Thursday, 6 December 2007

Dalek Invasion of Christmas

I've always rather liked Daleks. There's something incredibly menacing about the squat metallic shapes created by writer Terry Nation and designer Raymond Cusick. Whether lurking in shadowy corridors or emerging from the depths of the Thames, they have to be one of the most effective, long-lived and icon designs ever.

When they first trundled their way on to TV in the second ever Doctor Who serial to be broadcast, way back in 1963, they sparked a wave of Dalekmania amongst youngsters and adults alike. Dalek toys, models and sweets where everywhere, and sold like hot cakes. It say a lot of the effectiveness of the design that now, more than 40 years later, a whole new generation of nippers is equally fascinated by the Dalek concept.

Only the other day I observed a young lad kicking up a fuss in my local newsagent because his beleaguered parent either couldn't or wouldn't provide him with the latest Dalek-embossed merchandising. On one hand I sympathised with the parent, and wished briefly for the days when noisey brats were more likely to be found up a chimney than in the corner shop. But on the other I knew where he was coming from - the cause of the fuss was, after all, a Dalek!

Not surprisingly, the marketing bods have been hard at work finding new ways for Daleks to invade yet more Christmas stockings this year, and one of their brainwaves seems to be a Dalek advent calendar - you know, where you open a little door and get a chocky on each day before Christmas.

Dalek fan though I am, the idea seems just a little incongruous to me. Christmas, for those of a religious persuasion, is supposed to be about peace on earth, goodwill and all the other warm, fuzzy stuff that goes with it. Daleks are not peaceful, good willed or fuzzy in any way shape or form - they are mean, xenophobic killers, hellbent on the destruction of everything that isn't a Dalek.

Not very festive, you might think, even for the non-religiously inclined. But that conclusion might be a little hasty. Daleks, for all their cool technology, neat design and bad attitude, always, always lose out to the good guys. For 40 years they've been dishing out doom and gloom, only to be undone at the last minute by an odd-looking, peace-loving guy who travels by Police Box. Maybe that's the real lesson that Daleks have to teach - at the end of the day, good will always triumph over evil, no matter how powerful the evil may be.

Now that sounds far more like the warm and fuzzy festive flannel the religious dudes should be dishing out instead of complaining about Dalek advent calendars. They're only made because they're popular, after all, and it's the religious dudes' own fault if they can't make their story as gripping as a Dalek tale. Learn some lessons from folks who tell stories about good versus evil for a living, and, if you can't do that, leap on the bandwagon and hijack it for your cause - it's the only way you're going to make any headway!

Billy Seggars.

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