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The Cybermen To Shock The Earth
We’re now on what is considered to be the highlight of Season 19 of ‘Doctor Who’! Believe it or not, this was the very first story I saw from the classic series after watching the new series of ‘Doctor Who’ back in 2006! It’s amazing how much time has passed and how much has changed for me here.
Back in 2006, I saw Series 1 of ‘Doctor Who’ with Christopher Eccleston and Series 2 with David Tennant. I’d just seen ‘Army of Ghosts’/’Doomsday’ by that point. I was enjoying the new series of ‘Doctor Who’ so much that I wanted to see some of the classic stuff from the days before I was born.
So the first classic ‘Doctor Who’ story that I went for was with Peter Davison’s Doctor. This was because I’d seen Peter Davison in ‘All Creatures Great and Small’, so I knew what he was like. I wanted to see a Cybermen story with Peter Davison’s Doctor and this turned out to be ‘Earthshock’.
I purchased the ‘Earthshock’ DVD at a Tesco store in Cardiff, September 2006. I watched the story at home with my parents. It was a very unusual viewing experience compared to watching the new series ‘Doctor Who’ episodes I’d already seen in both Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant eras.
But I enjoyed watching ‘Earthshock’ so much. Years later, people said to me that I picked a good choice with ‘Earthshock’. In many ways, ‘Earthshock’ is the story that defined the Peter Davison era of ‘Doctor Who’. I will identify on why that is the case since the tale does feature significant moments in it.
‘Earthshock’ is a four-part story by Eric Saward, who previously wrote ‘The Visitation’ in Season 19 and had become the new script-editor for the Peter Davison era of ‘Doctor Who’. The story was also directed by Peter Grimwade. He previously directed ‘Full Circle’, ‘Logopolis’ and ‘Kinda’ in the series.
As well as seeing Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor for the first time in ‘Doctor Who’, I also saw Janet Fielding as Tegan; Sarah Sutton as Nyssa and Matthew Waterhouse as Adric for the first time. It was great to see these four TARDIS regulars for the first time in the ‘Doctor Who’ TV tale with Cybermen.
At the time in 2006, I didn’t know that I would grow to love the Season 19 TARDIS team of ‘Doctor Who’ and enjoy their adventures years later both in TV and audio. I also didn’t know at the time that I would get to meet these stars in real-life, especially since ‘Doctor Who’ became a big thing for me!
I’ve had the DVD cover of ‘Earthshock’ signed by Peter Davison at the ‘H-Con’ convention in Eastleigh; Hampshire, July 2015 and by Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton and Matthew Waterhouse at the ‘Dimensions 2013’ convention in Newcastle, October 2013. I’m very pleased that I’ve had my DVD cover of the story signed by Peter, Janet, Sarah and Matthew since this adventure means a lot to me.
I’ve also had the ‘Earthshock’ DVD cover signed by the ‘excellent’ David Banks who played the Cyber Leader in the story at ‘The Capitol II’ convention in the Arora Hotel, Gatwick, May 2017. I had an enjoyable chat with David Banks as we talked about how very different the ‘Earthshock’ Cybermen were compared to today’s Cybermen in the new series today. He seemed very jovial when I met him.
I’ve also had a lovely photo of Nyssa with Peter Davison’s Doctor and some Cybermen from ‘Earthshock’ signed by Sarah Sutton for my birthday at the ‘Stars of Time Film and Comic Con’ in Weston-super-Mare, May 2016. It was very nice to have that photo signed for my birthday by Sarah.
Like I said, I had already seen Peter Davison in the ‘All Creatures’ series before seeing him in ‘Doctor Who’. I was curious what Peter would be like as the Doctor and whether he would be different from playing Tristan in ‘All Creatures’. I didn’t know what to expect when I saw ‘Earthshock’ for first time.
