Revenge of the Cybermen was the fifth and final story of season 12 of Doctor Who. The story saw the return of the Cybermen as lead villains for the first time since The Invasion in 1968 and their only appearance (barring flashbacks) until Earthshock in 1982.
It was not originally intended as the finale of season 12. The next story to air (Terror of the Zygons) was originally filmed as the finale of season 12, but it did not air until the following thirteenth season.
The story was partially filmed at Wookey Hole Caves, a location renowned for bad luck. As if to confirm local superstition about the site, an electrician broke his leg, Elisabeth Sladen's motorboat went out of control, and stuntman Terry Walsh was injured getting her out of the water and ended up in hospital. (DWM 297)
Arriving on Space Station Nerva in its distant past, the Doctor, Sarah and Harry find its crew threatened by a mysterious plague. Discovering that things are not as they seem, they stumble upon a plan to commit genocide, devised by the Doctor's old enemies, the Cybermen.
Part one Edit
The Fourth Doctor, Harry and Sarah Jane spin through time and space back to Space Station Nerva. They land in the control room they left when they last beamed down to Earth, but Sarah notices the TARDIS is not there. The Doctor says the time ship is drifting back in time towards them and they just need to wait for her to catch up. He leaves the Time Ring behind, prompting Harry to claim ownership of it. Before Harry can even touch it, the Time Ring vanishes, returning to its place of origin with the Time Lords. A door slides open, revealing a dead body and many more beyond, littering the outer ring of the station.
In a communications room, crewman Warner warns off an approaching spaceship from Nerva Beacon, which is under plague quarantine. Professor Kellman, a planetary surveyor, asks Commander Stevenson how long they can run a fifty-man station with three men, but the other officer, Lester, thinks they can manage. Nerva is on a thirty-year assignment to warn ships away from Voga, the new asteroid it is orbiting, until its presence is updated on all the starcharts of inbound ships.
The time travellers find a sealed door leading to Section Q. The Doctor surmises that this is the same station they left, but thousands of years in the past, before solar flares devastated Earth. As the Doctor tries to get through the door, the trio fail to see a silver, snake-like creature — a Cybermat — crawling around the bodies behind them.
Somewhere else, an alien tries to contact Nerva and barely gets through to Warner before he is shot by two more of his own kind. The only place the signal could have come from is Voga, but Kellman tells Warner that he set up the transmat station there and spent six months cataloguing its rocks. Voga had drifted into the solar system fifty years before and had been captured by Jupiter's gravity. An asteroid of that size drifting between star systems could not support life, he says, and he warns against going down to Voga and spreading the plague. Warner logs the call anyway. The Doctor opens the sealed door, which activates an alarm.
On Voga, Vorus, leader of the Guardians of the mines, orders his men to bury the dead Vogan that was shot earlier. Magrik, his aide, tells him that the dead Vogan was frightened of Vorus's plan. Vorus tells him that they can trust their agent on Nerva. Gold buys humans, and they have more gold on Voga than in the rest of the galaxy. The reason the agent had not contacted them is probably because the Cybermen are monitoring transmissions.
In the communications room, the Cybermat attacks Warner, biting him before it is thrown off. Warner collapses, glowing veins appearing on his face, while Kellman enters and pulls the magnetic log tape from the console. Meanwhile, the Doctor, Harry and Sarah have reached the forward control room mere seconds before Lester and Stevenson enter, levelling their weapons at them. The door behind them slides open to reveal the communications room, and Kellman brings Stevenson to Warner's fallen form.
When Stevenson sees that his crewman has the plague, he prepares to shoot Warner to halt the infection's spread, but the Doctor stops him. The Doctor lies, saying that they are a medical team sent from Earth, and convinces Stevenson to let Harry examine Warner. They take Warner to the crew quarters as Kellman returns to his own room and spies on the Doctor and Stevenson in the communications room using an assembled device. Stevenson tells the Doctor about the asteroid, formerly Neo Phobos, but renamed Voga by Kellman. The Doctor recognises the name, Voga, the Planet of Gold, and realises that Cybermen are involved. Stevenson says the Cybermen died out centuries before, but the Doctor points out they merely vanished after attacking Voga at the end of the last Cyber-War. Hearing all this, Kellman contacts a Cybership nearby, its crew commanded by a Cyber-Leader with a black helmet. The ship moves towards Nerva.
