Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Know Your Cybermen No.3

Tomb of the Cybermen (1967).
The Cybermen have been on ice for the last 500 years or so - so we assume this refers to their trip to the Moon in 2070. Running out of resources, they have taken to their cryogenic chambers on the planet of Telos - one of the worlds which they colonised before Mondas was destroyed. As such, these are the same design as the Cybermen we saw attacking the Moonbase. Identical save for their footwear. Instead of lace-up boots they now have wellington-type boots. There is also some additional piping beneath the chest units.
These Cybermen are waiting for someone to come along who is intelligent enough to crack the means of accessing their tombs - so they will be suitable subjects for conversion. What they get is a badly organised archaeological expedition which is financed by Kaftan and Klieg - a couple who are members of the Brotherhood of Logicians on Earth. They want to make use of the Cybermen to take over the planet and run it along more rational lines.
We get to meet the Cyber-Controller. This is a taller Cyberman with a larger cranium and lacking any chest unit. The dome-like skull is internally illuminated and appears to be covered in visible veins. It is slightly darker than its underlings.
The Cybermen have sarcophagus-like recharge units. On emerging from their tomb cubicles, they need to re-energise themselves. To save power, the bulk of the force returns to their frozen state.
They do not carry any firearms, though we do see a powerful, bulky hand-held blaster in a weapons-testing area. This is effective against the Cybermen themselves.
Another weapon is a small metallic creature known as a Cybermat. (I won't go into too much detail at this stage about these as they are going to get a post of their own. And there will be one on Cyberships).
Only the Controller is heard to speak. The others do make a noise, but it sounds garbled. Cybermen are unable to see in smoke-filled environments, so no evidence of, say, infra-red vision.
Only the Controller remains active once the other Cybermen have been sent back to sleep. It is damaged by being picked up and hurled across a room by Toberman, Kaftan's bodyguard who has had his limbs converted by the Cybermen. (The Controller is also able to influence his mind, though this conditioning is quite weak and the Doctor helps overturn it when the Controller kills his mistress). The Controller appears to be destroyed finally by a massive electric shock when the tomb is re-sealed.
The Cybermen decorate the tomb complex with stylised depictions of themselves - even on the furniture. Yes, they actually have furniture.
At least one Cybermat is still active when the Doctor and the Earth people depart.

Story Notes:

  • The supposedly final Dalek serial had already been broadcast at this point (at the end of Season Four). Tomb of the Cybermen opens Season Five (the Monsters / base-under-siege season). They are the new Big Bad for the series, and will return to see out this season.
  • Thanks to folk-memory and a very good novelisation, this story was always regarded as an absolute classic. It was lost for many years, and when a copy did turn up (in Hong Kong, 1992) it was rush released onto VHS. Once seen, fan opinion re-evaluated slightly downwards.
  • At the Longleat 20th Anniversary event, fans were asked which story they would like to see as the first ever VHS release. They went with Revenge of the Cybermen. Apparently most people went for Tomb, not realising that it wasn't in the archives at the time, and so the Tom Baker story went out instead (for a whopping £40 for a one hour edited version - an awful lot of money in the mid 1980's).
  • The BBC came close to transmitting the newly found story, but decided just to go down the VHS route instead.
  • As with the novelisation of The Moonbase, the first edition Target covers featured the wrong type of Cyberman (one from The Invasion).
  • Kaftan is played by Shirley Cooklin, who just happened to be the wife of producer Peter Bryant (really the script editor, but promoted for this story). The part was written especially for her. She was quite heavily made up to play an Egyptian, and Frazer Hines did not recognise her - even attempting to chat her up, until he found out she was the boss' missus.
  • The story is heavily influenced by the Hammer / Universal Mummy movies. Klieg is played by George Pastell (really a Cypriot) who had played the exact same type of role in the Peter Cushing / Christopher Lee The Mummy.
  • The Controller is Michael Kilgarriff, who took some persuading to play the part. He was best known for voice work on radio - yet his voice would not be used in this. He was chosen specifically for his stature. He would reprise the role - with his own voice - in 1985. That was Attack of the Cybermen and, as well as being a sequel of sorts to this story (also set at least partly on Telos), the planet exteriors were filmed in the same quarry as Tomb's.

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