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Doctor Who: The Power of the Daleks

after only 12 months in storage...
"I've been renewed, have I?"

Season Four, Story 3 (EE)

Introducing Patrick Troughton as the Doctor
With Anneke Wills (Polly) and Michael Craze (Ben)
Written by David Whitaker
(substantial uncredited re-writes by Dennis Spooner)
Directed by Christopher Barry
Produced by Innes Lloyd
Script Editor - Gerry Davis

Broadcast Dates, Viewership, Appreciation
  • Episode One - 5 Nov 1966 (7.9m, 43%) **MISSING**
  • Episode Two - 12 Nov 1966 (7.8m, 45%) **MISSING**
  • Episode Three - 19 Nov 1966 (7.5m, 44%) **MISSING**
  • Episode Four - 26 Nov 1966 (7.8m, 47%) **MISSING**
  • Episode Five - 3 Dec 1966 (8.0m, 48%) **MISSING**
  • Episode Six - 10 Dec 1966 (7.8m, 47%) **MISSING**

How To Watch
  • Animated version released on DVD, in rotation on Pluto.tv (as of July '23), and streaming on demand via Britbox.
  • The Loose Cannon reconstruction is available here. (Please support the official BBC releases)


To Ben and Polly's astonishment, the Doctor has changed into a completely different person. As he recovers and adjusts to his new body, they struggle to accept him. The TARDIS lands in the mercury swamps of the planet Vulcan, and the Doctor briefly encounters an examiner from Earth who is promptly shot dead by an unknown assassin. The Doctor pockets the examiner's badge. He, Ben and Polly are brought to a nearby Earth colony led by Hensell, his deputy Quinn, and head of security Bragen. The Doctor poses as the Examiner, keeping his ears open and using the free access his stolen pass provides, hoping among other things to discover the identity of the killer. Hensell assumes that he's here to investigate a mysterious capsule found crashed and perfectly preserved in the mercury swamps for two centuries. The Doctor recognizes it and sneaks inside, finding two dormant Daleks, and an empty space where a third Dalek should be. The colony's chief scientist Lesterson has been secretly attempting to revive the third Dalek, unaware of its murderous nature. Despite the Doctor's strenuous objections, Lesterson does indeed revive it successfully. The Dalek presents itself as a servant of humanity, offering its technological expertise to help the colony in exchange for more power, which it secretly uses to revive the other two Daleks. Meanwhile, Bragen is attempting a power grab, framing Quinn for the murder of the examiner, leading a rebel faction, and solidifying his position while Hensell is away. Eventually Lesterson is horrified to discover that the three Daleks have started a production line and are manufacturing a new Dalek army. The Daleks bide their time, ostensibly assisting the rebel faction, but finally seizing upon the uprising to start massacring both sides. The Doctor is ultimately able to short-circuit the Daleks' static electricity source, destroying them all, but seriously damaging the colony's power supply as well. Given the carnage, the Doctor suggests to Ben and Polly that they leave "before they send us the bill."

Analysis (note - most of the text here dates from an old blog post I put up over a decade ago)

I could go on for days about just what a gamble the program took in recasting its lead actor, but other wiser and abler writers have done so, and the viewing figures speak for themselves. They made a savvy choice utilizing a Dalek story to ease viewers in. Episode one of "The Tenth Planet" drew 5.5m viewers. By episode five of "Power," they were up to 8 million.

Farewell, Billy... we hardly knew ye

The concept of the Doctor's new body wasn't particularly well explained – they called it "renewal," as the term 'regeneration' wouldn't be coined until Pertwee's swan song nearly eight years later – and the best explanation he can offer is "I've been renewed. It's part of the TARDIS. Without it, I couldn't survive." This is clearly the production team pulling the best explanation they can offer out of their posteriors, before terms like "Time Lord" or "Gallifrey" had been coined, but, hey, here we are nearly sixty years later, so apparently it worked!

