Revolution of the Daleks (TV story)

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Revolution of the Daleks was the 2021 New Year Special of Doctor Who. It featured the return of Jack Harkness, and marked the Thirteenth Doctor's reunion with her companions following the events of TV: The Timeless Children. The episode also saw the departure of Bradley Walsh as Graham O'Brien and Tosin Cole as Ryan Sinclair.

Continuing the Reconnaissance Dalek storyline that began in TV: Resolution, a new line of Daleks were introduced, cloned from a remnant of the original recon scout. It also saw the return of bronze Daleks, last seen on television in 2017's Twice Upon a Time, leading to a battle between both factions.

The Doctor gives Graham and Ryan psychic paper as a parting gift (akin to how the Tenth Doctor gave Sarah Jane Smith a new K-9 and sonic lipstick when they parted in 2006).


As the Thirteenth Doctor marks her days in prison, back on Earth the Daleks are presented on national television. They are the new Defence Drones, designed to protect the British public.

Left behind on Earth, Yaz, Graham and Ryan need their friend more than ever. Now with Daleks on the assembly line, and a familiar face behind their production... What would the Doctor do?


367 minutes after the Doctor melted the casing of the Reconnaissance Dalek, a lorry driver takes its empty casing from GCHQ to Depository 23, stopping off at a kiosk for a cup of tea. Walking back to his vehicle, he starts to breathe heavily, drops his cup, and collapses. The woman who served him drags him inside the lorry with the casing and drives it away.

Jo Patterson, the Technology Secretary of the United Kingdom, drives to a breakfast meeting with Leo Rugazzi and Jack Robertson to see Leo's new Defence Drones. They watch a fake riot organised by Robertson, where a Defence Drone — in appearance like a Dalek — effectively disperses the rioters with its water cannon, (mock) tear gas and loud noise. Afterwards, Leo shows the pair how the drones are solar powered and controlled by artificial intelligence. Robertson and Patterson talk in private, and Patterson warns him not to tell anyone that she tipped him off about advanced technology being transported from GCHQ. Robertson tells her that the drones will take around a year to develop, in time to help her win the upcoming general election.

In a maximum security facility located inside an asteroid 79 billion light years away, the Thirteenth Doctor wakes up. She scratches a mark on the wall of her cell, which is covered in tally marks presumably counting the days of her imprisonment. A monitor flashes on her wall instructing her to exercise, and she is escorted to an exercise facility, saying hello to the cameras and her fellow inmates as she passes. Back in her cell, a monitor flashes again, instructing her to sleep. She begins to tell herself a bedtime story but is interrupted by knocking from the other side of a wall. She knocks four times in response, but receives no answer.

Back on Earth (on or around New Year's Day 2021), Ryan Sinclair and Graham O'Brien walk towards the TARDIS disguised as a house. They go to knock on the door, but it opens for them. Inside the TARDIS control room they find Yasmin Khan, surrounded by coloured paper and post-it notes covered in writing stuck to almost every surface. She has been sleeping inside the TARDIS and is desperately trying to find the Doctor. Ryan and Graham tell her that she needs to move on because the Doctor has been away for ten months, but she refuses to listen. Graham shows her leaked footage from the fake riot Robertson organised; recognising "spider guy" and identifying the prototype Defence Drone as a Dalek, they decide to investigate whether Robertson is in league with it.

Patterson — now running for Prime Minister of the United Kingdom — summons Robertson to a rainy forest. She tells him that she wants an immediate national rollout of the drones "at no cost to the British taxpayer", threatening him with exposing the lack of British taxes paid by his companies, and he reluctantly acquiesces.

That night, as Robertson gets out of his car, telling Leo that he has arrived, he is confronted by Yaz, Ryan, and Graham. After initially believing them to be muggers, he recognises them, but appears not to understand when they ask him about the Dalek. Suddenly, they are surrounded by people with guns (with Robertson saying he increased his security after the last time they met), who force the trio to leave. They lament how hard it is to "see what's going on" without the Doctor, psychic paper, or a working TARDIS.

