Davros is a scientist from the planet Skaro whose people, the Kaleds, were engaged in a bitter thousand-year war of attrition with their enemies, the Thals. He is horribly scarred and crippled for reasons that are never explained on-screen, with only one functioning arm and one cybernetic eye mounted on his forehead; for much of his existence he depends completely upon a self-designed mobile life-support chair which encloses the lower half of his body. It would become an obvious inspiration for his eventual design of the Dalek. Davros's voice, like those of the Daleks, is electronically distorted. His manner of speech is generally soft and contemplative, but when angered or excited he is prone to ranting outbursts that resemble the hysterical, staccatissimo speech of his creations.
Davros is a megalomaniac who believes that through his creations, the Daleks, he can become the supreme being and ruler of the universe. He is a brilliant scientist who has demonstrated mastery of robotics, metallurgy, chemistry, artificial intelligence, cloning, genetic engineering, biology, physics, military tactics and cybernetics.
Davros first appeared in the 1975 serial Genesis of the Daleks, written by Terry Nation. Nation, creator of the Dalek concept, had deliberately modeled elements of the Daleks' character on Nazi ideology, and conceived of their creator as a scientist with strong fascist tendencies. The physical appearance of Davros was developed by visual effects designer Peter Day and sculptor John Friedlander, who based Davros' chariot on the lower half of a Dalek. Producer Philip Hinchcliffe told Friedlander to consider a design similar to The Mekon from the Eagle comic Dan Dare, with a large dome-like head and a withered body.
Cast in the role of Davros was Michael Wisher, who had previously appeared in several different roles on Doctor Who and had provided Dalek voices in the serials Frontier in Space, Planet of the Daleks and Death to the Daleks. Wisher based his performance as Davros on the philosopher Bertrand Russell. In order to prepare for filming under the heavy mask, Wisher rehearsed wearing a paper bag over his head. Friedlander's mask was cast in hard latex, with only the mouth revealing Wisher's features; make-up artist Sylvia James shaded the mask's tones and blackened Wisher's lips and teeth to hide the transition.
When he first encounters the Fourth Doctor in Genesis of the Daleks, Davros is the chief scientist of the Kaleds, heading the Elite Scientific Division. Davros realises that contamination from the nuclear and biological weapons used in the war is mutating the Kaled race, and artificially accelerates the process to examine the ultimate evolutionary end product. The mutations are weak and crippled: no more than brains with tentacular appendages and with no hope of survival on their own. His solution is to remove all emotions pertaining to weakness, a category in which he groups such emotions as compassion, mercy and kindness, and place the mutants in tank-like "Mark III travel machines" partly based on the design of his wheelchair. He later names these creatures Daleks, an anagram of Kaleds.
Davros quickly becomes obsessed with his creations, considering them to be the ultimate form of life, superior to all others. To stop his own people from shutting down his Dalek project, he arranges for them to be wiped out by the Thals. The Daleks then almost exterminate the Thal victors, but ultimately turn on Davros and apparently kill him at the conclusion of the serial.
Davros returned in the final two episodes of the 2008 series of Doctor Who played by Julian Bleach. Concept artist Peter McKinstry and prosthetics designer Neill Gorton decided to base Davros' appearance on the original Michael Wisher version, which they felt was "somehow creepier — more sinister" than subsequent incarnations. McKinstry's design made the character "more sturdy" than previous versions. Gorton then translated McKinstry's drawings into a mold with a cast of Julian Bleach's face on the inside and a clay Davros face on the outside. This mold was used to cast silicone gel masks which were more responsive than the hard latex used in the original series, which had to be discarded after each day's filming.
In "The Stolen Earth", Davros is believed to have been killed / inexorably trapped during the first year of the Time War. Dalek Caan was able to use an emergency temporal shift to go to the events of the Time War, a feat thought impossible due to the events being 'time-locked', and was able to save Davros (but consequently, it forced the Time Vortex through Caan's mind, driving him insane yet also giving him knowledge of events to come). Davros uses cells from his own body to breed a new Dalek race, enough so that he has little skin and flesh left on his chest and his ribcage and internal organs are visible. Under his guidance, the Daleks 'steal' 27 planets, including Earth, and hide them in the Medusa Cascade, one second out of sync with the rest of the universe.
