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Dalek designer sadly exterminated at 84
February 25, 2013 10:40 PM   Subscribe

In 1963, BBC production designer Raymond Cusick was asked to design the first monster for a new show, Doctor Who. Terry Nation's script required aliens called "Daleks" whose hobbies included world-domination and shouting "exterminate". In response, Cusick came up with the amazing and even iconic Dalek design which spawned Dalek-Mania across the world.

Sadly, Ray Cusick, as BBC staff, never got a cut of the merchandising revenue that came from the myriad products that used the Dalek design, while the co-creator, freelance writer Terry Nation, reaped a huge windfall.

Daleks still have celebrity fans, they keep cropping up in unexpected places, they can help you get fit, there's a factory that makes Dalek replicas, although lots of people like to make their own.

Raymond Cusick died last week at the age of 84, but his Daleks are still scaring small children everywhere.
posted by w0mbat (60 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
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                  ~-.  ~ -  . _ _ _ .  - ~  .-~
                       ~ -  . _ _ _ .  - ~

posted by mazola at 10:43 PM on February 25, 2013 [38 favorites]


COMMEMORATE!
posted by Artw at 11:06 PM on February 25, 2013 [49 favorites]


Dalek vs a Boxer
posted by KokuRyu at 11:09 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


As a five-year-old, I ALWAYS heard 'Dalek' as 'Dialects', which is what I called them for far too many years.

If, by any chance, you want to make a pet Dalek of your very own, the blueprints are available.
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 11:10 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Little known facts: In the Royal Navy, the Phalanx CIWS is referred to as "Daleks". (American sailors refer to them as R2D2's.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:23 PM on February 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:42 PM on February 25, 2013


I was born in London in 1962 and lived there for the first seven years of my life, and I don't remember one period of that where we weren't wandering around playgrounds with one arm sticking out yelling, "Exterminate!"

The fact that the Daleks continue to be a strong force in to this day says legions.

.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:52 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


.

One of my favourite sketches of his (which I only have in dead tree form) is the original "salt-shaker" style Dalek. More angular, clawstastic.

Of course I like the Spider Dalek as a redesign too.
posted by Mezentian at 12:05 AM on February 26, 2013


The best toy I ever owned as a kid, was a Dalek Rolykins, which cost just one shilling. (Or 5p in new-fangled decimal money.)

I see that today they sell on Ebay for £30. I *told* my mother she should have bought me the full set!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:18 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just went to the last filming in BBC Television Centre Shepherds Bush last week (to watch Richard Thompson and friends, awesome! BBC deserting Television Centre for Salford - not awesome!).

In the lobby, is a bar, a gift shop, and one of the original Daleks. People who came to see Richard Thompson were taking their pictures with the Dalek.
posted by C.A.S. at 12:39 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by proneSMK at 12:48 AM on February 26, 2013


Little known facts: In the Royal Navy, the Phalanx CIWS is referred to as "Daleks". (American sailors refer to them as R2D2's.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:23 AM on February 26


In similar vein, on British railways we have an emergency speed restriction indicator which is often referred to as a "flashing Dalek" or, more rarely, a "Metal Mickey".
posted by Decani at 1:24 AM on February 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


WHERE IS YOUR DAVROS NOW, SKARO?
posted by Smart Dalek at 2:58 AM on February 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


EPONYSTERICAL! EPYONYSTERICAL!!
posted by JHarris at 3:13 AM on February 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


.
posted by ZeusHumms at 5:01 AM on February 26, 2013


I love the Dalek design for the same reasons that so many people dismiss it. It's so alien and wonky, completely unlike anything most humans (except, of course, Mr. Cusick) would design. Unlike so many "guy in a suit" designs it says, right up front, that this is not something that thinks like you or I and is not particularly interested in doing so. (Hell, it decided it would rather have a gun than a second arm. How hardcore is that?)

In fact, small confession: As much as "Genesis of the Daleks" is loved, it really bugs me that the Kaleds turn out to be guys in Nazi suits. The Daleks deserve better ancestors.
posted by Legomancer at 5:22 AM on February 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


.
posted by Start with Dessert at 5:22 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:50 AM on February 26, 2013


Spot on, Legomancer.

It irked me when they recently decided that Daleks didn't need to be able to walk up stairs because - they could fly!

