The 8th of July 2006 saw a defining Doctor Who moment play out on TV for the first time – the Daleks and the Cybermen, two long-time villains of the show who have both been appearing regularly since the 1960s, finally got a chance to go head-to-head in Doomsday, the Series 2 finale that saw a climactic battle between the Doctor Who universe’s two most powerful races. This battle saw a resounding victory for the Daleks, and although the Doctor managed to intervene to prevent both races from conquering Earth, it was clear even before then that the Daleks had the upper hand, despite their radically fewer numbers. By the time the Genesis Ark opened above London and the Daleks began slaughtering Humans and Cybermen alike in the streets, it was far too late for the Cybermen to even retreat.
However, fans have pointed out several reasons why the idea of a conflict between the Daleks and the Cybermen should return at some point in the show’s future, either on television or in a Big Finish audio. Though it is likely always on a writer’s mind when constructing a finale to a series of audios, TV stories or comics to have a Dalek vs Cybermen rematch, they are likely put off by the idea due to the fact that they either believe that Doomsday has used that idea already and so it cannot be touched or that they feel not enough time has passed for fans to simply say “You ripped that idea off Doomsday“. This post will argue why this is not the case.
Doom of the Cybermen
Though it seems obvious from the outcome of the episode, the Cybermen were doomed from the start in Doomsday, though this is more to do with the fact that these Cybermen aren’t actually the Cybermen that the Daleks are familiar with – these Cybermen originate from a parallel Earth, and had only recently jumped over from that universe to our own. These Cybermen lack the centuries of development and expansion that the actual Cybermen from our universe experienced – after all, entire planets fell to the Mondasian and Telosian Cybermen whilst the Cybus Cybermen had no knowledge of life on other planets. The only factor that plays in their favour is that their version of Earth runs on a faster timeline, so their technology is more advanced than that of modern-day Earth – but this still puts them leagues behind the Daleks.
Many fans have wondered how this battle would have played out if different versions of the Cybermen were present. Some say that the Classic Cybermen seen in Earthshock, Attack of the Cybermen and Silver Nemesis would have fared better than the Cybus Cybermen in this fight, though that is up for debate. The Cybermen’s biggest weakness in this battle was their lack of an effective defence against the Dalek blasters. Though the Classic Cybermen had more powerful weapons, they were still susceptible to Dalek firepower. One version of Cybermen that would have definitely fared a lot better, however, is the modern, updated Mondasian Cybermen seen in Nightmare in Silver, The Time of the Doctor, Dark Water, Death in Heaven and The Doctor Falls. These Cybermen are greatly upgraded versions of both the Mondasian Cybermen and the Cybus Cybermen, as the two races merged after Cybus Cybermen escaped from the void.
Modern Cybermen appear to have advanced greatly in technology since their appearances in the Russel T. Davies era, as the newer incarnation is capable of adapting to weapons fire used against it – even if a weapon is capable of completely destroying a Cyberman, other Cybermen will adapt to be resistant to it. This could possibly present a problem for the Daleks, though they may be capable of adapting their weapons themselves as Starfleet does to counter the adaptive Borg shields in Star Trek. However, the modern Cybermen also feature far more advanced weapons, and although it is uncertain whether they would be capable of destroying Daleks in one shot, it is likely that concentrated fire of these weapons would yield better results than that of the wrist blaster in Doomsday. Had these Cybermen been featured against the Daleks, it is possible that the Cult of Skaro could have suffered casualties and the battle would certainly have been less one-sided.
The Cybermen featured in Series 12 also seem to have a more updated design that even the modern Cybermen, so it is possible that the Cybermen have upgraded themselves even further. It would be interesting to see how these new Cybermen fare against the Daleks, particularly as the Daleks themselves have had a few upgrades themselves.
The Supreme Beings
Since 2006, the Daleks have been shown to be capable of a lot more than they were during their battle with the Cybermen. For one, we know that the standard Dalek is capable of enhancing its firepower to create a devastating explosion, and that flying Daleks can use this technique to function as small, nimble bombers that can decimate a battlefield in just a few flybys. Three Daleks combining their firepower is enough to level a house, and the combined firepower of two Daleks was enough to take out an entire wave of flying attack vessels with pinpoint accuracy. Not to mention the fact that the Daleks have since been shown to have more powerful Paradigm weaponry, capable of disintegrating a fellow Dalek in a single shot, and several Special Weapons Daleks, who are known to be capable of mass-extermination with a single shot.
Without a doubt, a lot has changed for both of these races since 2006. The question remains – has enough time passed for another Dalek vs Cybermen battle to be viable as a finale, or even as an episode concept at all?
Daleks vs Cybus
As many older fans probably pointed out at the time, the Cybermen we see fight the Daleks in Doomsday are not technically ‘real’ Cybermen. The show has established that, due to parallel evolution, all the different Cybermen we have seen so far have slightly different origins, but they all fall under the Cyberman name. In the Classic series, the Cybermen that had regularly plagued both the Doctor and the Universe at large were the Mondasian and Telosian varieties, and (as previously mentioned) the Cybus Cybermen seen in the series in 2006 are severely underpowered compared to their non-parrallel brethren. As such, many fans believe that there is now more justification for a rematch between the two races, particularly since the Mondasian Cybermen have returned with a far more powerful upgrade.
Not only that, but Doomsday aired in 2006, nearly 15 years ago – for perspective, Doomsday was in Series 2, and at the time of writing this, Doctor Who is currently midway through airing Series 12. Even when you look at it from an in-universe perspective, the size and location of the two interstellar Empires of the Daleks and the Cybermen means that they would probably come into conflict all the time. As such, it is not only possible to depict a Daleks vs Cybermen rematch on-screen in the 2020s, it actually makes a lot of sense.
