct materials’. Picky lot. Yes, but it does give ‘you full extermination when you are near’. Not ‘part extermination’ like a pretend Dalek would.

Liskeard and District Museum responded, ‘Even if he proves to be a fan copy [let’s await the DNA test, people, or at least let him go on Doctor Who Do You Think You Are?], he is bringing so much joy to our visitors and is fully interactive so please come say hello.’

CornwallLive adds, ‘Careful Liskeard Museum, the Doctor Who experts will accuse you of being sexist next. Who’s to say it’s not a lady Dalek?’

Actually, they may have a point. If Phil’s slender Dalek mated with one of those preposterously-bloated New Paradigm Daleks, their offspring would be a pretty good approximation of the Cusick original design. Plus a display of them copulating would bring so much joy to visitors of the Liskeard and District Museum, and could be fully interactive too. FORNICATE! (Imagine that in the voice of Dick Briggins and it’s even funnier.)

Peter Shaw

(Not Very Good) Resemblance of the Daleks

by Peter Shaw time to read: 4 min
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