But when I saw Peter in ‘Earthshock’, I liked his Doctor immediately. I enjoyed Peter’s youthful enthusiasm as the Doctor throughout and I also liked the balance of human compassion and alien intelligence that he put into his Doctor. Peter convinced me that he was the Doctor from thereon. 😀
Peter Davison had started the trend of ‘young’ Doctors back then before David Tennant and Matt Smith came along. Peter has become one of my favourite Doctors from the series and I’ve been so lucky to meet him at conventions! I have enjoyed chatting to him and hearing him talk on the panels.
I especially liked the moment in the story where the Doctor sees the Cybermen on the frieghter’s view-screen for the first time. Some of the lines Peter’s Doctor says in that moment echo what would be later said by David Tennant in his two-part story, ‘Rise of the Cybermen’/’The Age of Steel’.
Sarah Sutton as Nyssa is my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ companion! This was the first time I saw Nyssa in ‘Doctor Who’ through ‘Earthshock’, so I didn’t know at the time that I would grow to like her as a character as well as liking Sarah Sutton as an actress. It is extraordinary to look back on those times.
At the ‘Dimensions 2013’ convention, I surprised Sarah when I told her ‘Earthshock’ was the first time I saw her in ‘Doctor Who’. I told her I didn’t watch ‘Doctor Who’ as a kid and she said she hadn’t either which made me feel better. I’ve seen Sarah at many conventions since seeing ‘Earthshock’! 😀
I even saw Sarah in passing after I had my breakfast whilst staying at the hotel where ‘Dimensions 2013’ took place. That was nice that. 😀 Sarah has said that ‘Earthshock’ is one of her favourite stories from ‘Doctor Who’. She even told me this when I conducted an interview with her at the ‘Bournemouth Film and Comic Con’ in August 2015. You can watch this in the YouTube video above.
With that said though, I don’t think ‘Earthshock’ has Nyssa doing much. For one thing, she’s mostly stuck in the TARDIS. I did enjoy Nyssa’s scenes with Kyle in the TARDIS when they see Cybermen on the scanner and I also liked it when Nyssa used a Cyber-gun to save the Doctor from one Cyberman.
I also liked the scene Nyssa shared with Adric after having an argument with the Doctor in ‘Part One’. But aside from those lovely moments, Nyssa’s reduced to being stuck in the TARDIS where she could’ve gone out and joined the Doctor. This was a problem with the crowded TARDIS in Season 19.
This was also the first time I saw Janet Fielding as Tegan in ‘Doctor Who’. Janet remembers ‘Earthshock’ fondly when I asked her to signed the DVD cover of the story for me. She remembers it being directed by Peter Grimwade. I gather she became good friends with him after doing the series.
I’ve enjoyed seeing Janet Fielding at conventions since she comes across as likeable and funny to chat to during signings, even though she can be a bit of a force to be reckoned with. 😀 Janet is also great to see on panel talks as she can be funny and knows her stuff regarding films; television and fashion.
In ‘Earthshock’, I found Tegan to be a spirited woman since she tended to be bossy at times. I grew to like Tegan later on. I did like it when Tegan calmed the Doctor down after his argument with Adric, although I think she could’ve given him a massage rather just say “Breathe deeply and relax!”
Tegan also gets to be the action girl in this story with being gun-ho when getting to use a Cyber-gun on them. It does get tense when Tegan gets captured by a Cyberman and when she tries to pilot the TARDIS herself to stop the freighter crashing into Earth. The Doctor quickly reprimands her for that.
This was also the first time I saw Matthew Waterhouse as Adric in this ‘Doctor Who’ story. I found Matthew great as Adric in this. It was strange for me to see this story for the first time as I didn’t know that it would be Adric’s last story in the series and I didn’t know he would get killed off as well.
I’ve also met Matthew at many conventions and he’s a really nice chap to chat to. I even chatted to Matthew in the lift once when I was at the hotel where ‘Dimensions 2013’ took place. When he signed the ‘Earthshock’ DVD cover for me, I told Matthew how much I enjoyed the story very much.
