Online adventures had me pondering whether to invest in my own Dalek
PUBLISHED: 18:32 14 November 2018
David Clayton has been tempted to buy a Dalek, probably as he is from the generation that saw the very first Doctor Who 55 years ago this month
You know the ever-increasing feeling that “Big Brother” is watching you, especially online? Well, I browse a well-known online auction site from time to time. It knows what I’ve peeked at and throws other suggestions at me, more in hope than expectation. There may be a way of preventing this but I’m damned if I know what it is. So, I sit there as prospective purchases appear before my very eyes.
Given the momentous launch of a female Doctor Who, played by the brilliant Jodie Whittaker, I must have taken a fleeting interest in related merchandise, because when something of the genre gets listed, a “cyber carrot” is dangled in front of me. I hate to admit, but it works – because I’d never have had the following thought on my own. I started to seriously contemplate owning a proper full-size Dalek. Someone was off-loading one down in the west country. Undeterred by the hefty four-figure sum, I pondered the thrill of my very own Dalek, from the enduring TV series. Please note, at this point, I hadn’t wrestled with my wife’s altogether reasonable enquiry of “Where the heck would you put it?” Not to mention the totally reasonable, “What on earth do you want one for?”
I know why I was tempted – because I’m of the generation that saw the very first episode of Dr Who and labelled it altogether weird. Because of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, we saw it twice. Verity Lambert, the young producer, somehow persuaded BBC grandees that the first episode deserved to be re-run the following week ahead of episode two, lost as it was amid the world-shattering events in Dallas – and, as I’ve later discovered, some widespread power cuts which blacked out many TV screens.
The power cuts we could live with, but whatever age you were – I was 10 – Kennedy’s brutal killing affected us all.
Dr Who is undoubtedly a success now but back then, with only a couple of channels to watch, it was a huge TV event. I was hooked. A few weeks after we’d wrestled with the improbable “travelling through time and space in a police box” thing, we saw our first Dalek, and I do remember being terrified. In the “cliff-hanger” to hook you over to the following week’s episode we literally only had a glimpse of a Dalek’s appendage as the dreaded sink plunger poked into the corner of our small black-and-white screen. Not exactly a huge fright as we had one under the sink, (plunger – not Dalek!) but the look on Barbara’s face (Dr Who’s travelling companion, played by actress Jacqueline Hill) conveyed utter terror. It wasn’t so much the benign sink plunger, it was what it was attached to that, by proxy, filled us with mortal dread.
Here’s the fact you can use if ever you’re dining out and wish to impress anyone. The “sink-plunger moment” was on Saturday, December 21, 1963 – and we first encountered a full-frontal Dalek the following week. Despite the black-and-white 405-line picture, the Daleks were terrifying despite the fact they couldn’t go up stairs, and the BBC workshop had fitted car indicator lights flashing on their heads to indicate which Dalek was speaking.
Ms Whittaker and her gang are bringing the quirkiness of the Doctor to a new generation and hallelujah to that.
Its written well, acted superbly and the visual effects are the polar opposite to the flimsy scenery I saw in the early episodes, but is it just me? I’m waiting for the Daleks. Aficionados of the series say it is inevitable that Jodie will encounter them at some point.
Might they be a tad more gracious to a woman? I hope not. I like my Daleks mean.
Come to think of it, dare I tentatively suggest it’s about time we had a female Dalek?