It has been said that the saucer commander
was not painted black and silver as it would appear on our (monochrome)
TV screens. It has been said the black was in fact dark red.
The suggested reason for this is that the Dalek had red primer on certain
of its skirt panels, on the front of the gunboxes, and on the dome.
Where did this idea come from?
it was something Bill Roberts said in passing, as chatted
to interviewers. Perhaps someone's seen a hint of red paint
under the other layers on a skirt panel of a prop pupporting to be the
saucer commander from this episode? Or perhaps it was a joke remark thrown
in for the hell of it just to cause confusion and annoyance amongst mere
So what evidence is there that this Dalek might have red stripes?
: In the Dr Who and the Daleks AARU film made after The
Dalek Invasion of Earth, there was a Red Dalek subordinate to the
leader Black Dalek.
: There are no known colour images of the saucer commander to disprove
it being red.
The dome of the saucer commander does not seem to be the blackest of
blacks, and therefore may suggest it could be another dark colour which
just appears black-ish on TV.
colour schemes are an interesting point, but a red Dalek called Zeg appears
in TV21 comics before the films, and the comic makers would have had no
access to the workshops or studio during filming. So to suggest the film
got the idea of a red Dalek from somewhere would mean the comic makers
could have got the idea from the same place. As it couldn't have been
the studio, it must have been their imaginations. The appearance of one
red Dalek in a film does not prove there was another before it on TV.
And what's more, the second film has a Gold Dalek, which wouldn't be seen
on TV for another decade. So what does that prove? Nothing.
If the red
colour is supposed to be accounted for as undercoat (also known as primer)
then why would only alternate panels be masked off and painted? This is
not a half-way painting job, this is a deliberate colour scheme. Why just
use red primer and stop there, if the Dalek was going to end up totally
black anyway? If you've masked it to prime it, you may as wall finish
the black whilst it's masked.
red primer would have been less common than grey. If you were leaving
something in a half-painted primer stage to create another rank of Dalek,
it would be far more likely to be grey than red, when red wouldn't have
shown up on screen anyway.
I have spoken to several painters and they have said that if they were
undercoating black, they wouldn't chose red in case it tinted the black
on top. Grey is the logical neutral choice under black.
So finally to the question of the "blackness" of the black of
the saucer commander. On the right you will see a graphic. It has four
square sections on it. I would like you to tell me which are true black
colours as seen on another Dalek, and which are actually dark red colours
seen in a monochrome image.
Time's nearly up.
Right, pencils down.
Answer: The top two blocks of "black" are sections of the supposed
red paint from the saucer commander. The bottom two are bits of a normal
Dalek which are actually painted black. These are taken from the same
screen shot, and therefore have the same lighting.
Well, to my eye, the bottom two - the actual black bits - are
a lighter shade of grey than the alleged red. The top two are
pretty much as black as you like. Don't you think it should be the red
that comes out dark grey?
So what about the idea that when the saucer commander becomes painted
fully black, his head is then darker than it was before?
Well, two things to point out. Firstly if it did appear darker later then
it's not too surprising, given that the first coat of black would have
been on top of silver, so it could easily appear darker when the second
coat of black went on what was already black.
However, that's assuming the dome really did get a repaint. Did it really
become noticably darker later? I present you with two images...
Here we have an image of the prop supposedly before and after its repaint
from red to black.
I challenge you to tell me which of these domes is supposedly red, and
which is actually black
Left - The Saucer Commander
Right - The Black Dalek
If anything, I'd suggest that the supposedly "red" dome on the
left actually looks slightly darker than the one which everyone
agrees is black on the right! This just goes to show that you can draw
any conclusion you like from what's on screen. Nothing is conclusive.
I believe any differences you may perceive throughout the episodes are
due to the changes in studio lighting. It is a fact that they can play
all sorts of tricks on the shades of these props. Certain Daleks appear
to have hemis which are darker than their skirts, but as they move around
the set, they become lighter again.
Examine this image on the right of the Dalek which everyone agrees is
black. Aren't all the black parts of its eye apparently darker than the
dome? Wouldn't that suggest that this dome could be a something other
than black? If so, then using the same argument that the saucer commander
is red, the Black Dalek must actually be red too! Except it's not, because
we have colour photos of it. It is black.
I believe that the matt black paint on the dome diffuses the light in
such a way that it appears more grey than black. Any matt texture will
have less absorbtion and therefore appear slightly lighter in colour.
I think that this is case right through the story including in its saucer
The black of the Black Dalek's body work never looks as dark as its own
eye-ball, and yet no-one ever argues about the colour of the Black Dalek.
Presumably because of the colour photos, and the fact that the script
does refer to it as the "the black Dalek". However when there's
the tiniest bit of room to create a conspiracy theory, people will invent
tales of red primer.
Worth mentioning is the fact that the black Dalek has a large scratch
on the dome in episode five. The scratch reveals silver underneath. So
either this scratch is deep enough to go through two coats of paint, or
there is only one coat - and it's black.
Various photos of this Dalek show dark paint accidentically smeared on
hemis, or on the collars... and yet in the colour photo of this prop,
the only sloppy paint work is black. There are no accidental splashes
of red anywhere to be seen.
Also the Rolykins Daleks, being direct merchandise of the TV show, where
only ever silver and black. The red one didn't appear until after the
films, so what evidence is there that anyone saw a red Dalek on set? None
of the cast or crew in any commentary or interview talk about "that
stripey red one". Wouldn't it have been quite noticable?
If this whole thing isn't just a figment of someone's imagination, then
it seems plausible to me that when someone such as the late great Bill
Roberts had been trying to recall previous colour schemes of second-in-command
Daleks, he mistakenly recalled the red prop from the first film, instead
of the saucer commander on TV.
This hazy memory could be where such a myth begins and it has been repeated
and defended without evidence ever since.
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