I said I found ‘Earthshock’ to be a great story and Matthew agreed, calling it a ‘classic’. I must admit I did Adric a little annoying at first, but that was only because I didn’t know him very well then. That bitter argument between Adric and the Doctor when he wants to go back to E-Space did put me off.
But I grew to like Adric over time and in a strange way, especially as Matthew delivers a good performance as the character in this. I had no idea that there was a division of fan opinion on Adric in terms of whether fans liked him or not. As I indicated, the story’s end for Adric ‘shocked’ me indeed.
I was very impressed by how Eric Saward kept the Cybermen’s presence a secret throughout most of ‘Part One’ before the reveal at the end. At the time of transmission on TV, the Cybermen’s presence was a well-kept secret as nobody knew who to expect at the end of the first episode of the TV story.
I’m sure many fans were extremely excited to see the return of the Cybermen back in the ‘Doctor Who’ TV series at the end of ‘Part One’ of ‘Earthshock’. The Cybermen hadn’t been seen for a long while in the space of seven years and their previous TV appearance was ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’.
When I saw the Cybermen in ‘Earthshock’, it was pretty exciting too as I found it to be a tense, atmospheric story. Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of the ‘Earthshock’ Cybermen in terms of their costume design and voice work. I’m afraid I have been spoilt by the new series Cybermen from 2006.
I was ‘shocked’ by how the 1980s Cybermen appeared in ‘Earthshock’ and was disappointed they didn’t have the ‘ultimate upgrade’ like the new series ones did. I was also annoyed that the Cybermen didn’t say ‘delete’ as their catchphrase. They say ‘destroy’ instead! That isn’t good for me.
In terms of their costume design, the Cybermen’s headsets are the best part. But the rest looks pathetic as it doesn’t look metallic at all and the Cybermen don’t appear to be robotic as they should. The Cyber voices are fine I suppose, but it doesn’t help with the emotive dialogue they utter.
I also got annoyed when the Cyber Leader kept saying “Excellent!” in the story. I did a count and apparently the Cyber Leader says “Excellent!” thirteen times in the story. I just find the way David Banks as the Cyber Leader says it to be campy and not in the way of the ’emotionless’ Cyber Leader.
I’ve shared with Sarah Sutton and Matthew Waterhouse about my feelings regarding the 1980s Cybermen during a coffee club session at the ‘Dimensions 2013’ convention. It was interesting to hear their responses regarding the 1980s Cybermen. I hope I’ve justified myself what I feel like that.
I did like certain moments with the Cybermen in this story though, especially when the Cyber Leader used emotions to weaken the Doctor’s will. There was a moment when Tegan was to be threatened and the Doctor had to prove on whether emotions were a weakness or not before the Cyber Leader.
I really liked the flashback sequence in ‘Part Two’ that showed the previous Doctors and encounters with the Cybermen. This included showing the faces of William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton and Tom Baker. At that time, I was getting to know the classic series of ‘Doctor Who’ in watching ‘Earthshock’.
Seeing the flashback sequence with the First, Second and Fourth Doctor’s faces when they encountered Cybermen was a true delight. I gathered that many fans who were watching ‘Earthshock’ were delighted to see previous faces of the Doctor too in having not seen them before.
The guest stars include James Warwick as Lt. Scott. James Warwick is well-known for playing Tommy Beresford in the Agatha Christie TV drama series, ‘Partners In Crime’. Scott is the leader of a squad of Earth troopers who investigate the disappearance of geologists led by Professor Kyle in some caves.
Scott is the butch military type that gets caught up in the Doctor and his friends’ adventures. It was tense when Lt. Scott treated the Doctor and friends as enemies first and telling them to “Shut up!” But thankfully he sees the Doctor and his friends as good people before he helps to rescue the Earth.
