‘REMEMBRANCE OF THE DALEKS’
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Nostalgia, 1963 and the Daleks
‘Remembrance of the Daleks’ is one of my favourite Dalek TV stories in ‘Doctor Who’!
I’m very fond of this ‘Doctor Who’ story since I enjoyed it when I first saw it. It was the first time I encountered Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor and his companion Sophie Aldred as Ace. It was also a story that kept my interest throughout without any problems or convulsions in understanding it.
This four-part story by Ben Aaronovitch is set in 1963 and is actually a return to the place where ‘Doctor Who’ all started. It takes place at Coal Hill School in Shoreditch, London. Back in 1963, the first ‘Doctor Who’ episode was transmitted called ‘An Unearthly Child’ with William Hartnell.
‘An Unearthly Child’ was where we first met Susan, the Doctor’s granddaughter, who took off with the First Doctor along with Ian and Barbara in a police box on adventures throughout space and time. We return to that same 76 Totter’s Lane for this TV story, since the Daleks are waiting.
There are lots of references in ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’ to that particular episode of ‘Doctor Who’. This includes the French Revolution book that Ace finds which Susan read at school. There’s the undertaker who mentions he thought the Doctor was an ‘old geezer with white hair’.
There are references to other Dalek stories such as ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’, ‘Planet of the Daleks’ and ‘Revelation of the Daleks’. There’s also a reference to the Yeti and the Zygons in this story. Omega is also mentioned here, or rather his ‘hand’ which becomes important in this story.
The Seventh Doctor has come to Earth in 1963 for a spot of unfinished business. To pick up and retrieve the legendary Hand of Omega, which is the remote stellar manipulator for the society of Time Lords. But he also wants to sort out the Daleks when they come for the Hand of Omega.
London 1963 is where the Doctor sets his agenda into operation and where he makes his showdown with the Daleks. It’s also where the Daleks have their battleground in London, since two Dalek factions that include the Imperials and the Renegades are fighting to gain supremacy.
I’ve had the original DVD cover of ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’ signed by Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred who I met for the very first time at the ‘London Film & Comic Con’ in Earl’s Court, London, July 2011. I’ve also had it signed by Terry Molloy at the ‘celebrate 50 – The Peter Davison Years’ event in London, Chiswick in April 2013. I’ve also had it signed by script editor Andrew Cartmel at the ‘Time Warp’ convention in Weston-super-Mare, July 2014. I’m so lucky! 🙂
Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor certainly impressed me here. He seems quite a whimsical character hanging in the background. But as I watched his TV stories and listened to the Big Finish audios, it turn out he has this secret agenda. He also tends to be more proactive than the other Doctors.
It’s also hinted that Sylvester’s Doctor is ‘more than just another Time Lord’. I really like that scene the Doctor has with that African café owner at night as he’s contemplating saving the world. Half of the scene is in the story, but it’s really sweet and it defines Sylvester’s Doctor well.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Sylvester McCoy at conventions. He’s also been in ‘The Hobbit’ film trilogy as he played Radagast the Brown. I’ve had the chance to chat to him about his work in ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy and I’ve also enjoyed chatting to him about his work in ‘Doctor Who’ itself.
This story also features Sophie Aldred as Ace. I immediately liked Ace. She seems cool and a really feisty and compassionate character. I liked her scenes when Ace plays her huge tape recorder (so out of time) in 1963 and when she fights the Daleks with her powerful baseball bat.
I liked how Ace gets on well with Sylvester’s Doctor and wants to know more about the Hand of Omega as well as the Daleks. I found that scene funny when the Doctor and Ace are bickering in that van, trying to get somewhere. The Doctor doesn’t like Ace driving and they switch places. 😀
I’ve also met Sophie Aldred at conventions and she’s really nice to talk to. When I first met Sophie in London, she told me that this was her first story as a proper companion. The story clearly demonstrates Ace’s potential as a companion and being able to ‘drive’ the story forward.
