What is a Dalek?


The Daleks (pronounced “DAH-lecks” or “DAH-licks”) are a fictional extraterrestrial race of mutants from the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. The mutated descendants of the Kaled people (originally refered to as “Dals”) of the planet Skaro, they travel around in tank-like mechanical casings, a ruthless race bent on universal conquest and domination, utterly without pity, compassion or remorse. They are also, collectively, the greatest alien adversaries of the Time Lord known as the Doctor. Their most infamous catchphrase is “EX-TER-MIN-ATE!”, with each syllable individually screeched in a frantic electronic voice (download sample). Other common utterances include “I (or WE) OBEY!” to any command given by a superior.

The Daleks were created by writer Terry Nation and BBC designer Raymond Cusick and were first introduced in December 1963 in the second Doctor Who serial. They became an immediate hit with the viewing audience, featuring in many subsequent serials. They have become synonymous with Doctor Who and their behaviour and catchphrases are part of British popular culture.

The word “Dalek” has entered the Oxford English Dictionary and other major dictionaries (the Collins Dictionary defines it rather broadly as “any of a set of fictional robot-like creations that are aggressive, mobile, and produce rasping staccato speech”). It is also a trademark, having first been registered by the BBC in 1964 to protect its lucrative range of Dalek merchandise.

The term is sometimes used in a metaphorical sense to describe people, usually figures in authority, who act like robots unable to break their programming. John Birt, the controversial ex-Director-General of the BBC, was called a “croak-voiced Dalek” by playwright Dennis Potter in August 1993. The Daleks even appeared on a postage stamp celebrating British popular culture in 1999, photographed by Lord Snowdon. (via Wikipedia)

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