Remembrance of the Daleks: Part One
First Broadcast October 5th, 1988 @ 6.35pm (5.5m viewers)
Despite the difficulties behind the scenes throughout the 1980’s, Doctor Who somehow managed to reach the significant milestone of a 25th Anniversary. Fittingly writer Ben Aaronovitch and Script Editor Andrew Cartmel concocted a story which brought the Doctor back to where it all began. To add to the nostalgia the iconic Daleks, also celebrating their 25th year, provided a publicity-boosting return.
The story opens at Coal Hill School, where of course the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan once attended. This was just the first nod to the past. People often forget that this is in fact Ace’s first story as the lone companion. The chemistry between Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred is natural right from the start. Perhaps it’s the shared birthday. Next the Doctor returns to IM Foreman’s (misspelt without the E) scrapyard in Totter’s Lane. As it turns out he is not the only alien present in the area.
“It isn’t even remotely human!”
For once the Daleks are portrayed as a genuine threat, killing two soldiers and proving more than a match for their primitive weaponry. Their appearance is not saved for the end of episode cliffhanger, Aaronovitch had something better in mind for that, but the single grey and black Dalek certainly makes an explosive impact. For those not schooled in the history of the show, the Doctor provides a catch-up on Dalek origins and then alludes to the mysterious Hand of Omega. Aware that the Daleks are following him, the Time Lord is far more proactive in this story. For a change, he is not a reactionary but engineering the situation. But yet as this first installment reaches its climax he still manages to find himself in trouble.
Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)
The conclusion to this episode finally exposed a myth. A long running joke in the playground was that the Daleks were incapable of navigating a flight of stairs. In ‘Destiny of the Daleks’ the Doctor even mocked their inability to climb after him. However, it had already been implied that Daleks could levitate in some capacity. In ‘The Chase’ for example, a Dalek rose out of the sand and could also be seen on the upper deck of the Mary Celeste. In ‘Revelation of the Daleks’ Davros is seen hovering over Orcini. Similarly, during the 1960’s comic strips the Daleks flew through the skies on hoverbouts. This episode was a significant moment however as for the first time onscreen a Dalek was seen to rise up the stairs. In reality, it was a huge physical effort with the heavy Dalek prop being lifted on two scaffolding poles, combined with some visual effects, to achieve the movement. Now it is much easily achievable with CGI.
‘Remembrance of the Daleks’ is a classic. Full of references to the past, it acknowledges the show’s history without dwelling on or being hampered by it. The Seventh Doctor’s character is also developing at pace and new companion Ace would cement her popularity with a few swings of a baseball bat. It even features Mr Bronson from Grange Hill (Michael Sheard) as the Headmaster of Coal Hill school. Part One is therefore merely an appetiser with plenty of twists and turns, explosions and Daleks aplenty still to come…
The Doctor – Sylvester McCoy
Ace – Sophie Aldred
Group Captain Gilmore – Simon Williams
Professor Rachel Jensen – Pamela Salem
Ratcliffe- George Sewell
Director – Andrew Morgan
Producer – John Nathan-Turner
Writer – Ben Aaronovitch
Also First Aired On This Day…
- The Mind Robber: Episode 4
- Paradise Towers: Part One