I’ve written for the Seventh Doctor and Ace in a few fan-fiction stories, including one I did when I was celebrating the 50th anniversary of ‘Doctor Who’. I’ve written my Short Trip called ‘The Space Car’ featuring Ace and the Seventh Doctor. I’ve also featured them in the Christmas Short Trip I did called ‘The Five Doctors At Christmas’. I’ve also featured Ace in ‘The Robots of Lonmar’.
Terry Molloy guest stars as the Emperor Dalek of the Imperial Dalek faction. You can probably guess who the Emperor Dalek is here. It did take me by surprise when I saw the actual reveal of him. Terry Molloy shared with me about the challenges of working in that Emperor Dalek casing.
This story also features the Counter-Measures team, led by Simon Williams as Group-Captain ‘Chunky’ Gilmore. There’s also Pamela Salem as Professor Rachel Jensen and Karen Gledhill as Allison Williams. There is now a spin-off audio series featuring ‘Counter-Measures’ by Big Finish.
In this, the Doctor utilises the Counter-Measures team’s support, even when Gilmore is sceptical (more like the Brigadier, especially when the Doctor mistakes him for one). Scientist Rachel Jensen also challenges the Doctor’s scientific knowledge with the Daleks and the gadgets he has.
The story also features Dursley McLinden as Sgt. Mike Smith, who works with the Counter-Measures team. Ace fancies/falls in love with Mike in this story and I like how their friendship develops. But Ace is sadly let down/betrayed by him, once Mike’s true colours become revealed.
This story has a feeling of 1960s nostalgia about it. I do like how Ben Aaronovitch writes his story, particularly with the scenes set in the café; the school and with 1960s music in the background. Watching the 1963 scenes makes me want to travel back in time and visit that period of history.
The 1960s feel so relaxing and straight-forward. I’m thinking I probably want to have a cup of tea and four bacon sandwiches like Ace does in the story. Ben Aaronovitch also depicts the racism and political themes so well, not just with the Daleks but also with the humans and their bigotry.
The Daleks are impressive! There are big gun battles and explosions between the two Dalek factions. The Imperial Daleks are white and the Renegade Daleks are black. The Special Weapons Dalek was incredibly terrifying with its big armoured canon and causing big explosions.
This story is also the first time we have Daleks levitating and getting over stairs, since that was a problem mentioned in ‘Destiny of the Daleks’. It would be a while before we would see the Daleks levitate again in the new series starting with ‘Dalek’. ‘Remembrance’ certainly did it first!
‘Remembrance of the Daleks’ was originally released on DVD in 2000 with very limited special features. The story was re-released on a 2-disc Special Edition DVD in 2007 with more special features to accompany it. This compliments the viewers’ experience and enjoyment of the story.
The original DVD special features are as follows. There are deleted and extended scenes of the story, including the complete aforementioned café scene with the Doctor which I enjoyed seeing. There are also trailers for the first two episodes of the story; a commentary with Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred and an isolated music option by Keff McCulloch to enjoy.
There are also outtakes/bloopers during the making of the story between Sylvester, Sophie and other cast members. There are two multi-angle sequences including Ace beating up a Dalek and Daleks blasting through a gate. There’s also a photo gallery of the story and an info-text commentary option to enjoy.
The Special Edition DVD includes the original special features on Disc 1 with an updated photo gallery of the story and more trailers and continuity announcements. The deleted and extended scenes have also new introductions given to them by Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred.
There’s a making-of documentary called ‘Back to School’, featuring behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew. There’s a nostalgic behind-the-scenes featurette called ‘Remembrances’ with cast and crew talking about their first memories of ‘Doctor Who’ and referencing the past. There’s also an Easter Egg to look out for and enjoy.
On Disc 2 of the Special Edition DVD, there’s a special documentary called ‘Davros Connections’. This documentary chronicles the history of Davros and this includes connections to the TV stories and the Big Finish audios that Davros appeared in, including the ‘I, Davros’ spin-off series.
