In the annals of Doctor Who, there are no enemies more recognizable than the almost indestructible Daleks. Their battle cry of “Exterminate!” as they doggedly continue their mission to conquer the universe and obliterate races they perceive as inferior, has echoed throughout the decades of the British institution. Despite their fundamental presence though, prior to the show being revived from its indefinite hiatus in 2005, they very nearly were not featured at all.
The Daleks were dreamed up by Welsh writer Terry Nation, who went on to create the iconic ‘70s series Blake’s 7 and Survivors and died from emphysema in 1997 at the age of 66. They debuted in Doctor Who’s second serial in 1963, less than 20 years after the end of the Second World War whose horrors had yet to fade, with the intent being for them to be analogous to Nazis. They grew to become the show’s most popular villains and became as closely associated with it as the now-anachronistic blue police box.
The complication regarding their use arose due to an unusual arrangement the series had with its writers that saw ownership rights for characters retained by those who originally created them. This is why at the end of any episode featuring the fascist pepper pots there’s a separate credit stating “Daleks created by Terry Nation.”
After Nation’s death, the rights for the Doctor’s nemeses passed to his estate, and following lengthy negotiations a deal for their use failed to be struck. The BBC stated the estate demanded a level of editorial influence that it was not prepared to relinquish, while a response accused the corporation of attempting to “ruin the brand” due to its unsanctioned licensing of the Daleks for use in Looney Tunes: Back in Action and the attempted commissioning of a cartoon series about gay Daleks, stating they merely looked to “protect the integrity” of the late writer’s creation.
However, a month later it was announced that an agreement had been made and Doctor Who was once again free to feature its most famous villains. Exactly what concessions were agreed to has never been revealed, although successive showrunner Steven Moffat quashed a widely repeated rumor of a contractual obligation for them to be featured at least once per season.
Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor has encountered them only once so far, in last year’s special “Resolution,” and that was the species’ less commonly seen true form of a repulsive squid-like creature that eventually crafted a steampunk equivalent of its more familiar battle armor, but it’s only a matter of time before they make their inevitable return to Doctor Who in their full devastating glory.
Source: Digital Spy