Recap / Doctor Who S4 E3 "The Power of the Daleks"
Headless Daleks? Clearly there's a rogue model running around, trying to be the only one...
"The day had started badly. In the console room aboard the TARDIS lay a disorientated body ragged with pain. It was me, in an earlier regenerative form. It was also the time of my first regeneration, the event that is both a blessing and a scourge of the Time Lords of Gallifrey. Some Time Lords are able to proceed through their allotted twelve lives with grace, dignity, and élan; growing older, wiser, and more handsome with each change. Others are less fortunate, as my first metamorphosis proved: One moment a distinguished, white-haired gentleman, and the next, well, not what I would have wished for myself, but at least I was alive. Just."
The Doctor, the audio reconstruction of the episode

The Doctor: Life depends on change, and renewal.
Ben: Oh, that's it, you've been renewed, have you?
The Doctor: Renewed? Have I? That's it, I've been renewed. It's part of the TARDIS. Without it I couldn't survive.

Arguably one of the most important Doctor Who stories ever madenote , The Power of the Daleks had to establish that a new actor could take over the lead role and play the Doctor completely differently, yet still remain true to the character.

The Doctor has changed. Ben and Polly discuss what's happened. Ben does not believe this stranger could possibly be the Doctor, while Polly thinks it must be him, reasoning that they've seen many impossible things recently. It doesn't help when the man continues to refer to "The Doctor" in the third person.

The TARDIS lands on the planet Vulcan, the site of a future Earth colony, and the Doctor goes out to explore with Ben and Polly following him. The Doctor has hardly set foot on the planet when he witnesses a murder and, on examining the body, discovers a pass proclaiming the dead man to be an Earth Examiner. Attacked from behind, then rescued by people from the colony, the Doctor decides to impersonate the dead Examiner and investigate. He discovers that there is a rebel movement bent on overthrowing the governor, but also that there is a far more dangerous problem in the form of a crashed space capsule containing inactive Daleks.

Despite the Doctor's warnings, the Daleks are activated and present themselves as willing servant robots, taking advantage of the colonists' trust to set up a reproduction plant. Meanwhile, internal power politics in the colony sees Security Chief Bragen secretly leading the rebels as a way of deposing Governor Hensell and seizing power for himself, while Deputy Governor Quinn has been locked up. Bragen believes the Daleks will help him and has rearmed them.

Of course it's only a matter of time before the Daleks are strong and numerous enough to emerge from their capsule and go on a killing spree. Many colonists are killed before the Doctor uses the colony's power supply to overload and destroy the Daleks.

Ben concedes that this probably is the Doctor after all, and the three depart for adventures new.

This story only survives in total in an audio format, thanks to fans at the time tape-recording it. There are a few short visual clips composed of extracts used in other programs and short clips made by pointing a camera at the television during transmission, as well as a partial trailer for the story. The few minutes of existing material can be found on the "Lost in Time" DVD set.

In September 2016, it was announced that the entire serial would be animated; the release is set for November 21, 2016; the digital download is set for November 5, 2016, 50 years to the day after it first aired.