The documentary also includes interviews with Terry Molloy and David Gooderson (who played Davros in ‘Destiny of the Daleks’). There are also interviews with Peter Miles (Nyder); Gary Russell (director of the ‘I, Davros’ series); writer Eric Saward, writer Joseph Lidster and more.
‘Remembrance of the Daleks’ is a really good strong ‘Doctor Who’ story with the Daleks and has a good strong setting in London 1963. It’s a good story for the Seventh Doctor and Ace and was a terrific way to celebrate 25 years of the show’s history along with ‘Silver Nemesis’ during 1988.
This story is even terrific to celebrate over 50 years of ‘Doctor Who’. I will always have fond memories of ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’ in years to come and I’m sure you will too. On a final note, I found that little school girl pretty scary. How did those Daleks get that little girl anyway?!
‘Remembrance of the Daleks’ rating – 10/10
‘DOCTOR WHO – REMEMBRANCE OF THE DALEKS’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
More Daleks To Remember
I’ve read/listened to the Target novelization/audiobook of this story!
‘Doctor Who – Remembrance of the Daleks’ has been an amazing read/listen. I enjoyed reading this novelization of the story whilst listening to the audiobook read by Terry Molloy and Nicholas Briggs as the Daleks in the background. Who could ask for more?! It’s a superb Daleky treat for me indeed.
I’ve had the CD cover of the ‘Doctor Who – Remembrance of the Daleks’ audiobook signed by Terry Molloy at the ‘Regenerations 2016’ convention in Swansea, September 2016. I recall Terry saying he enjoyed reading the ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’ audiobook and shared his memories on the story.
The novelization was originally published in 1990, two years after the TV story was transmitted in 1988. The story is divided into 23 chapters with a prologue at the start. The audiobook has the story spread over 5 audio CDs. The novelization/audiobook enables you to immerse further into the story.
The book was re-released in 2013 as part of the 50th anniversary series of ‘Doctor Who’ books to celebrate the Seventh Doctor. This is unusual as the series mainly features original BBC books. Instead, for the Seventh Doctor, they have a Target novelization for one of the best TV stories ever.
‘Remembrance of the Daleks’ has been a great book to read and I really love the story. It’s the definite Seventh Doctor adventure for TV. I re-watched the story on DVD and its special features to accompany the reading/listening experience of the Target novelization/audiobook. So worthwhile!!!
The book is by Ben Aaronovitch who wrote the original story for TV. Here Ben develops and expands the scope of the story in greater detail and it is longer compared to early Target novelization of the range. This book was the inspiration for the ‘New Adventures’ series by Virgin Publishing for the 90s.
For the 2013 reprint, there is a brand-new introduction by Ben Aaronovitch. He talks about adapting his TV scripts into book form and the challenges of transferring from script into prose. I like these introductions to reprints of ‘Doctor Who’ books, as the writer reflects on his/her writing experience.
I immensely enjoyed listening to the audiobook narrated by Terry Molloy whilst reading the book. Terry is a superb narrator and he provides a variety of voices to many characters as well as Davros. I especially liked his interpretation of Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor, making him sound Scottish and sharp.
I was surprised that Terry was narrating this audiobook, since Davros doesn’t appear until the climax of the TV story and was mostly encased as the Emperor Dalek. But Terry’s clear narration makes up for that and there are moments when Davros’ presence gets felt throughout the story in book/audio.
Nicholas Briggs provides the Dalek voices in this audiobook for the novelization. The Daleks aren’t chatty as I expected them to be in the book as they were in the TV story. But Nick Briggs does the Dalek voices well as always. He provides a variety of edge and menace as the Daleks think and speak.
As I mentioned earlier, the changes from the TV story to the book are that Ben Aaronovitch adds more detail to the scope of the story and the characters in ‘Remembrance’. He adds more to the Doctor, making him more mysterious, and he adds more information to the Daleks and their history.