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It has been over a year now since the last major Dalek Asylum Custom Collections Tour on Sacred Icon, and although a small teaser was uploaded several months ago, the customs have changed significantly since then – but as of this month, our preparations are complete, and so now is the time to announce the Asylum Project, a new and updated showcase of over a hundred unique Dalek Asylum custom figures. Together, they form a huge diorama of the Dalek Asylum, with each and every model being meticulously created by hand, renovating old, broken or otherwise unwanted Dalek figures to create a vast art installation.
The Dalek Asylum
As seen in the Series 7 episode Asylum of the Daleks, the Dalek Asylum is a hollowed-out planet filled with vast underground chambers and a honeycomb of interconnecting corridors that the Daleks use as a dumping ground for the most insane amongst their number. Daleks that are so battle-scarred, insane or unhinged that they are unable to function among the Dalek race, but have otherwise done no wrong, are committed to the Dalek Asylum for safekeeping out of a twisted since of respect for the pure hatred that these creatures represent. Once a fully-automated self-repairing facility, the Asylum has decayed over the millennia of abuse to the point that it now exists as little more than a dark recluse for its deranged denizens, as many of its actual repair or rehabilitation facilities have long since been damaged beyond repair.
Either as a result of its unfathomable age or Dalek time-travel meddling, the Asylum contains many examples of Classic Daleks alongside their bronze Time War era brethren, and several factions of Daleks from centuries ago the in their history still fight age-old wars amongst themselves within the deepest parts of the Asylum. Alongside that are factions that have sprung up within the Asylum itself, such as bands of the more insane inmates that upkeep their own casings by hunting the newest inhabitants and ‘recycling’ them, leading many to sport mismatched casings made up of bits and pieces of several types of Dalek. Several of the scientists that were once stationed to study the inmates of the Asylum have since been admitted themselves, and these usually form the brains behind the organised bands of scavenging Splicer Daleks throughout the Asylum.
Arguably the most dangerous part of the Asylum, however, is the ‘intensive care’ ward – a location designed to house nothing less than the most insane Daleks in the Asylum. Many of these are examples of lone survivors of famous Dalek campaigns against the Doctor, and after thousands of years of vain attempts to calm these vicious specimens, the ward now exists as a glorified prison for its occupants – and with good reason. The Daleks that reside here are so murderous in their eternal rage that they have been deliberately containing within separate cages with their weapons removed as a safety precaution to prevent them from killing each other. Should they ever be released among the other inmates of the Asylum, they would surely stir up enough bloodlust among the imprisoned Daleks that they would attempt to escape, an eventually so terrifying that it scares even the Supreme Dalek.
The Asylum Project aims to capture the the essence of this unique setting by portraying a diverse and eclectic selection of Dalek inmates from a wide variety of points in Dalek history. Almost every type of Dalek is represented here in some form, and one of the joys of using the Dalek Asylum as a template for a custom project is the range of freedoms it provides for Dalek customs. Several examples of the Daleks seen in this collection are totally new designs that incorporate elements of several different Dalek designs, and this is due to the design philosophy for this art installation of broadening the scope of the Dalek Asylum from what we saw on-screen.
The Asylum Project
For those not already aware, my name is Cameron, and I run the Sacred Icon blog, writing blog posts about several science fiction franchises from Star Trek to Transformers. However, a franchise I tend to talk about a lot on this blog is Doctor Who, because it is honestly my all-time favourite series and arguably my favourite thing about Doctor Who it the Daleks themselves. Ever since I was a child I have been fascinated with the Daleks, and this has fuelled by passion for creating custom Dalek figures. As so many Dalek figures one can find on eBay and in other places around the internet are damaged, it can often be difficult to come up with new and creative ideas for the huge numbers of broken, incomplete or otherwise unusable Dalek figures that are floating around. However, when the concept of the Dalek Asylum was introduced, this created a goldmine of potential ideas for Dalek customs, and I endeavoured to actualise as many of those ideas as I could in Dalek figure form.
Ironically, though the production team behind Asylum of the Daleks went to the trouble of acquiring lots of Classic Dalek props to use in the episode, the actual variety of ideas we saw on-screen was fairly limited – many of the Daleks appeared merely broken or slightly damaged as opposed to the insane, battle-scarred warriors that they were described as. Even worse, the Classic Daleks were woefully underused, to the point that Moffat felt the need to being Classic Daleks back again just two seasons later to compensate. In fairness, they were working with full-size props and were on a time and budget limit, but nonetheless the customs in my collection involve a more diverse array of Daleks and explore additional concepts to those seen on-screen. As such, not all of the Daleks in the collection are screen-accurate, indeed only a handful are based on specific Daleks from the episode itself. One of the best things about the idea of the Asylum is that the Daleks within are sourced from many different points in Dalek history, including points in their timeline that we, the fanbase, have not seen. As such, making Asylum customs opens the doors for more creative freedom when it comes to colour schemes and general designs.
Overall, the process of creating Dalek customs is always relaxing and enjoyable to me, but there is something special about creating customs for the Asylum collection, as each Dalek adds to the collective history of the collection. The Asylum Project is a source of immense personal pride for me, as I have put a lot of time and effort into ensuring that each individual figure is as good as I can make it. The entire project has taught me a lot about model making (particularly on the health and safety side) and I am proud to share my collection of custom Daleks with the world. I hope you enjoy browsing them! For those who are interested, there is the potential for some of these Daleks to be put up for sale at some point in the future. I am considering setting up a Youtube channel to further showcase the figures in video form, rather than static images, so perhaps the figures will go up for sale concurrently with that, when it eventually transpires. For now though, none of these figures are for sale. However, I will be offering tips throughout the figure showcases of how to create your own Dalek customs, and with that in mind I have also written a brief ‘how-to’ guide regarding setting up your own Dalek customs workshop.
