With “Victory of the Daleks” bringing us a range of different coloured Daleks, I thought it might be nice to look at the origins of the Red Dalek. The first time a Red Dalek actually appeared on TV (apart from in an old Weetabix advert)
was in “The Stolen Earth” (in which the Dalek Supreme, with a unique casing, was coloured red).
Before that, both of the 1960s movie adaptations of Doctor Who had featured Red Daleks.
But “historically” speaking (in terms of the original Dalek chronology as presented in the 1960s comic strips, authorised by Terry Nation) the first Red Dalek was….
Zeg was a Dalek inventor who conducted experiments to strengthen Dalekanium, the alloy which composed the Dalek casings. He underwent an accidental transformation which made him almost invulnerable.
When Zeg’s laboratory was struck by an Oquolloquox (a periodically occurring devastating storm on Skaro), the experiment he was conducting with artificial sunlight exploded and exposed him to radiation that bonded with his casing, creating a much stronger metal he called Metalert (an improved form of Dalekanium), which also turned his casing red in colour – Zeg thus became the first in a long line of Red Daleks.
Although he was made stronger and more durable, his brain cells were affected so that he felt “joyful” and “dynamic”.
But he could not be destroyed, even by the firepower of the Black Dalek, the Emperor’s second-in-command.
The Brain Machine (a computer which the Daleks looked to for advice) decided Zeg and the Emperor would duel to lead the Daleks. Although Zeg survived attacks from acid and mercury, the Emperor eventually destroyed him by freezing Zeg with liquid oxygen. Although he was resistant to heat, the extreme cold of the oxygen froze and crushed Zeg before exploding on contact with heat. (TV21: Duel of the Daleks).
One or more Red Daleks continued to appear in the comic strip adaptation (written by David Whitacker), the Red Dalek being a senior Dalek but ranking below the Black Dalek.
45 years on from Zeg’s appearance, we have Red Daleks in the TV show, but sadly they now seem to have broken with the wider continuity to becomes “drones” (basic Daleks), and frankly the latest version somewhat lacks the visual appeal of the original.
Note : The story of Zeg was first told in the weekly comic strip “Duel of the Daleks” which ran from 3rd April – 15th May 1965 (7 parts = 7 pages). This was part of the ongoing comic strip “The Daleks” (also known as “The Dalek Chronicles”). The “Duel of the Daleks” was later
- reprinted in black-and-white in Doctor Who Weekly issues 35-36
- reprinted in colour in Doctor Who Magazine issues 189-193
- reprinted in colour in the Doctor Who Special “The Dalek Chronicles”