Famed for their iconic catchphrase “Exterminate!” it seems the Daleks have adopted a slightly less terrifying turn of phrase in their 50th year of existence: “Would you like small or large chips with that cod?”
For, as most Helstonians sleep soundly in their beds, what they may not be aware is that one of the infamous villains from sci-fi series Doctor Who has taken over the Nettles in Helston fish and chip shop in Nettles Hill.
It is the creation of self-confessed Doctor Who fan Marc Stonham, whose mobile phone ring tone is even the theme tune to the long-running series.
Marc, now aged 49, was just ten years old when he announced to his mum Valerie Wheeler that he was going to make one – to plans printed in a special edition of the Radio Times to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the scary cyborgs.
As the years progressed the plans were shelved, but the desire to create his own never quite left him.
Last year, when his mum’s health began to fail, Marc decided the time had come to fulfil a lifetime’s ambition.
In his workshop at Gweek, Marc set about building the 5ft high Dalek from timber, MDF and car body filler.
“I’ve been thinking about it on and off for the last 40 years. It wasn’t until last that I actually did it,” he said.
Sadly Valerie never got to see her son’s masterpiece before her death on Boxing Day.
The Dalek is, however, bringing joy – and a little fear – to the town’s residents.
Just as the Daleks, fashioned from a sink plunger and an electric hand whisk, terrified a generation of schoolchildren in the 1960s, it appears they have not lost their ability to scare half a century on.
In the same way that children up and down the country hid behind their sofa when the mutants first appeared on screen, youngsters visiting the shop have been cowering behind their parents’ legs – with one even refusing to go inside at all.
“He wouldn’t come through the door – especially when it spoke to him,” laughed Marc.
For, not only does the Dalek look the part, he comes complete with voice recordings of the Daleks’ famous catchphrases, a glowing eye and even a name; Archie, no less.
“There is no particular reason,” said Marc. “Whilst I was putting him together I thought I can’t keep making this without a name and that sprung to mind.”
It quite literally took Marc a month of Sundays to complete, in around six-hour sessions.
Put in the shop as an unusual Hallowe’en decoration – “it’s as good a monster as any”, Marc reasoned – Archie has remained there ever since due to his size.
Too big to fit through the door, he would need dismantling – plus he has the added benefit of attracting customers.
“People do mention it and come and have a look,” said Marc.
It seems that Marc has ambitions to create his own army of Daleks, however. Not content with just one, he has eight smaller versions already underway and a second full size version in mind.
He plans to keep them in his lounge – news he has yet to break to his long-suffering partner, David Cousins.
“I think he thinks I’m making a coffee table!” he joked.