Getting to know Who: Genesis of the Daleks

It’s 1975, and Doctor Who stories have taken a more ‘grown-up’ turn. Fast cars and frilly shirts have gone, replaced with physical horror and moral questions. And nowhere is this more apparent than in Dalek-creator Terry Nation’s war parable – and regular fan favourite - Genesis of the Daleks.


Fourth, early on in his time in the TARDIS


Feisty journalist Sarah Jane Smith and UNIT doctor, Harry Sullivan.


Intercepted by the Time Lords and tasked with altering or halting the creation of the Daleks, the Doctor is forced to face their creator Davros, and his own morality – does he have the right to kill, however evil the creature?

The story so far…

  • Sarah has been with the Doctor for some time, witnessing the regeneration from Third to Fourth. Harry was introduced in the Fourth Doctor's first adventure, Robot, as the physician UNIT assigned to look after the Doctor.
  • The regulars have been travelling without the TARDIS for a few adventures. They left it on The Ark in Space, a "lifeboat" containing the cryogenically frozen remains of humanity. They beamed down to check that Earth was suitable for habitation and it's during their return journey to the Ark that the Time Lords intercept the Doctor and co.
  • The Doctor first encountered the Daleks in his first incarnation, when they lived on Skaro as scarred remnants of a terrible war, consigned to metal machines. Genesis takes us to a point before that, to show how the Daleks came to be born.
  • Davros, the creator of the Daleks, makes his first appearance. He would go on to appear in all subsequent Dalek stories of the original series' run, and then reappears in 2008's season finale The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End.

Best bit:

The Doctor discusses morality with Davros:


Key quote:

The Doctor: Listen, if someone who knew the future pointed out a child to you and told you that that child would grow up totally evil, to be a ruthless dictator who would destroy millions of lives, could you then kill that child?

Why it’s worth a watch:

Twelve years on from their first screen appearance, Genesis reboots the Daleks with style, substance and a healthy dose of scares. Michael Wisher as Davros is Doctor Who’s first truly convincing psychopath – snapping his fingers together and releasing the imagined virus before he says he would do it, still sends a shiver down the spine. Tom Baker proves what kind of Doctor he’s going to be for the next six seasons – full of action, but also capable of great depth and stillness. And as everything starts to unravel in the later episodes – with political intrigue, spying and ultimatums – it feels scarily real.


Read more about Genesis of the Daleks at the BBC Doctor Who website, or get to know more Doctor Who adventures.

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