Recap: Doctor Who S25 E1 "Remembrance of the Daleks"

"Nobodyís done that before or since. I think thatís going to go on my gravestone, actually. I beat up a Dalek with a baseball bat! My absolute claim to fame, and I was very proud of that moment!"

Written by Ben Aaronovitch, who went on to write the Rivers of London series.

Despite being aired in the show's 25th anniversary year and featuring many links to Doctor Who's very first serial, "An Unearthly Child", this is not the official 25th anniversary special. That was "Silver Nemesis", the first episode of which aired on the actual anniversary.
The Doctor and Ace arrive at Coal Hill School, perhaps a month after the First Doctor and company left. It doesn't take long before they're mixed up in trouble of the Dalek kind — two separate Dalek factions, the Renegades (Grey) and Imperials (White), respectively opposed and loyal to Davros (as seen in "Revelation of the Daleks"), wage war on each other for possession of the Hand of Omega, a Time Lord superweapon. And unfortunately for both groups, the Doctor has laid a trap for them; he just has to make the right conditions to spring it and ensure that Group Captain Gilmore and his men don't get diced in the crossfire.

The Seventh Doctor has a major turning point in character. He casts aside the clownish facade that has dominated his personality and becomes extremely manipulative. This was part of the so-called "Cartmel Masterplan" inducted by Andrew Cartmel after the script writers had been told that they would not be returning for another season. Now, Cartmel took charge to tilt the show in a more interesting direction that would stimulate curiosity in the viewers again.


