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The Tenth Planet

Production Code: DD

First Transmitted

1 - 08/10/1966 17:50

2 - 15/10/1966 17:50

3 - 22/10/1966 17:50

4 - 29/10/1966 17:50

Plot

The TARDIS arrives in December 1986 at a South Pole Space Tracking station where the personnel, under the command of General Cutler, are engaged in trying to talk down a manned space capsule that has got into difficulty.

The Doctor realises that the problem stems from the gravitational pull of another planet that has entered the solar system and is now heading for Earth. His words are borne out when the base is invaded by a force of alien Cybermen. The Cybermen's world, Mondas, is draining energy from Earth - once its 'twin planet' - and the situation will soon become critical.

The Cybermen propose to take the humans back to Mondas for conversion into further members of their race. The humans fight back - although sabotage by Ben prevents Cutler from taking the highly dangerous step of launching a powerful Z-bomb - and Mondas eventually disintegrates due to absorbing too much energy.

All the remaining Cybermen collapse and die, having been totally dependent on their planet. The Doctor has become weak during the ordeal, and hurries back to the TARDIS...

Episode Endings

Snowcap base personnel, Tito and Joe, are approaching the TARDIS with cutting equipment. They are attacked by alien beings and knocked down. One of the aliens turns over Tito's body to check that he is dead.

Cutler is engrossed in trying to rescue a second space capsule, this one piloted by his son, which has been sent up to try to help the first. Suddenly the radar operator reports that there are hundreds of Cyberman spaceships approaching in formation.

The countdown to the launch of the Z-bomb proceeds. Ben, who was caught trying to sabotage it by Cutler and knocked unconscious, is unable to remember whether or not he succeeded. The countdown reaches zero and the missile's rockets fire.

The Doctor returns to the TARDIS, closely followed by Ben and Polly. The ship's controls move of their own accord and the Doctor collapses to the floor. His companions enter and, before their astonished eyes, the Doctor's face transforms into that of a younger man.

Roots

The cyborgs of R.U.R.

The Avengers' Cybernauts.

Frankenstein.

Dr. Strangelove.

When Worlds Collide.

Norbert Weiner's Cybernetics.

Bernard Wolfe's Limbo.

The Thing (the setting).

Dan Dare.

The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Dialogue Triumphs

Krail : "You must come and live with us."

Polly : "But we cannot live with you! You're different. You've got no feelings."

Krail : "Feelings? I do not understand that word."

The Doctor : "Emotions. Love. Pride. Hate. Fear. Have you no emotions, sir?"

Krail : "Come to Mondas and you will have no need of emotions. You will become like us."

Polly : "What's happened to you, Doctor?"

The Doctor : "Oh, I'm not sure my dear. Comes from an outside influence. Unless this old body of mine is wearing a bit thin."

The Doctor : "What did you say, my boy? It's all over? That's what you said... but it isn't at all. It's far from being all over..."

Krang : [Explaining why the Cybermen should show concern for the stranded astronauts, is perceptively criticised by their leader] There are people dying all over your world, yet you do not care about them.

Dialogue Disasters

The Doctor : "Pretty soon we shall be having visitors."

Ben : "Visitors? What, 'ere? Well, who do you think's bringing them, Father Christmas on his sledge?"

Continuity

When Mondas first appears it is vaguely said to be between Mars and Venus. Its continental land masses are similar to Earth's, and the Doctor is aware of the existence of the planet. The brains of the Cybermen are 'human', but lack emotions, and, despite having 'normal' hands, their bodies are impervious to bullets and extremes of temperature, but not to radiation. Their power source is Mondas itself.

Perhaps the last vestiges of their individuality, the Cybermen have names. Gern is the Cyberman in charge of the Geneva headquarters of the ISC, and Regos [first name or rank?] Krang controls Snowcap.

An Earth expedition has just returned from the moon. It is not indicated that this is the first time mankind has reached the moon, although the flight was very newsworthy. [This formed the first stage of the construction of a colony on the moon (see The Moonbase).] Space flights are governed by a multinational body known as International Space Command, based in Geneva [and therefore a UN offshoot].

The ISC remained in existence until at least 2070 (The Moonbase). The rocket-like Zeus spaceships appear to be the standard craft of the day. Mention is also made of Cobra missiles, and the nuclear Z-Bomb, which can be launched by Demeter rocket.

The Doctor attributes his seeming 'illness' to his body 'wearing a bit thin', perhaps accelerated by 'an outside force of some kind' [the effects of Mondas on Earth: the astronauts close to Mondas suffered from great fatigue as well]. Just before he regenerates he says 'No, I can't go through with it! I can't. I will not give in.' [indicating that he has, perhaps, clung onto his first body for too long].

