The Daleks’ Master Plan: The Destruction of Time
Broadcast on January 29th, 1966 @ 5.50pm (8.6 million viewers)
So finally, an adventure which started with a single episode way back on October 5th, 1965 (‘Mission to the Unknown’) reaches its epic conclusion. The ‘Time Destructor’ which has been crucial to the Daleks’ plan of galactic conquest is similar to the ‘Reality Bomb’ seen in 2008’s ‘The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End’, both weapons sounding equally devastating and capable of destroying all other life that is not Dalek. Its activation would provide a fittingly dramatic finale with some astonishing visual imagery and a shocking death.
The episode opens with paranoia having hit Mavic Chen hard, believing that the Doctor will usurp his position as an ally of the Daleks, such is his thirst for power and a misguided notion that he is equal to the Daleks. Convinced of his status and confidently carrying his gun he is spectacularly cut down by the Supreme Dalek, “Our alliance has ended.” Interestingly, the Daleks do not rant and declare themselves to be the all-powerful creatures in the universe as a response to Chen’s blustering. They stand quietly, motionless and impassive. It is a quite chilling moment because the Daleks retain all their strength and threat, yet do not shout about it but are brooding, contemplating their next course of action. Chen foolishly fires his weapon at the Supreme only for it to have no effect. Other Daleks encircle him, protecting their leader and revealing their strength. It is a shame that there are no images of Mavic Chen’s extermination by the Daleks because I imagine his face to have been displaying utter astonishment. The viewer, however, knew it was inevitable as it is impossible for the Daleks to have an ally who is not destroyed once their usefulness is at an end.
Surprisingly, it is the Doctor who actually activates the ‘Time Destructor’, in order to escape and liberate it from the Daleks, in the knowledge that the weapon would continue to function until the taranium core had been burnt out. As a result, he is responsible for what is about to happen although his instructions to Steven and Sara to get back to the TARDIS were pretty clear.
Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)
It can be tricky to define what qualifies a character to be declared a companion of the Doctor. Is it any individual who makes a journey in the TARDIS? Do they have to appear in more than one story? However the rank of companion is quantified, it has been regularly stated that in the original run of the programme a total of three companions met untimely deaths during their travels with the Doctor. Such is the dangerous and shocking nature of ‘The Daleks’ Master Plan’ viewers had already seen the death of the first companion, Katarina, back in episode 4. Surviving footage of her death shows it to be dramatic but not graphically realised. Sara Kingdom’s death is the complete opposite.
Such is the power of the ‘Time Destructor’ to accelerate time, The Doctor and Sara struggle to make their way back to the TARDIS, whilst all around them, the foliage of Kembel decays to that of an arid wasteland. Once again it is a shame there are not a lot of images from this episode in the archives because as a visual concept the effect of the ‘Time Destructor’ must have been a harrowing experience to watch. Sara’s demise comes from extreme ageing and some still images do survive which reveal the horror as her youthful skin becomes wrinkled until finally her flesh is reduced to skeletal remains. Many years would pass until a death as horrific as that would appear in Doctor Who again. The Daleks too are not immune to the effects of the ‘Time Destructor’ with an FX prop collapsing and leaving only a mutant embryo, dying in the sand.
The ‘Time Destructor’ was clearly an awesome weapon of incredible power and the finale of the epic adventure truly delivers. If we are ever lucky enough to get another missing episode returned to the archives I really hope it is this one!
Doctor Who – William Hartnell
Steven Taylor – Peter Purves
Mavic Chen – Kevin Storey
Sara Kingdom – Jean Marsh
Director – Douglas Camfield
Producer – John Wiles
Writer – Terry Nation
Also first aired On This Day…
- The Curse of Peladon: Episode 1
- The Robots of Death: Part 1