This story is one of the show's most popular stories of all time and marks the first appearance of Davros, the creator of the Daleks.
Michael Wisher provided a Dalek voice in part two as well as playing Davros, and it has been revealed that he rehearsed for the role of Davros by using a paper bag over his head to simulate the prosthetics.
Guy Siner, who played Ravon, and Hilary Minster, who played a Thal soldier (and who had previously played a Thal in the 1973 Third Doctor story "Planet of the Daleks"), both later became famous for leading roles in the BBC classic comedy 'Allo, 'Allo, in which the two actors played German officers. Both actors had also appeared in that programme's inspiration, Secret Army, also playing German soldiers.
Guy Siner also went on to appear in Star Trek: Enterprise in the episode "Silent Enemy" as Stuart Reed, the father of Lieutenant Malcolm Reed. John Franklyn-Robbins, who played the unnamed Time Lord in the opening scenes of "Genesis of the Daleks", would also go on to appear in Star Trek: The Next Generation in the episode "Preemptive Strike". To date, only eight other actors have had speaking roles in both the Doctor Who and Star Trek franchises.
"Genesis of the Daleks" was scheduled to air before "Revenge of the Cybermen", the story which had preceded it into production, and the next adventure to be made as part of the twelfth recording block, "Terror of the Zygons", would be held over to start a new season in the autumn. This meant that "Genesis of the Daleks" completed the recording of Season Twelve.
This story forms part of a continuous series of adventures for the TARDIS crew, beginning from "Robot" and continuing through to "Terror of the Zygons". Although the Virgin Books' The Missing Adventures novel "A Device of Death" takes place in a possible brief gap between the end of this story and the next, "Revenge of the Cybermen".
"Genesis of the Daleks" tells a very different version of the origins of the Daleks, which had been alluded to previously in a TV Century 21 Dalek comic strip, that was written by David Whitaker, but credited to Terry Nation, and again in the Radio Times story "We Are the Daleks!", both of which made note of the Daleks having been mutant offspring of the Dal race, experimented on by a Dalek scientist. In the TV Century 21 Dalek comic strip the scientist was called Yarvelling. Curiously, Yarvelling's people were also called Daleks, although the term more properly describes the travel machines and not the creatures inhabiting them. While in the Radio Times story "We Are the Daleks!" the Daleks were created on Ameron by scientists from Halldon, who had captured and accelerated the evolution of early humans.
It has been reported that Dalek creator Terry Nation based the Daleks on the Nazis, and this story abounds with deliberate parallels: A madman leads his own race to its destruction. He is supported by security services that ride roughshod over the military and anybody else that gets in their way. They dress wholly in black, and salute each other by raising their hands and clicking the heels of their boots together. Their bespectacled leader, Nyder, is cold-hearted and ruthless, and even wears an Iron Cross in earlier episodes before the medal later disappears from his costume. Much of the action also takes place in ‘The Bunker’.
It is revealed that the Time Lords envisage a time when the Daleks will be the supreme power in the Universe and so call on The Doctor to destroy the Daleks at the time of their origin or find some inherent weakness that can be used, or affect their development so they evolve into less aggressive creatures. Interestingly the Time Lords attempt of genocide is forbidden under Article Seven – as revealed in the 1986 The Trial of a Time Lord season of stories.
This is not the first time The Doctor has been sent on missions by the Time Lords. He acted on their behalf in the Third Doctor stories "Colony in Space" and "The Mutants". It is also implied he is again sent on a mission in "The Brain of Morbius".
Like the previous story, "The Sontaran Experiment", the TARDIS does not appear in this story – although it is mentioned in Part One. The lack of the TARDIS does not happen again until the 2008 Tenth Doctor story "Midnight" thirty two years later.
In this story the Time Lord gives The Doctor a Time Ring to return him to his TARDIS which he does in the next story, "Revenge of the Cybermen". Time Rings also figure prominently in the Virgin Books’ novel "Who Killed Kennedy" written by David Bishop.
