Chapter Eight: Death to the Daleks – Seven Keys to Doomsday

The History of the Daleks:

Chapter Eight

Death to the Daleks – Seven Keys to Doomsday

     June of 1974 was an interesting time for Doctor Who.  Jon Pertwee, the longest serving Doctor at that point had left the program, and the search for a new Doctor to replace him was on.  Although Tom Baker would eventually appear in the role of the Timelord in December, the TV hiatus between Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker saw the second Dalek stage play produced for the Christmas season.  And as news of Tom Bakers casting had yet to be announced (“Robot” was filmed soon after “Planet of the Spiders”), it was a simple matter to cast a different actor in the part of the Doctor.  And so, one early December morning in 1974, at the Adelphi Theater in London, Trevor Martin, dressed in Pertwee’s outfit (suggesting that he had just regenerated), stumbled out of the TARDIS, and “Doctor Who and the Daleks in Seven Keys to Doomsday” began.  The story was written by outgoing script editor Terrance Dicks, and established many of the plot points that Dicks would re-use in his “Brain of Morbius” story for Tom Baker.  The play ran for four weeks before touring the country until April 1975, but due to IRA bomb threats in London at that time attendance at Christmas plays were very poor.  Of course it would not be keeping with “canon” to suggest that there was another Doctor between Pertwee and Baker, and as with the two Doctor Who films, I have simply taken the plot points from the stage production and changed it to fit the Third Doctor and Sarah Jane.  I hope you enjoy! –JRR

With both the Dalek Supreme and the Dalek task-force stranded on Spiridon, the Dalek plan to invade the Earth Federation had been delayed, but not defeated.  From the planet’s surface, the Dalek Supreme radioed to the orbiting transport crafts to send a rescue ship.  A rescue shuttle was dispatched, and the Dalek Supreme returned to Skaro as salvage operations began to un-earth the buried army.



On Skaro the Thals celebrated their victory, unaware of the fate that the Daleks had in store for them.  Frustrated with their own (as well as The Master’s), failure, the Supreme Council decided that their only remaining course of action was genocide!  If the Daleks could not conquer all life forms in the galaxy, then they would exterminate them.  But first, they had to take care of The Master!  As part of his plan to earn the Daleks trust, The Master had provided the Daleks with a storehouse of technological advances, and a wealth of information; all stolen from the Matrix on Gallifrey.  Using the temporal scanning devices that he himself gave to them, the Daleks tracked down the Master’s TARDIS, trapping it on the planet Tersurus. Under-estimating their resolve, The Master was totally unprepared for the Dalek attack. Using their temporal engineering skills the Dalek task-force trapped the Master’s TARDIS in a relative temporal loop, trapping him for all time.  Or so they though.

Editor’s Note:  After his appearance in “Frontier In Space” actor Roger Delgado was killed in an auto accident while filming in Spain.  The character of The Master would not be seen again in Doctor Who until the Tom Baker episode “The Deadly Assassin,” where he was portrayed in a decaying form by Peter Pratt.  There have been many explanations to account for the Master’s condition.  The on air explanation was that he had just used up his 12 regeneration’s and was just at the end of his life.  When Terrance Dicks novelized the story he explained The Master’s condition as a result of forced regeneration by the Master’s own doing for disguises.  Recently John Peel put forward an interesting explanation in his novel “Legacy of the Daleks,” where The Master returns to 22nd century Earth 30 years after the Dalek Invasion.  There he reactivates a Dalek factory (referred to in the story as a Dalek Artifact) in order to steal a Dalek transmuter.  Susan, now working for Earth Security as a Peace Officer, is sent to investigate and encounters the Master (as well as her grandfather in his 8th incarnation).  David is killed by the Master who steals the transmuter and forces Susan into his TARDIS, not knowing that she too is a TimeLord.  Over come with grief and anger at the death of her husband, Susan uses the telepathic circuits of the Master’s TARDIS to attack him, then shooting him with the Tissue Compression Eliminator, which causes the transmuter to explode, destroying the Master’s body.  Susan leaves the Master on Tersurus (where Goth finds him) and takes off in the Master’s TARDIS.  While an interesting plot (and explaining what happened to Susan), the story has far to many continuity flaws, and it is easier to just invasion that the Daleks hunted down the Master and “exterminated” him for his failure to start the Earth/Draconian war.