There’s Clare Clifford as Professor Kyle. Clare Clifford would later go on to star in an episode of ‘Torchwood’ called ‘Fragments’. Professor Kyle is the lead geologist who becomes concerned for her team’s disappearance inside some caves. He has Scott and his Earth troopers to help learn the truth.
Sadly Professor Kyle does trip up a lot when running with Kyle and the Earth troopers inside the caves. She also gets reduced in her role as a supporting character when she’s stuck in the TARDIS with Nyssa for the tale’s second half. I liked it when she saw the Cybermen and said “They’re huge!”
The biggest guest star of course is Beryl Reid as Captain Briggs. Beryl Reid has done a number of films both in comedy and drama and has done plenty of acting work on the stage. I found her to be interesting as the toughened captain of a space freighter with the tango hair and all that in the story.
I’m not sure if she was the right choice to play the captain role in the story and many, including Eric Saward, have criticised her casting. She does a good job at it in terms of delivering the lines and playing the character in the story. But behind-the-scenes, she didn’t seem to know what she said. 😀
The story also features June Bland as Berger, Captain Briggs’ second-in-command aboard the space freighter. June Bland was also the wife of Bill Sellars, the producer of ‘All Creatures Great and Small’. There’s also Alec Sabin as Ringway, who becomes a traitor, and Mark Hardy as the Cyber Lieutenant.
With the story being directed by Peter Grimwade, it has been known that he is hard to work with in terms of the acting fielding. I know actors like Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton, Matthew Waterhouse and Beryl Reid found it a challenge to work with Peter Grimwade since he’s more of a technical director.
But he has done a remarkable job in terms of making ‘Earthshock’ an action-packed adventure and done well with getting the shots he wanted in terms of lighting and pacing ever flowing throughout. ‘Earthshock’ does have the movie feel to it and Peter Grimwade is a committed director.
The issue of violence and vulnerability in ‘Earthshock’ is debatable. I can see what people are getting at in terms of there being a lot of guns used in ‘Earthshock’. But I don’t think the violence is as strong as people make it out to be. I found the story very action-orientated and it was really gripping to watch.
In terms of the Fifth Doctor being vulnerable, it was interesting to watch in terms of this story as well as the whole of Season 19. I liked the idea of Peter Davison’s Doctor being vulnerable compared to Tom Baker’s Doctor and these are issues that get echoed in the new series with some of the Doctors.
Like I said, ‘Earthshock’ features the last appearance of Adric in the TV series. I’d already seen Rose’s departure in ‘Doomsday’ at the time of watching ‘Earthshock’ on DVD. So it was a shock to see another companion exit the series, except this time he gets killed off. I didn’t even know Adric very well.
I don’t know how children were affected by Adric’s death at the time this story was transmitted on TV, but it must have been pretty traumatising for them. It was probably something viewers didn’t see coming when watching this story on TV. I certainly didn’t see it coming when I watched it on DVD.
When the end credits for ‘Part Four’ came up, there was silence. There was no familiar ‘Doctor Who’ theme music to be found at the end of that story after Adric’s death. This was strange for me when I saw the story first time on DVD and it was like staring into a void and feeling empty from watching it.
They say ‘silence is golden’, but there was nothing to comfort this tragic end after I watched ‘Earthshock’ all the way through. I don’t know if it works better to have the story end on silence after Adric’s death, but I would’ve preferred it if the story ended with the familiar theme music here.
The original DVD special features were as follows. There was the ‘Putting the Shock into Earthshock’ making-of documentary; the 40th Anniversary Celebration music video of ‘Doctor Who’; film sequences; a ‘Did You See?’ item about ‘Doctor Who’ monsters and a CGI effects option for the story. There was an info-text commentary option to enjoy; a photo gallery of the story; a mono sound audio mix option for the story; a DVD audio commentary with Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton and Matthew Waterhouse and an isolated music option by Malcolm Clarke to enjoy. There was also the ‘Episode 5’ claymation parody short of ‘Earthshock’ and there was an Easter Egg that was a ‘Real McCoy’ sketch featuring an ‘Earthshock’ clip in it.
