Doctor Who

The Dalek invasion of earth (1964)

About this serial

This is a six-part serial, first broadcast between 21st November - 26th December 1964. The serial was written by Terry Nation, produced by Verity Lambert and directed by Richard Martin. The script editor was David Whitaker.

Plot summary

Arriving in near-future London, the Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan discover that the Daleks have invaded Earth.


[Note: 'The Dalek invasion of earth was one of the first serials that I reviewed, and at the time I hadn't yet seen anything else from the black-and-white days of Doctor Who.]

This was my first exposure to the William Hartnell era of the early 1960s, and I enjoyed it more than I expected to. One thing that struck me was how some things have changed very much since the time this was made, while other things haven't.

One area where we've progressed by leaps and bounds was special effects, and audio-visual quality in general. It has to be said that this serial has some seriously bad special effects (though I have no doubt that they were damned good considering the budget and the technical tools available). It's in black and white, and the BBC Restoration team have done such a great job on it that, now on DVD, it probably looks and sounds much better than it did when it was first broadcast.

What's changed somewhat: the pacing and the acting. To me, the serial seems to have much of the pacing and the acting style of stage drama, and pacing and acting styles have changed since it was made.

What hasn't changed, really: the storytelling and the music. It's a story that's still fully accessible to today's audience - even if, particularly, the final episode has plot holes that Barbara could drive a truck through - and the theme music and the score could have been composed today. What did change, however, was the historical context, as the story draws parallels between the Daleks and the Nazis, and World War II was not even twenty years ago when the serial was broadcast.

The bottom line

Quite good, actually

This isn't a great introduction to classic Doctor Who - for that, you'd be better off with something that has Tom Baker, Jon Pertwee or one of the later doctors in the title role. It is pretty good, though, and a must-have for fans of the show. It's also an interesting bit of television history.

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