Chapter Two: The Dead Planet – the Dalek/Thal War

Chapter Two

The Dead Planet  – The Dalek/Thal War

        There are many interesting aspects of Dalek society that viewers of the television program have always had to wonder about, i.e. how do they eat (or do they eat), how do they reproduce, are there in fact two sexes, etc.  Readers should understand that I do not hold with the BBC’s notion that the Daleks simply clone themselves, or grow new Daleks in vats, regardless of this aspect of their biology being referred to within the series.  The cloning explanation puts them in the same class as the Sontorians, and diminishes their motives in regard to that respect (it is simple to say they are evil because they were all cloned from an evil original).  In addition it is not to far a strength of the imagination to in-vission a small room or chamber, filled with radiation, where the Dalek can go, release its machine’s locking clamps, and “stretch it’s legs” so to speak.  In fact we are show in the very first Dalek story that the Dal mutant does in fact have limbs (or at least arms), and twice we are shown humans (first Ian, in “The Daleks” and then Rebec, in “Planet of the Daleks”), climb into the machine and operate it.  Thus the mutant must have something of the basic human form.  It is important to remember however, that for the author writing a television play these points are of little importance to the plot (just like we never needed to see the toilets on the Enterprise to know that they were there!).
The early years of Dalek history when taken within the context of the program is very limited.  Neither Terry Nation, or the BBC, could have foreseen just how popular these pepper pods from Skaro would be with the viewing public, and so when Nation penned “The Dead Planet,” he had every intention of seeing their demise at the end of episode seven as the final act for the Daleks.  When he was asked by the BBC to submit a second Dalek story for the show’s second season he was faced with a dilemma.  How could he bring back the creatures he so definitely killed off the year before?  Of course when writing a story about a time machine the answer was obvious.  Place the events in the second Dalek story chronology before the events of the first.  This of course created a slight continuity problem, as the Daleks in the new serial had to move around the landscape of 21st century Earth, yet their “descendants” on Skaro were confined to the limits of their city.  Of course the answer was to place a radar dish on the Dalek’s back and explain that they were receiving broadcast power to move around.  This creates a dilemma however, within Dalek evolution.  If earlier Daleks could movie around using broadcast power, then why hadn’t the “Dead Planet” Daleks use this method to leave their city and exterminate the Thals?  But more on that later.

        A quick word about the dating of events.  I have chosen A.D. 2174 as the date in which to set “Dalek Invasion of Earth” as Craddock explains to Ian and the Doctor (in the second episode), that the meteorites which devastated Earth had first appeared “tens years ago.”  Thus the desk calendar the Doctor finds in the warehouse, dated 2164 A.D., must date from the beginning of the invasion, after all, if the Daleks occupied our planet six months after meteorites, who would continue to print calendars after most of society had been wiped out by the plagues?  I will also be inserting into the history certain aspects from the two Dalek films as well as the various novels, especially in regards to the method behind the Dalek resurrection after “The Daleks” and the magnetic aspects of their defeat for “Dalek Invasion of Earth.”  Interesting enough it was the film version’s “magnetic” aspects of the Dalek’s defeat on Earth which was included in “Genesis of the Daleks” when the 4th Doctor relays the Dalek defeat to Davros.
        Finally, I will once again be drawing most of the “historical” material from the original version of the Dalek’s creation as portrayed in “The Dead Planet.”  Although I am not totally abandoning the concept of Davros, I will be downplaying his role, as I’ve personally felt that the character was overused in the series.  In addition I had toyed with the idea of explaining the Dalek’s resurrection after “The Dead Planet” by chronicling the events presented in the stage play “The Curse of the Daleks.”  Written by David Whitaker and Terry Nation as a link between the first two Dalek stories, it premiered at the Wyndham Theater on December 21st, 1965.  The plot of the play however, involved the starship “Starfinder”in the year A.D. 2179returning to Earth when the ship is forced to land on Skaro for repairs.  The crew meets the descendants of the original Thals, who inform the Earth crew that the Daleks have been inactive for fifty years.  Two prisoners, Sline and Ladiver, believe they can use the Daleks to make good their escape, and reactivate them, unleashing their deadly force once again on Skaro.  The problem with including it within the history depends on which order you place the first two Dalek stories.  If one were to take Dalek chronology in an order where “Dalek Invasion” takes place before “Dead Planet,” then the possible arrival of an Earth ship on Skaro a mere five years after the Dalek defeat on Earth is possible, if not plausible.  Unfortunately the Earth crew in the story refer to the Daleks as “robots,” and seem to have no prior knowledge of them (suggesting that the events take place before the Earth invasion).  This seems highly unlikely considering the fact that the Daleks were masters of Earth for ten years beginning in 2164.  Of course if one looks at Dalek history with events in “The Dead Planet” as taking place before “Dalek Invasion of Earth,” then the conflict this story causes because of the 2164 date established in “Dalek Invasion of Earth” leads one to drop the idea of including it completely.  Enjoy! -JRR