Warner is dead. When the Doctor examines the body, he finds two puncture wounds, indicating that Warner was injected with poison and confirming the Doctor's suspicion that there is no plague. The Doctor says that if he had seen Warner earlier he might have been able to use Nerva's transmat to filter out the poison from his system. The Doctor has another suspicion; investigating Kellman's quarters, he finds the communications device as well as some gold. The Doctor hides when Kellman returns, but Kellman realises that someone has been inside the room. He sabotages the room, electrifying the floor and sending gas pouring up from it. Keeping off the floor, the Doctor reaches the door to open it with his sonic screwdriver.
Meanwhile, Sarah turns off a monitor she has been watching and turns around, only to be attacked by the Cybermat.
Part two Edit
The Doctor escapes Kellman's room and hears Sarah scream. He throws the Cybermat to the floor and kills it with gold dust, but Sarah has already been bitten. The Doctor carries her to the transmat chamber, handing her to Harry, and prepares to beam them down to Voga and back. However, Kellman has taken the transmat's pentalium drive. The Doctor reconfigures the transmat to bypass the sabotaged system while Stevenson and Lester go to confront Kellman. On Voga, Vorus sees a giant rocket, the Sky Striker. He tells Magrik his agent has informed them that the Cybermen are heading for the beacon. Vorus wants the Sky Striker fitted with its bomb head in four hours.
The Doctor jury rigs the transmat, and Harry and Sarah beam down to Voga. With the poison filtered out, Sarah instantly recovers. As Harry notices that the cavern floor is littered with gold, Vogans arrive and capture them. Harry and Sarah are brought before Vorus, who wants to know who is still alive on Nerva. However, the answers will have to wait. Harry and Sarah are taken away while Vorus answers a call from Councillor Tyrum, who arranges for them to meet.
Lester and Stevenson capture Kellman. The Doctor explains that the Cybermen fear Voga because gold, a noncorrosive substance, plates their breathing apparatus and suffocates them. The Doctor cannot get Harry and Sarah back without the pentalium drive, but Kellman feigns ignorance, trying to buy time until the Cybermen arrive. The Doctor uses a control box he found in Kellman's room to activate a Cybermat, threatening Kellman with it until he reveals that the drive is around his neck.
Harry and Sarah are chained in a cave. Harry notes that the chains are solid gold, soft metal through which they may be able to file. Meanwhile, Tyrum tells Vorus that he knows that aliens have come to Voga. He also knows that Vorus wants Voga to emerge as a trading power again and not hide from the Cybermen, who apparently disappeared centuries ago. Tyrum no longer trusts Vorus or the Guardians and will send his militia to take over the mines. Vorus is furious, but Tyrum says his troops have orders to crush any resistance.
Fighting breaks out in the mines between the Guardians and the militia. Vorus tells Magrik to keep Tyrum from finding out about the Sky Striker and to kill the two humans immediately. Harry and Sarah have freed themselves, however, and get away before the execution team arrives. They are pursued by more Guardians, who fire at them. Harry and Sarah are cornered and about to be shot when militia troops appear, forcing the Guardians to stand down.
The Doctor has repaired the transmat but cannot lock onto Harry and Sarah as they have left the receptor circle. Lester detects an incoming ship, but it does not respond to their signals. As the Cybership docks, the Doctor recognises it for what it is but cannot lock the hatch. The Cybermen enter, as if in a funeral march or procession. Lester and Stevenson shoot at the Cybermen, but the Cybermen return fire and shoot sizzling balls of light from their head ports on their foreheads that take Lester and Stevenson down. The Doctor tries to sneak away, but the Cybermen shoot him several times and he lies on the floor, looking dead. One of the Cybermen reports that all resistance is overcome. The leader then proclaims, "The Beacon is ours!"