Making your own Dalek Customs
For a fan of the Daleks there is perhaps nothing better than creating Dalek Customs, as the availability of cheap broken Dalek figures on sites like eBay coupled with the relative ease of creating a convincing destroyed Dalek has led many fans to having a go at fixing up their own custom Dalek. However, it takes more work that you would initially think to design and build a really good destroyed Dalek, and even more to pull off a perfect repaint of a pristine Dalek figure. Part of what this project is all about is encouraging would-be Dalek Custom creators to make their ideas reality, and if this installation proves anything it is that you can create some amazing things with simple materials from around the house that you would never think to use otherwise. For example, a lot of the Dalek mutants seen throughout the collection were made primarily out of old headphone wires and tissue paper. Upcycling and re-using of old junk plays an important part in customising Daleks, and it is an excellent way to make creative use of computer waste and difficult-to-recycle plastics that would otherwise be sent to rot in landfill.
To create your own Dalek custom, the first thing you will need as a Dalek to base it on. These are usually easy to find – if you have been a fan of the show since your childhood, chances are you have a Dalek figure lying around somewhere – or, if you have children who have recently grown out of their Tennant-era toys, consider bringing a new lease of life to these otherwise abandoned relics. As previously mentioned, sites like eBay are useful for picking up bundles of broken Daleks, and sometimes a huge batch comes along for ridiculously low prices that are really useful for Dalek Custom army-building. Also be sure to check out local car boot sales or charity shops – you never know what you might find, and old action figures are definitely something that pops up a lot in those sorts of places.
Second, you will need the arts and crafts materials themselves – depending on what kind of custom you want to make, you might need anything from paints and brushes to glue and cutting tools, but remember that almost anything can be used in a custom figure – what matters is how it is done. For example, hot glue is an excellent means of bonding plastics, and it also doubles as convincing Dalek goo when it dries and is painted over in green. However, you could just as easily use plastic glue or any strong adhesive that you have at home for your custom. Though it is good to have high-quality paints such as the Citadel paints from Games Workshop, most paints work on Dalek plastic and several of the early customs in the Asylum collection use Humbrol paints that date back to the 90s, proving that just about anything is possible.
Be sure to be sensible with the kind of arts and crafts that you are using, as although it might seem like a good idea to go out and buy a hot glue gun to get started on your first custom, if you have no idea how to use it properly, you will inevitably end up with a nasty burn. This metaphorically applies to almost all elements of DIY – enthusiasm for the task is meaningless without the skill to do it properly and, most importantly, precaution is required to get the job done with no injuries. It is therefore best to start small when it comes to your first Dalek custom, and ideally you will want to use materials you have at hand without having to spend any money at all. Buying the equipment necessary to have a flexible arsenal for creating a diverse range of Dalek customs would likely cost upwards of £100 including paints, tools and brushes, so start cheap until you know if you have a flair for DIY.
Next, you will need ideas. This is arguably the most important aspect, as a good idea is what drives the creative process of making the custom, so without a solid idea the project will rapidly lose direction. If you are stuck for ideas, feel free to use any of the figures in these showcases as templates for customs, and if you’re really stuck you can always try re-watching Asylum of the Daleks, and that is not something that you will find is regularly recommended to you. However, as poor as the episode itself is, you can still find some inspiration among the wasted potential. A good way of thinking up a damaged Dalek custom is thinking of interesting ways in which Daleks could be damaged or destroyed, and go from there. Think of ideas like “What would a Dalek that fell down a mineshaft look like?” or “What would a Dalek’s casing look like if it were attacked by a bear?”.
Once you have the Dalek, the appropriate tools and an idea, all you need next is the will to create a custom. Getting to grips with using model-making tools and precise paintbrushes can be tricky at first, but don’t be afraid to start a practice run and find that you have to start again. As any comparison between the two custom collection showcases on this blog will inform you, there is always room for significant improvement. Keep at it and you will soon start to see the results that you want. To that end, I would like to recommend the paints and brushes from the Games Workshops, now rebranded to Warhammer shops in some parts of the UK, whose tools are perfect for this sort of work. The staff are always friendly and will answer any questions you have about model-making. I personally use the Warhammer shops both in Liverpool and Warrington town centers on a regular basis, and I have had nothing but positive experiences there.
Who knew that making Dalek customs helps the environment? But if you think about it, creating Dalek customs is an artistic and creative way of making use of pieces of plastic that would, lets face it, otherwise be filling landfill. Many of the bundles that I buy on eBay or receive as donations are old collections of broken toys, either being put up for sale by the former children who owned them or the parents of children that have grown out of action figures. As such, had they not fallen into the hands of someone who could make use of broken Dalek figures, they would have almost certainly have been thrown away.
However, the eco-friendly nature of this hobby goes further than that – the more elaborate customs make use of a plethora of upcycled computer parts, plastic pieces, wires, electronic parts, old stationary and much more. Even though only a small number of Daleks in the Asylum collection are elaborate customs that required lots of parts, I still need to ask around my friends, in the workplace and even charity shops for old computer parts, wires and otherwise disposable electronic components. Scavenging these parts that would otherwise have ended up in the bin is one small way of helping the planet, and it is nice that this is a great eco-friendly side effect of the hobby that I am passionate about.
The Asylum Project and Sacred Icon
So what’s next for this blog? The answer is simple – Dalek Customs. This project has taken up a large amount of time and so I want to give the customs the attention that they deserve, as such the posts will be numerous and contain in-depth descriptions of how each custom was made as well as a short description of how it might have ended up in the Asylum in-universe to give you an idea of my thought process as I created the customs. Each custom will also have several pictures taken from different angles.