At the prison, the Doctor's day begins as normal. However, in the exercise facility this time she finds Jack Harkness, also imprisoned there, in the fenced square next to her. Jack shows her a temporal-freezing gateway disinhibitor bubble, which they use to get to his smuggled-in vortex manipulator; on the way, he says he committed "a few... maybe a lot of crimes" to get himself into the prison after hearing a rumour that she was there, and that it took him nineteen years to get to the cell next to her. They hug, then activate the vortex manipulator to teleport out of the prison just in time.

Back on Earth, Patterson has been elected party leader, and therefore Prime Minister. Leo talks to Robertson about the drones; he is worried about the speed of the production, but Robertson reassures him, telling him to "live in the worry". Leo tells Robertson that he found organic remnants in the original casing, and shows him the Dalek mutant he grew by cloning them. He calls it beautiful and intelligent, saying he successfully hooked it into their computer systems, but a revolted Robertson orders him to incinerate the creature and tell no one about its existence. Leo takes the box containing the Dalek mutant to the incinerator, but when he opens it, the creature inside grabs him. Under the Dalek's control, he makes a phone call to his family, saying he has to go on an urgent business trip.

The Doctor and Jack teleport into her TARDIS, where all the lights have been dimmed. Jack compliments the new interior, and asks if she received his message; she admits that she did give the Cyberium to Ashad, but says she eventually fixed it, "sort of". She tells him that she was imprisoned for evading the Judoon twice, and also "7000 other offences", but ultimately describes it as having been "in prison for being me", while expressing her uncertainty about her own identity. The Doctor instructs the TARDIS to find the others, on Earth.

Yaz, Ryan and Graham are talking about the Dalek they saw in the leaked footage. Yaz has discovered that remnants of the Dalek from GCHQ were stolen, but Graham insists that the Dalek from the riot footage cannot be the same one, as the creature inside it was thrown in a supernova. Ryan suggests that there may be more Daleks on Earth, controlling Robertson, but Yaz shushes the others when she hears the sound of the TARDIS. The TARDIS materialises in the living room, and the Doctor and Jack come out. The Doctor is surprised to learn that it has been ten months since the other three were sent back to Earth, since she claims to have set identical temporal coordinates. After she apologises, Jack asks "What's new on Planet Earth?", to which Ryan, Graham and Yaz reply "Dalek".

Meanwhile, in Osaka, Japan, the Dalek controlling Leo takes him to a building, where he is horrified to discover a Dalek clone farm which the Dalek refers to as "my project".

In the TARDIS, the Doctor scans Earth for Dalek DNA traces, while Jack explains his immortality and past dealings with the Daleks to Team TARDIS. The scan picks up a DNA trace in Osaka, where Robertson has recently opened a facility, but it appears corrupted and is not an exact match. Jack and Yaz volunteer to investigate whilst Graham, Ryan, and the Doctor go talk to Robertson. The Doctor materialises the TARDIS in Robertson's office, and she asks him about the Daleks, having blocked his phone lines so he cannot call security. Exasperated, Robertson decides to show them the "production line", where he is 3D printing thousands of "security drones" modelled on the Recon Dalek from GCHQ. Robertson shows them that there is nothing inside the drones, which are run by artificial intelligence. Graham asks about his facility in Osaka, and Robertson replies that he does not have one.

In Osaka, Yaz tells Jack how it was hard for her in the ten months that the Doctor had been away, expressing a wish that she had never met her if it had to stop so abruptly. Jack tells her about his adventures with the Doctor, including his own abandonment, but says she should "enjoy the journey" while she can because "the joy is worth the pain". They explore the building (listed as an "agricultural park") with torches and discover the Dalek clone farm.

