Doctor Who 1966: The Power of the Daleks

1966 – the year the Beatles stopped touring, and began recording their next album, Sgt. Pepper.


This is… The first full story for the Second Doctor – 6 episodes – and the second-last Dalek story for a while.




When the programme Doctor Who began, it wasn’t thought of as something that would be on television for the rest of the decade, let alone the next two decades after that. The solution to the challenging problem of the departing actor, the actor who played “Dr. Who” for three years was a radical one – it’s understandable then that a familiar foe such as the Daleks should be used to give some continuity.

The solution to this problem was formulated by the duo of the new producer and story editor for Doctor Who – Innes Lloyd and Gerry Davis.

Innes Lloyd was the third producer of Doctor Who, a programme which was in a state of almost-continuous production – his tenure would see some major changes to the show and not just the recasting of the main character.

There was studio taping of the main cast for every week of the year, (52 weeks a year) except for about 8 weeks, meaning, as the videotape for one episode was generally taped at the end of each of those weeks, there were only a few weeks each year Doctor Who wasn’t on television (usually August in the Sixties).

So from one Autumn to the next during the Sixties there were 44 or so episodes of Doctor Who broadcast.

The rest of each production-week: rehearsals for the taping later in the week, and for film inserts to be added to the videotape – location filming and Ealing Studios filming when required.

The broadcast-runs were broadly analogous to the production-blocks, though the 87 episodes created for “Season 1” (as we say in 2012) and “Season 2” and Galaxy 4 and Mission to the Unknown – these were actually a block of 52 episodes plus a block of 35 episodes.

There was originally about a month between recording and broadcast but by 1966 this had narrowed to a week.

Lloyd and Davis had replaced in 1966 Donald Tosh and John Wiles who had been the producer-and-story-editor duo for the first half of the third production block. Verity Lambert and her story editors David Whitaker and Dennis Spooner had overseen the first two production blocks.

Doctor Who’s original companion characters Ian and Barbara left the show along with Doctor Who’s original producer. Steven, a dashing young spaceship pilot, was to be the new other male lead of the show.


picThe new TARDIS trio of early 1996’s The Ark – the Doctor and Steven and Dodo – had gone by the end of 1966, as the new producer and story editor had certain ideas for the future of the show, and by the end of 1966 there was a new TARDIS trio: “the new Doctor” and Ben and Polly.

September 1966 and the fourth production block began: The Power of the Daleks was its second serial, (The Smugglers having been held over from the previous block), with The Tenth Planet, Hartnell’s departure story, taped first.

So there had been a certain amount of instability in front of and behind the cameras before this Dalek serial – as mentioned in “Doctor Who 1965”, there was a rapid series of “Susan replacements” – Vicki, Katarina, and Dodo. Steven and Dodo were bundled offstage before the final episode of 1966’s The War Machines.

Polly was the new model for the female companions, a glam-companion, with Ben her male counterpart bring more Swinging London glamour.

The excitement of London and the Britain of “now” had only been introduced to the programme with Lloyd and Davis’s The War Machines – their development of the format of Doctor Who was to up the space-age quotient, to the extent that the next serial after this Dalek serial would be “the last pure historical”, a strand of the programme that had been thought to be a vital part in 1964, and exemplified by Marco Polo and The Aztecs.

So the glamour of London – The War Machines – and the fascination of a futuristic space-base – The Power of the Daleks – would guide what the programme was until the end of the Sixties.

This has been placing The Power of the Daleks in the context of the production processes of the Sixties – for the fine detail of the actual story, there will be a comparative study between it and 1967’s The Tomb of the Cybermen.

Remember though these strands for the rest of the Sixties and beyond…

The “other times” Earth history story, such as The Aztecs of 1964.

The glamour of London – began by 1966’s The War Machines.

The Dalek stories.

The fascination of a futuristic space-base – as seen in this serial, 1966’s The Power of the Daleks.

Broadcasts: Six episodes on six Saturdays of November and December 1966, 17:50 on BBC1.

Continuity notes:

Ben: The Doctor always wore this. If you are him it should fit… That settles it!
The Doctor: I’d like to see a butterfly fit into a chrysalis case after it spreads its wings.
Polly: Then you did change.
The Doctor: Life depends on change, and renewal.
Ben: Oh, that’s it, you’ve been renewed, have you?
The Doctor: Renewed? Have I? That’s it, I’ve been renewed. It’s part of the TARDIS. Without it I couldn’t survive.

Programme ethos: That the Daleks are part of the story – and the Doctor must stop them! – is what propels the narrative. Contrast that against Serial B with the Doctor’s motivations evolving over that story.

Precursors: Obviously, the previous Dalek stories, but something curious happened regarding the string of televised Dalek stories in 1966 – Terry Nation (who had a certain amount of control of the use of the Daleks) proposed a Dalek spin-off programme, one that would star 1965 Doctor Who‘s Sara Kingdom battling the monsters. After some agreement, it all came to naught. (1967 would see Nation trying to interest America in the idea – which didn’t succeed – and in that year the “last” Doctor Who Dalek story The Evil of the Daleks was broadcast as the BBC took the option that it would be the last, at least for the Sixties).

Sound and Vision: Tristam Cary’s wonderfully atmospheric sound and music from The Daleks (Serial B) and The Daleks’ Master Plan was re-used for this serial.

This serial exists in the BBC Archives as a sound recording (thanks to keen fans) and tele-snaps (thanks to John Cura providing a commercial service for the cast and crew), as the six episodes were junked as per normal Sixties television practice.

World of Fandom:

The 2009 DWM readers’ poll of 200 stories, this story’s ranking – for a story that’s lost apart from audio and tele-snaps – is an impressive: #21.


The Power of the Daleks audio.


(The Power of the Daleks on


Next Wednesday – Doctor Who 1967…


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