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Dalek Empire

Terry Nation created the Daleks in 1963, spawning a merchandising phenomenon and extra-curricular adventures across almost every media. Yet by 1967 it seemed the Daleks were dead…
Agents Brit and Arthur Lippert are challenged by a Dalek in The Secret Struggle, a story in The Dalek World (1965). Illustration by John Wood.

When Terry Nation’s first Dalek story began on 21 December 1963 it was television history in the making. Doctor Who’s ratings jumped and in January 1964 licensing agent Walter Tuckwell approached the BBC for exploitation rights. Nation had already been commissioned to write another, non-Dalek, Doctor Who serial (ultimately titled The Keys of Marinus) and in March the BBC announced the Daleks’ return to TV at the end of the year. In April, Nation’s canny agent Beryl Vertue negotiated a 50/50 royalty split between Nation and the BBC, covering merchandise and other opportunities. How did Nation ride the wave of the ensuing Dalekmania craze, and how did he expand his Dalek universe along the way?


In 1964 Nation saw the potential in exploiting the Daleks outside of Doctor Who, but first he had to create new fictional contexts for their adventures. The Dalek Book, a hardback annual published on 30 September by Souvenir Press, was Nation’s first attempt to explore the universe of the Daleks without the Doctor (William Hartnell) and friends. Nation was busy with lucrative commissions on ITC’s filmed television series The Saint, so to assist with The Dalek Book he recruited David Whitaker, the Doctor Who story editor who’d helped develop his debut Dalek serial for TV. They collaborated on the annual from around May 1964, while Whitaker was still in his BBC post. After an exhausting 15 months on Doctor Who, Whitaker left his story editor job in September. He then took an office adjoining Nation’s at the Associated London Scripts agency, where he would continue writing freelance for Doctor Who and also become Nation’s writing assistant on the expanding Dalek empire.

The Dalek Book built a world far beyond that seen on TV in the initial serial, The Mutants (aka The Daleks, 1963-64). The aggressive creatures, trapped in their city and dependent on static electricity, were now unleashed. Ruled by a golden, spherical-headed Emperor, they possessed fantastic weaponry and traversed space in their transolar disks. With their home planet Skaro having entered Earth’s solar system, the Daleks laid waste to Jupiter, Saturn, and the Earth colonies on Mars and Venus. Mineralogist Jeff Stone, his electronics engineer brother Andy, and Mary, their biochemist sister, fought back with the help of Martian Vel Karneen and his Space Army for the rest of the book’s linked strip and text stories. The book was illustrated by former Eagle comic artists such as Richard Jennings, and though a throwback to the 1950s’ spacefaring exploits of Dan Dare – with heroes blandly foursquare compared to the eccentric Doctor – it sold an impressive 75,000 copies. Moreover, it had shown the Daleks could thrive independently of Doctor Who

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About Doctor Who Magazine

DWM 522 throws new light on Doctor Who's success in its early years, with exclusive interviews with two people who knew Terry Nation (the creator of the Daleks) well: his agent Beryl Vertue and his writing colleague Brad Ashton. Doctor Who Magazine 522 also includes: • New research which reveals the Dalek toys which never made it to the shelves • The story of the Daleks in print in the 1960s • Previously unseen interviews with Peter Capaldi • Comedian – and now Doctor Who writer – Susan Calman discusses her love for the Time Lord • Emma Freud, the organiser of Comic Relief's unprecedented Breakfast with the Doctors is interviewed • Christel Dee’s guide to cosplaying Ace • Part four of The Phantom Piper, a new comic strip adventure featuring the Doctor and Bill • The Fact of Fiction explores the 2006 Tenth Doctor story New Earth • Previews, book and audio reviews, news, The Blogs of Doom, prize-winning competitions and much, much more!