In the book, there is a prologue featuring a scene from ‘An Unearthly Child’. This is the scene where the First Doctor walks into the junkyard at 76 Totter’s Lane to find Susan in the TARDIS. This scene sets up the story of ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’ so beautifully and hints about the Hand of Omega.
There are some new scenes featured in the book. These include a few deleted scenes from the original TV story and some new scenes especially for the book. There were two scenes from the deleted scenes of the DVD that I expected in the book. But sadly these weren’t featured in the book.
The scene I was looking forward to in the book was the extended café scene between the Doctor and John the African who serves him a mug of tea. The scene was changed from the café to a London dock. It has the same dialogue from the transmitted story, but this was pretty disappointing.
I was also looking forward to the extended scene between the Doctor and Davros, where the Doctor tells Davros that he is ‘far more than just another Time Lord’. That scene isn’t included in the book which got me very annoyed as I consider that to be a crucial scene important to the Seventh Doctor.
But there were new scenes in the book that I really liked. More was developed on the history of the Hand of Omega. We have scenes between three Time Lords including Omega, Rassilon and ‘the other’. ‘The other’ becomes important to the Doctor, featuring in the ‘New Adventures’ novel series.
In the ‘Part One’ cliff-hanger scene where the Dalek is chasing the Doctor and Ace up the stairs, the Daleks makes its entrance by crashing through a wall. This is different in the TV story, as the Dalek just appears than crashes through a wall. In the book, it’s a more effective and a dramatic entrance.
I liked the relationship developed between Ace and Mike. Ace’s infatuation with Mike is touched upon and there’s an interesting change when Mike visits Ace in her bedroom. It was equally gut-wrenching in the book as in the TV story when Mike’s true colours are revealed and Ace is so angry.
The themes of racism are well-written here in the book. I liked how Ben Aaronovitch enhances the characters’ perceptions on these themes with Mike and Radcliffe as well as the Daleks. It emphasises the main point of the story, especially when Ace discovers the ‘NO COLOUREDS’ sign in the window.
I liked the development of the Counter-Measures team, including Gilmore; Rachel and Allison. I liked how their characters’ histories are touched upon, including Rachel’s. Gilmore gets called ‘Chunky’ by his men and Allison writes a censored letter to her boyfriend Julian in the final chapter of the novel.
These additions featured in the book about the Counter-Measures team are what inspired Big Finish to create their own spin-off series called ‘Counter-Measures’. It was interesting to discover in the novel that the Counter-Measures group inspired the U.N.I.T. organisation to be created years later.
A new character is introduced in the book called Kadiatu Lethbridge-Stewart. She’s a descendant of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and she writes a report of the Counter-Measures team originating the U.N.I.T. organization. Kadiatu would later feature properly during the ‘New Adventures’ books series.
I liked how the Daleks are developed in the book, as their internal characteristics are explored as well as their evil; race-hatred clashing with their mechanical workings. Many fans say that this book became the inspiration for the new series of ‘Doctor Who’ as it concerns the Daleks and the Doctor.
The Special Weapons Dalek is called ‘the Abomination’ in the book. It was interesting and disturbing to read more about the creation of the mutant creature inside the Special Weapons Dalek. Great emphasis is made about the Abomination going madder when it mutates and other Daleks fearing it.
The battle scenes depicted in the novel between the two Dalek factions – Imperial and Renegades – are greatly developed. Ben Aaronovitch describes the battle scenes in more detail and does well with depicting the battle strategies made on both sides of the Daleks in battle compared to the TV story.
‘Doctor Who – Remembrance of the Daleks’ has been a great book/audio to read and listen to. I’ve enjoyed the novelization and the audiobook read by Terry Molloy. ‘Remembrance’ is one of my favourite Dalek stories and I’m so pleased I’ve managed to read the Target novelization to enhance my appreciation of the story.
‘Doctor Who – Remembrance of the Daleks’ rating – 9/10
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