Part three Edit
The Cyber-Leader tells Kellman that the three men are not dead, merely neutralised; they are necessary to their plan. Kellman set the transmat receptors mere yards from a shaft that leads into the core of Voga. The environment is hostile to Cybermen. The three men will carry explosives to Voga and destroy the asteroid. Kellman insists on going down to Voga first to check that the transmat is functioning properly, and the Cyber-Leader beams him down. There, he runs into some militia. Not realising the distinction between them and the Guardians, he demands to see Vorus and is taken away while trying to warn them that they are all in danger. Meanwhile, Harry and Sarah are brought before Tyrum and tell their story. When Harry mentions the cybermats, Tyrum asks Harry and Sarah to accompany him to confront Vorus.
The Doctor wonders what Kellman's reward is, if it is not Voga's gold. He taunts the Cyber-Leader, saying that the Cybermen were finished once humans discovered their weakness to gold and ended the Cyber-Wars. The Cyber-Leader tells the Doctor that is why Voga must be destroyed before the Cybermen resume their campaign. The Cyber-Leader says Kellman was promised the rule of the solar system after the Cybermen have conquered it.
With Cyberbombs strapped to their backs, the Doctor, Lester and Stevenson are briefed. They are to plant the bombs in the core of the planet, after which they have fourteen minutes to return and escape via transmat. If they try to remove their harnesses before they reach the target zone, a secondary explosion will kill them. Their progress will be followed by radar. They beam down, accompanied by two Cybermen. Militia arrive and start to fire on the Cybermen, who make short work of the Vogans. None of the three men believe that the Cyber-Leader will keep his word and and let them escape, but they have to keep moving towards the target zone as they are being monitored. On Nerva, the Cyber-Leader declares that Kellman is of no further use to them.
Tyrum questions Kellman, who tells him that he and Vorus were working to lure the Cybermen to the beacon, which Vorus has targeted with a rocket. At that moment, a militia man arrives to tell Tyrum about the arrival of the Cybermen, and their weapons are useless. Kellman urges them to use the rocket. Tyrum orders his men to use every weapon they can while he speaks to Vorus. Harry tells Sarah to get back to Nerva to warn the Doctor while he tries to stop the rocket from being fired.
When Tyrum tells Vorus about the Cybermen on Voga, he shows Tyrum the Sky Striker, on which he has been working for two years. With the Cybermen already on Voga, they have no time to get it ready. Vorus claims his plans were to free his people from the fear of the Cybermen and bring them back into the light. Tyrum scoffs. Vorus has allied himself with Kellman, a double agent and murderer, motivated solely by the promise of gold. Harry suggests finding another way into the core to stop the bombs.
The Cybermen continue their slaughter of the Vogans as the bomb timer ticks. Sarah transmats back to Nerva, where she overhears the Cybermen monitoring the three men's progress. However, the deeper the three men go, the more the gold interferes with the radar. The men continue onward to the centre of the asteroid.
Harry and Kellman, meanwhile, crawl down a cross shaft towards the same place. With the exit blocked, Harry pushes against the rocks, causing a rock slide. Kellman pushes Harry out of the way, only to be crushed to death by a boulder. On the other side, rocks rain down on the Doctor. Harry exits the shaft and finds the Doctor unconscious. Not knowing the danger, Harry tries to unbuckle the Doctor's harness.
Part four Edit
Lester recovers and stops Harry from unbuckling the harness. The Doctor then recovers and asks Harry if he caused the rockfall, and Harry replies he must have. The Doctor then yells, "Harry Sullivan is an imbecile!", before passing out. Now recovered, the Doctor conceives a plan. Stevenson will go on and create a radar trail, while the rest use the cross shaft to surprise and attack the Cybermen with gold. The Doctor and Harry jump the two Cybermen, trying to push gold dust into their chest plates, but the Cybermen are too strong, and Harry and the Doctor are forced to retreat. Lester leaps onto the Cybermen and undoes his harness, the explosion killing himself and the Cybermen.