In "Journey's End", however, it is implied by the Doctor that Davros is not in control of the Daleks and is instead being kept prisoner in the Vault, having been overthrown (again) and kept around to give his scientific knowledge. The Doctor taunts him as being their "pet". With Davros' knowledge, the Daleks have created a "reality bomb," a wavelength transmitted by the stolen planets which cancels out the electrical field binding atoms, reducing the whole of creation to nothingness except for the Daleks and the Crucible: he declares this to be his "ultimate victory". It turns out, however, that he and the Daleks are being misled and betrayed by Dalek Caan, who is using his prophecies and influence to bring the Doctor and Donna together, causing the Daleks' destruction. Davros is seemingly killed when the Crucible is destroyed, however his death is not shown. During Doctor Who Confidential Russell T Davies explained how he believes Davros to have survived the Crucible's destruction in some way, not specifically showing his death for this reason. He explained that he would not like to be the one to kill off one of the Doctor's greatest enemies.
In his "death" scene, the Doctor offers to take Davros to safety, but Davros, screaming in fury, refuses, and names the Doctor as being responsible for the destruction, berating him, saying to the Doctor 'I name you forever: you are the "destroyer of worlds!"; he previously had taunted and demoralised the Doctor as being responsible for turning his companions into killers and having caused the deaths of countless people, comparing the Doctor to himself.
In this appearance Davros has a cybernetic hand, replacing the one that was destroyed in Revelation. He can still fire energy bolts through it.
Davros, which does not feature the Daleks, fills in the gaps between Resurrection of the Daleks and Revelation of the Daleks, and has the scientist trying to manipulate the galaxy's economy into a war footing similar to Skaro's. The Sixth Doctor manages to defeat his plans, and Davros is last heard when his ship explodes, an event obliquely mentioned in Revelation.
The Big Finish miniseries I, Davros, (set before Davros' trial after Revelation) also starring Molloy, further explores Davros' early life.
The subsequent play The Juggernauts similarly takes place between Revelation and Remembrance. There, Davros adds human nervous tissue to robotic Mechanoids to create the Juggernauts of the play's title; he hopes to use these as an army to destroy the Daleks. At the end of the story, the self-destruct mechanism of Davros' life-support chair explodes, destroying an entire human colony. It is not clear how Davros survives to become the Dalek Emperor as seen in Remembrance. However in the DVD, the Davros Connections, director Gary Russell points out that the explosion of Davros's life-support chair leaves the listener to believe there is little of Davros left. This fits chronologically the fact that in "Remembrance" Davros is seen as a head inside the Emperor Dalek.
By the time of the Eighth Doctor audio play Terror Firma (set after Remembrance), Davros is commanding a Dalek army which has successfully conquered the Earth. His mental instability has grown to the point where "Davros" and "the Emperor" exist within him as different personalities. His Daleks recognize this instability and rebel against Davros. By the story's end the Emperor personality is dominant, and the Daleks agree to follow him and leave Earth.
War of the Daleks, like the comic strips and audio plays, is of uncertain canonicity when it comes to the television series. At the conclusion of War, Davros was seemingly disintegrated by a Spider Dalek on the order of the Dalek Prime. However, Davros had previously recruited one of the Spider Daleks as a sleeper agent for just such an eventuality, and even he was not certain in the end if he was being disintegrated or being teleported away to safety, leaving the possibility open for his return.
Terry Molloy played Davros in the remounting of the play, again with Peter Miles for another one-off production, mounted in 2005.
And the following Big Finish audios;
Davros The Juggernauts Terror Firma I, Davros: Innocence I, Davros: Purity I, Davros: Corruption I, Davros: Guilt The Davros Mission - An exclusive new audio written by Nicholas Briggs and starring Terry Molloy and Miranda Raison.