It is ironic that the reappearance of trans galactic villains The Daleks in the new series of Dr. Who, an episode subtitled The Last Dalek should coincide with the announcement of a new robot designed for use in hospitals to enable Doctors to make bedside visits while still cocooned in the safety of their office. Maybe the designers of the robot have a particularly cruel sense of humour because the first thing everybody noticed about the creation was its Dalek like appearance. Now the last thing anybody in hospital would want to see is an interstellar sociopath gliding up to the bedside, particularly as the Daleks are remembered for their catchphrase "EXTERMINATE, EXTERMINATE."
But will the mechanised uber control - freaks be able to work alongside the human control freaks who manage hospitals?
The Daleks first appeared in 1963, long before political correctness had been invented and so their fascistic society gleefully set about annihilating ancient and beautiful cultures in distant galaxies without a thought for the possibility that the poor kiddiewinks watching might be traumatised. The kiddiwinks loved it of course though many grown - ups were traumatised by the constant sound of little boys running around yelling "EXTERMINATE, EXTERMINATE" in robotic voices. No hoodies in those days but I helped my little brothers button overcoats to the neck and then put them on over the head so they could run around with one arm protruding from the gap between the buttons. We soon had little old ladies banging on the door complaining that they had been chased by headless overcoats.
Meanwhile the fictional Daleks on TV were behaving not much differently to the way the Bush administration deals with third world countries with rich and ancient cultures.
In the end Dr. Who had to destroy the Daleks after they had exterminated the race of Time Lords that inhabited the Doctor's home planet. Inevitably, a Dalek escaped, skipped to a different dimension as intergalactic evildoers are inclined to do - Osama Bin Laden for example is actually hiding out in President Bush's Oval office but in a different time - space continuum, and turned up as the possession of an American megalomaniac billionaire who keeps a menagerie of creatures from different dimensions in a giant underground complex of large, featureless rooms and long, bleak corridors. Come to think of it, that could have been any surface community in Utah. The Megalomaniac Billionaire wanted to learn the Dalek's secret so that he could recreate the ethos of ruthless race in his corporate hierarchy and use it to help him achieve world domination - megalomaniac billionaires are so predictable - and had broken the creature through torture and sarcasm.
By this point I was thinking "yes, the Daleks do bear a more than passing resemblance to hospital managers.
While the doctor is trying to convince the billionaire to destroy the Dalek however, it is befriended by time fellow - traveller played by the orchidaceous Billie Piper. Even the flinty heart of the semi automaton is melted by those beestung lips and bambi eyes and in the end the Dalek displays some human qualities.
At that point the whole mass of jokes about the new medical assistant Dalek collapse. Suspension of disbelief is one thing but who could ever get their head round the idea of a hospital manager showing human qualities?
Official Doctor Who website
Doctor Who - home of the cult
Doctor Who press archive
Hospital Service Robot