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The Tomb of the Cybermen

Production Code: MM

First Transmitted

1 - 02/09/1967 17:50

2 - 09/09/1967 17:50

3 - 16/09/1967 17:50

4 - 23/09/1967 17:50

Plot

The TARDIS arrives on the planet Telos where an Earth archaeological expedition, led by Professor Parry, is attempting to uncover the lost tombs of the Cybermen. With a lot of help from the Doctor the archaeologists enter the tombs. There, one of the party, Klieg, reveals himself and his business partner, Kaftan, to be planning to revive the Cybermen.

He wants to use their strength, allied with the intelligence of his own Brotherhood of Logicians, to create an invincible force for conquest. It transpires however that the tomb is actually a giant trap designed to lure humans suitable for conversion into further Cybermen - a fate that almost befalls Kaftan's assistant Toberman.

After fending off an attack by Cybermats - small but dangerous cybernetic creatures - the Doctor eventually defeats the revived Cybermen, led by their Controller, and reseals the tombs. The Controller is apparently destroyed in the process.

Episode Endings

In a room within the excavated complex, Jamie and the archaeologist Haydon have found a machine that creates patterns on a wall. They experiment with it, and when Jamie activates a previously unused switch the figure of a Cyberman appears. Moments later Haydon falls dead to the ground - he has been shot.

The Cybermen have released their Controller from his tomb. Klieg appeals to the creature, explaining that he represents the Brotherhood of Logicians and needs their help. The creature grabs his arm and flatly intones: 'You belong to us. You will be like us.'

The Cybermen send Cybermats to attack the archaeologists. The Doctor renders them harmless and then goes to check on Kaftan and Klieg, who have been locked in the weapons testing room. Kaftan and Klieg suddenly appear, having escaped with the aid of an X-ray laser found in the room. Klieg fires the laser, apparently aiming at the Doctor.

The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria depart from Telos, leaving behind a live Cybermat and the dead body of the partially cybernised Toberman.

Roots

Mummy movies, especially Hammer's The Mummy (starring George Pastell) and The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb.

The Avengers episode The House that Jack Built.

Dialogue Triumphs

Eric Klieg : "How did you know [the answer to the logic riddle] in the first place?"

The Doctor : "Oh, I used my own, special technique."

Eric Klieg : "Oh, really, Doctor... and may we know what that is?"

The Doctor : "Keeping my eyes open and my mouth shut!"

The Doctor : "Well, if we count in Earth terms I suppose I must be about 400... yes, about 450 years old! Yes. Well. Quite..."

The Doctor : "Our lives are different to anybody else's. That's the exciting thing. Nobody in the universe can do what we're doing."

The Doctor : [Reassuring Victoria, missing her father, with recollections of his own family] "I have to really want to, to bring them back in front of my eyes. The rest of the time they... sleep in my mind and I forget. And so will you."

Dialogue Disasters

Captain : "You scream real good, Vic."

Victoria : "Who'd be a woman?"

Captain : "How would you know, honey?"

Double Entendre

"What are all these knobs?"

Continuity

The Doctor says that he 'perfected' the TARDIS, which appears to land like a spaceship: 'Something came down over there.' The Doctor has a book with a picture of a Cybermat in it [his diary] but is unfamiliar with them. He has an electricity detector, which he also uses in The Web of Fear.

There are two sizes of Cybermat. The Cybermen have been sealed in their tombs for 500 years. They salute their Controller, but express no other emotion. They are bullet proof, can fire sparks from their fingers, and can control cybernised humans remotely. The X-ray laser is their standard weapon (cf. The Invasion, Earthshock). Telos has a rarefied atmosphere.

QV

The Doctor's Family

Cyber History

The Doctor's Age

Location

Telos, [after 2570].

Future History

The Brotherhood of Logicians are a collective of the time's great thinkers, believing that logic and intelligence are supreme virtues. Orbiters send rockets down to planets. Parry's expedition is privately financed.

Trivia

Martin Johnson's set designs are truly excellent, and include some striking bas-relief Cyberman images on the walls of the tomb complex.

Producer Peter Bryant's then wife Shirley Cooklin appears in the role of Kaftan, which was written specially for her.

Klieg mentions 'Whitehead logic' in the first episode - probably referring to Alfred North Whitehead, co-author of 'Principia Mathematica' and one of the fathers of mathematical and computer logic, and maybe a bit of a nod to the actor Reg Whitehead, who had played a Cyberman in all their stories to date.

