Atlas Obscura is Hiring! Join us in pursuit of wonder.

In 1964, You Could Buy Magazines From a Street Dalek

Your new favorite traveling bookseller.

In 1964, in the English city of Coventry, the evil Daleks of Doctor Who took a momentary break from their mission of conquering the universe in order to sell rag magazines to passers-by.

Designed by the Lanchester College of Technology (now Coventry University) student John Aubrey, the traveling magazine stands strolled through the streets via remote control, stopping for anyone intrigued enough to make a purchase.

Footage from British Pathé captures residents bending over and grabbing a magazine from the Dalek, then dropping coins into a can labelled “Rag” attached to its manipulator arm. Set to eerie music, the video describes the Dalek as a “robot newspaperman that sells rag magazines” and claims its creation was “all in the interest of charity.”

A few months prior, Doctor Who’s second serial, The Daleks, introduced the iconic villains to the world during its December 1963 to February 1964 run. The Daleks became an immediate sensation: not only could they be found selling newspapers in the streets, but they also quickly began popping up outside of the London Planetarium or along bus stops. Stores sold Dalek-themed toys. And in December 1964, only a year after their introduction, the Daleks had already become so well known that they appeared in a Daily Mail cartoon depicting the French president Charles de Gaulle as a Dalek named “THE DEGAULLEK.”

But this 1964 robot newspaperman isn’t the world’s only Doctor Who-themed bookseller: this year, Detroit installed a TARDIS bookstore.

Video Wonders are audiovisual offerings that delight, inspire, and entertain. Have you encountered a video we should feature? Email [email protected].