Click here to return to the main site.

DVD Review

DVD cover

Doctor Who
Day of the Daleks


Starring: Jon Pertwee
RRP: £20.42
Certificate: PG
Available 12 September 2011

Convinced that a British diplomat, Styles, intends to use a conference to commit mass murder, a band of freedom fighters travel back in time to stop an act, which will spark a world which so debilitates the Earth that it becomes an easy conquest for the Daleks. The Doctor and Jo are called in to investigate reports of attackers who seem to be able to appear and disappear at will, giving rise to fears of ghosts. Running into the fighters Jo is flung, possibly into a dangerous future, or to her death, either way the Doctor must follow, to confront an old enemy and to stop a cruel twist of time...

Day of the Daleks was the opening story for season nine of Doctor Who, a Jon Pertwee story, with Katy Manning as the companion. The four-part show was directed by Paul Bernard, from a Louis Marks script. The story originally ran from 01 to 22 January 1972.

I had some pretty poor memories of this story from when it was last issued on VHS. The premise, whilst sound, was let down by the limited special effects and especially the limited number of available Dalek props - three is not an impressive invasion in anybody’s book. I guess I wasn't the only one to think that the story represented a missed opportunity as the new two-disc DVD set has both the story in its original format, albeit digitally restored, but also a spanking new version with updated effects and additional Daleks.

The story occurs in two time frames, which means that it has a heavier portion of time travel, even for a Who story. The twentieth century story has Styles trying to avert some undisclosed global crisis, by gathering together representatives of the most powerful nations on the planet. Although the Doctor has no idea who would wish to hurt Styles, he spends the night in the house hoping to catch the perpetrator.

After the Doctor and Jo confront the freedom fighters, Jo mistakenly operates a time controller, throwing her into the twenty-second century. Here he meets Earth's controller, who tries to win the Doctor over to his side. However, when he discovers that the Daleks are behind Earth's subjugation he does all he can to fight back. The Daleks immediately launch an attack on Styles house hoping to kill the delegates, thereby keeping history on track. Although the Daleks are finally defeated, the Doctor realises that there is still a single surviving fighter in the house, armed with a bomb.

Watched in its original format, the story still has some strong elements. The basic structure of the story is pretty sound, although it does not take long for the penny to drop that the fighters who have returned from the future are about to be involved in their own self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s an old time gag, but works well here.

Of course, for anyone of a certain age, it is always a delight to see Nicholas Courtney as Lethbridge-Stewart; the classic UNIT team is further enhanced with the inclusion of Captain Yates (Richard Franklin) and Sergeant Benton (John Levene). Although the Daleks do appear in the story, though they spend less time on screen than most would like, their plans are revealed through the convincing acting of Aubrey Woods, who plays the Earth's Controller.

The first disc contains a digitally enhanced version of the story, which improves the quality, but leaves the effects as they originally had been. Disc one also holds a number of extras, including a full length commentary from Anna Barry, Jim Winston, Barry Letts, Terrence Dicks and vision mixer Mike Catherwood.

Blasting the Past (30 min, 34 sec) is the usual historical feature which tells how the story made it to the screen, with contributions from cast and crew, both old and new. A View from the Gallery (20 min) has Barry Letts and Mike Catherwood reminiscing about the art of vision mixing from the multiple cameras used in making Doctor Who.

Nationwide (3 min, 25 sec) has a small news piece about a primary school who won a Dalek from the Radio Times, bet the little buggers broke it in the first week. Blue Peter (4 min, 49 sec) has a piece by Peter Purves talking about his time playing Steven with William Hartnell’s Doctor.

The disc is rounded off with a Photo Gallery, the usual text and PDF materials and a Coming Soon (1 min, 37 sec) for Colony in Space.

In some ways disc two can be thought as holding the longest extra, as it includes four episodes of seriously improved Who. There is one odd thing which has not been addressed. At the start of episodes two and three the first few seconds of the closing music is played over the beginning of the story, presumably they did not bother to re-film each sequence, preferring to just lift it off the end of the preceding one, but it’s the only story I remember seeing this in and was probably, originally, a mistake.

The new additions to the show's visuals include cityscapes, giving the story a feeling of greater scope. Nicholas Briggs has been brought in to re-voice the Daleks, which gives them a greater connection to the Daleks of the modern era. In the battle scenes new footage has been integrated, not quite to the numbers that one might like, but enough to stop the attack on Style’s house looking ludicrous. Gun effects have improved, providing a very satisfactory exploding soldier effect.

On top of this the disc also has The Making of Day of the Daleks: Special Edition (13 min, 35 sec) looking at how and why the special edition came about, including using original, vintage cameras to produce the new material. Now and Then (5 min, 23 sec) is part of the continuing features which look at filming locations as they are now.

The Unit Dating Conundrum (9 min, 04 sec) tries to give an explanation for a problem that I didn’t even know existed. It appears that there are people out there who worry about the chronological order of the UNIT stories - some people have way too much time on their hands. The disc is wrapped with the Teaser Trailer (19 sec) and The Cheating Memory (8 min, 27 sec) has special edition producer Steve Broster wondering why at aged six Day of the Daleks was the best thing he had ever seen, only to be disappointed aged nineteen when he re-watched the show.

Its amazing how the introduction of some decent special effects can turn, what was in reality, a story which was a bit pants, to create something which makes a watchable and credible story. The extras are pretty decent, but let’s face it you’ll want this set for the update.


Charles Packer

Buy this item online

We compare prices online so you get the cheapest deal
Click on the logo of the desired store below to purchase this item.

£12.93 (
£12.99 (
£12.93 (
£16.47 (

All prices correct at time of going to press.