Grandad, We Love You:
Peter Cushing, 1965-66
Yes, Peter Cushing is getting an entry. Of course he is. OK, his version of the character exists wholly outside the continuity of the show, but so what? Cushing played Dr Who in two movies which, for decades, were the only regularly repeated Doctor Who on TV. The regular airing of these two films made them some of the most seen Doctor Who of the twentieth century, far more familiar to casual viewers than the Hartnell serials they were based on. Dr Who and the Daleks and Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150 AD are the earliest clear Doctor Who memories I have (I do have some very vague memories of watching the McCoy stories on first broadcast). It was only years later, when I got into the series proper, that I learned that they were not ‘proper’ Doctor Who.
Both of the Aaru/Amicus Dalek movies are Technicolor remakes of black-and-white serials; tartrazine-infused explosions of sound and colour aimed at a broad cinema audience. The main story beats of The Daleks and The Dalek Invasion of Earth are kept, but the plots are necessarily streamlined to cut the serials down to fit ninety minute runtimes. Comedy is brought to the fore, taking much of the edge off the originals. It’s fair to say these movies don’t have a particularly high standing in fandom, but I enjoy them. They’re simple, straightforward sci-fi for kids. Dr Who and the Daleks is tremendous fun, from the Dayglo Thals to Daleks reimagined as supreme interior decorators (check out all those lava lamps!) Daleks – Invasion Earth tones down it down somewhat, and, although it’s generally regarded as the better film, I prefer the first. The second film is certainly technically superior, but it drags in the middle. It’s naturally speedier than the original serial, but that was intended to be watched over the course of six weeks.