My understanding was that Dalek civilisation had moved beyond stairs. They had radically re-created their own environment and if they needed something done outside of it they'd create a machine or enslave some other being. Inability to climb stairs would be no more significant to them than inability to climb a rope is to us. Their inability to climb stairs was no more significant than their inability to eat porridge. It's irrelevant. Suggesting that stairs would be some kind of problem and that they'd need to fly betrays a sad inability to get beyond our primitive primate cultural conceptions.


IMO
posted by Segundus at 5:59 AM on February 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


Hey I can climb a rope.
posted by Mister_A at 6:16 AM on February 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


It irked me when they recently decided that Daleks didn't need to be able to walk up stairs because - they could fly!

How did you feel when the Daleks were confined to their city, only able to move thanks to static electricity?
posted by Mezentian at 6:22 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Daleks as slot cars. Neat.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:30 AM on February 26, 2013


"THE URGE TO KILL IS TOO STRONG."

^ Real Dalek dialogue.
posted by deathpanels at 6:33 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey I can climb a rope.

Throwback.
posted by Segundus at 6:38 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey I can climb a rope.

THOSE WORDS...ARE BLASPHEMY
posted by Legomancer at 6:39 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Perhaps, if the show lasts as long I think it could, there will be a villainous race that can only climb ropes.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:40 AM on February 26, 2013


.
posted by koucha at 6:40 AM on February 26, 2013


.
posted by mrgroweler at 6:42 AM on February 26, 2013


.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 6:44 AM on February 26, 2013


I suppose I might be betraying a certain empathy for entities that occasionally find it challenging to move up stairs or very rapidly on the flat, for reasons of, well shape, and size
posted by Segundus at 6:49 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


In "Genesis of the Daleks" I was struck that the two sides in the generations-long global war must have kept moving their population centers closer together so they could continue the fight — by the time the Doctor and his friends show up, they are within walking distance of each other.

That story was scripted by Terry Nation, and I've often felt it had an element of self-parody:
DAVROS: It is I who created the Daleks, and it is I who shall guide their destinty ... I ... I ... I ...
Always felt Ray Cusick should have gotten a cut of the merchandising.
posted by rochrobbb at 6:52 AM on February 26, 2013


My mother regularly goes to have a chat, tea and cake across the road from her home, with a couple of nice elderly neighbours. All rather conventional, except for the full size Dalek in their living room, right next to the family photos.

Obey the Daleks! You are in our power! More tea?

.
posted by duncan42 at 6:54 AM on February 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


My understanding was that Dalek civilisation had moved beyond stairs. They had radically re-created their own environment
Wasn't that the promise of the Segway?

They weren't Kaleds, they were Kamens!!!11!
posted by moonmilk at 6:57 AM on February 26, 2013


It irked me when they recently decided that Daleks didn't need to be able to walk up stairs because - they could fly!

Recently as in 1965?
posted by Artw at 6:59 AM on February 26, 2013


Timey Wimey.
posted by Segundus at 7:20 AM on February 26, 2013


I wonder if anyone told the Dalek chained up in the basement in Utah.
posted by arcticseal at 7:41 AM on February 26, 2013


It escaped last year.
posted by Artw at 7:44 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


/Is well on his way to squiring "that guy" nerd badge.
posted by Artw at 7:45 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Architect of the Daleks
posted by Artw at 8:17 AM on February 26, 2013


Stairway to heaven?
Too soon?
posted by Muddler at 8:18 AM on February 26, 2013


/Is well on his way to squiring "that guy" nerd badge.

Um, I hate to bust your world view, but if you haven't received your badge, it was probably lost in the mail. I think you qualified for it a while ago.

(It takes one to know one, you see.)

The book Doctor Who: The Early Years is probably my favorite classic Doctor Who non-fiction title pretty much just because of the reproductions of the designs from the early seasons. Photocopies of the images within may or may not have decorated my pre-teen walls. (Like I said, nerd badge qualified.)

Screw those who focus on the wobbly sets and low budget -- Cusick's work is magical.

.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:29 AM on February 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Whovian at my house turned 13 yesterday. Two wonderful things happened: he received a pair of socks with little Daleks all over them, and I finally let him try fish fingers in custard. He will be saddened by this news.
posted by Biblio at 8:53 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by JamesD at 8:56 AM on February 26, 2013


.

