As It Happens

This Doctor Who Dalek in a shed could be exterminated by a British town council

A British village is rallying behind a local man who built a shed outside his home to house a life-sized replica of an iconic Doctor Who villain.

Residents of Allendale are rallying behind the Dalek-builder who runs a sci-fi museum out of his home

Art teacher Neil Cole runs the Museum of Classic Sci-Fi out of the cellar of his Georgian townhouse in Allendale, Northumberland, U.K.  Out front is one of the museum's prized possessions — a silver Dalek housed in a small shed. (Submitted by Neil Cole )
Listen6:44

A British village is rallying behind a local man who built a shed outside his home to house a life-sized replica of an iconic Doctor Who villain.

Art teacher Neil Cole runs the Museum of Classic Sci-Fi out of the cellar of his Georgian townhouse in Allendale, Northumberland, U.K. 

Out front is one of the museum's prized possessions — a silver Dalek housed in a small shed.

The so-called AllenDalek — a member of a fictional race of fascist alien cyborgs — has become a beloved local fixture. Now residents are fighting to save it after the town council ordered Cole to tear down the shed.

"He's feeling safe at the minute [because] he knows the villagers are out to protect him," Cole told As It Happens host Carol Off. "He's a very well-loved Dalek for a universal dictator."

'Snobbishness about science fiction'

Cole spent five years building the Dalek with a group of local children from his Doctor Who fan club.

But there's no room for it in his jam-packed cellar museum, so he decided to put it outside where it could draw selfie-seekers and welcome museum visitors.

"We've got lots of walkers here because we're in the countryside," Cole said. "So you get lots of tour buses and people, they now stop with it. They expect to see the Dalek. You know, they're looking for the Dalek and it's just fun."

Cole poses with the AllenDalek. (Submitted by Neil Cole )

The Dalek itself is entirely on the up-and-up by council rules. 

But the shed — built to protect AllenDalek from the elements when the museum is closed — is posing a problem.

In January, Cole got a letter from the Northumberland County Council saying it had to be torn down because it didn't suit the character of the historical Georgian home.

Cole chalks the whole thing up to "snobbishness about science fiction."

"I think one of the residents particularly did not like the idea that a Dalek or science fiction was going to be in this old house," he said.

"Had it been like a bad waxwork of Emily Bronte sort of stuffed into the shed, they might have liked it."

Application pending 

The council has since allowed Cole to apply retroactively for permission to erect the shed.

The application, posted on the council's website last week, has been inundated with comments from locals and tourists, alike, defending the Dalek and his shed.

"I visited Allendale specifically to visit and the Dalek looks fantastic outside the building, not out of place at all," wrote Mark McManus.

"Daleks are part of British cultural history and are as much part of the fabric of our national heritage as a listed building."

Many of the commenters lauded Cole's efforts restore the historic home, and touted the economic benefits of a museum that draws curious tourists and sci-fi fans to the quiet village.

"Even my 81-year-old mother loves the museum and its vital frontpiece, and would write her own support of Neil if she used a computer. She asked me to add her name — Anna Johnson — to this page," wrote B. Nash-Williams.

"Northumberland should be proud of this asset and support it with gratitude. Shutting it down will be a retrograde step in the town's image and identity."

'Daleks everywhere'

Cole says he's been overwhelmed by the support. 

"The rest the village has built Daleks in protest. If you'd come in a few months ago, you'd have come 'round a village where literally it was Daleks everywhere," he said. "It was absolutely incredible."

The AllenDalek is light at night. (Submitted by Neil Cole)

In a statement to the Newcastle Chronicle, the Northumberland County Council said they "wish to work with the property owner to resolve this."

Bu in January, the council told the BBC that "due to the listed status of the property, an application is unlikely to be supported."

Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview with Neil Cole produced by Kevin Robertson.

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