‘Spare Parts’ (Audio)

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Please feel free to comment on my review.

Rise of the Cybermen…on Mondas with the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa

Yes definitely! ‘Spare Parts’ is a cracking good ‘Doctor Who’ story!

This has earned its place with the fans as being a well-written ‘genesis of the Cybermen’ on Mondas story by Marc Platt. This is no surprise, as ‘Spare Parts’ is also considered by many as one of the best ‘Doctor Who’ audio stories to be released by Big Finish back in 2002. Sarah Sutton thinks this as well.

I listen to ‘Spare Parts’, ‘Circular Time’ and ‘The Stockbridge Trilogy’ (‘Castle of Fear’; ‘The Eternal Summer’ and ‘Plague of the Daleks’) every Christmas now. I play this story whenever I’m decorating the Christmas tree, especially since it happens with Nyssa and the Hartley family celebrating Christmas.

‘Spare Parts’ is a four-part audio adventure by Marc Platt. The Doctor and Nyssa arrive in an underground city on a familiar planet. The Doctor has an idea of where they are and he doesn’t like the thought of it. It transpires that they’re on Mondas where the Cybermen are about to be born.

Peter Davison and writer Marc Platt in ‘Spare Parts’.

I liked the atmosphere of Mondas in this story, as it takes places in an underground city. The planet is constantly frozen over by blizzards and is being pulled out of its orbit, making it way towards Earth. It’s pretty grim conditions for Mondas’ people to live in, despite the Christmas atmosphere there.

I’ve had the CD cover of ‘Spare Parts’ signed by Peter Davison, who plays the Fifth Doctor, at the ‘Stars of Time Film and Comic Con @ The Tropicana’ in Weston-super-Mare, August 2016; the lovely Sarah Sutton, who plays Nyssa, at the ‘London Film & Comic Con’ in July 2011; and Nicholas Briggs, who voices the Cybermen, at the ‘Timeless Collectors’ sci-fair in Fareham, December 2014. According to a CD interview for ‘The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories’, Sarah heard this story recently and said it’s became one of her favourites.

Sarah Sutton is tremendous as Nyssa in this audio story. Nyssa excels and I’m really impressed with how Marc Platt handles writing for her in this story. Sarah’s very lovely as Nyssa, as she gets to spend time with the Hartley family. She also gets to know and becomes friends with Yvonne and Frank.

Sarah Sutton and Peter Davison in ‘Spare Parts’.

Nyssa discovers that the Hartley family are victims of the cyber-conversion process on Mondas. Horrified, Nyssa decides to stay and help. I liked the scenes where Nyssa stands up to the Doctor, as she argues her case and she reminds him of Adric’s death because of the Cybermen in ‘Earthshock’.

Peter Davison delivers an excellent performance as the Doctor in this audio adventure. The Doctor learns of the horrible truth when he and Nyssa are on Mondas. He’s determined to leave, despite warning the people with the church bell. Persuaded by Nyssa’s arguments, he soon decides to stay.

It isn’t long before the Doctor gets chosen as the new template for the cyber-conversion process. I’m pleased with Peter’s characterisation of the Doctor in this story. He ranges with an array of emotions when defying Doctorman Allan on her ethics and morals in regard to the cyber-conversion process.

Peter Davison and Sally Knyvette in ‘Spare Parts’.

Sally Knyvette (of ‘Blake’s 7’ fame) guest stars as Doctorman Allan in this. Doctorman Allan is partly responsible for the creation of the Cybermen on Mondas. She’s no Cyber Davros, as she’s a reckless alcoholic who is determined to perfect the cyber-conversion process so that her people can survive.

Derren Nesbit guest stars as Thomas Dodd, a black market spiff who lives on Mondas. He sells organic bodily parts and is a pretty dodgy and distrustful character. Thomas joins the Doctor when they enter the main centre of operations at Cyber Control and discover some interesting revelations.

The guest cast also features the Hartley family. Paul Copley (who’s been in ‘Hornblower’ and the ‘Torchwood’ story ‘Children of Earth’) guest stars as Mr. Hartley or ‘Dad’; Kathryn Guck guest stars as Mr. Hartley’s daughter, Yvonne Hartley and the appropriately named Jim Hartley guest stars as the son, Frank Hartley.

Kathryn Guck, Jim Hartley and Paul Copley in ‘Spare Parts’.

