Saturday, 18 April 2015

Know Your Cybermen No.5

The Invasion (1968).
Despite a redesign only a few months before, the Cybermen change appearance once again. This time, the main differences are with the helmet. The "ear-muffs" are added to the side of the helmet. The "tear-drops" are still at the edges of the eyes but the mouth no longer has one below the lip. The chest unit is smaller and more compact. Stiff metal rods replace the piping along the limbs. They have built-in weapons in the chest unit - the circle at the top centre. However, these Cybermen also carry flame-thrower guns. These Cybermen don't say a great deal, and the voices are so heavily treated that it is sometimes difficult to make out what they are saying when they do speak.
The Cybermen are invading the Earth in 1968, making use of a human businessman named Tobias Vaughn. He has been arranging for Cybermen to be dropped off at his factory outside London, then shipped to the city where they are kept hidden in the sewer system. Vaughn communicates with the Cybermen via the Cyber-Director. This appears to have been built by Vaughn, and it contains organic components.
Cybermen can be destroyed by explosives such as bazooka shells and hand grenades. They can also be driven insane by emotional impulses generated by the Cerebretron Mentor - intended as a teaching machine but turned into a weapon by Vaughn.
The Cybermen are finally defeated when Vaughn turns against them and the Doctor protects UNIT troops from falling under the paralysing Cyber-signal. Their main invasion force is destroyed in space by a missile.
The date of 1968 shows that these Cybermen are certainly not Mondasian ones. They mention knowing the Doctor from Planet 14 - which might be Telos, but is more likely to refer to some unseen adventure on one of their other colony worlds. As I have argued before, the coldly logical Cybermen are unlikely to give planets names. Both Mondas and Telos were already named before the Cybermen were born / invaded. Planet 14 would simply be the 14th planet they colonised.

Story Notes:

  • This time the story is written by producer / script editor (depending which week it is) Derrick Sherwin, from a story idea by Kit Pedler.
  • Whilst it sees the return of Lethbridge-Stewart, now a Brigadier, this wasn't always the intention. Originally, it was Professor Travers and / or his daughter Anne who was to return from The Web of Fear.
  • The story also marks the first appearance of UNIT soldier Benton - here still a Corporal.
  • As well as the aesthetic reasons for redesigning the helmets, the added ear-muffs also gave the actors more ventilation. The ear muffs are regarded as iconical - yet only appear in two stories (plus a couple of cameos).
  • Those cameos are in Carnival of MonstersDeath In Heaven, and The War Games. In the former, you can clearly see the back of the helmet flapping open, whilst in the latter the helmet sits over the collar of the costume, rather than tucked inside.
  • The Cyber-head seen in Van Statten's museum purports to come from this story, according to its label. However, it is of a design from the next Cyberman story.
  • UNIT's Kate Stewart produces a damaged Cyber-head of the correct design in Death In Heaven to prove to the Cybermen that they can be defeated.
  • The metal rods had a habit of popping out of their sockets, and had to be continually put back into place.
  • Sherwin thought that an Earth-based adventure would save money - especially spread over 8 weeks. However, The Invasion went over budget.
  • Nicholas Courtney claimed that the two missing episodes were still around for Ian Marter to be loaned them by an unnamed fan when he was preparing the novelisation of this story - although they did not have sound. 


  1. My first classic series story, and still a solid favourite. I wonder if we will ever see the legendary Planet 14 onscreen?

  2. Well some would say that you have already seen Planet 14 - in that it refers to Telos. The DWM comic strip "The World Shapers", a Sixth Doctor strip, has it that it was Marinus of all things. I subscribe to neither.