QV

Cyber History

Location

Snowcap Space Tracking Station, South Pole, December 1986.

Trivia

The Cybermen's helmets are held together with clear sticky tape in Episode 2.

The Doctor does not appear in Episode 3 as William Hartnell was unwell during the week when it was recorded.

Special 'computer tape'-style opening and closing title graphics were created for this story by graphic designer Bernard Lodge.

Michael Craze met his future wife, production assistant Edwina Verner, on this story; she threw some of the polystyrene 'snow' into his face as a practical joke, inadvertently aggravating an injury he had recently sustained to his nose.

Myth

Pat Dunlop contributed to the writing of this story. (He had no involvement with it whatsoever.)

Mondas's draining of Earth's energy is an attack by the Cybermen. (It is a natural process; the Cybermen aim to end it by destroying the Earth, realising that if it is allowed to continue unchecked it will eventually lead to the disintegration of Mondas - as is borne out at the story's conclusion.)

An attempt was once made to colourise parts of this story. (This was an April Fool's joke in Doctor Who Magazine.)

The master copy of the fourth episode of this story was lost in 1973 after being lent out to the BBC's children's magazine programme Blue Peter for use in a feature that they were compiling about the series. (It is unknown how this episode came to be lost; the episode that was lost after being lent out to Blue Peter was actually The Daleks' Master Plan: The Traitors.)

Goofs

The writing credit for episode one has Kit Pedler as 'Kitt Pedler' and title music is credited to 'Byron Grainer'; for episode 3, Gerry Davis becomes 'Gerry Davies'.

Sometimes the Cybermen start to talk before their mouths open.

The first episode's writer's credit is to 'Kitt Pedler', and the third episode's to Pedler and 'Gerry Davies'.

In episode one when one of the Cybermen is shot his 'ears' flap about.

The script requires the Cybermen to pass for human in their parkas, an effect ruined by the lamps on their heads.

Barclay says that he designed some of the base, and that he couldn't fit into the ventilation shaft, but it is broad enough to accommodate Geoff Capes. [Perhaps it gets narrower at some points.]

Cast & Crew

Cast

The Doctor - William Hartnell

Ben Jackson - Michael Craze

Polly - Anneke Wills

American Sergeant - John Brandon

Barclay - David Dodimead

Cyberman Voice - Roy Skelton

Cyberman Voice - Peter Hawkins

Dyson - Dudley Jones

General Cutler - Robert Beatty

Geneva Technician - Eileen Cullen

Gern - Gregg Palmer

Jarl - Reg Whitehead

Krail - Reg Whitehead

Krang - Harry Brooks

R/T Technician - Christopher Dunham

Radar Technician - Christopher Matthews

Schultz - Alan White

Shav - Gregg Palmer

T.V. Announcer - Glenn Beck

Talon - Harry Brooks

Terry Cutler - Callen Angelo

Tito - Shane Shelton

Wigner - Steve Plytas

Williams - Earl Cameron

Crew

Director - Derek Martinus

Assistant Floor Manager - Jenny McArthur

Costumes - Sandra Reid

Designer - Peter Kindred

Film Cameraman - unknown

Film Editor - unknown

Incidental Music - stock

Make-Up - Gillian James

Producer - Innes Lloyd

Production Assistant - Edwina Verner

Special Sounds - Brian Hodgson

Story Editor - Gerry Davis

Studio Lighting - Howard King

Studio Sound - Adrian Bishop-Laggett

Title Music - Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, arranged by Delia Derbyshire

Writer - Kit Pedler

Writer - Gerry Davis

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

A reasonable tale, made memorable by the Cybermen and the Doctor's regeneration. There are nice touches but much is ruined by the iffy accents and prominent clichés. Characterisation is hackneyed and rarely credible (Cutler would surely not have risen to the rank of General if he were the sort of man to prioritize the safety of his son over that of the entire planet). The Tenth Planet tries hard to be radical in its presentation of 'the future', with a black astronaut and a black aide to Wigner.

However, all positions of responsibility are held by men, and Polly is left making the coffee. Because the Doctor is 'ill' during much of this story William Hartnell doesn't really get the finale that he deserved.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

The Tenth Planet marks the end of an era. It features William Hartnell's final regular appearance as the Doctor and provides an early indication of the type of story that would come to typify Patrick Troughton's time in the series. 'This is what makes The Tenth Planet important - it's a nebulous picture of things to come,' wrote Mark Clapham in Matrix Issue 53, dated autumn 1996. 'It's a prototype Troughton monster tale, one restrained by the nature of the series at the time. Trapped between two eras, it shows neither the innocence of an early Hartnell, nor the full-blooded good versus evil conflict of the best Troughton stories.'