In terms of the blog posts themselves, I have arranged them into categories based on their classification, Classic Series Daleks and New Series Daleks, as well as their condition, destroyed or intact. However, I will be releasing the posts in a varied order, so each posted blog will alternate between intact New Series Daleks, destroyed Classic Series Daleks, destroyed New Series Daleks and intact Classic Series Daleks, as well as any other additional posts in the series. It is also worth mentioning that, although not part of the Asylum Project specifically, there will also be other custom showcase posts at the end that will analyse my other non-Asylum Dalek customs – including my Big Finish Dalek customs.
One of the many unexplained things about Moffat’s era of Doctor Who is what happened to the Cybermen. Due to an apparent mishandling of the metal men early in Moffat’s run, some strange continuity errors have cropped up which baffle fans to this day, and it is all to do with the specific design of the Cybermen that was used in each episode that featured them in the 2010s.
The continuity error surrounds the use of the Cybus Cybermen, a subspecies of Cyberman that originated in a parallel universe during Russell T. Davies’ era as showrunner. These Cybermen, unlike their prime universe counterparts, were more robotic and heavily armoured, and were easily recognisable by their characteristic stomping feet.
Despite originating in a parallel universe, these Cybermen were first seen crossing over into the Doctor’s universe in Doomsday, and were later seen stranded in our universe having fallen back through time to the 1800s in The Next Doctor. These Cybermen used Victorian steam technology to build a rudimentary CyberKing dreadnought, but were stopped by the Tenth Doctor and seemingly destroyed. These Cybermen were seemingly the last surviving Cybus Cybermen, and as far as this Christmas Special is concerned, they were all destroyed when the CyberKing was sucked into the Time Vortex.
That would be it for the Cybus Cybermen, were it not for the fact that they also started inexplicably appearing in early Moffat stories. Series 5’s The Pandorica Opens featured a damaged Cyberman guarding the Underhenge, which was recognisable as a Cybus Cyberman by the distinctive ‘C’ on its chest. Later, other Cybus Cybermen were seen forming part of The Alliance alongside the Daleks, Sontarans and other creatures. How and why these Cybermen were present in Roman times is still unknown.
From Series 6 onward, Steven Moffat and the production team clearly realised that they needed to change the Cybermen in order to distinguish them from the Cybus Cybermen of Russell’s era. Though they would later completely redesign the Cybermen in Series 7, in the meantime the production team simply removed the ‘C’ logo on the chest of the Cybermen and replaced it with a more generic circle-like design. This was allegedly done to establish that these Cybermen were indeed native to our universe, and according to non-narrative sources, the idea was that the Cybus Cybermen had encountered the Cybermen of the Doctor’s universe and the two had merged into one species, explaining the fact that the Cybus design was now used by Cybermen of our universe.
Whatever the reasons, Series 6 saw two appearances of the Cybus-style Cybermen with circular logos. The first was the Twelfth Cyber Legion, the fleet of Cybermen that was terrorised by Rory and the Doctor during their search for Amy Pond. These Cybermen sported the circular logos but the leader featured the distinctive black head and exposed yellow brain of the Cyber-Lord seen in The Next Doctor. The second appearance of the Cybus-style Cybermen was near the end of Series 6 in the episode Closing Time. This episode featured a small group of Cybus-style Cybermen stranded on a crashed spaceship in modern-day London. The Doctor mentions that the ship itself was likely empty for ‘centuries’ until the construction of a nearby power grid restarted the conversion chambers.
These seemingly unconnected Cyberman appearances could, in fact, be connected in more ways than simply featuring the Cybus-style Cybermen. The fact that this specific design is present in all of these appearances suggests that these events are interlinked. Could it be that the Cybermen featured in The Next Doctor are in fact the same as the ones in Closing Time? Or could the prescence of Cybus Cybermen in Roman times eventually lead to a Twelfth Cyber-Legion in the distant future that sported the same design? Perhaps survivors from other Cyber-incursions eventually culminated in the Mondasian Cybermen adopting the Cybus design.
Whatever the reasons, the Cybus model eventually overtook the Mondasian Cybermen, Telosian Cybermen and other disparate Cybermen models to become the definitive Cyberman design, as by the events of Nightmare in Silver both the ‘C’ variant and ‘circle’ variant of Cybus Cybermen are featured as remnants of a recent Cyber-War. This episode also reveals that the Cybermen have evolved beyond the Cybus design, adopting the new look that has endured to this day. Having taken on this new design, the Cybermen of the New Series have been more prominently associated with Mondas as their homeworld, rather than originating from a parallel universe.
However, there are also other examples of Cybermen from parallel universes invading our universe, that may not necessarily be from the same parallel universe as the Cybus Cybermen. These include the Blood of the Cybermen model, sporting a Cyber-face logo instead of the usual ‘C’ but otherwise appearing as Cybus Cybermen, and the ‘Cyber-Reality’ Cybermen that face off against UNIT and the Master in the Big Finish box set UNIT: Cyber-Reality. These Cybermen look and sound like the Cybermen seen from series 7 onwards.
As if that were not complex enough, the final Cyberman story of Moffat’s run further solidifies the idea that the Cybus Cybermen are a natural evolution of the Mondasian Cybermen. During their thousands of years of development during the events of The Doctor Falls, the Cybermen adapt from primitive Mondasian variants to Cybus Cybermen, and later the newer Cyberiad Cybermen. The short story Alit in Underland reveals that an interim stage exists in which the Cybermen appeared as they did in the 1980s, from Earthshock to Silver Nemesis.
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Due to the temporally unstable nature of Dalek history, establishing who their primary leadership are can get a little confusing. Between Dalek Emperors, Supreme Daleks, Dalek Parliaments and interference from their creator Davros, the Daleks have had numerous rulers or ruling bodies over their corrupted history.