Now with The Master out of the way the Daleks began work on their plan to rid the universe of all other life forms save their own.  To that end they began working on two separate courses of attack.  The first was an expansion of their viral technologies, which they had originally used to subjugate Earth and recently attempted to use on Spiridon.  Dalek scientists began working to re-engineer their bio-weapons, creating the ultimate virus. The second line of attack concerned information provided to the Daleks by The Master.  The Daleks now attacked that information with a vengeance, amassing reams of data on temporal physics, Timelord physiology, and universal theory.  It was through these efforts that they learned of the planet Karn. According to the Timelord data banks, the inhabitants of Karn had destroyed themselves thousands of years past by creating an ultimate weapon.  This device, when activated, could drain all the living energy from everything in its path.  Powered by the Crystals of All Power, the inhabitants had used the weapon, turning Karn into a wasteland.  The only surviving creatures, according to the databank, were a spices known as the Clawrantulars.   Realizing that this race was no mach for the Daleks, plans were made to invade Karn and secure this weapon.


Meanwhile, on Spiridon, Dalek units charged with the recovery of the Dalek army soon realized that the task was impossible.  Abandoning the planet to the remaining Spirdoians, the task force headed back towards Skaro.  However, while in deep space, the Dalek ships were attacked by an unknown force and destroyed, leaving only debris for the Federation Patrol ships to ponder over.  Back on Skaro, scientists had completed the re engineering of their viral infection.  This new strain was totally infectious and lethal, but unlike the version produced on Spiridon, it would not infect the Dalek mutant.   Now ready for tests, the Daleks released the virus into the Skaroian atmosphere.  Within days the Thal population began to die.  Sickness and death ran rapid through Thal society; the few remaining Thal cities became ghost towns, as the bodies of the dead piled higher and higher.  The Thals were once again driven off the planet, and retreated to the bases set up long ago on the outer planets. Satisfied with the results of the test, the Dalek Prime ordered the infestation of the Earth Federation.  Armed with the virus, a small Dalek patrol ship left Skaro and headed out towards the outer rim of Federation territory.  Loyal to the point of obsession, the three Daleks piloting the ship were ordered to crash onto the surface of the remote Federation trading outpost, Kryron.  The crash drew the attention of the SSS, and investigators at the crash site were unknowingly infected with the Dalek virus. Returning to the outpost headquarters with their findings, the investigation teams unwillingly transmitted the virus to out going transport ships.  Carrying cargo, minerals and the infection, the cargo ships spread the Dalek virus throughout the Federation. Soon an unknown disease infected outpost after outpost along the outer rim, and a plague quickly swept through the outer systems.

On Skaro the Dalek Prime was pleased that the plan was proceeding as expected.  Although concerned by the loss of the Spiridon expedition, the outer worlds of the Federation were falling to the virus.  Dalek estimates put the fall of the Federation at four years.  At that point the entire Federation would have weaken enough so that conquest would be possible.  The Daleks once again began building a space fleet.  As system after system fell victim to the Dalek plague, Federation scientists were unable to discover the source, let alone the cure of the virus.  Soon it looked as if the inner worlds were about to succumb to the infection too.  All outlook for the Federation was grim, until one day, while working desperately to find a cure, a scientists stationed on one of the outer system planets discovered that the mineral parrinium, when processed, could be used as an antidote as well as granting immunity to the virus.  But parrinium was rare on Earth, and the outlook of producing enough serum was grim.  Fortunately a survey satellite scanning uncharted systems along the Draconian/Federation frontier detected a large supply of parrinium on the desolate planet Exxilon, home of a savagely hostile and degenerate race.
A Marine Space Corps medical unit was dispatched at once, but soon ran into trouble when all power to their ship was suddenly drained as they approached the planet.  Managing to land, the crew was immediately attacked by the Exxilons and their captain was wounded.  Forced to set up a temporary base, the remaining crew began the slow process of mining the parrinium by hand, while constantly keeping a look out for hostile attacks.  Back on Skaro the Dalek Prime realized that the discovery of parrinium could upset the Dalek plan.  But instead of being upset by this new development, the Dalek Prime saw this as a way to further Dalek control in the galaxy.  A special Dalek task force was dispatched to Exxilon, their orders simple, under the guise that the Daleks themselves were suffering from the same plague, the task force was to secure the parrinium, kill the Earth medical force and then infect the planet with the virus (thus making it useless as a source of parrinium).  The Supreme Council, instead of using force to control the galaxy, would blackmail the Federation into submission.  Plans were complete and soon the Dalek force left Skaro, on Exxilon however, the Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith, his new traveling companion, arrived…



