‘THE TOMB OF THE CYBERMEN’
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The Best of the Doctor with the Cybermen
For Deborah Watling
‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’ is a classic ‘Doctor Who’ story and is well-known among the fans!
The Cybermen are at their peak in their third TV appearance of ‘Doctor Who’ – a four-part adventure by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis, the creators of the Cybermen. They were growing popular and becoming the second best monsters to the Daleks in the ‘Doctor Who’ TV series, which is incredible!
Originally, this story was considered ‘lost’ for 25 years since its initial transmission on TV. But in 1992, the story was found and recovered at a TV station in Hong Kong of all places. Brought back to the BBC, this can now be seen by fans as one of the famous offerings from the Patrick Troughton era.
My parents purchased the original DVD of this story for me after I finished my A Level exams in the winter of 2007. I also had it with ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’ on DVD. ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’ is definitely a cracking good story and depicts the Cybermen at their most interesting and exciting yet!
I’ve had the original DVD cover of ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’ signed by Deborah Watling, who played Victoria, at the ‘Project Motor Mouth 2’ convention in Slough, August 2013 and also by Frazer Hines, who played Jamie at the ‘Regenerations 2013’ convention in Swansea, September 2013. Both Debbie and Frazer were there with Patrick Troughton at the time during the making of this TV story.
The story itself is set on the planet Telos where an archaeological expedition led by Aubrey Richards as Professor Parry has come to discover the lost tombs of the Cybermen. Telos happens to be the Cybermen’s adopted home planet, since Mondas was destroyed in the events of ‘The Tenth Planet’.
Eventually, the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria arrive and pitch in to help the expedition with discovering the Cybermen’s secrets. It all goes pear-shaped, as many of the archaeological team get killed during the story and the Cybermen are soon revived from the tombs. Things become more chaotic later on.
This is of course Victoria’s first trip in the TARDIS since her first appearance in ‘The Evil of the Daleks’. Here Victoria gets to take part in a story that’s really thrilling and adventurous. I like her reaction when she goes in the TARDIS for the first time and when she’s wearing a skirt thinking it’s too short.
I also liked it when she connects to Jamie and the Doctor and how she has a mind of her own. She gets frustrated when people patronise her like Captain Hopper who calls her ‘Vic’. One standout scene is when she realises Kaftan has shut down the hatch into the tombs and she is angry with her.
I’ve met Deborah Watling at conventions and found her a really lovely and a delightful person to meet and chat to. I’ve chatted to Debbie about this ‘Doctor Who’ story she was in, saying it was a classic story and a great one for her to be in. Debbie wholeheartedly concurred with me on that one.
One of my favourite scenes with Victoria is when she’s with the Doctor in ‘Episode 3’. During a quiet moment, the Doctor comforts her as she misses her father who was killed by the Daleks. It’s a truly sweet scene and something that the new series goes for as the Doctor connects to his companions.
I mentioned to Debbie how much I loved that scene, since I knew how much she loved working with Patrick Troughton back then. She told me that whilst doing the scene, she had a cold or hay-fever. I wouldn’t have noticed that had she not told me, since it was a truly lovely performance on her part.
Frazer Hines as Jamie is also good in this. He gets to be with the Doctor and party when they go down into the tombs. Jamie also gets to help the Doctor when they’re trying to contain the Cyber Controller in a regeneration chamber powering him up. I enjoyed the comedic moments with Jamie.
Jamie gets it wrong with tying ropes around the regeneration chamber with the Cyber Controller inside. The Doctor’s annoyed, asking Jamie to remind him to give him ‘a lesson on tying knots sometime’. This is a better Cyberman TV story with Jamie in it, compared to him in ‘The Moonbase’.
Frazer Hines signed the original DVD cover of this story for me on his birthday at the ‘Regenerations 2013’ convention in Swansea. I like Frazer as Jamie. He brings so much to the part and is believable as a Scottish Highlander in a futuristic setting or an alien planet, in being able to utilise his resources.
