This site looks at the history of a BBC Dalek prop, known as “the Tussauds Dalek”. Future updates will expand upon the where and when of the prop’s use, but initially the focus will simply be describing what the prop actually consists of. For those unfamiliar with this Dalek’s story, I’ll give a brief overview before getting into some detail of the prop’s construction.


First, the name: contrary to what might be expected from its title, this Dalek was not made in the workshops of the Madame Tussauds wax museum, nor has it ever been owned by Tussauds. The connection stems from the Dalek being part of a small collection of Doctor Who figures exhibited at the London attraction in 1980-82 (for which the prop’s usual grey colour was overpainted with bright blue). The “Tussauds” label is now synonymous with this prop, and so firmly attached that I will continue to use it on this site.

The

Tussauds Dalek

Both before and after its spell at Madame Tussauds, this Dalek was among the pool of props available for use on Doctor Who. But even among other Daleks it is never just one of the crowd, because the Tussauds Dalek has a uniquely misshapen lower half; incorrectly sloping rear panels, larger than usual hemispheres, and a few extra inches in height, set it apart from all the other props.


Relegated to standing outside the Blackpool Doctor Who exhibition in 1985, the elements and vandals soon took their toll and the prop descended into a serious state of disrepair. Ultimately the BBC sold the prop in 1986 at a charity auction. However, the condition had deteriorated so badly that before it could be sold an extensive overhaul was deemed necessary. This work removed damaged original features and employed replacement parts which were less than accurate replicas, resulting in a well-presented but slightly wrong-looking Dalek. None of which seems to have done any great harm to its appeal, since the prop raised £4000 (inflation-adjusted, that’s around £9000 today). The Dalek went into a private collection and was not seen again in public for some time.


The prop resurfaced in 2003 among the lots of another auction. The condition had deteriorated since being sold by the BBC, with all of the hemispheres now lost. The Dalek was withdrawn from sale before the auction could take place.

When the prop re-emerged a couple of years later, at yet another auction, it had once more undergone an extensive refurbishment. The most striking aspect of this latest overhaul was the bright blue paintwork, recreating the prop’s appearance as modified for the Tussauds exhibition of twenty five years earlier (never used on TV, I suspect this colour scheme may have been inspired by Dalek toys of the 1960s).


Held at Bonhams in 2005, this auction saw a company called Indeprod emerge victorious with a winning bid of £30,000. Such a generous level of bids had no doubt been encouraged by proceeds of the sale being donated to the Great Ormond Street Hospital children’s charity.


By 2009 Indeprod had gone bust, and the Dalek was included in the sale of the company’s assets; the Tussauds now faced its third public auction. Despite the high price achieved on the previous occasion, the estimate was set at a more realistic level of £10,000.


Old Doctor Who props being a particular interest of mine, this started to look intriguing. Crucially though, original screen-used props are my focus, and I began to wonder just how much of this Dalek would meet that criteria. Although previously aware of its existence, I had never made a particular study of Dalek props, so I began looking into the Tussauds more closely.

The restored Tussauds Dalek in 1986

The newly-restored Tussauds Dalek in 2005