1.04. Energy of the Daleks
Behind the Scenes
This story takes place between The Talons of Weng-Chiang and Horror of Fang Rock.
DALEK MOON RISING!
Nicholas Briggs on writing and directing the Fourth Doctor's first meeting with the Daleks since 1977
I wrote most of it in a library near to my house. They don't have any wifi there, so there were no distractions. No two-year-old son there either! It was an extremely exciting experience. We had, for some reason, initially thought that the Fourth Doctor's first story should be a Cyberman story, but I soon realized it was a much more exciting proposition to pitch him into a battle with his greatest enemies instead. I'd had the idea of the solar power 'farm' when I watched a documentary about future exploitation of the Moon. It's an idea, like many ideas I come across, that I popped 'in my back pocket' for later. The first draft was entitled 'Dalek Moon Rising', but, as David Richardson pointed out, this wasn't really a Tom Baker Era style title. We tried all sorts of generic Dalek titles, including 'Mission of the Daleks', but eventually we realized that Energy of the Daleks was the most apposite. It also sounded rather dramatic and full of... well, 'energy'!
Although this was written with the intention of it being the first Fourth Doctor story, it wasn't long before we decided to place it in the middle of the season. We decided we didn't want the Fourth Doctor's return to be overshadowed by Daleks... and anyway, we already had a Colin Baker Dalek extravaganza scheduled in the January 2012 slot.
So, the next story I wrote was Destination: Nerva, which we knew would definitely be the first Fourth Doctor story released.
This was the first Tom story to be recorded – how was that experience?
I was extremely tense but also really excited. We'd met Tom and got on well with him, but there was the worry that the actual working process wouldn't work. But then we started and it went swimmingly. He has boundless energy. His major concern, initially, was making contributions to the script. He wanted a big discussion before this recording about changes he'd like to make. His script was covered in pencil marks. As it turned out, though, most of them were minor changes... and Tom was more than happy for any of his ideas that I felt interfered with the plot too much to be turned down. He said something typically 'Tom' about finding rejection very comforting. There were a couple of times when he became quite preoccupied with changing things. One was all the 'ssshing' in the scene with Mark Benton, which became hilarious. We laughed so much. Tom wanted to put in extra 'sssshes', but then put one in after almost every line. But his suggestion was good and created a nice moment. The scene where Jack (Mark) and Leela have to jump onto a chair with the Doctor proved a little problematic. Tom suddenly became overly concerned with how obvious this was going to be on audio. I assured him it would work, but he persisted with a series of complex rewrites which spelt out who got on the chair and when... It all became a bit of a confused mess... Then suddenly, Tom said, 'I've just had a great idea!' I asked, 'What?' He said, 'Let's just do it as you wrote it!' And then all was fine.
What was your response when listening to the finished edits?
I was transported! I was in the middle of rehearsing a stage production of The Pit and the Pendulum, and I just started listening to the edits on my iPhone. The director kept having to ask me to turn it off! Andy Hardwick, who's brilliant at sound design and music, had done a fantastic job. But he isn't really a Doctor Who fan. So he had no way of gauging which of Tom's takes were the more 'authentic' and which of his ad-libs fitted with the Fourth Doctor persona. On this first one, Tom was feeling his way and ended almost every scene with huge amounts of ad-libbing, which had us all in fits of laughter... But it was just Tom having fun. It didn't really fit into the play. But Andy had left it all in! So I had to ask him to go back and chop all that stuff. Most of it is present on the CD Extras, so you can actually hear all the fun we were having with Tom.
Would you like a jelly baby?
The cast and production team of Energy of the Daleks