It’s clear Frazer enjoyed working with his co-stars as well as being on the show. There’s a happy atmosphere between him, Patrick and Debbie. I’ve chatted to Frazer a number of times and have really have enjoyed meeting him. I’ve yet to read his autography ‘Hines Sight’, which I’ve purchased.
Patrick Troughton is at his best as the Doctor in this too. He’s into the role, with this story being the first of his second season as the Doctor on the show. He’s good at portraying the comedy as well as the darker qualities of the Doctor in general. He clearly knows what’s going on during this adventure.
The Doctor quickly suspects Klieg attempting to revive the Cybermen from their tombs. Frazer Hines and Debbie Watling have expressed their fondness of working with Patrick (as well as Wendy Padbury and Anneke Wills), as they clearly miss him. Patrick’s Doctor is so reassuring in the TV show.
The Cybermen are good! The design isn’t as good as some of the others like ‘The Invasion’ and ‘Rise of the Cybermen’/’The Age of Steel’. But they fit in well with the league of Cybermen. The pipes on their arms and legs are dodgy and I’m not sure about their blackened mouths and eyes on the faces.
But the voices sound great in that strange electronic way when they say, “You belong to us! You shall be like us!” and “We must survive! We must survive!” The Cybermen are something to enjoy and it’s very intriguing how they froze themselves over the years in their tombs waiting for the right people.
The classic scene when the Cybermen come out of their tombs and march out was really captivating and awe-inspiring indeed. The ‘space’ music used in the background really helped to make that scene pretty exciting and to strike terror into your heart, as the Cybermen marched straight for you!
I liked it when the Cybermen opened and closed their mouths to speak when they were talking to the Doctor and others. It made them more like robots and resembled the new series Cybermen in ‘Rise of the Cybermen’/’The Age of Steel’ when they spoke with the mouths glowing blue on and off.
At the end of the story, Toberman smashes a Cyberman’s chest unit and strange white foam oozes out of him. This was quite disturbing and horrifying, indicating something organic inside a Cyberman. It was also interesting and disproves to audiences that the Cybermen aren’t robots and were human.
The leader of the Cybermen is Michael Kilgarriff as the Cyber Controller. He looks very different to the Cyber Controller in ‘The Age of Steel’. But he’s still menacing; powerful and taller than the other Cybermen. I like that dome on top of his head. It could easily be where that huge brain is contained.
The Cyber Controller is clearly a menacing opponent, although he does most of the talking compared to the rest of his followers. I liked it when the Cyber Controller is low on power and can’t get into the revitalization chamber. I’m sure Michael Kilgarriff found it a job to wear that suit and helmet for this.
This story introduces the Cybermats – ‘a form of metallic life’, according to the Doctor. They’re essential pets of the Cybermen that look like worms, rats or caterpillars however you look at them. The Cybermats worm their way through holes and tunnels to scare the living daylights out of you. 😀
The Cybermats like eating energy in cables or wires attached to technology. In this story, one Cybermat scares Kaftan and gets shot by Victoria. A whole group of Cybermats try to trap the Doctor and party, only to be electrified by the Doctor’s cunning. A Cybermat survives at the end of the story.
George Pastell guest stars as the story’s main villain, Eric Klieg. Klieg is a spectacular character to watch, as he’s obsessed with power and logic. A member of the Brotherhood of Logicians on Earth, Klieg is determined to wake the Cybermen from their tombs, hoping to gain their cooperation in this.
Klieg thinks highly of himself and I like those moments of madness when he talks to himself. I liked it when the Doctor seemingly approves of Klieg’s glory-seeking ways. Klieg has a moment of madness before the Doctor reverts to normal, saying “Well now I know you’re mad. I just wanted to be sure.”
Shirley Cooklin, who was married to ‘Doctor Who’ producer Peter Bryant, guest stars as Kaftan, Klieg’s confidante. Kaftan is an interesting character, as she’s keen that Klieg should get his way with the Cybermen. She is ruthless when it comes to trapping the group down in the Cybermen’s tombs.
