THE PROGRAMMES: Commissioned in 1973 by Doctor Who’s outgoing series producer and script editor, Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks respectively, Genesis of the Daleks was one of the first stories to be developed by Philip Hinchcliffe and Robert Holmes. Both favoured a bold and gritty approach to the programme, and the story which emerged bore the hallmarks of their new regime. Encouraged to break new ground with his latest script, Terry Nation took the opportunity to explore the raison d’etre for the ruthless mechanical creatures he had originated in 1963. It had long been realised that their unique speech patterns didn’t lend themselves easily to lengthy scenes of dialogue, and so Nation invented the character of Davros - a crippled humanoid whose blind ambition for supremacy would be passed on to his creations. The six-part serial was filmed on location at Betchworth Quarry in Surrey and at Ealing Studios in January 1975, with studio interiors then being recorded at BBC Television Centre. Its strong material, which in part explored the ethics of racial purity and war, drew criticism from the National Viewers and Listeners’ Association which believed it to be unsuitable for teatime audiences. Such was the popularity of Davros, due in no small part to Michael Wisher’s compelling portrayal, that the character appeared in every subsequent Dalek story – albeit played by different actors. The serial has been repeated on television many times, both in full and as a compilation. Exploration Earth: The Time Machine, the third instalment of a BBC schools radio series exploring the geography of our planet, was recorded in half a day on 27 April 1976. The overriding educational brief meant that the key elements of Doctor Who were being used as tools with which to demonstrate the creation of Earth and so, with studio time at a premium and minimal rehearsals allocated, the cast were allowed little input into the script or their characterisations. The episode was broadcast on 4 October 1976, two days after Episode One of The Hand of Fear was transmitted on BBC1. With teachers encouraged to utilise such programmes as part of their lessons, it provided a unique opportunity for Ron Grainer’s familiarly eerie theme tune to echo around school corridors.
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