However, one concept that has remained constant throughout most of the Dalek timeline is the concept of the Dalek Supreme Council, a ruling body that served directly under the Emperor. This concept was perhaps best expressed in the Third Doctor story Planet of the Daleks, with the black and gold Supreme Dalek being a representative of the Dalek Supreme Council. The idea was later elaborated upon in the Big Finish audio We Are The Daleks, in which the Dalek Emperor summons the Supreme Council to preside over the Doctor’s execution.
Although the concept of the Dalek Supreme Council is fairly well-established, which unique Daleks actually make up this council remain mostly a mystery. Other than the Supreme Dalek seen in Planet of the Daleks there has been no reference to specific members of the Council on-screen. As the Doctor Who fanbase is known for speculation, however, there have been several theories as to which Daleks feature on the Council.
The Dalek Supremes
Undoubtedly the primary members of the Dalek Supreme Council were the various Dalek Supremes that were active during Dalek history. Although Dalek Supremes vary in design and colour schemes, and it is unlikely that all Supreme Daleks were members of the council at once, it seems only logical that the Dalek Supreme Council was made up of Supreme Daleks. There are various distinct Supremes from across Dalek history, from the Gold Daleks of Jon Pertwee’s era to the Black Daleks that ruled in the 1980s.
The most likely candidates for inclusion on the Supreme Council include the commander-class Daleks of the early Dalek empire – identified by the black base colour of their casings, replacing the standard silver. Later Supreme Daleks include the previously mentioned Gold Daleks and Black and Gold Supreme, the Black and White Supreme featured in Resurrection of the Daleks, and the Black and Silver Supreme featured in Remembrance of the Daleks. Although counted as Supreme Daleks, the red New Series Supreme as well as the White Paradigm Supreme are unlikely to qualify, as their post-Time War placement in Dalek chronology means they outlast the Council itself.
Whilst there are probably dozens, if not hundreds of Supreme Daleks, there are likely others that make up the Supreme Council. The Big Finish audios have proven that Daleks would often specialise certain members of their ranks for particular roles, and the same is true of their upper echelons of command. Whilst the Supreme Daleks would have made up the majority of the Council, these Daleks are a more elite caste designed for the development of special weapons, secret strategies and temporal machinations.
The Eternity Circle
First mentioned in the War Doctor novel Engines of War, the Eternity Circle were an elite group of five Daleks sported blue and silver casings that were tasked with creating temporal weapons for use against the Time Lords during the Last Great Time War. These Daleks possessed abilities above and beyond that of a standard Dalek, capable of temporal engineering, advanced reasoning, and even laughter.
Though it may be an error, some are described as being blue and gold, suggesting that not all in the order possess the same markings. However, the recent release of the Dalek Interrogator Prime figure in the B&M Exclusive Doctor and Dalek Figure two-pack suggests that the Blue and Silver colour scheme was not exclusive to the Eternity Circle either, as the Dalek Interrogator Prime from the Big Finish audio In the Garden of Death is apparently depicted with this colour scheme too.
As they form a key component in the Dalek war effort, as well as possessing capabilities above that of the standard Dalek, it is highly likely that the Eternity Circle were also granted seats on the Dalek Supreme Council. Likewise, high-ranking individuals such as the Dalek Interrogator Prime were also likely granted seats on the Council, as they would likely deliver important information to the Council first-hand.
The Cult of Skaro
Although they were only part of the main Dalek Empire for a relatively short amount of time, the Cult of Skaro – an elite order of Daleks capable of imagination – were commissioned by the Emperor to create strategies and long-term survival plans during the waning days of the Last Great Time War.
Due to their high status among the Dalek ranks, allegedly ‘above and beyond’ the Emperor, the Cult of Skaro were likely privy to Supreme Council meetings, and would likely offer their insight into battle strategy or survival tactics. It is known that before the end of the war the Cult of Skaro served as front line commanders before fleeing the war in their Void Ship, meaning their tenure over the Supreme Council was likely very brief, even by Time War standards.
Interestingly, as mentioned in a previous Dalek theories post detailing a possible appearance from Dalek Sec in the Series 9 two-parter The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar, it is possible that the temporal nature of the Cult of Skaro allowed them to preside over multiple incarnations of the Dalek Supreme Council throughout Dalek history, though this is merely speculation.
As October is a festively spooky month, it is a good time to revisit some of Doctor Who’s scariest episodes. So in keeping with the tradition, here at Sacred Icon we are counting down the Top 5 Scariest Big Finish Doctor Who audios. Big Finish have been making Doctor Who audios for over 20 years, they have accumulated a fair amount of scary stories.
5 – Ravenous 2 | Seizure
This is a spectacular story that firmly establishes the titular Ravenous as truly terrifying adversaries. Previously in the Ravenous 2 box-set the Eighth Doctor, Liv and Helen fought against the Krampus and several hellish imps, as well as the notorious Voc Robots, so the scary theme of the set is clear – but the final episode, Seizure, takes the cake. This self-contained story depicts the trio exploring the labyrinthine remains of an insane, dying TARDIS as they attempt to locate potential survivors, one of whom is the deranged Time Lord known as ‘The Eleven’. Afflicted with regenerative dissonance, The Eleven’s previous incarnations live on inside his mind, and with ten other voices in his head at all times, he has been driven quite mad. Yet The Eleven isn’t even the scariest thing that stalks the Doctor and his friends in this story, as the dying TARDIS is also home to an elusive ghost and a ravenous monster that aims to devour the Time Lords themselves.
4 – Embrace the Darkness
Another Eighth Doctor story, but from far earlier in his timeline, Embrace the Darkness is a fantastic narrative that makes excellent use of the audio drama format. The entire story is set in near-total darkness, and the fact that there are no visuals does wonders to enhance the fear-factor, as the story consistently keeps you on your toes. There are some genuinely chilling scenes, particularly involving the humans the Doctor and Charley encounter in the dark world that they visit, and at times this audio seems like the closest Doctor Who comes to doing straight-up horror.