Having left their valley in search of fertile lands, the Thals arrived in the petrified forest just outside the old Dal capital. Unaware that the Dal people, now Daleks, had also survived the war, the Thals set up their camp.  In addition, four visitors to Skaro had just arrived in the TARDIS, The Doctor, his granddaughter Susan, and schoolteachers Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright.  In the old Dal City the Daleks were alerted that something had survived outside their city, as their Ranger Scopes had picked up movement within the petrified forest.  Long believing that they were the only survivors on the planet, they were shocked to learn that the Thals had survived.  They were even more shocked when their detectors indicated that someone, or something had entered their city walls.  They were convinced that it must be the Thals (in reality it is The Doctor and his companions).  The Daleks had long abandoned the upper sections of their city, as most of it’s features were designed for the comforts of humanoid creatures. Although still limited by the equipment built by their ancestors, the Daleks had made several modifications to their survival chambers to accommodate the Dalek machines.  But despite its disuse, the upper sections of the city was theirs, and as the memory of the war lingered long in their minds, the Thals were not welcome to it.  Quickly the ruling council came to the conclusion that the intruders must be destroyed.   However the Daleks also realized that if the Thals had survived without the protection of travel machines, they must have developed a drug which warded off the effects of the radiation.  The Daleks desperately wanted this drug, and so a plan to trapped the intruders was devised…



The Doctor, Susan, Barbara and Ian begin to explore the petrified forest.  The Doctor realizes that the destruction of the surface must have been caused by nuclear war.  Their exploration brings them to the outskirts of a large modern city.  The city seems abandoned, and while the Doctor wishes to explore further Ian convinces the others to return to the TARDIS.  While back in the TARDIS a strange knocking is heard in the control room, but when the travelers exit the time machine all they find is a small box lying on the ground.  Barbara, as well as Susan, wants to leave, but the Doctor sabotages his own ship as a way to convince the others to explore the planet.  Hoping to find the equipment needed to repair the TARDIS, the time travelers are trapped while exploring the remains of the old Dal capital city.


The time travelers are suffering from radiation sickness, and Susan is sent back into the forest to bring back the anti-radiation drugs left for the them by the Thals.    A Thal, Alydon, tells Susan that his race is starving.  She asks the Daleks to help but they take some of the drug to use on themselves and set a trap for the Thals.   It is hoped that with the drug the Daleks will be able to get rid of their travel machines, leave their city, and destroy the Thals; thus having the planet all to themselves.  Realizing that the Dalek machine draws static electrical power from the floor of their city, the Doctor and his companions use a cloak to isolate one of the machines from the floor.  Escaping from their cell the travelers learn that the Daleks are planning to ambush the Thals. They warn the Thals, but not before the Thal leader, Temmosus, is killed.  The Doctor and his companions return to the TARDIS, only to learn that a part of the Doctor’s ship has been left in the city (the Doctor having sabotaged his own ship as a way to convince the others to explore the planet).  Realizing that they will need help to regain their equipment, Ian plans to re-enter the Dalek city.  But the Thals, who were once warriors and now pacifist, refuse to fight.  Pleading with the Thals and showing them the danger the Daleks pose to them, Ian convinces Alydon that there are some things worth fighting for, and the Thals agree to help them.


