Dalekmania strikes Buckingham Palace as the Daleks talk part in the Platinum Jubilee parade, alongside buses decorated with the Doctors

The past four days have seen celebrations across the United Kingdom to mark seventy years since the ascent of Queen Elizabeth II. The pageantry of the Platinum Jubilee reached a crescendo today with a parade through London to Buckingham Palace. One of the core elements was a procession  symbolising seven decades of British popular culture. And the world of Doctor Who played its part in those festivities. Not least by an onslaught by the Doctor’s most iconic enemies… the Daleks!

 

The Daleks re-invaded Earth in the 21st century amid 60s dancers and pursued by a fleet of James Bonds Doctor Who Platinum Jubilee
The Daleks re-invaded Earth in the 21st century amid 60s dancers and pursued by a fleet of James Bonds

Part of the 1960s contingent, the four Daleks followed the designs of those in the classic Daleks movies starring Peter Cushing as Dr. Who. Built and operated by members of the Project Dalek fan group, the four genocidal pepper pots were special motorised versions. This enabled them to cover extensive distance involved without the operators dropping of exhaustion. (Though Blogtor Who imagines it must have been very hot and sweaty under those lids by the end!) With at least some of them constructed against a challenging deadline to be ready for today’s event, they represent again the skill and talent of the Doctor Who fan community. Plus, the Daleks naturally had plenty of fun with their pre-parade media interviews. Various television reports carried their threats to destroy London and exterminate the onlookers!

Project Dalek have put some of the footage of their members at work invading the Mall for the Platinum Jubilee on their YouTube channel:

Doctor Who also appeared on the procession of buses covering the decades of Queen Elizabeth’s reign from the 1950s to now

As well as the likes of a selection of cars that had appeared in James Bond films over the years, the procession also included seven double decked buses. Each boasted special livery representing the major cultural phenomena of a decade. Meanwhile celebrated artists, athletes, and public figures representing each decade waved from the open top buses. Among them was Peter Purves, who played the First Doctor’s companion Steven Taylor. He was aboard the 1960s bus alongside some of his Blue Peter co-stars. The Seventh Doctor’s companion Bonnie Langford could also be found aboard the 1950s bus (for reasons that escape Blogtor Who, if he’s honest.)

It was also a remarkable sign of Doctor Who’s longevity and place in British culture that the decorations on almost all of the buses included icons of the show. Naturally, it didn’t feature on the 1950s bus, which focused on the likes of Cliff Richard. But on a 1960s bus, featuring the likes of Twiggy, Monty Python and the mods, a huge part of the back of the bus was given over to a portrait of William Hartnell as the Doctor, alongside Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor. The Daleks were again represented, this time on the side of the 60s bus.

 

featured William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton
The 1960s bus featured William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton

The Doctors of the 1970s, 80s, 90s and 00s also appeared in the line-up of British cultural touchstones

The 1970s bus, too, highlighted Doctor Who. Jon Petwee faced the Daleks from Day of the Daleks while Tom Baker beamed that iconic smile. The bus also featured, among other things, David Bowie’s famous Ziggy Stardust lightning bolt, Morecambe and Wise, as well as Star Wars and Superman: The Motion Picture (both of which were filmed in the UK).

The 1980s bus continued the trend with Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy taking up the rear of the design. Meanwhile Peter Davison, Janet Fielding’s Tegan and another Dalek just slipped around to the side. Even the 1990s bus, otherwise decorated with Spice Girls, Kate Moss, and more, gave the Time Lord a starring role. One of the most familiar publicity shots from the 1996 TV movie, featuring Paul McGann at the famous Police Box door taking up a large part of the back. Finally the 2010s bus also had room to celebrate Doctor Who’s triumphant return. Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant both appeared in its design.

 

The jubilee bus celebrating the 2010s, including the Ninth and Tenth Doctors, Daniel Craig's Bond and Bridget Jones Platinum Jubilee Doctor Who Christopher Eccleston David Tennant
The jubilee bus celebrating the 2010s, including the Ninth and Tenth Doctors, Daniel Craig’s Bond and Bridget Jones

As Doctor Who heads towards its own Diamond Anniversary, its place as a mainstay of British culture seem assured

Unfortunately for Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi and Jodie Whittaker, the 2010s bus didn’t use the same collage template as the other buses. Instead it presented a huge silver and grey metallic  Union Jack that extended right around the bus. But it seems certain that blanket decision is the only thing that stopped Doctor Who appearing on that bus too.

Doctor Who’s strong presence at the Platinum Jubilee event once again underlines what a national institution it is in the United Kingdom, as it heads towards its own Diamond Anniversary celebrations next year.

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Peter is a regular contributor to Blogtor Who and has also written for Doctor Who Magazine's Cosplay feature. His art was published in BBC Books' Doctor Who: 100 Illustrated Adventures, while a number of his essays appear in the You and Who series of books. He lives in Ireland with a wife who's remarkably understanding of being dragged across to the UK to take photos of him outside police boxes and a son who was plonked down in front of "Rose" at eight months old and hasn't looked back since.

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