3 – Spare Parts
This audio is often mentioned when people discuss the benefits of Big Finish’s position as an independent company, as it is a great example of the company completely ignoring the ‘child-friendly’ requirement that people expect from televised Doctor Who. A Cyberman origin story set on the bleak, dying world of Mondas, Spare Parts depicts a society in its death-throes as the Mondasians desperately attempt to survive against the bitter cold of their lost planet. Inevitably, the Cybermen rise, and although Nyssa and the Fifth Doctor do everything they can to prevent it, we know from the beginning that the ending is inevitable. What Spare Parts does so well is show that even in the bleakest of scenarios there is still an inkling of hope, but for the people of Mondas their source of hope is the eternal living death of Cyber-conversion. Spare Parts isn’t ‘jump-scare’ scary, but it is the kind of story that will be playing over and over again in your head for days after you listen to it.
2 – Doom Coalition 1 | The Red Lady
Usually, the scariest audio dramas are the ones that capitalise on the audio format itself, as many of the scariest Doctor Who audios would be impossible to adapt for TV without losing an element of the fear factor. The Red Lady is a rare example of an audio that could, in theory, be a televised episode, but it is just so creepy that even without visuals the tale is still terrifying. The story introduces new companion Helen, an assistant language scholar for the National Museum in the 1960s, as her, the Eighth Doctor and Liv attempt to unravel a deadly mystery. An art collection featuring a recurring motif of a red woman is donated to the museum, and quickly people start dying.
1 – Night Thoughts
A creepy story set on a remote island in Scotland, Night Thoughts is a wonderful exploration of psychology and the fear of death. When the Seventh Doctor, Ace and Hex arrive at a grand old hall and disturb a group of academics residing in an old house, they soon realise that there is far more at work than the bickering of a few scholars – soon the murders start, and the most obvious lead seems to be a girl who talks with her stuffed rabbit – and the stuffed rabbit talks back. With a plot that seizes the potential of time-travel related stories by the horns, an atmosphere that is steeped in classical horror and twists and turns that keep the listener engaged to the very end, Night Thoughts is the quintessential spooky story in Big Finish’s backcatalogue.
Ever wondered why Daleks need their casings? Find out here on Sacred Icon:
The 2019 New Year’s Special of Doctor Who featured the return of the Daleks and the introduction of a new Dalek variant – the Recon Scout, a mutant with genetic modifications and extra abilities that allow it to survive in almost any environment, as well as allowing it to exist outside of its casing.
However, this does seem to contradict Doctor Who lore, as historically the Daleks have been confined to their casings, so is this a mistake? Well, to answer that question, let’s first dive in and explain why the Daleks actually need their casings to begin with.
Locked inside a Cold, Metal Cage
The Daleks originated on Skaro, a planet ravaged by nuclear and chemical warfare, as the result of experiments conducted by Davros that focused on adapting the existing races of the planet so that they could survive in the polluted and ruined atmosphere. The idea behind this was that, once the war was over, some form of life had to survive to live on otherwise the entire conflict would have been meaningless. However, in the process Davros created a monstrous creature that lived to hate and required a life support machien to survive.
Though it might seem ironic that Davros’ attempts to create the ultimate creature ended up creating a race that were dependent on life support to exist, Davros countered this by also inventing the ultimate weapon – the Dalek shell, a self-supporting battle tank with extremely powerful weapons, armour and shields. In many ways, the Dalek mutant and the casing are intrinsically linked, to the extent that in the Big Finish Audio Story In Remembrance, an Imperial warrior states that “A Dalek is it’s casing”, further solidifying the idea that, to the Daleks, their casing is almost like an extension of itself.
Daleks and Their Casings
Nonetheless, the casing is not always necessary for a Daleks’ survival. In past episodes of the show we have seen that some Daleks are capable of surviving outside of their shells for some time, as was seen in Resurrection of the Daleks, Twice Upon a Time and Resolution. But how is this possible when the casing provides such essential life support? The answer to this question varies depending on the context and the episode – in some cases Daleks have been seen to adapt to life outside their casings over time, and in other cases the Daleks are capable of temporarily leaving their casings.
Either way, the primary purpose of the Dalek’s casing is to provide life support – that was its primary function before the Daleks even adapted for interstellar warfare. Daleks have also been known to use their casings to depict rank or allegiance. This was certainly the case with Supreme Daleks, and in the case of important individual Daleks such as the Dalek Time Controller or Dalek Sec. During the Imperial-Renegade Dalek Civil War, the different Dalek factions were denoted by their different-looking casings, that each sported their own unique colour scheme and overall design.
The Paradigm Daleks used bright colours to determine rank among their limited number, and their casing deviated radically from that of the standard Dalek of that era to denote their unique position in Dalek society. Despite these differences, the overall design of the standard Dalek casing has always remained constant. The Daleks have no desire to adapt the shape or design of their casings, and they see any attempt to do so as an abhorrent deviation, except in the most dire of circumstances. Daleks view themselves to be the supreme beings in the universe, so they revere imagery of their own casings, building skyscrapers in an image that resembles them, both on Earth and even on Skaro itself. Overall, it’s safe to say that the Dalek casing is an important part of the Dalek itself.
Battle Armour and Immense Firepower
In keeping with their philosophy of Extermination of all other life forms, the Dalek casing is built to be the ultimate death machine. The primary armament is a gunstick fitted into the left-hand ball-jointed socket on the front of the Dalek. This weapon fires an energy blast that can be tuned and modified to suit the needs of the Dalek in the current situation. Their first on-screen use was to stun humanoids by disabling their legs temporarily.
