Genesis of the Daleks

The fan-favourite 'Genesis of the Daleks' finally arrives on DVD in the UK in early 2006. One of the defining stories of the early Tom Baker era, 'Genesis' is presented as a two-disc special edition, fully remastered and including two full-length documentaries as part of the special features package.

'Genesis of the Daleks' followed the standard 2" studio videotape / 16mm location film common to most Doctor Who production of that era, perhaps only distinguishing itself from those stories around it by the large amount of location film used in the first episode. Unfortunately the location film inserts themselves are long gone, so the entire remastering and cleanup was done from the BBC's D3 digital videotape copies of the original 2" quad transmission tapes. As usual, the episodes were decoded through the BBC-designed Transform PAL decoder onto Digital Betacam tape and then subsequently graded, noise reduced and manually cleaned up from there. There were no major problems, although the popularity of the story and the subsequent requirement for multiple replays of the tapes seems to have taken its toll on the original transmission masters, with a fair amount of dropout and other superficial tape damage noted during cleanup. Several picture hops and flash fields from the original edit were also fixed for this release.

Episode one suffered from severe Quad scratching throughout the episode. Literally thousands of tape dropouts that were painted out in this episode alone. An off-lock as the gas bomb explodes at the bunker entrance was fixed (the offlock is present on the 1975 Omnibus too, and very likely was on the original broadcast). The film sequences were very dirty and flickery. These were de-interlaced to remove twin lens flicker and then manually deblobbed.

In episode four, Tom Baker's head partially disappears in one shot as he crosses the Thal video screen due to the CSO keying - this has been corrected. Throughout the serial where CSO keying has caused crawling grain this has been minimised with localised noise reduction.

Other than this, no significant problems were found by the team remastering the pictures. On the sound side, things were generally similar. Print-through was removed where possible, and levels legalised, including compensating for generally low levels in episodes three and four (on average these were about 3dB low, leading us to suspect a line-up error somewhere during the original edit and dub). Edits were tidied were necessary and, in a few cases, some out-of-sync effects and music were re-timed. For the music, this was specifically around the first reveal of Davros (end of episode one) and Sarah's first sight of the Thal rocket (episode two).

Much of Davros's dialogue (picked up by a little Sony microphone on a stick and relayed to the sound mixer via a radio link) is distorted - especially in episode five. This has been repaired or concealed where possible, though a couple of particularly bad instances proved impossible to fix.


The commentary for this story features actors Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen and Peter Miles, with the story's director David Maloney.

With six episodes taking up all of disc 1, the Special Features are on a disc of their own. Initially it was planned that the 90-minute compilation version from 1975 would be included unrestored, but the documentary features ran so long that it was necessary to drop this!

Genesis of a Classic is an affectionate 62-minute look at the making of the story. Produced by Ian Levine and edited by Adi Denney, this documentary features interviews with many of the major cast and crew members who were involved in the creation of this much-loved story. Interviewees include executive producer Barry Letts, producer Philip Hinchcliffe, outgoing script editor Terrance Dicks, director David Maloney, actors Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Peter Miles, Guy Siner, James Garbutt, Dennis Chinnery and the late Michael Wisher, sound-effects guru Dick Mills, Dalek voice artist Roy Skelton, Dalek operators Cy Town and John Scott Martin, lighting director Duncan Brown, visual effects designer Peter Day, and makeup artist Sylvia James.

The Dalek Tapes is a 53-minute documentary from John Kelly, which looks at the history of the Daleks and covers all of their appearances in the 'classic series'. It includes many rare Dalek-related clips from other programmes, including Blue Peter and Vision-On and is narrated by Terry Molloy, the actor who portrayed Davros in the later stories. Interviewees include actors Anneke Wills and Terry Molloy, producer Philip Hinchcliffe, directors Richard Martin, Timothy Combe, David Maloney, Ken Grieve and Graeme Harper, writers and script editors Terrance Dicks and Eric Saward, designer Derek Dodd,  Dalek operator Cy Town, film critic Kim Newman, voice artists Royce Mills, Roy Skelton and Nicholas Briggs, visual effects designer Peter Day, and fan viewers Andrew Beech and Ian McLachlan.

From the ever-bountiful Blue Peter archive comes a seven-minute item featuring a young viewer's Doctor Who models. This item was shown during the original transmission of 'Genesis' and includes several shots of the Blue Peter team being inserted into the model sets by the magic of colour separation overlay!

A six-minute continuities compilation includes continuity voice-over and in-vision items from some of the original and repeat transmissions of this story on the BBC.

As always, a full photo gallery is included as well as a subtitle production text commentary. PDF versions of the 1976 Doctor Who Annual and the Radio Times billings for the original transmission are included for PC and Mac users.



Copyright Steve Roberts, 15 January 2006. No reproduction allowed without written permission.