It's hard to imagine a Dalek storming off a TV set and back to his (its?) trailer pausing only to exterminate his agent on the way, but the BBC has confirmed that the malevolent salt-cellars will not be appearing in the new Dr Who TV series.
The shock bust-up was provoked by the Beeb's failure to reach terms regarding editorial control with the estate of the late Terry Nation. A BBC spokeswoman said: "The BBC offered the very best deal possible but ultimately we were not able to give the level of editorial influence that the Terry Nation estate wished to have."
For its part, the Terry Nation estate accused the Corporation of attempting to "ruin the brand of the Daleks". Estate representative Tim Hancock said: "We wanted the same level of control over the Daleks that we have enjoyed for the last 40 years. If the BBC wanted to re-make any of George Lucas' films, you can bet George Lucas would have something to say about it."
All this unpleasantness will naturally outrage and upset Who fans expecting to see an orgy of Dalek mayhem and destruction when the new series hits the screens in 2005. Writer Russell T Davies expressed his disappointment but asserted that the BBC was "reinventing Doctor Who for a 21st Century audience with a fantastic writing team and exciting new challenges".
He added: "We are disappointed that the Daleks will not be included but we have a number of new and exciting monsters. And I can confirm we have created a new enemy for the Doctor which will keep viewers on the edge of their seats." Excellent. And while we all speculate on just who this new villain might be (No Bill Gates emails, please - Ed), we can confirm that there is one thing guaranteed to get your kids running behind the sofa: Billie Piper, who plays the Doctor Christopher Eccleston's assistant Rose Tyler. Now that's what we call pure terror. ®