When used at full power, however, the Dalek’s death ray can instantly kill almost any life form in a single blast, which liquefies the internal organs of the victim causing intense agony followed by a sudden death. The blast can be altered in strength to quicken the death of the victim, disintegrate targets, cut through metal or cause intense explosions, or modified in delivery by either a projectile or beam-shaped blast.
Not only that, but the Dalek is also armed with a strong manipulator arm with a flexible gripper that can assume almost any shape, either to interface with complex mechanism or to crush the heads of humanoids in close-quarters combat. The Dalek is protected by an energy shield that absorbs energy-based projectiles and disintegrates incoming ballistic-based projectiles and vaporises living things that get too close when used at full power. Not only that, but the casing’s armour itself can withstand most projectiles. Needless to say, the Dalek’s casing is a catch-all tool for hunting down and exterminating prey on the ground. But the Daleks would never stop there.
Defeating the Flight of Stairs
The Dalek casing moves about using heavy lifters beneath the casing that can be intensified to allow the Dalek to fly. This allows Daleks to essentially become airborne fight craft, that can also double as bombers if their weapons are used at full power.
This feature also allows the Dalek to fly up stairs, navigate potentially difficult environments, and even function in space. When flying through space, Daleks are surprisingly fast, and are often deployed en masse from Dalek saucers and used in ship-to-ship combat.
Due to their enhanced mobility and ability to make their casings air-tight, Daleks can also function underwater if necessary. Certain models of Dalek are adapted specifically for underwater environments, as the Dalek Empire will conquer and destroy ocean worlds just as freely as any human colony or tropical paradise.
New to Big Finish Doctor Who Audios? If you want to get into the Eighth Doctor’s era but don’t know where to start, this guide to Big Finish 8th Doctor Audios can help!
One of Big Finish’s most popular and most successful ranges among their Doctor Who back-catalogue is their extensive selection of Eighth Doctor audio dramas, and for good reason.
As he has historically been the Doctor with the fewest on-screen appearances, it is great that the Eighth Doctor was picked up by Big Finish – Paul McGann continues to add to the role he never got to play on TV, the writers have free reign to tell whatever stories they want as they are not constrained by a preexisting narrative for the Eighth Doctor, and fans have been treated to some truly amazing stories within the Eighth Doctor range, all told through the medium of audio,
However, as Big Finish have been producing Eighth Doctor audios since 2001, it can be difficult at this point to know where to begin with his series. With literally hundreds of audio plays to his name, the Eighth Doctor can seem a daunting Doctor to tackle for fans, particularly those that are just getting into Big Finish and the audio drama format as a whole.
This guide is designed to assist those who want to listen to the Eighth Doctor’s Big Finish audio dramas but are unsure of how to approach them. To begin, let’s simplify the Eighth Doctor’s era by dividing it into the distinct ‘phases’ that are generally accepted by fans to be the main pillars of Eighth Doctor audio content.
Phase 1 -Charley Pollard and The Early Years
The Eighth Doctor’s early adventures are bold, nostalgic, and stand the test of time – not only do they draw a lot from the best of Classic Who and therefore don’t feel out of place among the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors in the Monthly Adventures, they do an excellent job of firmly establishing the character of the Eighth Doctor post-TV Movie, as well as introducing us to the marvellous Charley Pollard, the Eighth Doctor’s companion for the majority of his Monthly Range appearances.
Rather like the first few Fourth Doctor TV episodes, the early Eighth Doctor stories depict the Doctor exploring the universe seemingly without a care, but hinting at an overarching plot beneath. This means that you can listen to each episode individually without a problem, but it is beneficial to listen to them in order. The saga begins with 2001’s Storm Warning, which introduces Charley, and highlights of this era include Embrace the Darkness, Neverland, Zagreus, Scherzo, The Natural History of Fear, and The Girl Who Never Was.
Although it is not necessary to listen to every single audio in this era, there are very few that could be considered downright bad. As this was an early era for Big Finish, a lot of experimentation was taking place, so this era of Doctor Who audio dramas can be forgiven for its occasional slip-ups as for every dud audio play Big Finish produced, there were three more that were truly excellent. The only audio that should probably be avoided is Minuet in Hell, although it has to be said that Zagreus is not for the faint-hearted.
Phase 2 – Lucie Bleedin’ Miller and the New Beginning
Since the first set of Eighth Doctor audios were part of the Monthly Adventures, they use the Classic Who format of 4 25-30 minute parts that make up a roughly 2 hour story. However, when the Eighth Doctor was given his own standalone series in 2007, Big Finish changed the format of his stories to single 45 minute episodes, some of which having two parts, to match the format that the televised Doctor Who used post-2005. This change makes the Eighth Doctor Adventures with Lucie Miller far more accessible to newer fans.
Not only that, but this series contains a huge amount of excellent content. Although not as experimental as the previous phase of Eighth Doctor audios, the Eighth Doctor Adventures are far more consistent in terms of overall quality. The tone and plots of the audios in this phase feel very much aligned to the New Series, specifically the Tenth Doctor era. Lucie Miller makes an excellent companion – almost like a cross between Rose and Donna, with just a dash of Ace thrown in for luck. Her strong personality and excellent portrayal by Sheridan Smith make Lucie an instantly memorable companion.
The villains of this era are also equally memorable. The notorious Headhunter is an excellent counter to the Doctor and Lucie’s positive outlook on their adventures, and as her character develops she becomes a fascinating anti-hero of sorts as well as recurring villain. There are also strong appearances for both the Daleks and the Cybermen in this era, and there are many returning Classic villains that make this phase feel like a love letter to fans of Classic and New Who alike. Highlights from this era include Blood of the Daleks, Human Resources, Brave New Town, The Zygon Who Fell To Earth, Hothouse, Wirrn Dawn and To The Death, although there are very few stories in this phase that fail to be either enjoyable romps or excellent sci-fi stories.