Some of the Thal guns were previously used by the Drahvins in the 1965 First Doctor story "Galaxy 4", while part of an Ice Warrior costume is seen in one shot, representing of the mutant creatures produced by Davros in his experiments.
This story marks the final on-screen appearance of the Thals. They would though feature in the BBC Books The Eighth Doctor Stories novel "War of the Daleks".
In Part One, Sarah Jane Smith refers to ‘The beacon’, which is apparently intended to be a reference to Space Station Nerva ("The Ark in Space"). However, the space station does not serve as a beacon in that story, and is not called a beacon until the following story, "Revenge of the Cybermen". This error in continuity probably occurred because "Revenge of the Cybermen" was recorded before "Genesis of the Daleks".
The Doctor's pockets contain a magnifying glass, the sonic screwdriver, his yo-yo, a pair of handcuffs, various lumps of brightly coloured rock, an item which he describes as 'an etheric beam locator, it's also useful for detecting ion charged emissions', and the time ring given to him by the Time Lords.
The freeze-frame cliff-hanger, seen at the end of the second episode, is the very first time this technique was used in the show's history.
The ‘Mark III Travel Machine’ is the name given to the first Dalek.
One of the prototype Daleks is heard to state that ‘pity’ is not registered in its vocabulary banks and it has no understanding of the word, in response to Davros' pleas for them to spare the Kaled scientists. In the 2005 Ninth Doctor story "Dalek", as The Doctor electrocutes the captive Dalek, it is heard to cry out ‘Have pity!’, echoing Davros.
A Dalek ray is used for its weapon for the first time, though the entire screen is still in negative when it fires.
The Dalek defeats that The Doctor is forced to reveal in his interrogation include an invasion in ‘the year 2000’ when the Daleks tried to mine the magnetic core of the Earth (a reference to the 1964 First Doctor story "The Dalek Invasion of Earth", although he misdates this early story as it took place in the 22nd century). He attributes the Daleks' defeat to the core's ‘magnetic properties’, though in fact magnetism only played a part in the movie version, "Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. ". The Doctor also mentions a Dalek invasion of Mars failing due to 'a virus that attacked the insulation cables of their electrical system' (noted in the Virgin Books’ The New Adventures novel "GodEngine" by Craig Hinton) and an invasion of Venus that was halted in the ‘Space Year 17,000’ by a fleet of ships from the planet Hyperon. Despite the last two not being part of a televised story it seems likely that these are real events, as The Doctor is keen to destroy the tape when free.
The Daleks and the Time Lords are later involved in a destructive Time War, alluded to in Season Twenty Seven (New Series 1). Russell T Davies (Executive Producer of the first four seasons of the show when it was revived in 2005) commented in an episode of Doctor Who Confidential that the origins of the Time War date back to this story, where the Time Lords struck first. Russell T Davies also made reference to this attempted genocide as a root of the Time War in a text piece in The Doctor Who Annual 2006. The Doctor's own internal struggle with the morality of wiping out the entire Dalek race is revisited to a degree in the 2005 Ninth Doctor stories "Dalek" and "Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways" and is a story point in the Season Thirty (New Series 4) finale "The Stolen Earth/Journey's End".
It is revealed that Skaro has been ravaged by a 1000 year war between the Kaleds and the Thals. There is a third ethnic group, the Mutos, mutants produced by the chemical weapons used during the first century of the war.
This story established Davros as the creator of the Daleks. He believes that the genetic mutation in the Kaleds is irreversible, and so is experimenting with living cells to produce the prototype Daleks. His early experiments involved animals, the resulting monsters being banished, along with the Mutos, into the wastelands. Davros is clearly old, stating that many times in the last 50 years the Government have tried to interfere with his work (it is never explained what, presumably horrific, accident brought about his infirmity).
The discussion between The Doctor and Davros about the hypothetical viral weapon is regarded as a classic moment from the show. This scene resulted in the famous line spoken by Davros:
‘Yes. Yes. To hold in my hand a capsule that contained such power. To know that life and death on such a scale was my choice. To know that the tiny pressure of my thumb, enough to break the glass, would end everything. Yes. I would do it. That power would set me up above the gods. And through the Daleks, I shall have that power!’.