There is a wonderfully moving scene in which the Doctor comforts a frightened Victoria and tries to help her to come to terms with the death of her father by telling her that he can recall his own family, but only when he chooses to.

Toberman was described in the original scripts as wearing a hearing aid (tying in with the fact that he was virtually mute and perhaps with the story's theme of cybernisation), but this idea was dropped at the request of director Morris Barry.

Klieg was originally to have been played by Vladek Sheybal and the Cyber Controller by John Wills (who had appeared as a Cyberman in The Moonbase).

Orange squash was specially provided in the studio for the actors playing the Cybermen, who got very hot inside their heavy costumes.

Myth

The only surviving copy of this story is slightly edited. (The prints in the BBC's archives are complete and unedited.)

Goofs

In episode one the Doctor and Jamie hold one of the tomb doors closed with their feet.

The Cybercontroller uses a visible harness to lift Toberman over his head.

Toberman returns the favour by spinning a dummy Cybercontroller.

The Cybermen retreat into their tombs backwards, the film having been reversed.

Kaftan and Klieg are locked in the weapon testing room, complete with deadly weapon. (The room features a psychedelic target that can hypnotise humans, with a 'subliminal centre you're trained to see', which is not a very Cyberman sort of thing.)

Would Victoria really be able to shoot a Cybermat with a handgun?

Fashion Victim

Victoria seems only slightly concerned by switching from Victorian gown to mini-dress.

It's one of the few stories to feature anoraks.

Cast & Crew

Cast

The Doctor - Patrick Troughton

Jamie - Frazer Hines

Victoria - Deborah Watling

Captain Hopper - George Roubicek

Crewman - Ray Grover

Cyberman - Hans de Vries

Cyberman - Tony Harwood

Cyberman - John Hogan

Cyberman - Richard Kerley

Cyberman - Ronald Lee

Cyberman - Charles Pemberton

Cyberman - Kenneth Seeger

Cyberman - Reg Whitehead

Cyberman Controller - Michael Kilgarriff

Cybermen Voices - Peter Hawkins

Eric Klieg - George Pastell

Jim Callum - Clive Merrison

John Viner - Cyril Shaps

Kaftan - Shirley Cooklin

Peter Haydon - Bernard Holley

Professor Parry - Aubrey Richards

Ted Rogers - Alan Johns

Toberman - Roy Stewart

Crew

Director - Morris Barry

Assistant Floor Manager - Sue Willis

Assistant Floor Manager - Catherine Sykes

Costumes - Sandra Reid

Costumes - Dorothea Wallace

Designer - Martin Johnson

Film Cameraman - Peter Hamilton

Film Editor - Alan Martin

Incidental Music - stock

Make-Up - Gillian James

Producer - Peter Bryant

Production Assistant - Snowy Lidiard-White

Special Sounds - Brian Hodgson

Story Editor - Victor Pemberton

Studio Lighting - Graham Sothcott

Studio Sound - Brian Hiles

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

Visual Effects - Michealjohn Harris

Visual Effects - Peter Day

Writer - Kit Pedler

Writer - Gerry Davis

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

'I shall leave you to the Cybermen... I am sure they will have some use for you. Or parts of you.' The first two episodes are wonderful, a well directed and expensive looking restating of the series' basics, but once the Cybermen are released from the Tombs, they go back in again.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

'The Tomb of the Cybermen is, quite simply, the best [Cyberman] story,' enthused Martin Day in Cloister Bell 10/11, dated March 1985. 'Accompanied by superb acting from Pat Troughton and many others, scenes such the Doctor's recollections of his family become steeped in emotion and the mysteries of the time traveller, guaranteed to bring a lump to the throat and to stick in the mind for a long time after.'

The production team had apparently learned from the mistakes of the last two Cyberman adventures and, although The Tomb of the Cybermen follows the same basic pattern (isolated group of humans picked off by the Cybermen), it manages to develop the idea to greater advantage and, as a result, achieves a considerable success.

Perhaps in recognition that this is the start of a new season, and also that the TARDIS has a newcomer in the person of Victoria Waterfield, the story starts with a brief recap of what the TARDIS does and of the Doctor's role in the proceedings. With this piece of background out of the way, the action cuts to some very impressive location filming as our isolated group of humans - archaeologists in this case - uncover the doors leading to the lost tombs of the Cybermen.

