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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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4] In order to prepare for filming under the heavy mask, Wisher rehearsed wearing a paper bag over his head.[5] 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.[6]

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.[7]

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[8] (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,[9] 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,[10] 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,[11] 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.[12] 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[13][14] 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.[15] McKinstry’s design made the character “more sturdy” than previous versions.[15] 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.[15] 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.[15][16]

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.

Davros. (2008, October 10). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21:17, October 22, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Davros&oldid=244399803

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