Since there was no blueprint to work from, there are elements that we never see again. He sees his predecessor's image in the mirror briefly (our last glimpse of Hartnell), his ring falls off and we never see it again – an attempt at a signature prop that was never utilized to its potential, unlike the sonic screwdriver – and for a time he refers to himself in the third person, as if he's talking about someone no longer there. For better or worse, there's a tangible element of unsettledness, putting Ben and Polly, as well as the viewers, at great unease.

Something that first pops up in this serial and would seldom reappear until the later McCoy years is the Doctor's apparent foreknowledge of the terrible events about to unfold. It starts with an admittedly wobbly and ham-fisted foreshadowing device in episode one – rummaging through a trunk in the TARDIS, the Doctor finds an oddly-shaped piece of metal and mutters "extermination...", and repeats it later upon finding a matching piece in Lesterson's lab.

If there's an Examiner, he reasons, there must be something going on that would merit his summons. After the Examiner is shot, the Doctor pockets his badge presumably with this premonition still on his mind. He actively plays dumb (infuriating Ben until he finally cottons on to what the Doctor is doing) hoping to expose the reason for the summoning as well as the murderer. Soon enough, he and Bragen have sniffed each other out, waiting for the right moment to expose one another.

And then of course, there are the Daleks. He knows they're there as soon as he finds the matching piece of metal, and therefore his code of ethics won't permit him to do what Ben suggests, returning to the TARDIS.

With a younger, abler actor in the lead role, the Doctor became the primary character, reducing Ben and Polly to secondary characters, where the Hartnell era featured a more balanced power dynamic (and frequently skewed in favor of the companions) out of necessity. Indeed Ben and Polly don't feature much in this story, each being written out of an episode with negligible impact. It is intriguing to see, however, how differently the two react to the new Doctor. It takes several episodes for Ben to accept him, while Polly quickly adapts, even engaging in playful tongue-twisters and such.

This is the first Dalek adventure that Terry Nation had no hand in writing, and oh boy what a refreshing change (even though which contributions were Whitaker's and which were Spooner's are seemingly lost). Rather than shouting a lot and blasting anyone in their way as they tend to do in Nation's adventures, the Daleks are at their most cunning here, subtly and strategically guiding the humans to give them everything they need to rebuild themselves. With the exception of lab assistant Resno in episode two and Hensell in episode five, they don't kill anyone until episode six, and arguably even Resno's death served a vital strategic purpose. Clearly the Dalek overhears Resno repudiating Janley her for her rebel leanings. It is then a deliberate choice on the Dalek's part to 'accidentally' kill Resno, as Janley is able to note the Dalek's destructive potential and consequently its utility in the pending rebellion. The Dalek makes itself a pawn in the rebels' machinations, as Janley ensures that Lesterson gives it all the energy and materials it requests, even going so far as to lie to him about Resno's condition.

As the Dalek reflects, "We understand the human mind..."

I also find it interesting that we never have a clear understanding of why the rebels are, well, rebelling. Janley remarks "the colony's running down, and you know it," and that's pretty much the only indication of motivation. Hensell doesn't appear to be evil, though he doesn't seem to be a particularly effective leader. What either side's particular politics are remain unknown, rendering it difficult for the audience to root for or against either side (except for the ruthlessness and callousness of Bragen, clearly opting for an out-and-out power grab). This appears to be a deliberate choice on the part of Whitaker, because ultimately, what does it matter? Both sides get annihilated.


Indeed, after five episodes of buildup, the Daleks finally unleashing a giant can of whup-ass in episode six is devastating. This is the largest death toll we've seen to date, and there's even a particularly harrowing scene where they take a long, terrible moment for the camera to pan across a hallway full of corpses (with the spacey funeral dirge, originally used after the Daleks attacked the Thals in their first story, extended to almost a minute's length).

