The story features the return of Lytton, last seen in Resurrection of the Daleks and the Cyber-Controller, last seen in The Tomb of the Cybermen. It introduces the Cryons, the native race of Telos, whose world was occupied by the Cybermen. It was the first Doctor Who story to be produced in forty-five-minute episodes, and the first since Resurrection of the Daleks to be aired in the format. Both methods would see their end in the 1963 series with Revelation of the Daleks ; 45-minute episodes would not reappear until Rose, the first episode of the show's 2005 revival. From that point on, the 45-minute format would become the norm for Doctor Who.
This episode is notable for featuring the first instance where the chameleon circuit within the Doctor's TARDIS is shown operational- since the very first episode of the series, it was known to have suffered from a fault that left it in the shape of a police box. Now temporarily repaired, the outer shell of the TARDIS is witnessed changing shape for the first time on-screen. However, the repairs are imperfect and the TARDIS assumes random forms against the Doctor's will, some of which do not blend well with the places it lands and make it hard to tell where to reenter the machine. The chameleon circuit soon breaks down and the TARDIS becomes locked in its police box form once again.
Attack of the Cybermen was singled out[says who?] for criticism for Season 22 for being overly-violent, and is often viewed[by whom?][source needed] as a microcosm of Season 22's violent content. The scenes of Cybermen killing people with their bare hands were the central issue, as was the Doctor visibly gunning down several Cybermen in another scene.[says who?]
It was also a prime example of an occasion where the Doctor greatly misjudged someone's pure motives, namely he assumed that Lytton was working with the Cybermen instead of against them. His actions here indirectly led to Lytton's death, and the Doctor stated that he's never quite misjudged someone that badly before, and swore never to do so again.
While trying to fix the TARDIS's chameleon circuit, the Sixth Doctor returns to Foreman's Yard on Totter's Lane in 1985, where he meets his old enemies the Cybermen. They have come from the future to change history by sending Halley's Comet crashing into Earth. Lytton, last seen working for the Daleks, is involved in the Cybermen's plot. Is Lytton working for the Cybermen, himself or someone else?
Part one Edit
Two workmen are inspecting a London sewer. They find a new brick wall where none should be. One of them wanders off and vanishes, while his colleague is attacked by an unseen assailant.
The Sixth Doctor is performing repairs to the TARDIS' chameleon circuit, something he has meant to do for years, but Peri is worried that he is over-exerting himself following his recent regeneration. She suggests he get some rest. He responds that she could also use some relaxation and steers the TARDIS towards Earth. Something begins to draw them off course.
Back in London, the stranded mercenary Lytton now leads a small gang of criminals. They are planning their next job, a diamond heist. One man, Russell, is sent to procure explosives, but instead phones someone to tell them what Lytton is planning.
The TARDIS is undamaged and now following Halley's Comet towards Earth in 1985. The Doctor decides to investigate what affected their flight, despite Peri's misgivings about the comet's reputation as a signal of impending doom. Lytton's gang enters the sewers via a prepared entrance concealed beneath a garage, planning to blow their way into the diamond vault from below. Before he joins them, Lytton adjusts a piece of advanced technology while his two police allies patrol the street.
The TARDIS lands in the scrapyard at 76 Totter's Lane, having tracked a distress signal nearby. To Peri's amusement, the chameleon circuit alters the appearance to a painted french dresser, inconsistent with a junkyard. As the Doctor and Peri search for the signal's source, they are silently stalked by the policemen.
In the sewers, Russell hears someone following the four thieves. Lytton orders Payne to remain behind to "deal" with whoever is following them while he, Russell and Griffiths proceed into the dark tunnels. Payne is attacked and killed by the shadowy assailant. When he realises the distress signal is relayed via multiple points in the city, the Doctor decides someone must be observing the transmitter to determine when help arrives. The TARDIS, now a pipe organ, materialises at the garage. When he sees the absurd form his TARDIS has assumed, the frustrated Doctor remarks, "This is getting ridiculous". In a moment of whimsy, he plays the opening notes of J. S. Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D minor" before Peri puts him back on task. The Doctor and Peri find the sewer entrance and the armed policemen, whom they overcome before venturing into the sewers. In the dark, they soon find Payne's body.
When Lytton's gang reach the newly built wall, Griffiths begins to knock down some of the old brickwork to reach the vault. When the black figure appears in the tunnel, Russell flees while Griffiths shoots at it. Lytton forces Griffiths not to panic as the new wall slides back to reveal Cybermen in a hidden command centre. Lytton surrenders. He explains his extra-terrestrial nature to the Cyber-Leader and offers to serve the Cyber race. The leader states the Cyber-Controller on Telos will determine their fate.