The Cybermen took me by surprise when I discovered what they were like in this story. Of course I’m talking about the original look of the Mondasian Cybermen. Big Finish decided to use the original Cybermen from their first ‘Doctor Who’ TV story, ‘The Tenth Planet’, featuring William Hartnell’s Doctor.

These Cybermen are what I call the ‘confused Cybermen’. They have very strange and weird computerised voices ‘which…err…sounded like this…that ah…made them sound…err…a little confused by…err…what they were going to…err…say next’. Very confusing Cybermen indeed, hey? 😀

Nicholas Briggs, who voices the Cybermen in this adventure, does a remarkable job in recapturing the original ‘Tenth Planet’ Cybermen. He makes them sound so believable and authentic as they did on TV. They had these Cybermen described to the last detail, including the ‘cloth’ faces and all that.

These Cybermen also have names. Cybermen don’t usually have names, do they? But the Cyber-Commander is called Zheng in this audio adventure. This element of the story echoes the similar style of names that were given to the Cybermen who featured in the original TV story, ‘The Tenth Planet’.

Nicholas Briggs and Peter Davison in ‘Spare Parts’.

There’s also the Cyber-Committee that is very chilling and disturbing to listen to with its descriptions and voices. It made me wonder what made these people of Mondas to becomes like this with augmented technology and why. I’m not sure whether there was a mixture of voices to make it so ‘Borg’-like from ‘Star Trek’.

The Cybermats also appear in this audio adventure! Brilliant! The Doctor screams angrily at Nyssa for bringing a Cybermat into the TARDIS. But thankfully the Doctor forgives Nyssa in the end. I could easily see these small worm/mouse-like creatures from ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’ in my head.

The scenes where Yvvone Hartley has been completely cyber-converted and she returns home to find her family and Nyssa again are so well-written! She doesn’t hurt anyone, as she wants to be with her family again. The moments where she cries in her cyber-voice and she dies suddenly were so sad.

It’s no surprise that ‘Spare Parts’ became the inspiration for the new-series Cybermen in ‘Rise of the Cybermen’/’The Age of Steel’. There are similar scenes in the TV story from this audio, such as Sally Phelan ‘feeling so cold’ and Peter and Rose discovering Jackie Tyler has become a Cyberman.

I liked how this Cybermen origins story isn’t similar to ‘Genesis of the Daleks’, as that was about a psychopathic wheel-bound maniac who created the Daleks. This story focuses on the people being converted and the horrors of what will happen when you lose your identity and have no emotion left.

I’ve seen four YouTube videos of some well-animated scenes from ‘Spare Parts’. I found them exciting to watch! They allow a glimpse of what ‘Spare Parts’ as the Big Finish audio story could look like if it was shown on TV or if it was fully animated for a DVD or as a webcast online for the internet.

Here are the four YouTube videos featuring the animated scenes from ‘Spare Parts’ by Fraust66 on his channel. I’ve even chatted to Sarah Sutton in my two interviews with her about the idea of the Big Finish audios animated for a webcast. She thinks ‘Spare Parts’ should become a motion picture! 😀

The story’s ending was quite unexpected. I don’t know why it should have been for me. But as the Doctor and Nyssa leave Mondas behind them, thinking they’ve changed its future, Commander Zheng resurfaces after being presumed dead. He then declares, “Doctorman Allan! We begin again!”

The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 2, there are trailers for …ish’ with Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant; ‘The Rapture’ with Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred; the first series of ‘Sarah Jane Smith’ with Elisabeth Sladen; the first series of ‘Dalek Empire’ (‘Invasion of the Daleks’, ‘The Human Factor’, ‘”Death to the Daleks!”‘ and ‘Project Infinity’) with Nicholas Briggs and the audio adventures of ‘Judge Dredd’ by Big Finish.

In June 2017, I listened to the ‘Spare Parts’ vinyl which was released in April that same year. I said I was never going to purchase this release from Big Finish, even to Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton at the ‘Worcester Comic Con’ in August 2016! But curiosity got the better of me with this vinyl release.

I’ve now had my vinyl copy of ‘Spare Parts’ signed by Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton at the ‘GEEKS Salisbury Comic Con’ in July 2017. They were happy to sign the vinyl cover of ‘Spare Parts’ for me. I’m happy as well! Peter and Sarah have their vinyl copies of ‘Spare Parts’ given to them by Big Finish.

I wanted to find out what a ‘Doctor Who’ audio adventure with the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa would be like on a vinyl/LP record release. I really enjoyed ‘Spare Parts’ on vinyl and found it an intriguing and surreal experience to listen to. This was a classic audio story from Big Finish and all new on this vinyl!

