Ray Cusick, the British TV production designer best known for his work on Doctor Who, passed away Thursday night after a short illness. He was 84. In 1963, Cusick, a staff designer at the BBC, was asked to give form to the race of aliens created by screenwriter Terry Nation for nascent sci-fi series Doctor Who. Cusick came up with the design for the Daleks, mutants encased in studded metal shells who appear to glide over the ground as they move. The villains became emblematic of Doctor Who, continuing to appear throughout the series’ life including in its current incarnation and in other films and TV shows. They’re also well-known for their catchphrase, “Exterminate!” It is often thought that Cusick’s design was inspired by a pepper shaker. He recently said the detail came during a lunch with the special effects expert who would make the Daleks. At the meal, Cusick picked up a pepper shaker and moved it around the table, to show how the Daleks would move. “Ever since then,” he explained, “people say I was inspired by a pepper pot, but it could have been the salt pot I picked up.” Current Doctor Who series actor and writer, Mark Gatiss, tweeted: “Farewell to the great Ray Cusick. His passing is especially sad in this anniversary year but his creation remains immortal. Daleks forever!” Cusick’s other credits include Miss Marple telefilms, BBC2 Playhouse and series When The Boat Comes In, The Duchess Of Duke Street and The Pallisers.
R.I.P. Ray Cusick
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