It’s a sad day for Doctor Who fans, both new and old. The BBC has confirmed that Ray Cusick, the man who designed the Daleks, has died at age 84. According to a close family member his death comes after a short illness. Cusick leaves behind a loving family of two daughters and seven grandchildren.
Doctor Who writer and actor Mark Gatiss, best known for his portrayal Mycroft Holmes in BBC’s Sherlock, tweeted earlier today: "Farewell to the great Ray Cusick. His passing is especially sad in this anniversary year but his creation remains immortal. Daleks forever!"
The Daleks have been around for almost as long as Doctor Who itself. They were introduced in the show’s second episode, which first aired in 1963. The concept for these villains was conceived by Doctor Who screenwriter Terry Nation, and was given form by Ray Cusick almost half a century ago. This mutant race has been The Doctor’s mortal enemy ever since, their threat returning as recently as “Asylum of the Daleks”, an episode which first aired just a few months ago.
In 2008 Cusick visited the BBC props department as part of an episode of the BBC Three show Doctor Who Confidential (which was a documentary-esque TV show that chronicled the production of each episode of “New Who” up through series five) where he described his inspiration for the Daleks: “People do say I was inspired by a pepper pot, but I always think ‘if that’s all it takes to become a designer then it’s a doddle.’” Going on, he explained that the pepper pot thing came about during a lunch with the man who would go on to actually create the Daleks – special effects expert Bill Roberts. Cusick evidently picked up a pepper-shaker and moved it across the table, explaining to Mr. Roberts that “it’s going to move like that, no visible means.”
This iconic design has lasted with very few changes over the past fifty years, and it I expect that we’ll be seeing more of the Daleks before too long. Friends and fans alike will dearly miss Ray Cusick, but his legacy will not be fading any time soon.