With the loss of contact, the Cyber-Leader orders immediate detonation. Sarah tries to stop them but is thrown to the floor. However, when the button is pressed, no explosion follows. The Doctor has disarmed the countdown device, which allows him to release his harness safely. With Sarah tied up, the Cyber-Leader now plans to send Nerva, loaded with more Cyberbombs, into Voga's centre to destroy it.
Magrik tells Vorus that the Sky Striker is ready, but before he can launch it, the Doctor asks them to give him fifteen minutes to transmat to Nerva and deal with the Cybermen himself, armed with a bag of gold dust. If he does not contact them in that time, they can launch the rocket.
The Doctor reaches Nerva and frees Sarah while the Cybermen are loading the bombs. He takes the Cybermat and its control box, filling the Cybermat with gold dust. He sends the Cybermat to attack a Cyberman, injecting him with the dust and killing him. As Nerva begins to move towards Voga, Vorus sees this and tries to fire the rocket. Tyrum shoots Vorus, but as the Guardian dies, he triggers the launch.
The Doctor and Sarah's attack on the remaining Cybermen fails; the Doctor is forced by the Cyber-Leader to tie himself and Sarah up, and they are left to perish in the crash. However, the Sky Striker is approaching just as fast. The Doctor unties them both and contacts Voga, instructing them to steer the rocket towards the Cybership that is just leaving. The Sky Striker veers away from Nerva and destroys the Cybership instead. However, the beacon is still on a collision course. The Doctor unlocks the gyro controls, skimming Nerva just above Voga's surface until they reach the other side of the asteroid and open space.
The TARDIS materialises in the control room just as Harry arrives via transmat. The Doctor tells his companions to hurry up; he's received a message from Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart through the space-time telegraph the Doctor left him, which means it is a grave emergency. Although Harry asks if they should say good-bye to the Commander, Sarah tells him not to argue. The three rush into the TARDIS, and it dematerialises.
- Doctor Who - Tom Baker
- Sarah Jane Smith - Elisabeth Sladen
- Harry Sullivan - Ian Marter
- Commander Stevenson - Ronald Leigh-Hunt
- Lester - William Marlowe
- Kellman - Jeremy Wilkin
- Tyrum - Kevin Stoney
- Vorus - David Collings
- Warner - Alec Wallis
- Magrik - Michael Wisher
- Sheprah - Brian Grellis
- Cyber-Leader - Christopher Robbie
- First Cyberman - Melville Jones
Uncredited cast Edit
- Cybermen - Tony Lord, Pat Gorman (DWM 297)
- Voice of Colville - Michael Wisher (DWM 297)
- Vogans - Cy Town, David Billa, Leslie Weeks, Roy Caesar, Barry Summerford, Harry Fielder, David Sulkin (DWM 297)
- Assistant Floor Manager - Rosemary Hester, Russ Karel
- Costumes - Prue Handley
- Designer - Roger Murray-Leach
- Film Cameraman - Elmer Cossey
- Film Editor - Sheila S Tomlinson
- Film Sound - John Gatland
- Incidental Music - Carey Blyton, Peter Howell
- Make-Up - Cecile Hay-Arthur
- Producer - Philip Hinchcliffe
- Production Assistant - John Bradburn
- Production Unit Manager - George Gallaccio
- Script Editor - Robert Holmes
- Special Sounds - Dick Mills
- Studio Lighting - Derek Slee
- Studio Sound - Norman Bennett
- Theme Arrangement - Delia Derbyshire
- Title Music - Ron Grainer
- Visual Effects Designer - James Ward
Transport technology Edit
- During the Cyber-Wars, the glittergun was used to great effect by humanity.
- The Armageddon Convention banned Cyberbombs, two of which could destroy Voga.
Cultural references Edit
- The Doctor quotes Macbeth.
- The Doctor claims to have been taught how to tie a Turk's head knot by Harry Houdini.
Story notes Edit
- This is the first story to feature the Cybermen since The Invasion in 1968.