Splitting their party in two, The Doctor and Ian lead the Thals in a counterattack on the Daleks.  One will attack the city through the swamps and caves, the other, lead by the Doctor, will attack the city’s defenses.  Meanwhile, within the Dalek city, the Daleks learn that the drug used by the Thals to ward off radiation is deadly to them.  Realizing that they need radiation to survive, the Daleks plan to expose Skaro’s atmosphere to radiation from their nuclear reactors.  This of course, will destroy all other life on the planet.


In the forest, The Doctor and Susan lead a party of Thals into the city to disrupt the Dalek Ranger Scopes, but they are captured by the Daleks.  Meanwhile Ian and Barbara lead a party of Thals through the mountains and enter the city from behind. Breaking into the city the time travelers and the Thals attack the Dalek control room moments before the Dalek reactors fire radiation into the atmosphere.  As the Thals attack the Dalek control room, they manage to damage the Dalek power supply deep within the city’s underground chambers.  Immediately, the Dalek machines come to a halt.  Pleading with the Doctor to restore their power, the Daleks expire, as all power is finally eliminated.  The Daleks have been defeated.  As the Thals gather their wounded, the Doctor and Ian examine the injector capsule to insure that no radiation has been released into the atmosphere.  Believing that the Dalek menace has passed, the time travelers leave Skaro.



The Thals began to re-build their civilization, utilizing as much of the Dalek technology their scientist could understand. Slowly, the surfaces of Skaro were reclaimed, as the Thals cultivated the land and began to build towns, and then small cities. Heeding the Doctor’s advice, they did not try to occupy the Dal City, and left its technologies behind in the hopes of leading a simpler life.  But The Doctor’s assumption that all the Daleks were destroyed was wrong, as not all of the travel machines were knocked out when the city’s power supply was destroyed.  During the war the Dals had built many underground survival chambers, and deep within the lowest levels of the survival chambers of another city, in sections that housed the labs and engineering equipment, powered by their own power source, some of the Daleks had survived.  Knowing of the defeat of their Dalek counterparts in the Dal capital, these Daleks wanted revenge.  However this small ban of about 100 were no match for the growing Thal civilization, and so they decided to wait.
Slowly over time they began to rebuild their numbers, and a new, more determined Dalek race was born.  But all was not well within this new Dalek society.  Of the original 100 survivors, a rift had formed between them centered over their defeat at the hands of the Thals.  Several of these original survivors believed that the cause of their defeat at the hands of the Thals was due to the lack of a hierarchy within Dalek society; the need for a ruling class.  Since the end of the Dal/Thal war the surviving daleks had ruled themselves by council, much in the way their Dal ancestors had ruled themselves.  While the concept of freedom and individuality were totally alien to them, the need for a strong ruling class was not seen as necessary.  There was no Emperor in dalek society.  But now some of the survivors saw the need to create one.  In addition, they were not so willing to hand over power to a new generation of Daleks.  Thus several of the surviving core Daleks formed themselves into an elite command force, which took responsibility for the ruling of their race.  Not all Daleks agree, but the new elite moved swiftly to secure their positions and within twenty-five years had replaced the surviving members of the original ruling council.  Setting themselves up as Supreme Daleks, their commands were to be followed without question, and to drive their superiority home, they had their casings changed from the silver of their fellow Daleks, to slightly larger black casings.  The new rulers of the Dalek race were determined to re-create why they thought was the old Dal empire (never fully realizing that it was the Thals who were the original aggressors).  But first they had to insure the survival of the Dalek race.
Being brilliant scientists, the Daleks quickly realized the limitations of only being able to travel on the metal floors of their city, and one of the first duties of the new Supreme Council was to set about experimenting with all sorts of power sources. Building on the records of experiments conducted both in the old Dal cities and in the Bunker, several methods for increased mobility were explored, including ways of pulling static power directly out of the atmosphere by fitting the travel machine with static collecting shoulder slats.  But time was of the essence, the Thal civilization was ever expanding, and so they settled on the simplest course of action available to them; the transmission of static power directly to the travel machine by way of collection dishes.  Fitting several experimental collector discs to the back of their travel machines, the Daleks left their cities for the first time in over a thousand years.  Their first target, a small Thal settlement on the outskirts of the old Dal capital.



