Surely the greatest of all the Doctor’s foes. Best-known horrors in the universe. The first villainous creature from Who to get itself snapped by Lord Snowdon for a postage stamp, get its own movie deal, get voted as better than both Godzilla and Gollum in the same poll and to have a small, wheeled library stool named after it. Also, of course, the first Doctor Who characters to find a regular position both on a condiments tray and in a plumber’s van.
Created by Davros to be the final and greatest weapon of the brutal Skaro civil war, the Daleks soon grew a little too big for their shiny metallic boots and disobeyed their creator. Essentially weapon-wielding toddlers in over-sized walking frames constantly throwing paddies, they are mutated Kaleds (one of the humanoid native races of Skaro), which – depending on which particular part of the mythos you catch – are a sort of green-ish gooey blob with several legs, a kind of glass vial with something crammed into it or even an one-eyed leggy octopus in a sheltered motorised scooter.
But these tin squid cases have been an all-conquering, ruthless force in interplanetary warfare for more generations than you’ve had cups of tea (which, incidentally, they’re pretty nifty at serving to military leaders). Devoid of emotions other than hatred, Daleks are efficient, authoritarian and determined to achieve complete conformity – by wiping out every non-dalek lifeform, race and species. But occasionally they show some fear – and although that used to be when they came across a spiral staircase, later it happened when they were confronted by an angry, gun-toting female.
Over the millennia, Dalek life has been beset and divided by civil wars – initially between the Thal and Kaleds (or was that the Dals and the Thals), Imperial Daleks and Renegade Daleks, and later on with the Dalek version of Scientology – the Cult of Skaro… But most recently we saw a new generation being created when Dalek DNA was accidently mixed with a packet of Smarties.
They have been defeated by the Doctor on numerous occasions, using various methods – including turning pacifist Thals into genocidal bludlusting Dalek killers, but much more commonly, using something to blow them up… volcanic explosions, self-destruct devices, straightforward bombs and the Hand of Omega have all been used the destroy dalek ships, and on at least one occasion, the building they were in was blown up to stop their attempts at conquest.
There’s little to distinguish between Daleks – they share speech patterns, tones and voices as well as thought processes and instincts… and not one has thought to embellish the catchphrase they first uttered on screen in 1963: “Exterminate”. That’s a little lazy, right?
First appearance: “The Daleks” [AKA “The Mutants”/ “The Survivors”] (1963)
Best story: Genesis of the Daleks (1976). Or maybe “The Daleks” (1963)
Most inexplicable appearance: The Five Doctors (1983)
Favourite invention: Escalators
Weaknesses: Eyes on rather easy to snap off/cover up stalks. Other than that, a bomb clearly seems to do the trick.