'The year is 4000 A.D., the planet is Kembel and the Daleks have created the ultimate weapon of destruction.' This is the basis of the longest and most exciting Dalek serial to date; twelve weeks of narrow escapes for humanity, with the evil machines at their most menacing and the Doctor and his companions at their most heroic and ingenious.'
(BBC promotional document for The Daleks' Master Plan
). Received wisdom has it that when Huw Wheldon was Managing Director of BBC television in the 1960s, he viewed his mother-in-law's tastes as a barometer for those of the general public at large. Her fondness for the Daleks, therefore, led him in 1965 to call for their increased presence in Doctor Who
. Wheldon's relative was indeed not alone. As soon as they first glided onto the nation's television screens, the Daleks captured the imagination of children everywhere - and within two years the shops were filled with Dalek soap, slippers, toys, games and playsuits. Their fourth serial was already in commission, but Wheldon's influence ensured that its episode count doubled from six to twelve. With Terry Nation working as script supervisor on the ITV series The Baron
, the writing duties for Master Plan
would be split between himself and Dennis Spooner (who had recently stepped down as Doctor Who
's regular editor.) The two collaborated on the overall storyline, with Nation then scripting episodes 1-5 and 7 and Spooner tackling episodes 6 and 8-12. The fact that episode 7 was scheduled to be transmitted on Christmas Day 1965 was noted at the early stage of planning, and for one week only the continuing plot was put on hold whilst the Doctor and friends visited present-day Earth. In a highly unusual move, the Doctor would turn to address the viewers at home at the episode's conclusion. Director Douglas Camfield was enthusiastic about the project, and in a letter dated 7 September 1965 producer John Wiles put some of Camfield's script suggestions to Terry Nation. These included variations on commonplace names to make them more futuristic - thus Ronald would become Roald and Walton became Vyon. The name Spar (space car) was story editor Donald Tosh's idea. Nation's response was positive, although he was keen to retain the names Sara Kingdom and Mavick Chen (sic), for which he said he had 'the greatest affection'
. Taranium was originally to be called vitaranium, but Wiles' comment that 'Bill Hartnell will certainly have great difficulty in saying it'
saw that it was shortened. A publicity document created for the serial gave a brief story synopsis, a list of episode titles, and biographies of the main actors and production staff. Of 'the beautiful Space Agent Sara Kingdom'
it said, 'Sara is a new kind of character for Dr. Who, strong, dangerous, but capable of warmth and sincerity.'
With Maureen O'Brien having departed as Vicki in the previous serial, and Katarina's stay in the TARDIS destined to be brief, the female companion's place was vacant. It is possible, therefore, that Kingdom was initially viewed as a long-running character. Filming for special effects sequences began at Ealing studios in September, and during the course of the next two months the serial would be recorded at BBC Television Centre. For Camfield the undertaking was colossal, and his frenetic schedule led to complaints from the design department that they weren't being briefed properly on each episode's requirements. Meanwhile tensions were running high between the producer and the show's star; William Hartnell's health was poor for many of the sessions, and Verity Lambert's recent departure had left him ill at ease. During the production period for The Daleks' Master Plan
, both John Wiles and Donald Tosh resigned from the programme. Two years later Nicholas Courtney would return to become one of the series' most popular recurring characters, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Kevin Stoney and Jean Marsh would also make one-off return appearances. On 13 November 1965 Radio Times
warned its readers to 'stand by, then, for twelve weeks of narrow squeaks for humanity...'
If anything could test the Daleks' dominion over Saturday teatimes, this would be it.