According to showrunner Chris Chibnall in Doctor Who Magazine 572, the Daleks in the Doctor Who New Year’s Day special are an “execution squad.”
“I think it’s always good to delineate and make specific the Daleks we meet at any point,” Chibnall explained in the magazine. “These are the bronze Daleks, which we’ve only really glimpsed in recent years. But in this episode we have an execution squad, armed with rapid-fire, multi-blast weapons that make them even deadlier than standard Daleks.”
Chibnall went on to explain more about Eve of the Daleks, a time loop episode akin to the movie Groundhog Day set in a self-storage facility in Manchester in the last few minutes of New Year’s Eve.
“The episode is basically a romantic comedy where the obstacle to the romance is not only the characters themselves, but the threat of Daleks. But there’s still a big, fun, sci-fi concept at the heart of it. It’s got the range of tones, the range of scares, the range of humour and the range of mystery that you’d want on New Year’s Day.”
Nick (Adjani Salmon) has an odd habit of turning up at this exact time every year, desperate to put something in storage – much to the annoyance of the storage facility’s owner, Sarah (Aisling Bea).
The TARDIS, which lands in the ELF STORAGE warehouse in Manchester on New Year’s Eve, is damaged by the Flux. It’s unclear whether the damaged TARDIS is causing the time loop.
Eve of the Daleks is director Annetta Laufer’s television debut.
“Because the rest of the Flux series is so complex, I think this was a moment in which Chris could maybe unwind a little bit, and have a bit of fun,” Laufer told DWM. “It’s a more story-led, rather than action-led, episode. Even though there’s action in there, it’s not very visual effect-heavy, compared to the other episodes. So it’s a nice contrast – a little bit of a palate-cleanser.”
“When I came on board, I was expecting to just be handed a script, and to get on with making it. But Chris was still writing it, so it ended up being much more of a collaborative process, which was another thing that was really exciting for me.”
Laufer watched Russell T Davies’ 2008 episode Midnight to prepare for Eve of the Daleks.
“I wanted to look at the chamber pieces that had been done on the show before, and what mileage you can get out of them. Compared to Midnight, we have more locations, and a bit more action.”
To help delineate each place in the time loop, the pace and the colours of the scenes change.
Along with filming at A Bond Warehouse in Bristol, Eve of the Daleks was filmed in a bunker just outside of Cardiff, likely the old Cold War bunker in Llandaff.
In addition to cast members, Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill, John Bishop, Aisling Bea, Adjani Salmon and Pauline McLynn, Barnaby Edwards returns as one of the Dalek operators and Nicholas Briggs voices the Daleks.
Written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Annetta Laufer, Eve of the Daleks will premiere New Year’s Day 2022 on BBC One at 7:00pm BT and on BBC America at 2:00pm and 8:00pm ET.
Doctor Who Magazine 572 is available at newsstands and by digital issue Thursday, December 9.