In 1964, a peculiar alien race known as the Daleks burst onto British television screens, forever changing the landscape of popular culture. At the time, Doctor Who, the iconic sci-fi series, was at risk of cancellation, struggling to capture the attention of viewers. But it was the introduction of the Daleks that ultimately saved the show, propelling it to new heights of success.
Cultural historian Alwyn Turner reflects on this pivotal moment in television history, acknowledging that Doctor Who was on the verge of being axed just weeks after its premiere. However, it was comedy writer Terry Nation who inadvertently breathed life into the show when he hastily created the storyline featuring the Daleks. Initially envisioned as a temporary solution to bridge the gap between comedy writing jobs, the Daleks unexpectedly struck a chord with audiences, doubling the viewership and securing the future of Doctor Who.
The impact of the Daleks extended beyond the realm of Doctor Who. In the midst of Beatlemania and the cultural revolution of the swinging ’60s, the hate-fueled robotic beings became a symbol of British pop culture. Their popularity was so immense that they even managed to outshine The Beatles in the coveted Christmas TV charts of 1964.
While the Daleks may not have left the same indelible mark as The Beatles, they undeniably made a significant impact during their moment in the spotlight. The enduring success of Doctor Who, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, can be attributed in part to the Daleks’ contribution to its longevity.
Q: Who created the Daleks?
A: The Daleks were created by comedy writer Terry Nation.
Q: How did the Daleks save Doctor Who?
A: The introduction of the Daleks in a storyline written by Terry Nation boosted the show’s ratings and ensured its continuation.
Q: Were the Daleks more popular than The Beatles?
A: For a brief period, the Daleks and “Dalekmania” dominated British popular culture and even outperformed The Beatles in the Christmas TV ratings.
Q: Why did Doctor Who almost return without the Daleks in the reboot?
A: The rights to the Daleks are owned by Terry Nation’s estate, which necessitated negotiation with the BBC for their inclusion in the reboot.
Q: What impact did the Daleks have on British pop culture?
A: The Daleks became an iconic symbol of British pop culture during the swinging ’60s, playing a significant role in the cultural revolution of the time.