…On Exxilon, the Exxilons have rejected all technology since their perfect, automated City expelled them.  The Doctor and Sarah are on their way to a holiday on Florana when the TARDIS is forced to land on the surface, drained of its power. While exploring their surrounding the Doctor is captured by the Exxilons and taken prisoner.  The natives also try to capture Sarah, but she manages to fend off one of her attackers and finds herself wandering around the alien planet.  Meanwhile the Doctor is rescued by a Marine Space Corps’ medical force which had been set to the planet to mine parrinium.  Their leader, Commander Stewart was wounded in an attack by the natives and so Lieutenant Peter Hamilton has taken charge.  Meanwhile Sarah has wandered towards the ancient city, where is captured by the Exxilons, who worship the City, and is sentenced to death by the High Priest.
Back at the medical unit’s base, the Doctor is told about the space plague which has ravaged the outer systems and is about to suggest a way out of their situation when the sounds of the Earth relief ship is heard.  Excited by the prospect of being rescued Hamilton, the Doctor and the rest of the medical unit, Dan Galloway, Jill Tarrant and Richard Railton, race to the landing site, leaving Commander Stewart alone.  At the landing site they soon discover, to their horror, that the ship that has just landed is not from Earth, but from Skaro.  The Daleks exit their ship gun sticks blazing.  But the Daleks are affected by the same power loss that has stranded the TARDIS and the Earth ship, and the Daleks find their weapons useless.  Claiming that several of their own planets are suffering from the same plague, an uneasy alliance is formed between all parties brokered by the Doctor, who warns the medical unit not to trust them.  On there was back to the mine workings the group is attacked and Hamilton is killed. The Daleks try to exterminate their attackers but the noise from their useless guns only anger the Exxilons who attack and destroy a Dalek unit.  All are captured by the Exxilons and are brought to their temple just as Sarah is about to be sacrificed. Attacking the High Priest, the Doctor is subdued and all are placed in a cell.
Back at the Dalek ship, the reaming Daleks perfect a projectile weapon which is then mounted in place of their normal gun stick. The weapon proves effective when two natives try and attack the Dalek ship and are immediately gunned down.  Rearmed the Daleks set out to conquer the planet.  Back in the cave both the Doctor and Sarah are about to be sacrificed, but escape down a tunnel just as several Daleks, now armed with the projectile weapons, enter the temple firing.

While exploring the tunnel system the Doctor and Sarah encounter Bellal, a friendly Exxilon who is a member of a breakaway group that no longer worships the City.  The Doctor realizes that it is the city that is the cause of the planet wide power drain and convinces Bellal to help him break into the City.  On the surface the Daleks have forced both the Exxilons and the medical unit personal to mine for the parrinium, while a special force investigates the city.  With Sarah’s help, Jill steals the parrinium from the Daleks and loads it onto her ship.  Inside the city, the Daleks are close behind the Doctor and Bellal, who must pass a series of test created by the City’s in order to pass through into the control center.  Once there the city intends to add them to it’s library of knowledge.  Rewiring the major circuits of the main computer however, the Doctor manages to destroy the computer’s higher brain functions and the City begins to crumble.  With power restored the Daleks reveal their real plan and depart.  Galloway, who was willing to do anything to get the parrinium, sacrifices his life to blow up the Dalek spaceship, saving the precious antidote for Humanity…

Editor’s Note: When episode one of “Death to the Daleks” was first aired on February 23rd, 1974 television audiences saw the Daleks restored to their silver look not used since “Evil of the Daleks” aired in 1967.  For this story the three working props on hand at the BBC were repainted and fitted with new gun-sticks, representing the Dalek’s ability to think their way out of the problems presented in the story.  In addition the Dalek Saucer seen in this episode is based on earlier designs, giving the production an air of uniformity with the 60s stories.

…When the Dalek ship exploded as it left Exxilon’s orbit, the Federation received the much needed parrinium, and was able to stop the Dalek plague.  The Dalek plan to invade the galaxy was once again delayed, but only for a short while.  Soon reports reached the Dalek Prime that the Dalek task force sent to Karn has successfully secured the planet, and that the race of Clawrantulars have been completely subjugated.



Meanwhile the activity of the Daleks had drawn the interests of the TimeLords.  Since coming to their attention during the Doctor’s trial on Gallifrey (the Second Doctor mentions his battles with the Daleks during his trial), the TimeLords had taken a modest interest in their activities.  Wishing to remain true to their doctrine of non-interference, they had hardly interfered with Dalek plans.  Even when information was provided to them that The Master had turned over several of their secrets to the Daleks, they chose not to see this as serious enough to break their sacred laws.  But recent events in galactic history had shown the TimeLords that the Daleks were becoming a very dangerous race.  Scrutinizing them a little more closely they noticed that the Daleks had taken a sudden interest in the ruins on the planet Karn.  Quickly they discovered their plans to harness the power of the Crystals of Karn.  This, the TimeLords were not about to allow, and the Celestial Intervention Agency was called into session.  Realizing that the Doctor was familiar with Karn they contacted him…

…Karn is a ruined planet, once the center of a great empire.  The inhabitants had quarreled and the empire had died in flames.  The Doctor, who had taken one crystal during a previous visit to the planet, now shows the crystal to Sarah, and explains to her that they must find six more exactly like it.  While on the surface they meet Jedak, Tara and Garm, survivors of a mysterious alien attack.