(Even if I was more of a Cyberman fan.)
posted by Samizdata at 9:15 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Even if I was more of a Cyberman fan.)

I really wish the new series had made the Cybermen more of their own thing instead Who You Get When You're Tired of Daleks and Those Damn Weeping Angels. I've always liked them too, but recognized that they were a bit crap. The new series had a chance to finally make them into something and whiffed every time.
posted by Legomancer at 10:15 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I agree, the Cybermen are one of the great Who creations, but they are somewhat overshadowed by the Daleks. The idea of stripping away emotions with the fragile human form and expecting to come out stronger despite losing the thing that makes us human is worth investigating further.
posted by arcticseal at 10:27 AM on February 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


You want the Bug Finish story "Spare Parts".

Big Neil Gaiman scripted Cybermen story coming up, of course.
posted by Artw at 10:39 AM on February 26, 2013


Which raises another question: does anyone know where I can get a listing of all the Dr Who episodes available on Netflix? We have basic cable and I'm jonesing for Who, thinking of watching old Who in chronological order.
posted by arcticseal at 10:41 AM on February 26, 2013


Netflix is taking a rubbish sampler approach at the moment, just a few stories from each doctor.
posted by Artw at 10:42 AM on February 26, 2013


Big Neil Gaiman scripted Cybermen story coming up, of course.

Let me guess: they attempt to recruit a bunch of humans into helping out with the big invasion, but don't think they should pay them for their labor?
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:51 AM on February 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


.
posted by stoneweaver at 11:54 AM on February 26, 2013


I'm sure I've seen more complete sets of pictures from both of these shoots, but here's Terry Nation and Katy Manning posing with Daleks (separately — in differing states of undress).
posted by mubba at 12:03 PM on February 26, 2013


Legomancer: "(Even if I was more of a Cyberman fan.)

I really wish the new series had made the Cybermen more of their own thing instead Who You Get When You're Tired of Daleks and Those Damn Weeping Angels. I've always liked them too, but recognized that they were a bit crap. The new series had a chance to finally make them into something and whiffed every time.
"

Welly, welly, well, well.

I probably wouldn't like them as much if they weren't a bit pants, truthfully.
posted by Samizdata at 12:38 PM on February 26, 2013


There's only one class Who Cyberman story I much remember and it's the Second Doctor story Tomb of the Cybermen. Although it has some problems (the first black character in all of Who and a mute servant who is a victim at the end?), it is one of the more evocative serials in classic Who.

As for Daleks, well, they're interesting villians in classic, but the more I hear about how they've been used in New Who the more I wonder really if the new series is for me.
posted by JHarris at 1:40 PM on February 26, 2013


Daleks got me kicked out of home. I gave my little brother the Dalek Handbook, which I thought was an inoffensive bit of BBC merchandise. My overprotective mom flipped through it, and saw a silhouette of a woman 'riding' a Dalek (based on either a cheesecake promo photo or low budget Swedish Dalek porn). That was the last straw, and I was kicked out.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 1:49 PM on February 26, 2013


I live around the corner from the Cello Factory in Waterloo, where the first Daleks were made.

The fact that Cusick never got a cut of the profits his work generated is a damn shame.
posted by Pallas Athena at 2:52 PM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Frankly, it sounds like your mother might be a little more than overprotective if she threw you out because of an honest mistake.
posted by JHarris at 3:11 PM on February 26, 2013


My overprotective mom flipped through it, and saw a silhouette of a woman 'riding' a Dalek (based on either a cheesecake promo photo or low budget Swedish Dalek porn).

Probably Katy Manning, who played Jo Grant. A NSFW picture of her and a Dalek is here but I've seen another one with her riding the Dalek similarly (un)clothed.

.

Mr Cusick, you made my childhood a scarier place.
posted by immlass at 6:41 PM on February 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


It’s been such a long time since I met you back on Skaro
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:58 PM on February 26, 2013


Obey the Daleks! You are in our power! More tea?

IIRC it was "Would you like some tea?"
I remember the leaked sound clip from VotD.
Salad days.
posted by Mezentian at 6:59 AM on February 27, 2013


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