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Davros

Davros is a character from the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. Davros is an archenemy of the Doctor and is responsible for the creation of his deadliest enemies, the Daleks. He was created by screenwriter Terry Nation.

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.

Character history

The Kaled/Thal Conflict

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.

War with the Movellans

He proved too effective a character to be kept dead and was resurrected four years later in 1979's Destiny of the Daleks (played by David Gooderson using the mask Friedlander made for Wisher). The Daleks unearth their creator — who had apparently been in suspended animation since his "death" in Genesis — to help them break a logical impasse in their war against the android Movellans. However, the Dalek force is destroyed by the Doctor, and Davros is captured and imprisoned by the humans.

Release

In the Fifth Doctor story Resurrection of the Daleks, a small Dalek force aided by human mercenaries and Dalek duplicates liberates Davros (now played by Terry Molloy, with a new mask designed by Stan Mitchell) from his space station prison, needing his expertise to find an antidote for a Movellan-created virus that has all but wiped them out. Believing his creations to be treacherous, Davros begins using mind control on Daleks and humans, ultimately releasing the virus to kill off the Daleks before they can exterminate him. Davros expresses a desire to build a new and improved race of Daleks. However, at the end of the story, he apparently succumbs to the virus himself before he can escape, his physiology being close enough to that of the Daleks for the virus to affect him. The hypothetical creation of a viral weapon had been the subject of a discussion between the Fourth Doctor and Davros in Genesis of the Daleks.

The Great Healer

Davros emerges as "The Great Healer" of the funeral and cryogenic preservation centre Tranquil Repose on the planet Necros in the Sixth Doctor story Revelation of the Daleks, where he uses frozen bodies to engineer a new variety of Daleks loyal to him, distinguished from the original Daleks by their white and gold livery and slightly changed design. In this story there appear to be two Davroses: one is a head in a tank and apparently a decoy for assassins; the other is in his usual chair (which can now hover), emerging from hiding when the decoy is assassinated. Davros can now move his neck and fire electric bolts from his hand, although the hand is shot off shortly before his original creations arrive to defeat the new Daleks and transport Davros to face trial on Skaro. In this serial and his next appearance, Davros was again played by Molloy, wearing a mask cast from Stan Mitchell's mold.

The Dalek Civil War

Davros appears as the Emperor Dalek in Remembrance of the Daleks, with his white and gold Daleks now based on Skaro and termed "Imperial Daleks", fighting against the grey "Renegade Dalek" faction. By this time, Davros is physically transplanted into a customised Dalek casing. Both Skaro and the Imperial Dalek mothership are apparently destroyed when the Seventh Doctor tricks Davros into using the Time Lord artifact known as the Hand of Omega. However, a Dalek on the bridge of Davros' ship reports that the Emperor's escape pod is being launched and a white light is seen speeding away from the ship moments before its destruction, leaving a clear route to bring Davros back in the future.

Time War and beyond

In the 2005 series, the Daleks and the Time Lords had engaged in a mutually destructive Time War. An article by Russell T Davies in the Doctor Who Annual 2006 states that one of the "Dalek Puppet Emperors" openly declared his hostilities towards the Time Lords and their planet, Gallifrey. The Dalek Emperor, a mutant Dalek floating in a tank of fluid connected to a giant Dalek shell, survived to build a new race of Daleks. In the first three seasons of the revival, Davros is referred to (albeit not by name) twice: first in the episode "Dalek" by the Ninth Doctor, who explains that the Daleks were created by "a man who was king of his own little world", and again by the Tenth Doctor in the episode "Evolution of the Daleks", where he refers to the Daleks' creator as believing that "removing emotions made a race stronger".

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.

Other appearances

Comic strips

Doctor Who Magazine printed several comics stories involving Davros. The first, "Nemesis of the Daleks" (#152-155), with the Seventh Doctor, features an appearance of a Dalek Emperor. Speaking with the Emperor, the Doctor addresses him as Davros, but the Emperor responds "Who is Davros?" The Doctor initially assumes Davros's personality has been totally subsumed, but in the later strip "Emperor of the Daleks" (#197-202) this Emperor is shown as a different entity from Davros. Set prior to Remembrance of the Daleks in Davros' timeline, but after in the timeline of the Doctor, the latter, accompanied by Bernice Summerfield, together with help from the Sixth Doctor, ensures that Davros will survive the wrath of the Daleks so that he can assume the title of Emperor, allowing history to take its course. "Up Above the Gods" (#227), a vignette following up on this, features the Sixth Doctor and Davros having a conversation in the TARDIS.

Audio plays

Terry Molloy has reprised his role as Davros in the spin-off audio plays produced by Big Finish Productions, mostly notably Davros (taking place during the Sixth Doctor's era), which, through flashbacks, explored the scientist's life prior to his crippling injury, which is attributed to a Thal nuclear attack (an idea that first appeared in Terrance Dicks' novelisation of Genesis of the Daleks).

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.

Novels

Terror Firma seemed to contradict the events of the Eighth Doctor Adventures novel War of the Daleks by John Peel, in which an unmerged Davros is placed on trial by the Dalek Prime, a combination of the Dalek Emperor and the Dalek Supreme. In the novel the Dalek Prime reveals that the planet Antalin had been terraformed to resemble Skaro and was destroyed in its place. It also claimed that the Dalek/Movellan war (and indeed most of Dalek history before the destruction of "Skaro") was actually faked for Davros' benefit; the Daleks had discovered records of Skaro's destruction during their conquest of Earth, but, unable to change history, had developed an elaborate plot to bring the recorded events about while ensuring Skaro's survival. However, Antalin is later seen to be intact and undamaged, and one character notes that it is quite possible the Dalek Prime is lying in order to weaken Davros' claim to leadership of the Daleks.

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.

Short fiction

Paul Cornell's dark vignette in the Doctor Who Magazine Brief Encounters series, "An Incident Concerning the Bombardment of the Phobos Colony" occurs sometime between "Resurrection of the Daleks" and his assumption of the role of Emperor.

Theatre

In 1993, Michael Wisher, the original Davros, with Peter Miles, who had played his confederate, Nyder, reprised the role in an unlicensed one-off amateur stage production, The Trial of Davros. The plot of the play involved the Time Lords putting Davros on trial, with Nyder as a witness. During the production, specially shot footage portrayed Dalek atrocities.

Terry Molloy played Davros in the remounting of the play, again with Peter Miles for another one-off production, mounted in 2005.

In 2008, Julian Bleach appeared live as Davros at the Doctor Who Prom, announcing that the Royal Albert Hall would become his new palace, and the audience his "obedient slaves".

List of appearances

Television

Comic strips

  • Nemesis of the Daleks, Doctor Who Magazine (suggested but later contradicted)
  • Emperor of the Daleks, Doctor Who Magazine
  • Up Above the Gods, Doctor Who Magazine

Audio plays

Short fiction

  • An Incident Concerning the Continual Bombardment of the Phobos Colony by Paul Cornell, Doctor Who Magazine #168

Original novels

Theatrical productions

DVD/Big Finish box set

On the 26 November 2007, a Davros boxset was released featuring the following TV stories;

Genesis of the Daleks
Destiny of the Daleks
Resurrection of the Daleks
Revelation of the Daleks
Remembrance of the Daleks Two Disc Special Edition

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.

See also

References

External links

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