Kaftan is intriguing and exotic with mysterious yet evil motives. She gets her just deserts when she refuses to open the hatch for the Cyber Controller and tries to shoot him. It was chilling when the Controller said “That gun will not harm me!”, before he shoots and kills her with his own Cyber gun.
Roy Stewart guest stars as Toberman, Kaftan’s bodyguard. Toberman doesn’t say much. He’s very tall and can easily break a man in half. I liked it when he proves he ‘isn’t afraid’ by opening the tomb entrance doors. It’s a shame when Toberman gets captured; he is put under the Cybermen’s control.
Toberman is able to redeem himself once he sees Kaftan get killed by the Cyber Controller. He helps the Doctor and Jamie to stop the Cybermen and Klieg in the tombs. Once the tombs are frozen again and the Doctor and others are about to leave, Toberman makes a big sacrifice by the end of the tale.
The guest cast also includes Bernard Holley as Peter Haydon who dies in ‘Episode 1’; George Roubicek as the heroic, brash Captain Hopper; Clive Merrison as Jim Callum (who would later appear in ‘Paradise Towers’) and Cyril Shaps as the easily nervous Viner (one of his many ‘Doctor Who’ appearances and, for me, has been in an episode of the TV comedy, ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Them’).
The DVD special features are as follows. On the original DVD for ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’, there’s a ‘Titles Sequence Test Footage’ compilation; a rare extract from a 1960s magazine programme called ‘Late Night Line-Up’; a basic photo gallery of the story and ‘The Final End’ which is some camera footage depicting what the climax of ‘The Evil of the Daleks’ TV story could have looked like. There’s also ‘Tombwatch’, which includes highlights of the BAFTA screening of ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’ shown in April 1992. These have contributions from Michael Kilgarriff, Deborah Watling, script editor Victor Pemberton, producer Peter Bryant, Shirley Cooklin, Frazer Hines and many more. There’s also a VHS introduction of the story by director Morris Barry; a short featurette focusing on the ‘restoration’ of the story on DVD; an info-text commentary option of the story to enjoy and a commentary with Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling. There’s some Easter Eggs on this DVD to enjoy.
Since then, ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’ has been re-released as a 2-disc special edition and as part of the ‘Revisitations 3’ DVD box set, which also contains ‘The Three Doctors’ and ‘The Robots of Death’. The new DVD contains the original DVD special features as well as some new additional ones. On Disc 1 of the 2-disc special edition DVD, the new special features include a new commentary with Frazer Hines, Deborah Watling, Shirley Cooklin, Bernard Holley, Reg Whitehead (who plays one of the Cyberman in this TV story) and script editor Victor Pemberton, moderated by Toby Hadoke. There’s also an off-air amateur audio trailer for the next TV story after this, ‘The Abominable Snowmen’. This can be found on the ‘Episode Selection’ menu page on this first DVD disc. There’s also an updated version of the info-text commentary option to enjoy. There’s also a ‘coming soon’ trailer for ‘The Face of Evil’ with Tom Baker and Louise Jameson.
On Disc 2, there are three new DVD documentaries. There’s the making-of documentary, ‘The Lost Giants’, with cast and crew interviews. There’s also ‘The Curse of the Cybermen’s Tombs’ , focusing and examining on the ancient Egyptian connections to this story. There’s also an extensive documentary on ‘The Cybermen’ from both the classic and new series, presented by Matthew Sweet. There’s also a featurette on ‘The Magic of VidFIRE’, concerning how they remastered and restored the story for the special edition DVD release compared to the original. There’s an updated photo gallery of the story, a ‘Sky Ray’ advert; and PDF materials including ‘Sky Ray’ promo materials and a ‘Radio Times Listings’ of the story. There’s also some bonus Easter Eggs to look out on this DVD disc.
‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’ is a classic TV story from the Patrick Troughton era of ‘Doctor Who’. It’s a great one to enjoy with the Second Doctor, Jamie and Victoria and is one to treasure if you’re a Cybermen fan. I cherish this TV story with my DVD copy signed by Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling.
‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’ rating – 10/10
‘DOCTOR WHO AND THE TOMB OF THE CYBERMEN’
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Discovering More Cybermen On Telos
Back in the 60s, 70s and 80s, there wasn’t much available in terms of ‘Doctor Who’ stories!
The only way that fans could enjoy a ‘Doctor Who’ story again and again was by reading the Target novelizations provided for them, based on the original TV scripts when the stories were first transmitted. It must have been so exciting for fans to get a new novelization of a ‘Doctor Who’ story!
‘Doctor Who and the Tomb of the Cybermen’ was originally written and published in 1976, based on the original scripts of the TV story in 1967. In 2013, AudioGo produced a lavish audiobook on the Target novelization. This was read by Michael Kilgarriff with Nicholas Briggs as the Cybermen voices.
I purchased the audiobook whilst on holiday in Chester in the summer of 2013. I finished listening to the story whilst reading the book, which I purchased, in 2014. I enjoyed the experience of listening to the audiobook and reading the novel itself at the same time, as this kept my attention all the way.
The novelization was by Gerry Davis, who wrote the TV story and co-created the Cybermen with Kit Pedler. Beforehand, Davis wrote the TV story, ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’, with Tom Baker. Much of the influence from that TV story is very resonant in this novelization for ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen‘.
The novelization provides a richer atmosphere and setting to the story compared to what was shown on TV. The story feels more cinematic than before. It’s the same plot and character dialogue from the TV story, but it’s still enjoyable with more input in the characters’ thoughts and feelings in the book.
From the front cover of the book, it was originally intended to have Patrick Troughton’s Doctor against the Cybermen in their Tomb versions. But the BBC insisted that Target only used the current Doctor – Tom Baker – on the front covers, so it had to be abandoned which is a shame and annoying.
Instead, we have a Cyberman adorning the Tombs of Telos – yes it is the wrong Cyberman, I know! They used ‘The Invasion’ Cybermen for the front cover of the book. I like ‘The Invasion’ Cybermen very much, but it is odd they used them for the front cover of ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’ novelization.
Apparently it was the only Cyberman photo and portrait they had at the time for artist Jeff Cummins to contend with, which is strange. Despite what the front cover looks like, the story’s still pretty exciting. They updated the book cover with Patrick’s Doctor on it for the 1990s novelization, redrawn by Alister Pearson.*
The book begins with an introduction that details how the Cybermen came to be entombed on the planet Telos. This lasts for about a few pages. It’s an interesting introduction, although the writer seems to have made the mistake with stating the Cybermen originally came from Telos, not Mondas.
During the story, the Cyber Controller re-emphasises the point that they came from Mondas, contradicting the earlier statement made in the introduction. I don’t like continuity errors like that, especially when reading a novelization for a TV story or movie. What was Gerry Davis thinking here?!
In the story, we get to know more about the characters such as Victoria. Victoria wears a dress that she picked up from the TARDIS wardrobe, which was once worn by former companion Polly. This was very interesting. It should be noted when watching the story as to where she got the dress from.
Also, Victoria’s opinion of Kaftan changes from being an admirer of her to being shocked by her actions. This was interesting to read. Klieg’s intellectual snobbishness is emphasised strongly in the book, especially when he doubts about controlling the Cybermen until he has a moment of madness.
The question of how Telos should be pronounced in ‘Doctor Who’ is debatable during this book. Some say that ‘Telos’ should be pronounced as ‘Tee-los’; others say it should be pronounced as ‘Tel-los’. I prefer the latter, but it’s still an uncertainty that’s raised today even in ‘Doctor Who’ standards.
For the audiobook, the story is read by Michael Kilgarriff. Kilgarriff played the Cyber Controller in the TV version of ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’. It’s interesting he’s reading this, as he had nothing to say during the story. All he had to do was open and close his mouth with somebody else saying his lines.