On Telos, a group of partially cyber-converted prisoners toil in a quarry under Cyberman guards. Three of the prisoners attempt an escape. Only two make it out alive. The men, Bates and Stratton, need a third to operate the ship they plan to leave Telos in. Despite this setback, they continue with their plan and head for the Cyber-control building. They accost a Cyber-scout on the way and decapitate him, planning to hollow out his head for a disguise.
Russell finds the Doctor and Peri. He reveals he is an undercover police officer. The Doctor disarms him and learns he was investigating Lytton, who appeared suddenly a year earlier and committed several daring crimes with great skill to build his transmitter and who the Doctor had dealt with before during an incident with the Daleks. They return to the TARDIS, disabling the black Cyber-scout with a sonic lance on the way. However, some Cybermen are already inside the TARDIS and kill Russell. The leader, flanked by several other Cybermen, herds Lytton and Griffiths in the ship. The leader orders one of the Cybermen to destroy Peri at once...
Part two Edit
The Doctor agrees to co-operate with the Cybermen if Peri is spared on the word of the leader and Cyber-Controller, whom the Doctor believed dead. He sets the TARDIS coordinates for Telos and is placed in another room with Peri, Griffiths and Lytton. Lytton explains that the Cybermen have captured a timeship that landed on Telos and have great plans for that ship and the TARDIS as well. The Doctor asks how Lytton knows so much about Telos and the Cybermen's plans, but he does not answer. The Doctor explains to Peri and Griffiths that the Cybermen came to Telos and annihilated the native Cryons to use their refrigerated cities to store cyber troops after the destruction of Mondas, partially at the Doctor's hand, in 1986.
The Doctor sabotages the navigational controls with the sonic lance, causing the TARDIS to land in the catacombs, rather than Cyber-control, whereupon it assumes the shape of a gateway. The Cybermen are attacked by a rogue Cyberman, one of many driven insane by faulty tombs. The distraction allows Peri, Lytton and Griffiths to escape. Peri is rescued by Cryon freedom fighters, more of whom find Lytton and Griffiths, explaining that they answered Lytton's distress call and he manipulated the Cybermen into bringing him to Telos. The Cryons have hired him to help them stop the Cybermen from destroying Telos when they have revived all their troops and left. Lytton's mission is to steal the time vessel to prevent the Controller's plan from succeeding. He in turn needs Griffiths to keep him alive long enough to make it to the ship, paying him with a fortune in diamonds, which are very common on Telos.
Meanwhile, the Doctor is confined in a cold storage room, where he meets a Cryon prisoner, Flast. Flast says a few Cryons survived the Cybermen purges. They are fighting a guerrilla war, sabotaging the tombs to delay the revivals. She outlines the Cybermen's plan to prevent Mondas' destruction by travelling back in the time vessel and diverting Halley's Comet into Earth before Mondas has absorbed too much energy.
Lytton and Griffiths track down the two escaped prisoners outside the city and convince the groups to ally themselves with each other to capture the time vessel, which needs at least three crewmen to operate. Lytton explains that the ship is their only hope and that it will arrive soon. They head into a hidden tunnel, which leads to Cyber-control. As they approach the landing pad, Lytton is captured by a Cyberman patrol while the others continue without him.
The Doctor is outraged at the Cybermen's plan. Saving Mondas would contravene the laws of time. He is surprised the Time Lords are not doing something to stop it. He realises it must have been his own people who sent the TARDIS off course and manipulated him into place to be their agent yet again. Flast shows the Doctor what is in the storeroom - boxes of vastial, a common Telosian mineral, highly volatile above freezing. The Doctor uses a small amount to escape the room and kill the guard, leaving his sonic lance with Flast. She cannot leave the room without being boiled alive by the above-zero temperatures in the corridor, but volunteers to use the lance to detonate the vastial and destroy cyber-control.
Lytton is tortured by the Cyber-controller for information before being forced to undergo cyber-conversion. The Doctor and Peri make their way separately to the TARDIS where, to lure the Cyberman guards out, the Doctor activates a distress beacon on the body of a dead Cyberman. Before being forced into the corridor and perishing, Flast hides the sonic lance in a box of vastial, where it slowly warms up. When the time vessel lands at the platform, the would-be hijackers (Bates, Stratton and Griffiths) try to board it, but are mercilessly cut down by the Cybermen inside. As the guards leave the TARDIS, the Cryons destroy them at the cost of their leader's life.
