The Doctor Who Experience ‘This Planet Earth’ Display Prop: TPE-E
When the Doctor Who Experience relocated from London to Cardiff in 2012, ‘This Planet Earth’ (or TPE) added a display of three Daleks to the entrance lobby of the new building at Roath Lock.
When a large number of Dalek props were required for the Doctor Who Series Nine episodes – The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar, the Dalek would be requested for use. The episodes featured the Daleks “at the height of their powers” (ref. Steven Moffat) and required more Dalek props than the BBC had available in store. A number of props were pulled in from various sources including the bronze Dalek from the display at The Experience.
Generally speaking, it is very difficult to differentiate between the various bronze ‘New Series’ Daleks on screen, however, the ‘TPE’ prop taken from The Experience lobby display has several unique ways to identify it.
The picture on the right shows a prominent vertical moulding line down the centre detailing between the gun and arm boxes but perhaps the most noticeable feature is the quirky layout of the hemispheres on the front two panels. The front right panel (as you look) has its centre two panels spaced further apart than the left panel. The positions of the four circled examples are instantly recognisable onscreen.
We will refer to the prop as ‘TPE-E’. This is the prop’s denomination on the Dalek 63•88 website (www.dalek6388.co.uk) which tracks the history of every Dalek prop used in Doctor Who.
Location filming for the episodes began on 12th February 2017 and moved into studio soon after. The complete collection of Daleks, which included bronze ‘New Series Daleks’ and classic Daleks, saw the majority of their use in a vast control chamber and that is where ‘TPE-E’ spends its time during both episodes.
When a more complicated manoeuvre or close-up up shot was required it was generally one of the BBC’s own stock of Dalek props that would be used. However, ‘TPE-E’ is seen a number of times in prominent positions.
The Magicians Apprentice:
The Dalek reveal was held back until the latter stages of The Magician’s Apprentice and so we first see ‘TPE-E’ when Missy and Clara are first brought to the control chamber. The prop is located to the immediately to the left of the doorway. The prop follows Missy and Clara as they move into the room.
The Witch’s Familiar:
Naturally, the Daleks received more screen-time in the second episode –The Witch’s Familiar. ‘The Experience TPE’ is seen early in the episode in a long shot where it crosses the view of the chamber moving from right to left (as seen in the first of the following pictures).
The most prominent moment for the prop is when it is seen to the left of the Supreme Daleks Dias in the scene where The Doctor hijacks Davros’ chair. It is seen a number of times and in relative close-up at least twice.
Research by Jon Green of Dalek 63-88