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Tributes to designer of ‘timeless’ Daleks

Horsham resident Raymond Cusick, who designed the iconic Daleks for the Doctor Who TV show, has died aged 84.

He passed away peacefully in his sleep on last Thursday, following an illness.

As a BBC designer in the 1960s, working alongside future Hollywood director Ridley Scott, Mr Cusick was given the task of creating the Daleks based on Terry Nation’s script outline.

In an interview with the Doctor Who Appreciation Society in 2006, Mr Cusick said: “When Doctor Who came along I jumped at the chance to do it.

“Doctor Who was exceptionally hard work though. The design department, in a discussion with a man called Jack Kine, who was head of visual effects, didn’t want to take on the building of the many special props and models that Doctor Who would require.

“Doctor Who wanted a huge number of effects in each episode and they just weren’t geared up to do that.”

Because of the heavy workload the crew faced, Jack Kine asked for two extra designers but was turned down, and so Shawcraft Models of Uxbridge, owned   by   Bill   Rogers,   were contracted out to construct models.

Mr Cusick said in the interview: “When I had to come up with the Dalek I went to lunch with Bill and I remember sketching out my design for it on a napkin. I explained to him how it was intended to move and to demonstrate this I slid the pepper pot across the table. Or it might have been a salt pot – I’m not sure!”

Paul Winter, Chair of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society, told The District Post: “Terry Nation had seen the Georgian State Dancers come to perform and he liked the way the dresses appeared to glide across the floor. Terry told Ray he wanted the Daleks to move like that.”

“Ray was always pleased when people sent him letters and things to sign. He was always very generous with his time when people were genuinely interested in his work.”

Mr Cusick also designed the Mechonoids and a lot of the one-off monsters in the 1960s as well as lots of models, sets, and spaceships.

Mr Winter said: “He seemed a dour man in his persona but he always had a great sense of humour. He was also very knowledgeable in other areas and in his later years he was into military history and he did quite a bit of work with Horsham Museum.

“He did quite a lot of work into the Horsham Rifles and was very interested in local history.”

Jeremy Knight, Horsham Museum and Heritage manager, told The District Post: “He viewed the Daleks as his job but military history was his passion. In particular the French revolutionary wars and the Napoleonic wars.

“In 2000 I decided to do an exhibition on the rifle brigade that was formed in Horsham in the 1800s, called Sharpe’s Horsham. Ray did some work with us on the research for this exhibition.

“He provided us with a wealth of information which only people who are passionate about it could ever find.”

In the interview with the Doctor Who Appreciation Society, Mr Cusick said: “I have mixed feelings about the new Doctor Who. The Daleks aren’t that changed apart from being made gold. My original intention was for them to be sleek and made to appear as if they had been contracted of a thin but strong alien material.

“But the overall design is still mine and it’s great that over forty years later they are still there.”

 www.dwasonline.co.uk

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