The new Cryon leader, Rost, urges the Doctor to leave before Flast's explosion is triggered. The Doctor prepares to go, but Peri urges him to go back and rescue Lytton who, for once, was helping the right side. The TARDIS materialises in the conversion centre (taking the form of a police box), but it is too late to save Lytton, who begs the Doctor to kill him. The Cyber-Controller arrives to stop the Doctor, who surreptitiously puts a scalpel in Lytton's hand. Lytton waits until the Controller is next to him and stabs him in the arm, which is the distraction the Doctor needs. He takes the Controller's weapon and kills the Leader, the Lieutenant and the Controller himself, but not before Lytton is killed. The TARDIS leaves moments before Cyber-control explodes, leaving the Doctor to reflect on his misjudgment of Lytton.
- The Doctor - Colin Baker
- Peri - Nicola Bryant
- Lytton - Maurice Colbourne
- Griffiths - Brian Glover
- Russell - Terry Molloy
- Payne - James Beckett
- Cyber Leader - David Banks
- Cyber-Controller - Michael Kilgarriff
- Flast - Faith Brown
- Varne - Sarah Greene
- Bates - Michael Attwell
- Stratton - Jonathan David
- Cyber-Lieutenant - Brian Orrell
- Cyberman - John Ainley
- Bill - Stephen Churchett
- David - Stephen Wale
- Rost - Sarah Berger
- Threst - Esther Freud
Uncredited cast Edit
- Assistant Floor Manager - Pennie Bloomfield
- Costumes - Anushia Nieradzik
- Designer - Marjorie Pratt
- Film Cameraman - Godfrey Johnson
- Film Editor - M A C Adams
- Film Sound - Barrie Tharby
- Incidental Music - Malcolm Clarke
- Make-Up - Linda McInnes
- Producer - John Nathan-Turner
- Production Assistant - Llinos Wyn Jones
- Production Associate - June Collins, Sue Anstruther
- Script Editor - Eric Saward
- Special Sounds - Dick Mills
- Studio Lighting - Henry Barber
- Studio Sound - Andy Stacey
- Theme Arrangement - Peter Howell
- Title Music - Ron Grainer
- Visual Effects - Chris Lawson
- Cryons are native to Telos.
- The Doctor almost fixes the TARDIS chameleon circuit. It becomes an ornamental wardrobe, a pipe organ, and a metal gateway.
References from the real world Edit
- The Doctor and Peri view Halley's Comet from the TARDIS.
- The Doctor plays the opening of J. S. Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D minor" on the TARDIS "organ".
- Peri tells the Doctor he doesn't have to play the Lone Ranger.
Story notes Edit
- There is some contention over who exactly wrote Attack of the Cybermen — it was written under the pseudonym Paula Moore. Paula Woolsey and Eric Saward apparently worked together to write the story, with contributions from Ian Levine. However, Levine claims that he wrote the narrative, which was then developed into a script by Saward. Saward denies this, and affirms that he wrote the final script and the majority of the narrative, with contributions from Levine, and to a very minor extent, Woolsey.
- Attack of the Cybermen was first broadcast in two weekly parts; beginning with this serial and continuing for the remainder of Season 22, episodes were forty-five minutes in length (as opposed to previous episodes which were twenty-five minutes long) for syndication. In some markets, this serial is re-edited into four twenty-five-minute segments. The cliffhangers to parts one and three are the emergence of the Cybermen from sewer control and Flast's revelation that the Cybermen intend to prevent Mondas' destruction, respectively.
- Atypically for the title sequence used from Seasons 18 through 23, the story title and author credit are rendered in all capital letters.
- This story had the working title The Cold War.
- This is Terry Molloy's only on screen appearance in Doctor Who playing a character other than Davros.
- The Radio Times programme listing for part one was accompanied by a black and white photograph of a Cyberman, plus a full-length black and white photographic cut-out image of the Doctor, topped with the neon Doctor Who logo, with the accompanying caption "A sinister subterranean encounter in the sewers of London between the Doctor and his old adversaries, the Cybermen / BBC1, 5.20 p.m. Doctor Who".
- This story reuses some incidental music from TV: Earthshock.
- This story introduced the Sixth Doctor's spiritual equivalent of the sonic screwdriver, a portable sonic lance, after the screwdriver had been written out in TV: The Visitation.
- When the Doctor and Peri observe Halley's Comet, the background music is Malcolm Clarke's music for the 1981 BBC documentary The Comet is Coming. The original music can be heard on the CD BBC Radiophonic Workshop – A Retrospective.