- Revenge of the Cybermen introduced a new form of Cybermat and the title of "Cyber-Leader". It was also the first time a Cyberman had had a black helmet.
- The BBC Radiophonic Workshop's Peter Howell, later to become one of the series' regular incidental music composers, made his uncredited debut on this story when he was asked by producer Philip Hinchcliffe to add to, and enhance, the score provided by Carey Blyton.
- This story had working titles of Return of the Cybermen and The Revenge of the Cybermen. Also, each of the four episodes had its own individual title, even though this practice had been discontinued back in 1966, with season three's The Gunfighters being the last to feature them. These were "The Beacon in Space", "The Plague Carriers", "The Gold Miners" and "The Battle for the Nerva".
- A number of sets in this story were reused from The Ark in Space, which was recorded immediately before it.
- Elisabeth Sladen is credited as "Sarah Jane" in Radio Times for parts one to three.
- Ronald Leigh-Hunt (Commander Stevenson) is credited as "Commander" in Radio Times for part one.
- The Cybermen's voices were provided for the first time by the actors inside the costumes.
- The symbol seen hanging in the Vogan audience chamber (and smaller versions on the Vogan costumes) would later be reused in The Deadly Assassin by Roger Murray-Leach, and become better known thereafter as the Seal of Rassilon.
- Between the broadcast of parts one and two, William Hartnell, the First Doctor, passed away. Coincidentally, he died during broadcast of a serial that served to reintroduce the Cybermen. His final solo appearance, The Tenth Planet, as the Doctor occurred during the serial that introduced them.
- This marks the final appearance of the Cybermats in the classic series. They would appear in the Doctor Who: The Adventure Games 2010 instalment Blood of the Cybermen, but they would not make a televised return until Closing Time, a full thirty-six years after this serial.
- After being absent from the last two stories, the TARDIS appears on-screen for the first time since The Ark in Space.
- At the time of its broadcast, and until the broadcast of Earthshock in 1982, Revenge of the Cybermen was the only complete Cybermen story in existence; all previous stories featuring them either being incomplete or, in the case of The Tomb of the Cybermen, having been junked entirely by the BBC. It remained the earliest complete Cybermen story until the recovery of The Tomb of the Cybermen in the early 1990s.
- Part three of the story is the 400th episode of Doctor Who.
- This is the first Cyberman story not to include an appearance by the Second Doctor.
- In A History of the Universe and aHistory, this story is arbitrarily dated to 2875, as the Doctor had previously dated the construction of the Nerva Beacon to the late 29th century at the earliest.
- Part one - 9.5 million viewers
- Part two - 8.3 million viewers
- Part three - 8.9 million viewers
- Part four - 9.4 million viewers
Filming locations Edit
- Wookey Hole Caves, Wells, Somerset
- BBC Television Centre (Puppet theatre, TC1, TC8), Shepherd's Bush, London
Production errors Edit
- The Doctor was wearing a long brown coat and hat at the end of the previous story, Genesis of the Daleks, but they've vanished when he materialises. Harry's sideburns have received a neat trim too.
- Lester wears his interplanetary Space command insignia upside down.
- When Kellman pulls the tape from the reels in part one, the squealing sound of fast-winding tape is heard, even though the tape is not in contact with the playback heads.
- When the Doctor enters the TARDIS in part four, the paper printout of the space/time telegraph can be clearly seen hanging on a hook just inside the door.
- When Harry examines Kellman's dead body, Kellman can be seen breathing.
- The video screen image of the beacon "approaching" Voga is rather obviously just the camera zooming in on the model, as the background also seems to be approaching.
- In part four, when the rocket launching video is shown, it could clearly be seen that it was filmed on Earth because of the blue sky in the background. (This is actually NASA stock footage — shot from the gantry — of the Saturn V rocket launch. This had previously been used in Genesis of the Daleks, and would appear again in the Android Invasion.)