The story really picks up when the Doctor arrives; in fact, although this is not dwelt on, it is the Doctor who allows the men access to the tomb complex and, ultimately, to the frozen Cybermen lying dormant below. This aspect of the plot was highlighted by Graham Howard in TSV 29, dated July 1992: 'In this story the Doctor always seems two steps ahead of the others in the expedition and basically appears to be the only one capable of solving the Cybermen's puzzles... This used to bother me in that it seemed if it hadn't been for the Doctor no-one would have been able to get down into the tombs. I now consider he probably thought that once the tombs had been discovered it was only a matter of time before someone would be successful in entering [them], and so it was better to bring out and destroy the evil now rather than let it have a chance to develop...'

It seems to be a minor failing of all Kit Pedler's stories that, while the nominal leader of the human team (be it Cutler, Hobson or Parry) is a fairly strong character (although in Parry's case this in itself is questionable), the others are faceless and weak. The exception to the rule provided by The Tomb of the Cybermen is the inspired addition of a rogue factor in the form of the mysterious, but oddly named, Kaftan, her servant Toberman and Klieg, the expedition's financier, all of whom have ulterior motives for being there. These characters work well and provide much entertainment - especially effective are Klieg's verbal sparring with the Doctor, and his insane determination to achieve his aims come what may.

The Cybermen, when they eventually appear, are again impressive, and the addition of the Cyberman Controller is interesting, if only because it reduces the rest of the creatures to mostly non-speaking stooges - a problem that would similarly beset the Daleks when Davros was introduced in 1975. The voices used for the Cybermen here are the same as those in The Moonbase and just as chilling, the emotionless electronic drone serving to emphasis the horror of the prospect of being physically transformed into one of these creatures.

'The [Cybermen] were at their best in The Moonbase and The Tomb of the Cybermen,' opined Jeremy Bentham in DWB No. 101, dated May 1992. 'There is something about those smooth, featureless masks, with their dark, hollow eyes and that "grinning skull" expression, that is truly chilling...

'[The] visualisation, or even just the threat, of "body horror" has always been an effective tool in [Doctor Who's] workshop. [The idea of having] your humanity wrenched away and replaced with the mind or the artefacts of an alien invader has sent children scurrying behind sofas from The Dalek Invasion of Earth [onwards]. It's done with classic, blood-curdling style in The Tomb of the Cybermen as Toberman's cloak falls open to reveal a shining metal and plastic arm where once [were] flesh and blood.'

The story is by no means perfect, however. As in The Moonbase, the Cybermen make a strange electronic quacking noise when they are attacked, which just sounds silly. While Morris Barry's direction is generally good, he also allows through two rather poor action shots. The first occurs in a scene where a Cyberman lifts Toberman to throw him across the room; the problem is that the Kirby wire supporting actor Roy Stewart is all too clearly visible. The second comes where, similarly, Toberman lifts the Controller to throw him against some instrument panels; in this case, it is unfortunately very obvious that Stewart is actually holding nothing more than a lightweight empty suit.

The scene in which Victoria falls asleep after being drugged by Kaftan is rather poorly acted by Deborah Watling; and the viewer's credulity is further strained by the subsequent scene where, on recovering, she manages to hit an attacking Cybermat with the very first shot that she fires from Kaftan's gun. Other flaws have more to do with the plotting than with the on-screen realisation. How, for example, does Kaftan know which switch to use in the scene where she closes the doors of the revitalising chamber in order to trap Victoria? A lucky guess, perhaps? And on the subject of the revitalising chamber, one wonders why the Cybermen didn't spot the flaw of placing it on the upper level of the tomb complex rather than by the tombs themselves, given that the Controller needs to be revitalised in order to survive...

Finally, although the attack by the Cybermats on the sleeping humans is well staged, these creatures are never actually seen to hurt anyone and it is very unclear exactly what threat they pose. Thus it seems rather strange when everyone backs away at the sight of a lone Cybermat; wouldn't they just assume that they could simply jump (or step) over it?

Fortunately, none of these little script and production niggles detracts too much from the overall impact of the story. It is well-paced, gripping and, in places, genuinely frightening. As Jeff Stone commented in TSV 29, dated July 1992, 'From the lead-in prologue following The Evil of the Daleks to the genuinely moving end, The Tomb of the Cybermen was one hundred minutes of sheer magic.'

< The Evil of the DaleksSecond DoctorThe Abominable Snowmen >

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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