Jo Patterson makes an address outside 10 Downing Street, promising that as Prime Minister she will make Britain "more secure", so that they can enter an "age of security", and unveils the new Defence Drones. She announces they will be patrolling on streets, and at borders, institutions and national landmarks. Meanwhile, the Doctor, Graham and Ryan are taking Robertson in the TARDIS to visit "his" facility in Japan.

In the Dalek clone farm, Yaz is investigating, while Jack sets explosive charges on the walkways and railings in order to blow it up, but the creatures surrounding them start to climb out of their tanks. The Dalek mutants attack them, but Yaz helps rip one of them off Jack's face, despite being attacked herself, and Jack vaporises both creatures with his sonic blaster.

The TARDIS flies through the time vortex, four minutes away from Osaka. Ryan is sitting on the stairs, putting on his beanie. The Doctor approaches him, recalling that she noticed the yellow one he was wearing when they met, and apologises for being away for ten months. Ryan says that although he did miss her, he had time to reconnect with his family and friends. He asks about Gallifrey and the Spy Master, and stops the Doctor trying to change the subject. The Doctor tells him that her entire life story has been changed, and how she does not know who she is any more, or even how much of her life is unknown to her. Ryan tells her that, although they are both different to how they were when they met, it is a good thing that they are, and after they have finished with the Daleks, she needs to find out about herself. The Doctor promises that she will.

The TARDIS materialises in the Dalek clone farm, where Jack and Yaz are reunited with the others. When the Doctor asks who built the farm, the Dalek-possessed Leo reveals himself and explains how it used the company's network and systems to remotely direct the construction, liquidising the workers once they had finished and feeding them to the new Daleks. Meanwhile, the Doctor notices (with Yaz's help) that the light in the facility has been gradually changing, but is unable to identify why it is bothering her. The Dalek explains that it does not want to leave Earth, but rather intends to convert the planet into a base from which to conquer Earth's sector of the universe. The Doctor realises that the purpling light is actually becoming ultraviolet, a wavelength which the Recon Dalek previously used to reassemble itself, but is unable to turn it off before the order to activate is given and all the mutants teleport into the shells. As the Dalek secretly altered the non-weaponised designs of the Defence Drones, each one is now a fully armed Dalek, and they begin to kill the humans at their posts using death rays of red light — including the four outside 10 Downing Street, which exterminate Patterson before declaring Earth "property of the Daleks".

In Osaka, the Doctor questions Robertson on how many drones he built, to which he responds "thousands". Leo is killed by the Dalek controlling him, which then teleports away, and the Doctor says she has finally figured out who she is, declaring "I'm the Doctor. I'm the one who stops the Daleks" and going back into the TARDIS to stop the invasion.

Against Jack's advice, and describing it as the "nuclear option", she sends the Recon Scout's signal through the Time Vortex to be picked up by a Dalek ship. The Doctor explains that Death Squad Daleks (who she describes as "the SAS of Daleks") will ignore humans in favour of exterminating the mutated Daleks to enforce the purity of the Dalek race, but says it is important that they not know she is there. The signal is received by the ship and the Daleks prepare to attack Earth.

Pedestrians scream and run through the streets as the flying Defence Drones exterminate them from above. However, when the Death Squad Daleks arrive they detect the mutated Dalek DNA and engage the Defence Drones using "maximum extermination". After a group of Death Squad Daleks destroy the "primary rogue impurities" on Clifton Suspension Bridge, rejecting their argument that they mutated to survive, Robertson decides to join forces with the Daleks and approaches them with promises of information, claiming to be the leader of Earth.

In the TARDIS, the Doctor explains phase two of the plan: once all the Defence Drones are destroyed, Jack will blow up the Death Squad ship. Graham and Ryan elect to come with him, and Jack teleports them on board. While planting the bombs, Jack overhears Robertson telling the Dalek leader about the Doctor's involvement. As he does, the last Defence Drone (possibly the original Recon Scout clone) teleports on board, and is exterminated despite its attempts to explain itself. Rejoining Graham and Ryan, Jack calls the Doctor to report the Defence Drones' destruction and Robertson's betrayal. She enacts a backup plan with Yaz to deal with the final "SAS Daleks" on Earth.

