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Design variations: Devious and the plays

Thursday 23rd July 2009

The dalek casings we used for Devious were full sized replicas built by Ashley initially based on limited measurements and estimations He then used a series of photographs from the early BBC Dalek serials to get the "look" right and refine the measurements.

The first four dalek casings were built with split bases so that the fronta dnbackl could be separated awayy from the operator seat and easily packed into a large or estate car. This system worked well for years. The fifth or was it the fourth dalek we think was one which the base was built by Stephen and Chris to our standard measurements. This was to incorporate the electric wheelchair which served as the motive power.and enabled it to travel over rough surfaces such as pathways in the woods WITHOUT the need for tracks or boards to be laid. This was extremely successful and looked great in our woodland scenes.

The first two were built and unveiled by Ashley as a surprise to the rest of the cast at an infamous party (where they were stored behind a curtain for a timed unveiling - a great party that we recall simply because the whole thing was so daft! Arthur had some Japanese friends along who took countless photos of the unveiling and must have wondered what on earth we were doing).

The tops of the daleks were built to a standard design also mirroring the Evil and Power look. The colours are described elsewhere in this section suffice to say the "Evil" look was achieved. The gun boxes were built as one long box angled correctly and the shoulder section built srom 2mm thick black pvc sheet for some of the daleks and even card and aluminium for dalek number two. This latter centre section was later replaced with fibreglass.

The fifth sixth and seventh daleks were largely fibreglass and were built a few years after the original 1992/3 batch. Along with the black dalek which was entirely fibreglass there were no more casings built until the two plays came along.

Ashley then took the opportunity to ditch a few of the older wooden bases and some of the half-half ones in favour of fibreglass. Some of the centre sections were also replaced to ensure durability on stage.

The gold dalek in "Evil" had it's centre shoulder section heavily modified to include a lower "D" shape to mirror the upper "D-slat". The D-slats were a homage to the new series daleks with their distinctive triple-width centre slat - except that they were D-shaped purely to look good. We later on at the time of Masterplan said that these "D" shapes were the "D" of "Devious" and in a sense they were although they were not conceived that way.

Also the gold dalek deliberately had its neck rods blacked out with tape so they would appear invisible. This was done to homage the Dalek Supreme from 'Planet of the Daleks'.

The emperor was also a rebuild since the full-sized Devious emperor was only the lower half to enable it to fit our filming area. The original Devious emperor was used as a template to keep the model accurate. The Devious emperor was scaled up from the original Emperor of the Daleks model that Ashley built back in 1989-90 purely as a piece of modelwork without any film in mind.

The same five daleks used in Evil were used for masterplan along with Stuart Currie's excellent "Sec". There were two modifications.

A new neck section was built as a spare to be used in act two when the Doctor (Nick Scovell) had to lift the dome of the dalek to extract DNA. The neck rings divided and the top one lifted on supports along with the dome. The operator who was wearing a black hat had to duck down out of sight as well as hoist the dome in the air at the appropriate cue.

Also a new middle section was built for the gold dalek before it became the red dalek. This new centre section was built as a one-off and was constructed using bendy-mdf instead of fibreglass as it was only intended to last for a week's worth of the play. In the outcome the dalek is still painted up in black and red and the middle is intact.

new middle section

The two science daleks in Masterplan also maintained the additional tab on the front of the lower shoulder band and were painted silver to accentuate them - the standard daleks did not have these tabs. In Devious you will see a mixture of tabbed and non-tabbed silver daleks. In Evil these tabs wre not accentuated by paint but left for people to spot - the green emperor guards sported them.

new set of eyestalks for Masterplan

The eyestalks of all the daleks used in Evil and Masterplan were new builds to incorporate LED lighting - some of which were used in Evil and all in Masterplan. As you can see above they had torch-like fittings for the lights (though not like the Supreme in 'Planet of the Daleks'!!) enabling lights to be changed during the interval or before the performances. The Supreme had an eyestalk with clear vanes (not shown above) whilst the science daleks were the red and green vaned-eyestalks and the other two used the standard blue. A spare eyestalk was built for insurance purposes - always best to be ready in case of a big failure / loss / theft etc etc!

the neon gun

The dalek guns were a major improvement in Masterplan. There were three built by Ashley to house the tubing required for the fire-extinguisher CO2 gas. The were strengthened and also featured switches to illuminate four glass neon tubes around the main shaft. Four weere used instead of eight partly for cost and mainly because the effect looked the best and not over bright with four. The operator had a difficult job to activate the gas jet and remember to switch the neons on - it was intended to light the guns first and stay on whilst the gas fired and then off afterwards. It did look stunning - there's a youtube file somewhere shopwing the guns firing. Stuart had developed the technology for the gas guns and his own dalek was suitably equipped.

Indeed Stuart's black dalek had another trick up it's sleeve as it were. At the end when it fired on someone it SWIVELLED its centre section first before firing. A real shock and delight for the audience this had not hitherto been achieved outside of cgi to the best of our knowledge and was a trimumphal achievement.

Stuart's black dalek on stage