  • All There in the Manual: The Novelization was written by Aaronovitch himself, and contains details not explained in the episode, as well as setting up elements that would become important in the Virgin New Adventures.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Used by the Doctor to mock Davros: "Crush the lesser races! Conquer the galaxy! Unimaginable power! Unlimited rice pudding! Et cetera! Et cetera!"
  • Asshole Victim: Mike and Ratcliffe. Mike, when confronted by Ace about his racism, doesn't even understand why she's furious.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: The Doctor mentions that the Daleks are weakest in the eyepiece. So that's where Ace shoots one of them. With a rocket launcher.
  • Batter Up: Ace, to a Dalek, with a Hand of Omega-empowered baseball bat, giving us the original Moment Of Awesome.
    Dalek: Small human female sighted on Level 3.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: The Doctor just waltzes in to Rachel's van and starts asking a lot of technical questions, and at first she doesn't bat an eye. It takes her about a minute to start cottoning on and asking just who he is.
  • Berserk Button: See Batter Up, above.
  • BFG: The Special Weapons Dalek.
    • Ace's anti-tank missile might be a less extreme example
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: You know the quote under the picture at the top? Said by the 7th Doctor to the audience at the end of part three.
  • Briar Patching: How the Doctor makes the Daleks lose hardest of all.
  • Broken Pedestal: Mike Smith comes to realize that Ratcliffe isn't the untarnished, infallible hero he saw him as.
    • Ace, in turn, is left feeling pretty betrayed by Mike when she realizes that he's not quite as heroic as she'd built him up to be. Specifically, he's a treacherous Nazi.
  • Can't Use Stairs: As the Doctor learns, Daleks can now!
  • Casting Gag: Michael Sheard, who plays the Dalek-controlled school headmaster, also played Mr. Bronson, the mean-spirited Latin teacher at Grange Hill.
  • The Chessmaster: The Seventh Doctor gets manipulative. Wow.
  • Civil War
  • The Teaser: A zoom out on Earth, with the Dalek mothership entering shot above the camera.
  • Coffin Contraband: The Doctor hides the Hand of Omega in a coffin and arranges to have it buried in the local graveyard.
  • Continuity Nod: Mostly with sets such as the Foreman junkyard and Ian's classroom at the Coal Hill School (which still has the book on the French Revolution that Barbara gave Susan in it).
  • Creepy Child
  • Creepy Children Singing
    Five, six, seven, eight
    It's the doctor at the gate...
  • Darker and Edgier: Of a sort; from this story on, the Seventh Doctor begins to be presented as a darker, more brooding and manipulative character than the amiable prat-falling metaphor-mixing bumbler of the previous season. It's relative, however, since he's still presented as ultimately being a fairly cheerful and friendly sort as well, but the more out-there clownish elements of his personality are smoothed down.
  • Death Is Cheap
  • Did You Actually Believe? I would let you have The Hand of Omega?
  • Dirty Coward: The Supreme Dalek, who flees the moment the Imperials show up.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Fantastic Racism of the Daleks is directly compared with the more prosaic unpleasantness of Nazi sympathiser Ratcliffe and his organisation.
  • Driving Stick: A variant; Ace doesn't have any problem with the van's gearbox, but doesn't seem to have encountered a manual choke before.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Actually, Skaro-Shattering, but it's the same idea. That doesn't prevent Skaro from returning intact in both the TV movie, and in Asylum of the Daleks.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Special Weapons Dalek, in the Novelization, is considered one by the other Daleks, who are all thoroughly terrified of him.
  • Elite Mooks: Special Weapons Dalek (Pictured)
  • Enemy Civil War
  • Enfant Terrible
  • Evil Is Hammy: Davros has completely lost his shit in this one.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: After the Doctor has disabled the Dalek transmat in the school basement.
    The Doctor: [Fiddling about inside the transmat] It should slow them down a bit; until the operator can repair the system.
    Ace: Operator?
    The Doctor: [Distracted] Yes, the Daleks usually keep an operator on station in case of malfunctions.
    Ace: Which would be... another Dalek?
    The Doctor: [Realizing] ... Yes.
  • Expy: The military characters are basically mirrors of the main characters in the UNIT years of the early 1970s. Group Captain Gilmore is Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (strait-laced military officer), Rachel is Liz Shaw (cool-headed and intelligent scientist), Alison is Jo Grant (irreverent and inexperienced assistant), and Mike Smith is a combination of Captain Yates and Sergeant Benton (well-liked and down-to-earth lower-ranking soldier who ends up betraying his colleagues). The reference is made explicit at one point when the Doctor, during an argument, accidentally refers to Gilmore as "Brigadier".
  • Fantastic Racism: The Daleks are in the story, so that's a given. But here we see for the first time just how fanatical they can get: they declared all out civil war just because the Imperial Daleks are a tiny bit different genetically. This is an Ironic Echo to the all-too-real racism present in 1963.
  • Foreshadowing: An unintentional variant from the Seventh Doctor in Part 2 concerning defeating the Daleks: "I mean, what do you expect to do, talk to them sternly?"
    • Mike's racist and nationalist nature is hinted at in episode one when, during his conversation with Ace about her difficulties in understanding pre-decimalised British currency, he suspiciously asks if she's a foreigner:
    Mike: Are you from somewhere else?
  • Fish out of Temporal Water
  • Five Rounds Rapid: Played straight early on, then subverted when the military gets better weapons.
  • Grand Finale: To the Doctor vs the Daleks story arc for the Original Series.
  • Guile Hero: This episode is the first real showing of the Seventh Doctor's manipulative side.
  • Go for the Eye: Ace + rocket launcher + this trope = Epic Win.
  • Hot Scientist: Rachel and Allison.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The Imperial Daleks, of course.
    • The Renegades aren't much better. When the two factions are lined up across from one another and firing, there are two Imperial casualties to the zero Renegade ones. And in the final battle, they fail to kill any of the Imperials before the SW Dalek wipes them all out.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: The mole gives himself away by asking the Doctor an honestly-curious question about the Daleks that reveals he already knows something about them that the Doctor never told him.
  • Ironic Nickname / Non-Indicative Name: Group Captain "Chunky" Gillmore, who's 6'4" and looks like he weighs about 110 pounds. However, on the DVD Commentary, Sylvester McCoy revealed that it came from Gilmore's nickname for his revolver (owing to its "chunky" shape), and the name stuck. This isn't mentioned in the story, but the discrepancy between Gilmore's appearance and his name is lampshaded when the Doctor admits he's got no idea why people call Gilmore "Chunky".
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: ...five six, seven eight, it's a Doctor at the gate...
  • I Shall Taunt You
  • Karmic Death:
    • Ratcliffe
    • Mike.
  • Last of His Kind