On Disc 6 of the ‘Doctor Who – The Collection – Season 19’ Blu-ray, the ‘Putting the Shock into Earthshock’ making-of documentary; the film sequences; the ‘Did You See?’ item; the CGI effects option for the story; the mono sound audio mix option for the story; the DVD audio commentary; the isolated music option and the ‘Episode 5’ claymation short can be found on there. The info-text commentary option and the photo gallery for ‘Earthshock’ have been updated for 2018 on the Blu-ray.
The new special features on Blu-ray include the making-of documentary, ‘Earthshocked’, with cast and crew interviews. There’s also the ‘Behind the Sofa’ feature on ‘Earthshock’ with Peter Davison (the Fifth Doctor); Sarah Sutton (Nyssa); Janet Fielding (Tegan) and Matthew Waterhouse (Adric) as well as Mark Strickson (Turlough) and Sophie Aldred (Ace). There’s also some studio footage of the story and ‘The Boy With The Golden Star’ interview with Matthew Waterhouse that’s taken from the ‘Warriors’ Gate’ DVD. There’s also a ‘Pebble Mill At One’ interview with Peter Davison and some BBC continuity announcements of the story. There’s also a brand-new 5.1 surround sound audio mix option for the story to enjoy.
On the PDF front, there’s production documents; scripts and the ‘Radio Times Listings’ of the story to enjoy. You need a special Blu-ray computer drive for that. The 40th Anniversary Celebration music video of ‘Doctor Who’ and the ‘Real McCoy’ sketch aren’t included on the ‘Earthshock’ disc for the Season 19 Blu-ray box set.
‘Earthshock’ was my first experience of a ‘Doctor Who’ story from the classic series and from the Peter Davison era. I’m glad it was my first experience. Despite me not being a fan of the ‘Earthshock’ Cybermen, I found this to be a great ‘Doctor Who’ tale and it has become one of my firm favourites.
I’m amazed this story started me embracing the classic ‘Doctor Who’ series as it was also my first experience of seeing Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor; Sarah Sutton as Nyssa; Janet Fielding as Tegan and Matthew Waterhouse as Adric. My life would never be the same again since ‘Earthshock’! 😀
‘Earthshock’ rating – 9/10
‘DOCTOR WHO – EARTHSHOCK’
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Eighties Cybermen with New Series voices
‘Doctor Who – Earthshock’ is a brilliant novelisation/audiobook of one of my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ stories!
Since ‘Earthshock’ was the first classic ‘Doctor Who’ TV story I saw from seeing the new series, it was fair that I should purchase the audiobook of the story. I purchased the audiobook in Stratford-upon-Avon as well as the novelization from Amazon.co.uk. I read and listened to ‘Earthshock’ at the same time.
‘Doctor Who – Earthshock’ is read by the Doctor himself – Peter Davison – with Nicholas Briggs as the Cybermen voices. The Cybermen voices in the ‘Earthshock’ audiobook are very convincing compared to the TV version. The novelization is divided into 10 chapters with the audiobook spread out on 4 CD discs.
The ‘Earthshock’ book was published in 1983, a year after the TV story’s initial transmission. It was novelised from Eric Saward’s TV scripts by…Ian Marter! Yes, that’s right! Ian Marter, who played Harry Sullivan with Tom Baker’s Doctor in the TV series, has done a remarkable job in novelising ‘Earthshock’.
Ian has written a number of Target novelizations based on original TV stories including ‘The Dominators’ and ‘The Invasion’. He also novelized ‘The Sontaran Experiment’ story in which he himself appeared in. ‘Earthshock’ was his fifth novelization and he adapted the story splendidly with a ‘novel’ approach.
In terms of plot, not much has changed. Although Ian has slightly amended and adjusted certain scenes to work better compared to the TV version. He’s also provided more descriptive dialogue to story settings, making it more dynamic and action-packed, especially concerning character development.