  • All There in the Manual: In the novelisation, frequent mention is also made of the Interplanetary Mining Corporation as the driving force behind the colony's founding and funding. The IMC's first mention in the television series was not until Colony in Space.
    • More background is given to Valmar: he was one of the chief engineers on Vulcan, but was demoted after Hensell blamed him for an industrial accident that kill four men.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: A Dalek in a philosophical mood: "Why do human beings kill other human beings?" Ouch.
  • Batman Gambit: The Daleks side with the rebels, just in order to be pushed to the front lines, just so that they can exterminate all soldiers at once.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Doctor manages to stop the Daleks and earn the trust of his companions, but a lot of civilians are killed and the colony is severely damaged. Furthermore, the Doctor isn't even thanked for his heroic actions and it is implied the colonists would have pressed charges on him for the damage.
  • Black Comedy: There's a subtle, macabre humor in the writing, as well as from the Daleks' voice actor. As the story goes on, you can tell that the Daleks' repeated refrains of "I OBEY" and "I AM YOUR SER-VANT" are becoming less and less sincere; near the end, it almost sounds as if they can hardly bring themselves to say the words anymore.
  • Blatant Lies: "I AM YOUR SER-VANT!"
  • Cassandra Truth: The Doctor trying to convince the colonists the Daleks are evil, and later Lesterson after his descent into madness.
  • Circular Drive: One of the few surviving clips from the story shows the four Dalek props representing an army in this way.
  • Civilian Villain: "I AM YOUR SER-VANT!" And if you believe that, the nice man in the wheelchair has a timeshare on Skaro you can invest in. Unfortunately for them, the colonists on Vulcan do believe it...
  • Continuity Nod: The Doctor finds a dagger in the TARDIS that he claims to have picked up during the events of The Crusade.
    • The Doctor refers to Marco Polo as a friend, having met him in Marco Polo.
  • Cursed with Awesome: An audio version exists with Tom Baker narrating, and he claims regeneration is this for a Time-Lord.
  • Cut Futuristic Interstellar Communications Equipment Lines
  • Death By Genre Savvy: Resno realizes something isn't right with the Daleks and says so. He promptly gets "accidentally" zapped for his troubles.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Who do you think?
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The Doctor's clothes seem to change with the regeneration as well.
  • False Utopia: The human colony of Vulcan seems like a nice place to live at first, but to say it's an unstable civilization would be an understatement. Most of the major figures are either over-ambitious, self-righteous or mentally unstable, and all of them are horrible judges of character. It's no wonder the Daleks managed to manipulate them all so easily.
  • Gambit Pileup: The rebels are trying to overthrow the colony's government while Bragen is using them and the Daleks to oust Quinn so he can take the governorship from Hensell while Lesterson is trying to use the Daleks to increase the colony's production capacity while Quinn is trying to investigate the rebels and their connection to Bragen while the Daleks are pitting everybody against each other so they can rebuild themselves and destroy the colony while the Doctor is running around trying to keep the innocent alive and stop the Daleks and their allies...
  • Genre Blind: The colonists fail history forever.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: When Lesterson sneaks into the capsule and sees the Dalek reproduction factory, he has an epic Freak Out that eventually drives him to willingly take a Dalek Death Ray to the face.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: The Daleks and the Doctor and friends are firmly black and white respectively, but the rest of the supporting human cast is grey, with most, if not all of the major players having serious character flaws. The writing of the story illustrates how the colonists unwittingly gave the Daleks everything they needed to carry out their destructive mission through their own rather trivial and selfish goals.
  • High-Heel–Face Turn: Janley, for reasons of self-preservation as much as anything else.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Everyone in the colony, basically.
  • Ironic Echo: After Lesterson snaps.
    Lesterson: I am your servant.
  • Just Think of the Potential: Lesterson begins fiddling with the spaceship because the alloys it contains are remarkably resistant to damage and wear.
  • Klingon Promotion: Bragen "becomes" the new governer by powering a (dysfunctional) Dalek long enough for it to kill the previous.
  • Large Ham: Lesterson starts out a bit histrionic and by the end of the story has gone so far over the top he's somewhere in high orbit.
  • Mistaken for Special Guest: The Doctor stumbles across the body of the freshly murdered Examiner: an official sent from earth to investigate strange goings-on in the colony on Vulcan. Taking the Examiner's badge, he is mistaken for the Examiner by the colonists.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: With Troughton replacing Hartnell, the show would live or die based on the strength of these first few serials. It lived.
  • The Nth Doctor: The original.
  • Only Sane Man: The Doctor has a hell of a time convincing the colonists that their new friendly robot buddies are not as nice as they think. And he never really succeeds. The colonists and rebels alike only learn the truth when the exterminations begin.
  • Out-Gambitted
  • The Radio Dies First
  • Resistance as Planned: Bragen is behind the resistance mainly so that they'll cause trouble until he himself ascends to the governorship.
  • Sanity Slippage: Lesterson, and to a lesser extent Bragen, undergo this through the course of the story.
  • The Starscream: Bragen is the story's least sympathetic human character in a secondary cast mostly consisting of shades of gray. He's a power-hungry usurper and a generalissimo who believes that, as the governor, he has absolute authority over the colonists and the Daleks. He's quite confused when neither parties listen to him or obey him.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Lesterson.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The Daleks.
  • The X of Y: Starting here and continuing until the end of the Classic Series' run, every Dalek story (barring only "Death to the Daleks," and "Frontier in Space" if you want to count that as a Dalek story) will be in the "(something) of the Daleks" format.
  • Your Use-ful-ness Has En-ded