It was great to hear Michael Kilgarriff read this story, since he’s a radio actor and has a deep voice to provide richness when voicing the characters and describing what goes on. I enjoyed listening to Michael’s reading. It was very unusual yet very exciting hearing the Cyber Controller in his real voice.
I like how Kilgarriff provided voices for the characters. I liked his interpretation of Viner, who’s very panicky and nervous when he’s in the Tombs of the Cybermen. Viner redeems himself when he attempts to shut down the frozen Cybermen’s revival, since he was intellectually dismissive at first.
I enjoyed Kilgarrif’s Scottish accent for Jamie, which helped to visualise him clearly. It’s not the clear Scottish accent that Frazer used in the TV series. It sounds more like Hamish Wilson’s voice actually. I found Kilgarriff’s voice for Klieg a little more aggressive compared to how George Pastell played him.
This was made up when Kilgarriff played Kaftan, providing her with silky and soothing Arabian tones. I also enjoyed how Kilgarriff read the quiet scene between the Doctor and Victoria, also included in the book as well as the TV story. This was a lighter and calmer scene compared to the action scenes.
However, I don’t think Kilgarriff gets the voices right for Victoria and the Doctor in the audiobook. But it didn’t distract me whilst I was reading the book and listening to the audiobook at the same time. It’s still a nice scene and was calmly read throughout, just as it was when I saw it in the TV tale.
The Cybermen voices are provided by Nicholas Briggs during certain chapters of the story. This was mostly in the later half of Disc 3 and on Disc 4. Nick Briggs does wonders with the Cybermen voices, making them sound like they were in the TV story. The Cybermen voices are low and very electronic.
Nick provides the right pitch and level for the voices when the Cybermen speak to the characters. I like how Nick did that slow-motion sequence when the Cyber Controller couldn’t get into the revitalization chamber. It matched exactly what was shown in the TV story, which I enjoyed so much.
The Cybermen were great in the book, as their dialogue matched with what was in the TV story. The Cyber Controller sounds the same, although he has a blackened head which he didn’t have in the TV story. This was because Gerry Davis followed on from what he wrote in ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’.
The Cyber Leader in ‘Revenge’ had a black head in that. I don’t think Gerry Davis should have done that, as it deceives the readers from what was in the actual TV story when it was shown. The Cybermats also derive slightly from ‘Revenge’. They’ve stings in their tales instead of gnashing teeth.
At the time the book was published, ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’ was a lost story from the BBC Archives. Gerry Davis had to rely on imagination and experience to convey what he remembered from the story to make it rich and exciting. It was before the TV story was found Hong Kong in 1992!
On the CDs themselves, the endings of each disc don’t match to what was on shown in the TV story. Most of the endings overlap from the original cliff-hangers. The first disc ends with Klieg causing a tremor in the Tomb building with a power overload. The Doctor berates Klieg as from the TV version.
The second disc ends with Kaftan closing the hatch, locking the Doctor and party inside the tombs. And the third disc ends with Captain Hopper leaving the Tomb building after saving the Doctor and the others from the Cybermen, after locking them down in their tombs with the tomb hatch closed.
The novel ends rather abruptly with the Doctor and the others saying goodbye to Professor Parry, with him apologising for all of the deaths that happened and the Doctor saying “I know, I know.” So structurally, the story is different compared to what was shown on TV, both in novel and audiobook.
I enjoyed reading and listening to ‘Doctor Who and the Tomb of the Cybermen’. It must have been exciting for fans to read this book when the story wasn’t available back in the day. I enjoyed the audiobook with Michael Kilgarriff reading it and Nicholas Briggs providing the Cybermen voices in it.
It’s such an interesting addition to the classic Cybermen story shown on TV that provides more depth and insight. It was really enjoyable to experience more of the classic story in prose form as well as on the audiobook. It’s not exactly a great experience, but it was fun and interesting all the same in this.
*Thanks to Paul Cowan who rightly pointed out to me that it was Jeff Cummins who did the original Target novelization cover, not Alister Pearson.
‘Doctor Who and the Tomb of the Cybermen’ rating – 8/10
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