Phase 3 – Molly O’Sullivan, the Girl with the Dark Eyes
This phase of Eighth Doctor audios marks a significant transition into the format of 4 episode to a box set and 4 box sets to a series. The episodes are usually self-contained stories that connect together to form a 16-part story – think The Trial of a Time Lord but with less Brian Blessed and even more technobabble. This era sees a far more reserved and brooding Doctor team up with new companion Molly O’Sullivan – a World War I Medical Volunteer who possesses the ‘Dark Eyes’ that give the series its name.
Overall, this phase of the Eighth Doctor’s tenure is perhaps the least accessible to most fans, though that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It has its own distinct identity, almost its own universe, and it creates its own galactic conflict to use as the stage for its space-opera-style story structure. Dark Eyes is certainly an immersive experience, though arguably its greatest weakness is that it relies too heavily on the combined story structure, meaning there are few episodes that stand out as individual stories in their own right.
One of the greatest strengths of Dark Eyes, however, is the Master – played excellently by the delightfully charismatic Alex Macqueen. This version of the Master is a treat, and his appearance in this series helps make it truly memorable. Highlights from this phase include The Great War, The Traitor, Eyes of the Master, A Life in the Day and Master of the Daleks.
Phase 4 – Battling Doom Coalition and Ravenous with Liv and Helen
After the intense and plot-heavy Dark Eyes, the Eighth Doctor’s life takes a sudden turn with the Doom Coalition and Ravenous storylines. The format relaxes the overarching plot meaning that the individual stories feel more unique and distinct from each other, meaning that it would theoretically be possible for a newcomer to listen to a random story from this series and enjoy it. However, as previously mentioned, at this point in the Eighth Doctor’s life there is a lot of internal lore and backstory within his stories, meaning characters, events and plot threads from previous phases play more of a part in these stories. There are even some elements of the New Series that are brought into play here, such as Missy, River Song, and the Weeping Angels.
And yet, arguably the best thing about this era is that the Doctor has a wonderful pair of companions in this phase – Liv and Helen, who come from completely different time zones, one from the 1960s, one from the far-future, and yet have perfect chemistry. Although not as dynamic as Charley or distinctive as Lucie, Liv and Helen fit the companion role excellently for this era of the Eighth Doctor’s life. Highlights from this era include The Red Lady, Scenes from Her Life, Absent Friends, The Side of the Angels, Their Finest Hour Seizure and Companion Piece.
This phase also features a character that is arguably the best villain in the Eighth Doctor’s entire era, and is perhaps one of the greatest villains in Doctor Who history – The Eleven. This insane Time Lord suffers from a condition called Regenerative Dissonance, meaning that his previous incarnations live on as multiple personalities inside his head. This leads to terrifying situations in which multiple psychopathic consciousnesses fight to control a single body and argue over the best way to murder their victim, with the primary Eleven personality vying for control.
Phase 5 – Bliss and the Time War
It was inevitable that the Eighth Doctor would have to face the Time War eventually, and Big Finish began producing the Eighth Doctor Time War stories before Doom Coalition had even finished – this represents a fresh start for the Doctor, and he has a new companion and even a new theme (borrowed from the late John Hurt’s War Doctor audios). These stories are often a lot bleaker than many of the previous Eighth Doctor audios, although this is to be expected with the Time War raging.
There are some interesting surprises in this era, as several aspects of the Doctor’s life come back to haunt him during the horrors of the Time War. This series also serves a secondary purpose – setting up the War Doctor audios which chronologically take place after this era from the point of view of the Doctor.
New companion Bliss makes an excellent impression in this series, establishing herself as a character who is just as affected by the Time War as the Doctor is, meaning she understands the nature of the conflict and aligns with the Doctor’s view of wanting to help but not actively fight. Highlights of this phase include The Starship of Theseus, One Life, Planet of the Ogrons, In the Garden of Death and The War Valeyard. Although the last phase in the Eighth Doctor’s tenure is quite disconnected from its predecessors, one must take into account the fact that Big Finish has not finished filling in the gaps as of yet. Still, those who enjoyed the legendary War Doctor audios will also enjoy the Eighth Doctor: Time War stories.
Extra Eighth Doctor Content
But wait, there’s more! The five phases might be the main eras of the Eighth Doctor’s audio tenure, but there are other stories that feature him that do not fit into any of these categories. Overall, the Eighth Doctor’s era is vast and daunting to the uninitiated, but hopefully this guide has helped to break down this enigmatic and elusive Doctor’s era into more manageable phases for those who want to take the plunge and experience the excellent audio adventures of the Eighth Doctor.
Travels with Mary Shelley
There are some audios that were released as part of the Monthly Adventures in 2009 and 2010 that depicted the Eighth Doctor at an earlier point in his life, before he even met Charley, in which he had several travels with Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein. This era takes on a distinctly Gothic feel, and every one is worth a listen. The Silver Turk is arguably the best, and features the Mondasian Cybermen in 19th-century Vienna.
The Further Adventures of Lucie Miller
Acting as a pseudo-spinoff series for Lucie that is set between the first and second series of the Eighth Doctor Adventures, this box set tells various stories that primarily involve Lucie, although the Eighth Doctor is obviously present. So far only the first box set of this series has been released, but already the Further Adventures of Lucie Miller have given us a hilarious Dalek story in the debut story, The Dalek Trap.
Rage of the Master
The Eighth Doctor also appears in the third box set in the War Master series, which depicts the antics of Derek Jacobi’s incarnation of the Master during the Time War. The Eighth Doctor and the War Master bounce off each other well in their scenes together, and overall the story is highly enjoyable – but to say any more would give away some fantastic plot twists.