- When the TARDIS lands in the junkyard, the music playing is a distorted version of the theme music to Steptoe and Son, a BBC sitcom about a couple of rag-and-bone men. The original music was written by Ron Grainer, who also wrote the Doctor Who theme.
- This story was chosen by fans to represent the Colin Baker era by fans to be rebroadcast for Doctor Who @40.
- In A History of the Universe and the first two editions of aHistory, the scenes set on Telos are arbitrarily dated to 2530, as it is set after The Tomb of the Cybermen. The third edition redates it to circa 2495, based on evidence from the Cyberman audio series.
- This story is the last in which a pseudonym is credited as the writer.
- Part one - 8.9 million viewers
- Part two - 7.2 million viewers
- This story replaced one called The Opera of Doom, featuring Jago and Litefoot, Padmasambhava, Omega, the Master, the Rills and the Cybermen. (This was a rumour deliberately started by fans and printed as fact in the news magazine DWB.)
Filming locations Edit
- Glenthorne Road (UCI House), Hammersmith, London
- Davis Road, London, W3
- Birkbeck Road, Acton
- Becklow Road, London, W12
- Gerrards Cross Sand and Gravel Quarry, Gerrards Cross
- BBC Television Centre (TC6), Shepherd's Bush, London
Production errors Edit
- The scorch mark on the TARDIS wall, caused by Russell firing one of the Cybermen's weapons, is present several scenes before the actual event takes place.
- When Flast is being dragged out of the refrigerated chamber, a couple of the floor crew can be seen kneeling behind some boxes on the right-hand of the screen.
- Near the end of part one, a Cyberman gets shot in the mouth by Russell. When the Cyberman falls, the back of the actor's head is clearly visible.
- The Doctor decides to find a pleasant destination as a break from "the bleakness of Jaconda" (TV: The Twin Dilemma)
- Once the chameleon circuit begins functioning again, the TARDIS lands at 76 Totter's Lane, the location where its police box exterior was imprinted on it. (TV: An Unearthly Child)
- The Cybermen attempt to prevent the upcoming destruction of Mondas in December 1986. (TV: The Tenth Planet)
- The Doctor and the Cybermen discuss their previous interaction on Telos. (TV: The Tomb of the Cybermen)
- The Cybermen once again utilise the London sewers. (TV: The Invasion)
- The Doctor recalls meeting Lytton while he was working for the Daleks. (TV: Resurrection of the Daleks)
- The Cybermen have a spaceship on the dark side of the Moon. They previously had a base there. (TV: The Invasion)
- Shortly afterwards, the Doctor and Peri would return to the London sewers as the Doctor detected a Time Wake in the Time Vortex, which linked London in January 1986 to London in 1720. (PROSE: Time Wake)
- Peri claims that this is her first visit to London, although she previously visited the city in the company of the Fifth Doctor and Erimem in both 1597 and 1483. (AUDIO: The Kingmaker). However, from Peri's point of view, it was the first time that she visited London in her own era.
- The Doctor and Peri would later encounter time travelling Cybermen from the distant future in Fell's Point, Baltimore, Maryland, USA in September 1984. (AUDIO: The Reaping)
- The Doctor temporarily repairs the TARDIS' chameleon circuit. His fourth incarnation considered the idea of his future self repairing it "vulgar" (AUDIO: The Light at the End) though the Fourth Doctor would try to repair it himself close to the end of his life. (TV: Logopolis)
- The Doctor kept a Cryon pendant in his C chest. (AUDIO: The Carrionite Curse)
DVD, Video and CD Releases Edit
VHS RELEASE Edit
- Attack of the Cybermen was released in a tin boxed set with The Tenth Planet in 2000 on VHS.
- Editing for the VHS and DVD releases was completed by the Doctor Who Restoration Team.
DVD release EditAttack Of The Cybermen was released on DVD in the UK in March 2009.
Bonus Features Edit
- The Cold War - The making of Attack of the Cybermen.
- The Cyber Story -A brief history of the Cybermen in the classic series.
- Human Cyborg
- The Cyber-generations - A gallery of Cybermen throughout the series.
- Coming Soon - Image of the Fendahl.
- Easter egg - On the second page of the Special Features menu, move down to "The Cyber Generations" then hit left. The Doctor Who logo will appear on the screen, and clicking on this will take you into "The Cybernetic Autonomous Dalek", a short extra piece with Professor Kevin Warwick.
- Attack of the Cybermen at the BBC's official site
- Attack of the Cybermen at RadioTimes
- Attack of the Cybermen at BroaDWcast
- Attack of the Cybermen at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- Attack of the Cybermen at The Locations Guide