Davros’ speech would become a reality in the Big Finish Productions audio story "Terror Firma". Interestingly this debate is reproduced almost word for word as a homage in the computer game Discworld Noir.
So popular was the introduction of Davros that all subsequent Dalek stories in the original run of the show would feature him. Though apparently destroyed at the end of this story, he returns in the Season Seventeen story "Destiny of the Daleks", having survived when his life-support systems placed him in a form of static hibernation.
The novelisation of the Second Doctor story "The Evil of the Daleks", by John Peel suggests, that the Dalek that exterminates Davros at the end of this story eventually becomes the Dalek Emperor seen in "The Evil of the Daleks". The BBC Books The Eighth Doctor Stories novel "War of the Daleks" (also written by John Peel) also states this.
In the 2005 story "Dalek" The Ninth Doctor alludes to Davros, but does not name him, when explaining the Daleks' origins to Henry van Statten. "Genesis of the Daleks" was also referenced in the 2008 Tenth Doctor story "The Stolen Earth/Journey's End", when Davros again meets Sarah Jane Smith, recognising her and commenting on her presence at the birth of the Daleks.
The 2006 four part audio series "I, Davros" depicts Davros' early life, from his childhood, right up to a few weeks before "Genesis of the Daleks". Peter Miles reprises his role as Nyder in the fourth episode "Guilt".
Alister Pearson‘s cover for the 1991 reprint of the Target Books novelisation is unique for a Dalek novelisation as it doesn't have a Dalek on it! The artwork was reused on the back cover of the Silva Screen CD release Doctor Who - Pyramids of Mars which features music composed by Dudley Simpson, arranged and performed by Heathcliff Blair.
According to the DVD Text commentary, the Target Books novelsiation of this story has the largest print run of any of the original run of the show.
An abridged version of this story, along with an abridged version of the Third Doctor story "Planet of the Daleks" were published in the large format Marks and Spencers book Doctor Who and the Daleks Omnibus, published by Artus Books in September 1976. The dynamic illustrations were provided by the General Illustration Company. Rather confusingly, the Fourth Doctor is illustrated fleeing the Daleks (twice!) in accompaniment to the telling of the "Planet of the Daleks" story, and on page 134, it would seem that the Daleks have cannibalised the Servo robot from "The Wheel in Space" in order to build a variation of a special weapons Dalek. The large format hardback book also included articles by Terry Nation on The Seventh Galaxy (far beyond the constellation Andromeda and including the planet Skaro apparently), The Anatomy of a Dalek, and The Dalek Deep Space Cruiser. There is also a couple of pages showing original camera script pages from "Genesis of the Daleks".
The popularity of "Genesis of the Daleks" is not in doubt. It has been described as ‘a gem of a story’ by David Howe and Stephen James Walker in their Doctor Who Television Companion, and in a 1998 poll of readers by Doctor Who Magazine, over 2500 voters placed this story at the top of a poll to find the greatest Doctor Who stories of all time, and it has regularly featured in the top-tens of other similar polls down the years, such as; in 2004 when it topped Doctor Who Magazine's ‘greatest Doctor Who story ever’ vote, and in the Doctor Who Magazine 'Mighty 200' poll in 2009 this story was voted as the third best story.
However, at the time of broadcast, the story caused considerable outcries about the level of violence portrayed. Mary Whitehouse's National Viewers' and Listeners' Association complained that this story contained ‘tea-time brutality for tots’.
Despite this "Genesis of the Daleks" is the most repeated Doctor Who story on BBC, having been re-shown in edited form on BBC1 in 1975 and again in 1982 (the later repeat as part of "Doctor Who and the Monsters") and again in its full episodic form in 1993 and 2000 (both on BBC2). It has also been repeated on the BBC's digital television channel BBC Choice in 1998 and has also been regularly transmitted on satellite television station UK Gold.
The first appearance of Davros.
The first time an episode ended with a freeze-frame cliff-hanger.
The first time a Dalek ray is used for its weapon.