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Dalek designer Ray Cusick dies at 84

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Former BBC designer Ray Cusick has died of heart failure at age 84, BBC News reports. Cusick is best known for helping create the Daleks, a race of armored aliens that remain one of the most iconic pieces of Doctor Who lore. Writer Terry Nation came up with the concept of the gliding, semi-robotic menaces, which Cusick turned into the squat design that's stayed consistently forbidding over a half-century of television. On a 2008 episode of Doctor Who Confidential, Cusick said that some of the design was practical: a mechanical prop would likely have backfired, so it needed to fit a human operator who would probably be sitting down. "I drew a seat, ergonomic height, 18 inches, got the operator down, then drew around it."

Cusick also jokingly told off people who claimed he was inspired by a pepper shaker, partly because he once used one to demonstrate how the Dalek should move. "Ever since then people say I was inspired by a pepper pot," he said, "but it could have been the salt pot I picked up." His daughter says that his death came after a short illness; he is survived by her, another daughter, and seven grandchildren.