Editor’s Note:  As the original play was produced during the TV hiatus between Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker, the Doctor was given two new companions Jenny and Jimmy, who are sitting in the audience at the opening of the play and rush up on stage to help the newly regenerated Doctor.  I have replaced them here with Sarah so not to confuse the continuity within the program.

The ferocious Clawrantulars roam the planet, but the adventures manage to find two more crystals.  Garm has the second and the third the Doctor finds in the ruins.  While heading deeper into the ruins they are attacked by the Clawrantulars and Garm is killed, but not before they discover the fourth crystal.  Inside the city, the only remaining piece of technology that remains working is the Master Computer, which learns of the alien intrusion and becomes interested in them.  Learning what they are looking for the computer shows them that it has one of the crystals, but was programmed by the Masters of Karn to kill any who try to assemble the Crystal of All Power.  It also reveals that one of the Grand Masters still lives.  The Doctor confuses the computer allowing them to escape with its crystal.
The Doctor suspects that the Masters of Karn broke up the Great Crystal to prevent its misuse.  Realizing that the Clawrantulars are working for someone who wants to reassemble it, the Doctor hopes to convince the last Master that it is better left with the TimeLords for safekeeping.  Jedak finds another crystal, making a total of six (though the first is safe in the TARDIS).  Realizing that they need the Doctor if they are to assemble all seven crystals, the Daleks reveal themselves.  To escape, the Doctor sends Jedak and Tara off in one direction to try to find the Great Hall, while he and Sarah head off in another.  The Doctor confronts the Grand Master and is forced to fight a mental duel with him for the final crystal.  The Doctor wins.  The Daleks arrive wanting the crystals, so the Doctor scatters six of them and the Daleks are distracted long enough for him and Sarah to escape to the TARDIS.
The Daleks need the final crystal, and know that the Doctor will try to get the others back.  Jedak stages a mock attack to occupy the Daleks. The Doctor manages to kill the guard Dalek and Sarah takes its place inside the travel machine.  Getting them into the Dalek base Sarah is captured and taken to the Black Dalek.

Editor’s Note:  In the original play Jenny is taken to the Emperor Dalek, who is heard but not seen.  However I have chosen to replace him here with the Black Dalek because it was established in “Evil of the Daleks” that the Emperor was destroyed during the Civil War, and in fact is not mentioned again in the series until “Remembrance of the Daleks,” where it is revealed that Davros has taken over that mantle.

The Doctor discovers that Tara has been telling the Daleks what has been happening.  They have captured her brother, Marko, and threatened to kill him unless she helps them.  The doctor and his companions rescue Sarah and Marko, who know the Dalek plan to reactivate the Ultimate Weapon.  The Doctor slips into the room where it is stored but the Daleks attack.  Marko is killed and the rest captured.  To save them, the Doctor is forced to turn over the final crystal, but he has used the TARDIS to change its molecular structure.  With the seven Crystal of All Power assembled the Daleks activate the weapon.  The Ultimate Weapon blows up, destroying the Daleks.  The Doctor and Sarah escape, taking Jedak and Tara back to their home world.

In Dalek Central Control on Skaro, the Dalek Prime and Dalek Supreme pondered over their loss once again at the hands of the Doctor.   It was decided that if Dalek plans were to move forward then the Doctor must be eliminated once and for all. With orders given to the scientific units, the Daleks began to enhance their temporal technologies so that they could not only be able to track the Doctor’s presence within the vortex, as they had done so before (“The Chase”), but also divert or possibly capture his TARDIS.  As work began on enhancing their temporal barriers a problem was quickly discovered.  Someone or something was attempting to alter Dalek history.  All of Skaro was put on high alert as the Daleks prepared to face their greatest challenge, interference with their very genesis by the TimeLords!

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

Special thanks to Robert Moore for providing the video captures from “The Three Doctors” and “Planet of the Daleks.” “Death to the Daleks” summary taken and adapted from “The Programme Guide” by Jean-Marc Lofficier, Target Books, 1989.  “Doctor Who and the Daleks in Seven Keys to Doomsday” story synopsis taken from “The Official Doctor Who and the Daleks Book” by John Peel, St. Martin’s Press, 1988.