The Doctor Who Wasn't:
The Peter Cushing Movies

     When the Daleks first appeared on Doctor Who series in 1963, they immediately became pop culture icons. It was inevitable that someone would attempt to capitalize on "Dalekmania" by bringing them, and The Doctor, to the big screen. In 1965, Amicus Productions released the wide screen color movie DOCTOR WHO AND THE DALEKS, followed by a sequel film a year later. Peter Cushing starred in both films.

     Based on writer Terry Nation's original TV story "The Daleks", DOCTOR WHO AND THE DALEKS refigures The Doctor as fully human Doctor Who, inventor of the TARDIS time machine. The characters from the TV story - Doctor's granddaughter Susan and fellow travelers Ian and Barbara - are reprised in the film, but played by different actors. Comedian Roy Castle plays the part of Ian Chesterton, now turned from a dignified, ready for action school teacher into a bumbling buffoon you just want to smack. Not to knock the great Peter Cushing, but he seems to coast through this one without giving it his all. He takes the "kindly old grandfather/inventor" part to heart, as he does little else than hop about like a marionette and turn his head and body in herky-jerky motions like a doddering old man. The Daleks, who are supposed to be the highlights of the film, quickly turn irritating as they shout pages and pages of dialog at each other in the robotic Dalek fashion. (The Daleks in the original episode had the same problem, but somehow they were still more fun). The movie was a huge hit in Britain, but all in all, the film is pretty dull, with too much talk and not nearly enough action.

     Despite the awkward and overly punctuated title, 1966's DALEK - INVASION OF EARTH: 2150 A.D. is a much more entertaining film. Also based on an episode from the original series, the film moves quickly from beginning to end and features many good action sequences and stunts. Peter Cushing still only uses approximately 1/50th of his wonderful acting talent throughout the film, but the Daleks themselves are more menacing and less chatty this time around, making for a more exciting feature. The young Roberta Tovey reprises her role as the Doctor's granddaughter. Comic actor Bernard Cribbins plays Constable Tom Campbell, who gets into the TARDIS thinking it is a real police telephone box and is inexplicably forced by Doctor Who to go on an adventure to the future. That's just how The Doctor rolls: if you're in his TARDIS and he's on a schedule... too bad.

     Doctor Who and his travelers wind up some sixty years into the future where they find the Earth has been conquered by Daleks. At this point, it becomes a typical "Rebellion Force versus the Evil Overlords" movie, with Bernard Cribbins figuring as one of the main heroes of the film. See - there was a reason The Doctor kept him around! There is also a great effects shot near the end of the film, as a Dalek spaceship is knocked out of the sky and as it falls, it keeps getting closer to the camera, revealing just how huge it actually is. Nifty shot!

     Overall, DALEK - INVASION OF EARTH: 2015 A.D. is a good 1960's space adventure with pretty decent effects and a story that could be enjoyed by people who had never even heard of Doctor Who or the Daleks. Such as Americans in the 1960s.


Bernard Cribbins later played recurring character Wilfred Mott, grandfather of companion Donna Noble in the David Tennant era of the new Doctor Who series. In Tennant's swan song "The End of Time", Wilf gets to fly with him in the TARDIS. That makes him one of the most obscure and pointless trivia answers in history: What actor traveled in the TARDIS in both a Doctor Who movie and in an episode of the modern TV series?


In 1967, Toho monster movie KING KONG ESCAPES featured an evil villain named Doctor Who, who sort of dressed like William Hartnell. In Japan, he was Doctor Hu. In Germany, however, he was billed as Doctor Frankenstein, as The Germans liked to link all of the Japanese monster movies to Doctor Frankenstein.  Eisei Amamoto, who played Doctor Who, was a wonderful character actor who appeared in many Japanese movies of his era.


Despite the much larger budget on the second Daleks film, the producers still needed some other secondary source of cash to complete the film. They made a deal with the makers of the breakfast cereal Sugar Puffs, which included obvious product placement and advertisements of the sugary cereal throughout the film.

Neither the movies nor Peter Cushing's portrayal of The Doctor are considered to be a part of the Doctor Who canon.

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