With a timer set to blow up the ship, Robertson meets Jack, Graham, and Ryan and they deliberate over whether to save his life as the Daleks round on them. In the air above Earth, the Daleks surround the TARDIS, with the Doctor thanking them for running to her. When she baits them, they all fly inside the TARDIS. Meanwhile, Jack teleports his group off the Dalek ship seconds before they are exterminated, and the ship is destroyed. On Earth, the remaining Daleks find themselves inside the house TARDIS, with a hologram of her explaining she used its chameleon circuit to disguise it as hers, and has programmed it to fold in on itself then be sent into the Void. She taunts them as the TARDIS self-destructs, taking the Daleks with it. Everyone reconvenes on the Doctor's TARDIS, and Robertson claims that he was "deliberately acting as a decoy".

In Graham's house, Graham and Ryan watch Robertson speaking to Emily Maitlis on Newsnight, where she explains he is being showered with accolades and may run again for President. Turning the TV off in disgust, they head outside to meet the Doctor, who is talking to Jack on the TARDIS comms. As the Doctor hangs up (sending her love to Gwen Cooper), Team TARDIS prepares to leave for the Meringue Galaxy restaurant, but Ryan chooses to stay behind. He says his friends and his planet need him, and that he now knows what he wants to do with his life. They hug. When the Doctor asks, Yaz immediately confirms she wants to stay, but although Graham was willing to continue, he says he does not want to miss out on his grandson growing up, and is ready to go home. The four have one final group hug as the Doctor bids farewell to her "fam". Before they leave, she gifts them a piece of psychic paper each, and Graham parts ways by admitting he was wrong, "we do get aliens in Sheffield". Although the Doctor suggests she could go back and change the timeline, Yaz says it's okay for her to be sad.

Graham and Ryan are seen back on the hill outside Sheffield, with Ryan practising cycling just as he did on the day they met the Doctor. He makes some progress, and the two discuss looking up strange occurrences around the world — a troll invasion in Finland and gravel creatures in a quarry in Korea. Knowing they can do whatever they want with their psychic paper, they begin to make plans, but only after they finish the cycling: Ryan declares he will not be scared off by a bike after everything they've fought, and as they prepare to try again, they both see a vision of Grace smiling at them. Graham promises "a few more tries and we'll go and save the world," and they keep practising.



General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics



General post-production staff

Special and visual effects


Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.



Popular culture[[edit]]




  • The prison where the Doctor is being held is seventy-nine billion light-years away from Earth.
  • Ryan reads a story online about a village in Finland that is supposedly dealing with a troll invasion.
  • Graham mentions having heard a story about a quarry in Korea that has been shut down due to reports of "gravel creatures coming to life".


  • The Doctor is given a food cube to eat every morning in prison.

Story notes[[edit]]