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In one scene, as Ace leaves the boarding house, a television in the background can be heard advertising a new episode of the newest Saturday Evening Science Fiction program that night. The scene ends, mid-announcement, but not before the announcement says "Doc-".
  • Light Is Not Good: The Imperial Daleks have rather neat-looking white-and-gold colorings this time.
  • Logic Bomb
  • Missing Backblast: Averted.
  • The Mole
  • My Card
  • Mythology Gag: The telly is cut off before it can announce the new science fiction series that is premiering, called Doc-.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: By swiping the Renegades' time controller at the last moment, Ratcliffe and Mike inadvertently allowed the Imperials to capture the Hand of Omega - just as the Doctor had intended.
  • No Swastikas: Ratcliffe and his groupies are hinted to be a miniature Hitler Youth, though they could just as easily represent the National Front or some other nativist movement.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The Hand of Omega looks nothing like a hand. The Doctor claims the name came about due to the Time Lords' "infinite capacity for pretention".
  • No One Could Survive That: Nothing even remotely human could've survived that — but that's the point! It isn't even rrremotely human!
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: "Is he all right?" "No idea—I'm a physicist."
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: The Time Controller
  • Oh, Crap: The Doctor's expression when, having escaped from a Dalek up a flight of stairs, he hears it powering up its antigravs.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: In a possible allusion to this trope, the Doctor pops the cap off one of Ace's nitro-nine canisters with his teeth.
  • Politically Correct History: Averted, for one of the few times in the history of Doctor Who. Most noticeably with Ace discovering a "no coloureds allowed" sign. Mike Smith also makes reference to "[keeping] the outsiders out"note .
    • Not only that, but the black cafe worker who serves the Doctor notes that the existence of sugar is the reason why his grandfather was kidnapped from Africa to become a slave, and his family subsequently became English.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Literally.
  • Protagonist Centred Morality: The Doctor frequently lectures the army on the barbarity and uselessness of weapons. It doesn't stop him killing the odd Dalek himself.
  • Rebuilt Set: The entrance to Foreman's Yard, as seen in "An Unearthly Child" (when it was a set) is recreated on location. Unfortunately "Foreman" is misspelt as "Forman".
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Smith and Ratcliffe. Mike Smith has some first principles from the pit of Hell, but he honestly doesn't know better, and thinks the Association is acting in Britain's best interests. Ratcliffe is a conniver who's only after power.
  • The Remnant: Ratcliffe and his gang of neo-Nazis
  • The Reveal: Two successive audience-teasing ones: first when it's revealed that the Renegade Daleks' battle computer isn't Davros, which most people were assuming when the show was first broadcast, and then when it's revealed that the Imperial Dalek Emperor is.
  • Reverse Psychology and Exact Words: In their confrontation, the Doctor tells Davros not to use the Hand of Omega, that it's something that's not to be trifled with, and that he's making a grave mistake in doing so — all of which is true, but he doesn't mention why. Davros uses it anyways.
  • Samus is a Girl: The Renegade Dalek Battle Computer.
  • Schmuck Bait: Launching something into the sun to increase its power? What did you think would happen, Davros?
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: The Dalek Supreme, once it becomes quite clear the Imperials are winning the battle.
  • Shock and Awe: The DBC's power.
  • Shout-Out:
    "Bernie's rocket group's got its own problems."
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!
  • Significant Anagram: An out-of-universe example: to avoid revealing that the Imperial Dalek Emperor is Davros, the credits of early episodes and the cast list in the Radio Times credited him as being played by "Roy Tromelly", an anagram of the name of the 1980s Davros actor Terry Molloy.
  • Skip of Innocence: The little girl skips around town when she's not plugged into the Dalek battle computer. She's not exactly "innocent", though.
  • Smug Snake: Ratcliffe spends most of the story strutting around acting like a little tinpot general. When the Renegade Daleks get the Hand of Omega and no longer need his services, however, it quickly becomes apparent that he's completely out of his depth.
  • Somebody Set Up Us the Bomb
  • Star Killing: The Hand of Omega is designed to do this, to provide the massive power source required for time travel. The Doctor uses it to destroy the solar system where the main Dalek force is located, to prevent the Daleks using it on anyone else.
  • Stuff (primarily Daleks) Blowing Up: Best serial to watch Daleks getting blown up by the Counter-Measures team, rival Daleks, and Ace, with her BFG and Hand of Omega-powered baseball bat.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: The Doctor tells the last of the Renegade Daleks that it's got no kin left at all since its home world was blown up. It refuses to believe him at first but, unable to contact anyone, is brought to so much despair that it disintegrates itself.
  • Tele-Frag: The Doctor manages to make this happen to a Dalek on itself, by fiddling with the machine so that half of the Dalek materializes where the other half would be.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The Special Weapons Dalek. When the white Daleks can't gain the upper hand, they wheel out this thing. No plunger, no egg whisk, no eyestalk — just a single massive cannon. When it opens up on the grey Daleks, there's nothing left except little patches of smouldering ash.
    • And there's Ace aiming for a Daleks eyestalk...with a rocket launcher.
    • Later, Allison saving the Doctor from being strangled by an Imperial Dalek mutant by beating the holy hell out of it with Ace's baseball bat... Over and over and over...
  • This Cannot Be!
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Ratcliffe holds that Britain "fought for the wrong side" in the last war, and aims to correct that mistake.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The Daleks, who had been suffering from Villain Decay since Destiny of the Daleks, finally decided to kick ass and take names. However, greater badassery is yet to come...
  • Trope Codifier / Trope Maker: Ace's actions in this serial created and codified the Crowning Moment of Awesome trope.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Davros and the last Renegade Dalek.
    • Ratcliffe pulls the Moff Tarkin variety, deceiving himself into thinking he can still come out on top.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Finally, all the "Daleks vs. stairs" jokes are obviated by showing Daleks levitating on screen.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: The first episode to properly show off the Seventh Doctor's manipulative side. Unforeseen events do crop up, but they don't seem to slow him down any.
  • The X of Y
  • X-Ray Sparks: The Dalek extermination effect used in this story was so cool and memorable that it was revived almost twenty years later, despite only appearing this once.
  • Your Other Left
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The Renegade Daleks do this to Ratcliffe's organisation, and are about to do it to Ratcliffe and Mike when the Imperial Daleks attack.