The Thals were completely taken off guard, especially as they had considered the Daleks destroyed over a hundred years before.  Although the Thal settlement was wiped out, word of the attack quickly reached the new Thal capital.  After hundreds of years, fighting once again broke out on the surface of Skaro.  But where the Daleks numbered in the few hundreds, the Thals had grown into a thriving civilization of thousands.  Although technologically inferior to the Daleks and still basically farmers, the Thals outnumbered the Daleks, and soon the war that the Daleks had hoped to win quickly, the Thals had turned into a route.  The Supreme Council, realizing that without new resources Skaro would hold nothing for their race, began referring to the archives within their vast capital city, in the hopes of finding some way to defeat the Thals.
Meanwhile Dalek advances were met by Thal counter attacks.  Faced with another thousand year war before them, Dalek scientists began surveying the hundreds of planetary systems that their Dal ancestors had explored using their Ranger Scopes.  It was hoped that out in the vastness of space, the Daleks would find the resources they needed to defeat the Thals.  The war waged on for years and the planet was once again thrown into turmoil.  Based on the scientific core’s findings however, the Supreme Council developed a plan that would see the salvation of the Dalek race.  If the Daleks could not conquer Skaro, they would find another planet to conquer.  But this new planet would not just be the new home of the Daleks, but a new base of operation for moving out into the galaxy.
For the past fifty years the Daleks had been using some of their resources on rebuilding the spacecraft’s left behind by their ancestors.  Slowly, despite their loses to the Thals, they moved out into the solar system, reoccupying the old Dal bases on the outer planets, and experimenting with faster than light drives.  Armed with biological weapons re-created from the days of the Dal/Thal War, the Daleks were ready to conquer space.  But they still needed the perfect planet in which to conquer, and soon, the Supreme Council found the planet they were looking for.  It was a small planet, roughly the same size as Skaro, in close proximity to Skaro, and holding a biosphere similar to Skaro’s before the wars.  More importantly it was rich in resources, and has the perfect feature for the Daleks to use: it’s magnetic core could be removed and replaced with a power unit, thus the Daleks could pilot the planet back to Skaro and occupy it.  With the planet chosen the Dalek invasion fleet headed out into space.



In A.D. 2164, Earth Time, the Daleks began bombarding the Earth’s surface with meteorites contaminated with their biological weapons.  As the population died off from plague, Dalek ships swooped down onto the planet and destroyed it’s major cities.  After six short months, the Dalek invasion of Earth was complete.  With the human population subjugated as a work force, the Daleks were ready to extract the magnetic core from the planet.  They soon learned however, that the fissure they wished to use to withdraw the core was within the meeting points of the Earth’s magnetic fields.  Strong magnetic fields were dangerous to the Dalek machine.  For one thing, it would disrupt the steady flow of static power the Dalek received to it’s collector disc, and thus kill the occupant.  It also played havoc with the machine’s guidance systems, making it impossible to control.  Determined not to be swayed however, and armed with a combination of Earth and Skaro technologies, the Daleks began to robotize some of the humans, while forcing the others to work in the Dalek mines.  Back on Skaro, as steady supply of raw material looted from Earth began to arrive, the Daleks began to hold out against Thal advances.  With the Dalek cities temporality secured from attack, the slow process of removing the Earth’s core began.
The Thals in the meantime, continued to attack the Daleks wherever and whenever possible, but as time passed on, most of the Dalek force migrated to Earth, and the small number of Daleks left on Skaro easily out matched, and out gunned the surviving Thals.  By 2174 Earth Time, the Daleks were almost at completion of their project and ready to remove the Earth’s core.  Quite unnoticed, on the banks of the Tames River, under the protection of an old dilapidated bridge, a small blue box with a flashing light on it’s top materialized.  The TARDIS has finally returned to Earth, and the Daleks were about to experience their second encounter with The Doctor.

Text and Concept © 1999, 2002 Visagraph Films International/John Rocco Roberto.
Revised edition©  2003/2005 John Rocco Roberto.
Doctor Who series © 1963, 1999 British Broadcasting Company.

Special thanks to Robert Moore for providing the video captures from “Doctor Who and The Daleks” and “Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 AD.”