Doctor Who fans may have found an answer to the origins of one of the most famous and well-used catchphrases on the show, with the intriguing suggestion that the “Exterminate!” command used chillingly by The Daleks may date back to the early 1900s. Joseph Conrad’s spy novel “The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale” incorporated the very same instruction among its pages when it was written in 1907.

The Daleks burst on to our TV screens

It was some 56 years after Conrad’s book had been conceived that science-fiction fans first caught sight of their time travelling hero battling his fearsome adversaries on our TV screens.

The Daleks have continued to form formidable foes for The Doctor ever since and “Exterminate!” has become their distinctive battle cry.

Conrad’s ruthless character

Conrad’s literary thriller includes an equally ruthless character - a specialist in explosives - known as “The Professor”, a terrorist in essence who also utters the no-nonsense statement “Exterminate. Exterminate.”

Toby Jones stars in TV adaptation

The novel will be brought to life this summer on British Television, as Toby Jones stars in the TV adaptation which is set in London in 1886. Alongside him in the three-part BBC series expected to be aired in July will be This Is England stars Vicky McClure and Stephen Graham. Jones is fast-becoming a familiar face to British TV and film fans, having featured in the comedy Dad’s Army earlier this year.

Origins of The Daleks

The Daleks were the brainchild of the respected sci-fi writer Terry Nation and were first seen by TV viewers in 1963. They are a fictional race of mutants and their stunning visual impact owes much to their impressive tank-like shells designed originally by Raymond Cusick.

The talented BBC designer was responsible for the set design for many of the stories during the series and benefited when another BBC designer at the time, the now-revered filmmaker Ridley Scott was unable to fulfil the task due to other work commitments. Duties were handed over to Cusick instead and he prospered in the role.