Delighted that one of Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton’s audio adventures as the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa, ‘Spare Parts’, was chosen to be released on vinyl, as well as ‘The Chimes of Midnight’ with Paul McGann and India Fisher, it was irresistible to purchase. They’re truly my favourite TARDIS duo!

The cast and crew of ‘Spare Parts’. From left to right: Derren Nesbitt, writer Mark Platt, Sally Knyvette, Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton, Nicholas Briggs and Pamela Binns.

I already had ‘Spare Parts’ on audio CD and it wasn’t necessary for me to purchase the story again on vinyl as it would be a collectors’ item. But for all the reasons I came up with against purchasing it, I didn’t want to miss out on an item featuring my favourite Doctor and companion. Thus I went for it!

Listening to the story on vinyl was an interesting experience. Originally the story was released as a four-part adventure on a 2-disc CD set. So it was a surprise for me when I discovered that ‘Spare Parts’ was released on 4 vinyl discs, with the story released as a six-part tale on the first three discs.

I’ve not had much experience with playing vinyl records on a record player, although as a kid I used to enjoy playing my Dad’s Glenn Miller records as well as a Laurel & Hardy vinyl on a record player he had. I’m so pleased that I played the ‘Spare Parts’ vinyl on my Dad’s latest record player at home.

Having listened to the story for the umpteenth time, I knew what to expect when listening to Spare Parts’ on vinyl. So it was quite a surprise when I heard the cliff-hangers for each of the six episodes, with ‘Part One’ on Disc 1, Side A; ‘Part Two’ on Disc 1, Side B; Part Three’ on Disc 2, Side A and so on.

Peter Davison, writer Marc Platt and Paul Copley in ‘Spare Parts’.

Disc 4 of the vinyl edition of ‘Spare Parts’ is a documentary disc looking into the behind-the-scenes making of the story. This has interviews with director Gary Russell; writer Marc Platt and executive producer/Cybermen voice artist Nicholas Briggs who share their memories on making ‘Spare Parts’.

The documentary also includes interviews with Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton. This was a lovely surprise for me, as I didn’t expect to hear my favourite Doctor and companion being interviewed for this. It was superb to hear Peter and Sarah sharing their memories on one of their favourite audio stories.

For me, the ‘Spare Parts’ vinyl edition was a worthwhile ‘Doctor Who’ purchase from Big Finish. I enjoyed the listening experience of hearing one of my favourite Fifth Doctor and Nyssa stories with the Cybermen on vinyl. I don’t normally purchase vinyl releases, but I’m so glad I did it with this one.

‘Spare Parts’ is a Big Finish adventure that deserves its praise! I’m very pleased with how the origins story of the Cybermen was handled by Marc Platt. Nyssa is well-written here and I liked her relationship with the Doctor in this story, since Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton deliver amazing performances.

‘Spare Parts’ rating – 9/10

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8 thoughts on “‘Spare Parts’ (Audio)

  1. Timelord007

    Excellent review Tim of one of my all time favourite story’s.

    What i like about,Spare Parts is it’s very character driven, it could’ve been easy for Marc Platt to have wrote a Cyberman invasion type of story but instead focuses on Mondas & how there troubles escalate out of control leading to a Cyberman uprising.

    I think the ending significance is you can’t change the future what happens must always happen.

    Brilliant performances by the entire cast especially Peter & Sarah who bounce off each other brilliantly, i loved how Nyssa still upset with the Doctor over Adric.

    Yvonnes conversion & realization has to be one of the most heartbreaking moments of any Big Finish audio drama.

    You really nailed this story in your brilliant review Tim, you summed it up perfectly.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tim Bradley Post author

    Thanks Simon. Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘Spare Parts’ and that it’s one of your favourite Fifth Doctor and Nyssa stories.

    Yes I’m glad this story focused on the people rather than the mechanical workings of the Cybermen. I’m pleased Marc Platt wrote this story, as he understood what the Cybermen were about on an emotional and human level. It’s no surprise that this story became the inspiration for ‘Rise of the Cybermen’/’The Age of Steel’ with David Tennant in the new series of ‘Doctor Who’.

    The ending was pretty good. I liked how the story is left open-ended as it is inevitable that the Cybermen would go on to be created and invade all sectors of space, despite the Doctor and Nyssa’s attempts to prevent it happening.

    It was interesting that the Doctor became the template for the cyber-conversion process in the story and reveals a whole new outlook on what the Cybermen become in the Doctor’s image.

