Man who designed 'Doctor Who' Daleks dies
Ray Cusick came up with look for evil cyborgs
By DonKaye_ParallelUniverse Feb 24, 2013 4:15PM
Ray Cusick, the British production designer who came up with the look of the famous "Doctor Who" menace known as the Daleks, has died at 84.
Cusick died in his sleep last Thursday (February 21) of heart failure, according to MSN TV, with his death confirmed by his daughter. "Doctor Who" writer/actor Mark Gatiss tweeted, "Farewell to the great Ray Cusick. His passing is especially sad in this anniversary year but his creation remains immortal. Daleks forever!"
Cusick joined the BBC as a staff designer and was soon tasked with coming up with settings and monsters for "Doctor Who," which premiered in 1963. For the show's second episode, writer Terry Nation conceived of a race of cyborgs -- inspired by the Nazis -- whose mutated bodies were encased in a gliding robotic shell, and who were utterly without emotion or compassion.
Known for their cry of "Exterminate!", the Daleks were bent on wiping out all other forms of life in the universe, and became the Doctor's greatest enemy over the course of the show's 50-year (and counting) run. Their most recent appearance was in last year's "Asylum of the Daleks."
Legend has it that Cusick had one hour to come up with a design for the Daleks and was inspired by a pepper shaker on a table. But the designer himself disputed that story in later years, claiming that the look was actually inspired by the image of a man seated in a chair. Cusick said that he slid a pepper shaker across a table to demonstrate how the cyborgs would move to special effects chief Bill Roberts, who built the actual creatures.
Cusick's design, which has remained virtually unchanged since its debut, is now an iconic image in both the history of science fiction television and "Doctor Who," which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Nicholas Briggs, who provides the voice for the creatures on the current version of
the series, told the BBC, "Lots of my friends who are not Doctor Who fans think that the program is 'Doctor Who and the Daleks' -- that surely the Daleks are in it all the time -- which isn't true but that is the impression. That's the brilliance of the creation of the Daleks. They've made an indelible stamp on the series."
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