  • This was the first episode of Doctor Who to be simultaneously broadcast in 4K UHD with HDR colour grading, and the second episode ever made available in this format. Since the BBC does not broadcast in 4K UHD on its television channels, it was instead made available on BBC iPlayer, with a red button prompt appearing during its BBC One broadcast. Twice Upon a Time remains the first episode to be released in 4K UHD, as it was remastered in the format after broadcast for its re-release on UHD Blu-ray.
  • It is also the first time since Twice Upon a Time that the end credits returned to groups rather than scrolling. This was a one-off as the next episode, The Halloween Apocalypse, returned to the scrolling credits seen throughout the Chibnall era.
  • This was the first televised story of the parent Doctor Who series to be originally released to a streaming service, making its debut on BBC iPlayer around 10 minutes before its BBC One broadcast, rather than shortly afterwards or live and concurrently, as is the norm. However, Series 1 of Class had previously debuted on the same service.
  • The opening title card ("A LONG TIME AGO... FAR, FAR AWAY...") is a reference to the famous Star Wars opening title, "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...".
  • The "Defence Drones" have voices similar to those used by the Imperial Daleks in TV: Remembrance of the Daleks, the last televised instance of a Dalek Civil War.
  • Chris Noth (Jack Robertson) is credited as "Robertson" on BBC iPlayer, and erroneously as "Alan Robertson" in Radio Times. Nathan Armarkwei-Laryea (Armen), Helen Anderson (Rachel), Nicholas Briggs (Voice of the Daleks), Barnaby Edwards (Dalek Operator 1), Nicholas Pegg (Dalek Operator 2) and Sharon D Clarke (Grace) are credited on-screen but not in Radio Times or on BBC iPlayer.
  • Unlike previous New Year Specials, The End of Time Part Two and Resolution, the end credits specified the episode was broadcast in 2021 hence MMXXI.
  • This story saw the first time since Journey's End that John Barrowman was credited in the opening title sequence.
  • In early versions of the story, the AI Defence Drone demonstration took place at a stately home and they were first rolled out in Russia, leading to the Daleks killing most of the world's leaders and taking over Earth. The Doctor referred to the Dalek Death Squad as 'Navy Seals Daleks', while Ryan and Graham would have decided to leave the TARDIS to help rebuild Earth. (DWM 570 supplement)
  • Production paperwork referred to the Defence Drones and Death Squad Daleks as 'Bobs' and 'Nigels', respectively. (DWM 570 supplement)
  • This was John Barrowman's last appearance as Jack Harkness before allegations of sexual misconduct resulted in him being blacklisted by the BBC.


  • 4.69 million (UK overnight)[1]
  • 6.25 million (UK final)[2]

Filming locations[[edit]]

(All DWM 570 supplement)


  • Davros would return. This was proven false.
  • The prison the Doctor was in would be revealed to be Shada. This is unknown as this was neither confirmed nor denied in the episode.
  • Graham or Ryan would die at the end of the episode. This theory was incorrect as they would both leave the TARDIS alive at the end of the episode and given an open ending.
  • David Tennant would make a cameo as the Tenth Doctor. This was proven false.
  • The Special Weapons Dalek was to return. This was proven false.
  • This story would be a two-parter. This was proven false.
  • This story would continue the war between the Renegade Daleks and the Imperial Daleks. Although not entirely true, it does contain a similar plot element.
  • The Doctor would not be broken out of the prison until the halfway point of the episode. This was proven false.

Production errors[[edit]]

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • When the Doctor runs over to Jack after noticing him in the neighbouring prison cell, Jodie Whittaker clearly grasps the electrified bars with no ill effect.
  • As the Dalek says "territorial leader identified", Jo Patterson is standing directly in front of the door to 10 Downing Street. But in the next shot, she is to the right of the door.
  • When the Dalek gives the order for Jo Patterson to be exterminated, it is slightly to the left of the picture but in the next shot, it has now moved to the right.
  • During The Doctor & Jack's escape, the initial two shots of them running away from the camera down the corridor are flipped. This is noticeable by the fact that the black stripes on their overalls change sides.
  • Leon Gabbidon, the stunt peformer for Tosin Cole, is incorrectly spelled as 'Leon Gabbison' in the end credits.
  • As the pedestrians run from the Daleks multiple individuals are killed in many shots but only two dead bodies can be seen lying on the street and if you look closely some people who were exterminated are still running from the Daleks in the next shots.


Home video releases[[edit]]

DVD and Blu-ray releases[[edit]]

  • This story was released as a single episode on DVD and Blu-ray in region 1/A on 2 March 2021, in region 2/B on 25 January 2021 and in region 4/B on 21 March 2021.

Digital releases[[edit]]

  • This story was made available to purchase on digital platforms, including Amazon Video and Google Play, on 2 January 2021.
  • It was made available for a time on AMC+, a premium streaming service.
  • In the United Kingdom, this story is available on BBC iPlayer as part of Series 12, in Ultra High-Def (4K).

External links[[edit]]