    I loved the performances of Peter and Sarah in this story. Yes, those scenes where Nyssa stands up to the Doctor about Adric and that she’s still not fully recovered from that traumatic experience were very good. It’s a nice link back to ‘Earthshock’ and I like how that grief gets touched upon in this story, as the Doctor and Nyssa facing Cybermen again comes too close to home for them.

    Yvonne’s conversion into a Cybermen was very inspirational and heart-breaking. It did put me in mind of those scenes with Sally Pheber in ‘The Age of Steel’ with David Tennant. Of course that’s where they got the inspiration from in this Big Finish audio drama.

    Many thanks for your comments, Simon. Glad you like how I’ve summed up ‘Spare Parts’ in my review.

    Tim. 🙂


    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Thanks Simon.

      Glad you enjoyed re-reading my ‘Spare Parts’ review.

      I’ve also reviewed ‘The Star Men’, ‘The Contingency Club’ and ‘Zaltys’ recently on my blog.

      Tim. 🙂


  3. Williams Fan 92

    Great review Tim.

    ‘Spare Parts’ was an amazing story to listen to. I liked that it wasn’t a carbon-copy of ‘Genesis of the Daleks’, but still managed to have the Doctor involved in the inception of one of his greatest enemies. I enjoyed the Doctor and Nyssa’s interactions with each other. Plus, it was surreal to have Sally Knyvette from ‘Blake’s 7’ in the story. I wonder how it will measure up to Jacqueline Pearce in ‘Hexagora’.

    It was pretty tragic when Yvonne died after her Cyber-conversion. I really felt for her, as well as Mr. Hartley and Frank. All three were good characters, although I did feel that Frank was a bit of a jerk to Nyssa at times. Thomas Dodd was a fun character as well. Did you know Derren Nesbitt was in ‘Marco Polo’ with William Hartnell? Also, the latest edition of ‘Doctor Who Magazine’ has a feature on ‘Spare Parts.

    My review of ‘Spare Parts’ should begin development soon. My ‘State of Decay’ review will be available this afternoon. I’m also nearly finished with ‘States of Being: Cold’ so I will be sending that once it’s complete.

    Take care, WF92.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi WF92,

      Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘Spare Parts’. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the story. I’m pleased to have had my CD cover and vinyl cover of ‘Spare Parts’ signed by Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton at conventions. I’m amazed and pleased that this ‘Doctor Who’ audio story by Big Finish has been well-recieved by fans, especially with it being an origins story for the Cybermen on Mondas. Mind you, it’s no surprise, since it’s very well-written by Marc Platt. It was nice to hear Sally Knyvette from ‘Blake’s 7’ in the story. I listened to ‘Spare Parts’ first before I saw Sally Knyvette in ‘Blake’s 7’. I hope you’ll enjoy Jacqueline Pearce in ‘Hexagora’. I’m currently enjoying her in my revisit of ‘The Two Doctors’ this week.

      Actually yes, I did know that Derren Nesbitt had been in ‘Marco Polo’ with William Hartnell. I mentioned that he would go on to be in ‘Spare Parts’ in my ‘Marco Polo’ review. Yes, I purchased the latest edition of ‘Doctor Who Magazine’ as soon as I saw the latest ‘Spare Parts’ feature in it. I even shared that there was a ‘Spare Parts’ feature in the latest ‘DWM’ with the Peter Davison Hub on Facebook. 🙂

      I look forward to your review on ‘Spare Parts’ when you post it online. I also look forward to your review on ‘State of Decay’. I’m pleased you’ve nearly finished ‘States of Being: Cold’. Looking forward to reading it once you send it.

      Many thanks for your comments.

      Tim 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wolfie

        Bonus points: Derren Nesbitt was also a regular recurring actor on “The Adventures of Sir Lancelot” in 1956/57, starring William Russell. He featured in a variety of roles under the name Derry Nesbitt at the time. They were some of Nesbitt’s first. Prior to Tegana and some of his more well-known film roles. (William Russell also acted opposite Patrick McGoohan before the latter became John Drake of “Danger Man” fame. It’s a small, small world…)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Tim Bradley Post author

        Hi Wolfie,

        Thanks for sharing that Derren Nesbitt was also in ‘The Adventures of Sir Lancelot’ with William Russell. I completely forgot about that. I’ve also not seen ‘The Adventures of Sir Lancelot’ and it’s interesting that Derren Nesbitt and William Russell worked together before they worked with each other again in ‘Marco Polol’. 🙂

        Tim 🙂


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