- In part one, as the Doctor and company happen upon dead crew members in the transom, by looking closely the "victims" are represented by dummies, and only portrayed by extras when a scene calls for a close-up of a corpse. Also, the "stars" in the Nerva Beacon's windows can be distinguished as rope lights with dark power cords that do not fully camouflage with the black backdrops.
- As the Time Ring propels everyone to the Nerva Beacon in part one, the colour separation overlay used to achieve this effect is imprecise — Harry's right leg briefly disappears under the CSO mask.
- When Warner logs a call from Voga, the CSO used to project an image on the monitor is again applied improperly, as the letters of his log are cut off on the left side of the screen.
- Again an instance of CSO effect failure occurs when the Cybermat rears up to attack Sarah in the control room, with the Cybermat partially blending into the wall in the background.
- In some shots, the Cybermat looks very small, such as the first shot of it, but when it is attacking Warner and Sarah, it is much, much larger.
- When the Cybermat is attacking Sarah, the actor is actually holding onto the prop and while pretending to struggle with it, she is actually pulling it towards herself like the Cybermat is jumping at her. This is not obvious, but visible when observed closely.
- In episode four, there are many instances when the green screen for the CSO has not been layed on at all. This is especially visible in the scene when the Cybermat kills the Cyberman, when the Doctor and Sarah walk away, the corridor they are going into is just a green screen.
- Several of the Vogan's heads (the wider one for extras) amusingly wobble when they run.
- The Vogan's eyes are sometimes hidden behind makeup and the wobbling headpiece.
- The Doctor, Sarah Jane and Harry had previously left the station (and the TARDIS) in its future. (TV: The Ark in Space)
- The Doctor is sent here by the Time Lords, which they call a "trifling matter". (PROSE: A Device of Death)
- The Cybermen's first home planet, Mondas, was destroyed. (TV: The Tenth Planet) All Cybermen on their second home planet, Telos, were entombed in ice. (TV: The Tomb of the Cybermen)
- The discrepancy over how many moons Jupiter should have is resolved in PROSE: To the Slaughter.
- The Doctor, Sarah Jane and Harry return to 20th century Earth in answer to the Brigadier's summons. (TV: Terror of the Zygons)
- The Doctor later returned to the Nerva Beacon in the company of Leela at a time when the Beacon was referred to as Space Dock Nerva and orbited Jupiter. (AUDIO: Destination: Nerva)
- The Cybermen had already used a biological weapon in TV: The Moonbase.
- The Nerva Beacon would remain in orbit of Earth until at least 16127. (AUDIO: Wirrn Isle)
Home video and audio releases Edit
DVD releases Edit
- This story was first released on DVD in the UK on 9 August 2010 as part of the Cybermen boxset, alongside Silver Nemesis. The one disc set includes a restored version of the story, as well as the following special features:
- Commentary by Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane), David Collings (Vorus) and Philip Hinchcliffe (Producer).
- The Tin Men and the Witch
- Cheques, Lies and Videotape
- BBC News Location Report
- "Coming soon" trailer for the DVD release of Time and the Rani
- Radio Times Billings
- Production Subtitles
- Photo Gallery
- Easter Egg: BBC Video Ident and copyright statement from 1983.
- Editing for DVD release completed by Doctor Who Restoration Team.
Box sets Edit
VHS and Betamax releases Edit
This story was released on VHS and Betamax as Doctor Who: Revenge of the Cybermen. This was the first Doctor Who story to be released to the home video market.
- UK October 1983 (edited)
- UK May 1984 (edited)
- UK April 1999 (unedited)
- Australia January 1987 (edited)
- Australia December 1999 (unedited)
- US December 1986 (movie format)
- Japan December 1983 (movie format)
Laserdisc releases Edit
It was also one of the select Doctor Who stories to be released on laserdisc.
- Revenge of the Cybermen at the BBC's official site
- Revenge of the Cybermen at BroaDWcast
- Revenge of the Cybermen at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- Revenge of the Cybermen at The Locations Guide
- (Fan Based Site) Episode Synopsis of Revenge of the Cybermen
- The Tardis Library: Video release information for Revenge of the Cyberman