The morality of Troughton's Doctor is firmly established in this episode, even if it doesn't get referenced much afterwards. The Doctor is presented with a version of the Trolley Problem. He had an opportunity to destroy that first Dalek even before it had revived its two comrades, but what would've been the result? He would've been arrested or killed, Lesterson would've revived the other two Daleks, and then nothing could've stopped them from starting their assembly line, creating a new army, completely wiping out the colony, getting passage off Vulcan and ultimately and laying waste to that corner of the galaxy. He made a deliberate choice to let the Daleks reveal themselves in their full numbers (thereby allowing them to decimate the colony) before he finds a way to stop them. Hundreds died, but without him it would've been billions.

The Doctor leaves a huge mess behind, and has ample blood on his hands. The colony's power supply is destroyed, leaving the future of the handful of survivors in peril. These survivors have, however, learned a crucial lesson they would never have learned otherwise: Don't Fuck With Daleks.

Or the Doctor, for that matter.

Despite mmmmaybe not the greatest animation job, a new generation of converts have come to appreciate how brilliant this story is. A character-driven, psychological, subtle script, it's the best Dalek story to date, and perhaps the best Dalek story of the entire classic era (above the arguably over-venerated "Evil" and alongside "Genesis"), and kicks off the Troughton era with a bang.

Haven't I Seen You...
  • Bernard Archard (Bragen) would return as Marcus Scarman in "Pyramids of Mars"
  • Robert James (Lesterson) would return as the High Priest in "Masque of Mandragora"
  • Nicholas Hawtrey (Quinn) had appeared in the stage play "The Curse of the Daleks"
  • Peter Bathurst (Hensell) would return as Chinn in "The Claws of Axos"
  • Edward Kelsey (Resno) had appeared as a slave trader in "The Romans" and would return as Edu in "Creature From The Pit"
  • Peter Forbes-Robertson (Guard) would appear as a Time Lord in "Colony In Space" and the chief Sea Devil in "The Sea Devils"
  • Robert Russell (Guard) would return as The Caber (and his Zygon duplicate) in "Terror of the Zygons"
  • Robert Luckham (Guard) is the son of Cyril Luckham (The White Guardian, "The Ribos Operation")

Sausage Factor: 94.1% (1 female out of 17 credited guest actors)

Mortality Rate: Humans 83.3% (12 credited human guest characters, 2 survivors), Daleks 100% (presumably)

Rating: – oh the heck with it, FOUR out of Four trolley problems.
John Geoffrion is a semi-retired semi-professional thespian, a professional data guy, and a Dad. He usually falls asleep to the Classic Doctor Who channel on Pluto.tv


  1. Yes! More classic Who!

    I have 2 copies of this as I got the original animated release and the updated one. I don't see a huge difference to be honest, but I also haven't sat down to try to discern what's improved in the new version either.

    Genesis is my favorite Dalek story, but this one is up there. I do also enjoy it more than Evil, but I feel Evil's reputation had grown a bit too much over the years when we couldn't see it, only read the novelization. Evil isn't bad of course, but I enjoy Power more, and some others as well, although it's certainly better than the lackluster Destiny of!

    Troughton is brilliant here, even with that weird hat, and he starts off with a bang, the Daleks are cunning and creepy here, Ben and Polly come off decently, and the supporting cast all feels genuine, so it helps reinforce the story and setting well.

    "I am your servant!" sounds so ominous in that Dalek voice too. Fans know the Daleks well, so we are kind of 'in on the joke' as it were, but it works so very well here, and I'm glad it got animated early on.

    Speaking of which, I hear that the Smugglers and the Underwater Menace are getting the animation treatment soon? I have the not very good Underwater Menace already with the telesnap portions, and Smugglers doesn't sound great, but I still want them! Any news you folks are aware of?

  2. I couldn't say for sure. I'm still holding out for missing episode recovery rumo(u)rs. ;-)

    1. That would be best of course! I don't mind the animations, but it always feels a bit off not seeing the actual performers and sets and such.


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