Saturday, 26 September 2015

Historical Context

William Hartnell – the name that started it all. But not only was William Hartnell the first man to play the Doctor on TV, he was also the answer to a question in a newspaper competition that I entered in 1995. The prize for naming the first Doctor Who actor was a life-sized Dalek.
To my eternal delight, my family won said competition and were soon in possession of a replica Dalek from the Seventh Doctor story, "Remembrance of the Daleks". We decided to call him Derek (alliteration is always a strong naming convention – Derek the Dalek!).

Derek was manufactured by This Planet Earth Ltd, and is a replica of a Renegade Dalek from the 1988 Doctor Who story, “Remembrance of the Daleks” (which, ironically, is the first Doctor Who story I ever saw). These are images of the Renegade Daleks from "Remembrance of the Daleks".

Here is a photo of my thirteen-year-old self with Derek (and for some reason I am wearing a Star Trek phaser on my waistband; never approach a Dalek unarmed!) as well as the little identification plaque that is inside him.

Here is my younger brother with Derek.

For years after that, Derek was a talking point among friends and family. My brother and I were in a local youth drama club, and Derek appeared on stage in one of our plays. However, he soon moved from the living room into the garage where he was stored under a sheet, and only came out on special occasions, when my friends and I would take him for a spin, much to the surprise of passers-by.

My university degree was in Film and Animation, and as a result I made a number of films, one of which was a sci-fi spoof in which a Star Trek captain was transported to an alternate universe that borrowed elements from the Star Wars and Doctor Who universes, so naturally, Derek had a starring role.

I also made a couple of Doctor Who fan films about a special section of UNIT, in which Derek made an appearance.

But that was all just a warm up; Derek’s true moment in the spotlight was yet to come…


  1. This is great - any of these films on YouTube? :-)

    1. Thanks. Unfortunately, most of these films were lost when my old PC stopped working. I still have all the raw footage, thankfully, so one day, if I had the time, I might be able to re-edit them. I do have a few surviving snippets, but no complete films, alas.