One thing from this novelization is how Ian describes the caves at the beginning, making them like the face of a skull. The deaths of Snyder and some of the troopers are well-handled. The death of Kyle was a little disappointing, since she died heroically in the TV story whereas in the novelization she died by accident.
Another moment was when the Doctor causes an ‘accident’ in Cyber Control to revive the dormant Cybermen as he and Tegan are taken to the TARDIS. This would have explained why the Cybermen woke up unexpectedly in ‘Part Four’. I wish that was included in the TV story to make more sense.
The dialogue is sharper compared to the TV story. I found the characters easier to enjoy with their sharper dialogue compared to some of their dodgy lines through TV. The Cybermen’s dialogue has also improved since they sound less emotional and more logical like robots compared to the TV version.
I like how Ian handled the TARDIS regulars in describing who they were, including Nyssa’s aristocratic, pretty nature and Tegan’s ‘red hair’ and bossy attitude. Their dialogue was enjoyable too. I liked Nyssa’s scenes with Kyle in the TARDIS and when she rebukes Scott after mourning for Kyle’s death.
Peter Davison reads this novelisation of ‘Earthshock’ very well. Peter has read another one of these ‘Doctor Who’ audiobooks before. That was for his first TV story, ‘Castrovalva’. Peter has a very good reading voice and he gets the character voices of Nyssa, Tegan and Adric sound as they were in the TV series.
I enjoy Peter’s impersonation of Tegan’s voice in the story with her Australian accent. I also liked how Peter does Nyssa’s calm tones and Adric’s obnoxious attitude before shifting to his compassionate side and before his tragic fate. Peter’s energy shines throughout as he’s enthusiastic in reading the story.
I’ve had the CD cover of ‘Doctor Who – Earthshock’ signed by Peter Davison at the ‘MCM Birmingham Comic Con’ at the NEC Birmingham, November 2017. Peter was amazed that he read the audiobook for the ‘Earthshock’ novelization. He could recall doing the ‘Castrovalva’ audiobook but not the ‘Earthshock’ one. Hmm. 😀
Nicholas Briggs voices the Cybermen in this audiobook. I didn’t like the Cybermen voices in the TV version of ‘Earthshock’ and their design was terrible. Reading the book and hearing the CDs made me feel like they weren’t eighties Cybermen anymore. They sounded like the new series Cybermen!
The Cybermen sounded exactly like what Nick Briggs did for them in ‘Rise of the Cybermen’/’The Age of Steel’. The Cybermen’s dialogue was exactly right and the way Nick says the lines is brilliant. They still said “Excellent!”, but it doesn’t sound so silly and emotional as it seemed to be in the TV version.
I liked Ian Marter’s descriptions of the Cybermen, as he goes deeper into how their hydraulics worked. Even the sound effects in the audiobook helped. I was convinced these Cybermen were more robotic compared to the TV version. The scenes between the Cyber Leader and the Doctor are greatly improved.
The scene where a Cyberman clutches his chest unit in reaction to the word ‘gold’ was inspirational. Ian should know about the Cybermen and their dislike of ‘gold’, shouldn’t he? He was in ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ after all. 😀 The scenes where people react to the Cybermen’s oily vapours were fascinating to discover.
The final end with Adric’s death was effectively handled as it carried the same emotion and weight that it had from the TV version of the story. I found myself emotionally drained and ‘shocked’ when reading and listening to the end of the story. It took me a while to settle down to sleep after reading/hearing the novelization/audiobook.
This is a great novelisation of a TV story! ‘Doctor Who – Earthshock’ is brilliant with Peter Davison reading it and Nicholas Briggs voicing the Cybermen. You will enjoy the novelization with Ian Marter’s writing on descriptions and dialogue and the audiobook will provide extra thrills to the ‘Earthshock’ experience.
‘Doctor Who – Earthshock’ rating – 9/10
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