“The Dalek Invasion of Earth” marks a high point for the programme in the 1960’s - perhaps of all time. Other stories would be better made or attract
higher viewing figures but never in the history of the programme would a story be so universally welcomed or, it seems, enjoyed by its audience. The reason for
this is simple - the return of the Daleks.
Almost as soon as the final episode of their first story had been broadcast on 1sst February 1964, viewers clamoured for their return and on 13th March, the
“Daily Mail” newspaper revealed that their wish had been granted. The resulting story would not, as might be expected, be set again on the Dalek planet of
Skaro, but here on Earth, and in a very recognisable London and England of the 1960’s - even if the timeline given in the story is two hundred years in the
To help achieve the impact of the Daleks in our familiar surroundings, the story utilised large scale location filming for the first time. (Only one story
previously had had any location filming - “The Reign of Terror” - and that was only for a few short sequences in the second episode.) The film camera’s
started rolling on Sunday 23rd August 1964 in central London at an early time in the morning to capture sequences of Daleks patrolling a deserted city for
episode 3. Other sequences depicting London and the Dalek mine were completed as the week progressed.
Video recording took place on six successive Friday’s from 18th September onwards in studio 1, Riverside studio, located in Crisp Road, Hammersmith, West
London. This studio was the programmes new production base and would be used for the making of most episodes during the next two and a half years. It was
immediately behind these studios that the famous sequence of the Dalek rising from the Thames was filmed, with operator Robert Jewell wearing a frogman’s
outfit within the casing.
Strangely, it was this sequence which caused the greatest complaint from viewers at the time. The BBC’s own audience reaction report stated ‘All the
same, there were some protests from viewers who had been looking forward to the return of the Daleks that hardly anything had been seen of them - "Well,
the Daleks are back! For about fifteen seconds we saw one Dalek. All I had was 'Where are the Daleks?' from my young sons. Rather a let down after all the
publicity. Nevertheless, no doubt, under pressure we will see more next week."’
The aforementioned Daily Mail, also stated, in an interview with Verity Lambert on 28th November 1964 “At the end of last week’s episode a single
specimen of this radioactive race rose from the Thames and waved it’s antennae at the terror-stricken audience. Then the credit titles rolled. At once a howl
of anguish went up all over Britain and the BBC switchboard was jammed with more than 400 calls. Angry viewers protested that the Dalek’s appearance was far
The blanket publicity for the start of the story, which included a classic “Radio Times” cover might have seemed to have backfired but a million extra
viewers returned for the second episode and this time there were no complaints.
The story stands up well today, although arguably the depiction of the Daleks themselves is not as good as in their first story. Due to the lack of repeats
and the non-existence of home video recorders in the early 1960’s, contemporary viewers did not seem to notice this.
Direction by Richard Martin is better in the film sequences as the studio sequences can be somewhat clumsy or static in their execution. Performances vary
from the very good (Bernard Kay) to adequate (Peter Frazer).
The final reason that this story is so memorable is that it features the first change in the line up of the regular cast. Susan had, after a promising start,
proved to be the weakest of the series regulars with writers and the production team constantly neglecting the possibilities that her character offered.
Nevertheless, her departure is well written by David Whitaker and provides this epic serial with a poignant final sequence.
Introduction by John Tomlinson