The format can be summarised as follows: take an isolated community (in this case the snowcap base) under the command of a misguided authority figure (Cutler), add a monstrous menace (the Cybermen), kill off some of the community and allow the Doctor to find a solution before the end. This relatively simple approach would lead during the Troughton era to some of the best and most memorable Doctor Who stories ever, and The Tenth Planet was the first of its kind.

The story opens with - unusually for the series' early years, although it would become the norm later on - a scene not featuring the Doctor and his companions but establishing the situation into which they are to arrive. This is the Snowcap base with its multinational team of men led by the redoubtable General Cutler - a fine performance by Robert Beatty, bringing the character to life as a man who can galvanise all the others on the base. 'Kit Pedler gives us a hopeful view of the future... (despite the story being set in 1986),' noted Joe Bishop in Capitol Spires Issue 2, dated July 1993. 'The diversity of [races and creeds amongst the human characters] highlights the sense of international cooperation, where the world is a better place if we all work together... The variation in clothes, roles (military and civilians working together) and accents contrasts totally with the homogeneity of the Cybermen, [who] all look alike and sound alike... regimentation gone mad.'

We have to wait until the end of the first episode before the Cybermen are revealed - as usual where a story's 'monster' is concerned - and they present a terrifying image for the cliffhanger. The pale, expressionless and noseless face of one of the creatures hanging over the prone form of a dead soldier must have given many a young viewer nightmares for the week ahead. Once they have been established, the Cybermen dominate the story, despite the fact that they make a significant appearance in only two of the four episodes. The combination of their massive frames, towering over the rest of the cast, and their strange, harmonic, sing-song voices emerging from mouths that are simply held open, is extremely unnerving. They seem powerful and unstoppable.

The Cybermen's reliance on logic is key to their characters, as Bishop explained: 'They are tragic creatures because they have lost their humanity... There is no evil intent in their actions; they are just trying to ensure the survival of their race in the only logical way open to them.'

The contrast between humans and Cybermen effectively enables writer Kit Pedler to raise questions about the nature of humanity, as Clapham observed: 'Cutler's primary interest is the survival of his son, at the expense of all else. Like the Cybermen, who admit to being "only interested in survival", Cutler wishes above all... for the Cutlers to survive even if he does not. This theme of self-interest being the root of dehumanisation is far more subtle primarily because a desire to protect one's own children is usually seen as admirable.'

Cutler aside, the Snowcap personnel are a rather sorry bunch of one-dimensional characters. Most of the work of repelling the Cybermen is thus left to the General and to the Doctor's party. An exception to this comes in the very good scene where the invaders are picked off outside the base with a battery of their dead comrades' weapons fired by some of Cutler's men hidden in the snow. A superb idea - it does, though, raise the question of how the second wave of Cybermen manage to get into the base in the fourth episode. It would appear that this defensive strategy has for some reason been abandoned; or perhaps the Cybermen have simply overwhelmed Cutler's men with the speed of their attack, as - rather implausibly - they are seen to storm the base less than a minute after their spaceships land.

Fortunately the viewer has no opportunity to linger on unexplained plot points such as these as the action progresses thick and fast, alternating between Cutler trying to ensure that his son is safe up in space and the Cybermen trying to attack the base. The final episode all but hurtles toward a climax, with the Doctor and Polly facing an unknown fate on board a Cyberman ship, Ben and the Snowcap scientist Barclay trying to figure out how to use radiation against the invaders, and Mondas posing a constant threat to the Earth. The first episode's writer's credit is to 'Kitt Pedler', and the third episode's to Pedler and

To cap everything, at the end of the story, the Doctor starts behaving very strangely indeed. Is he sick? Have the Cybermen done something to him? No clear answers are forthcoming as he rushes back to the TARDIS. The final shock in this highly dramatic and enjoyable story comes when, after he falls to the TARDIS floor, his features shimmer and change...

Doctor Who would never be quite the same again.

< The SmugglersFirst DoctorThe Power of the Daleks >

This episode guide is made up of the text of The Discontinuity Guide by Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping, and Doctor Who: The Television Companion by David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker.

The Discontinuity Guide © Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping 1995.
Doctor Who: The Television Companion © David J Howe and Stephen James Walker 1998, 2003.



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