Doctor Who:Fifty Years of the Cybermen-The classics

Here’s a look at the Cybermen, who, with the Daleks and the Master, sort of form a trinity of the Doctor’s main villains. The Cybermen are perhaps even more scary-while the Daleks are mutated blobs of a vanished humanoid race encased in armor, and the Master a Machiavellian schemer, and often ‘frenemies’ with the Doctor; the Cybermen are what’s left of both humans and other aliens (mainly a similar race known as the Mondasians) who have rejected their humanity and replaced their bodies with metallic components (although with some organic material remaining a times), as well as removing emotions from their brain as well. This post will feature basic a run down of the various incarnations of the Cyborg villains.

The original Cybermen appear in Hartnell’s final story, “The Tenth Planet”. In this story, they come from Mondas, a lost “Tenth planet” and twin to Earth that lost it’s orbit with the sun, eventually drifting out to space beyond the solar system. The resulting environmental chaos led to the Mondasians converting themselves into cyborgs-the Cybermen, in order to survive the harsh conditions. These Cybermen may look crude, but there’s somewhat of a mummy-like creepiness to them, and a hint of their former humanity with the bare hands. Their main plan is to absorb Earth’s energy back into Mondas, but it fails leaving Mondas destroyed instead.

The next adventure has the Cybermen infiltrate the  Gravitron Moonbase on the moon in order to mess around with Earth’s weather, in the second Doctor story “The Moonbase”. These Cybermen appear and sound more mechanical and streamlined than their predecessors, and also their hands are far less human, largely possessing only three fingers.

These Cybermen would return in Troughton’s second season, but with the addition of the Cyber Controller, who had a large brain dome and commanded the “Tomb of the Cybermen”.

The Cybermen would return at the end of the season in “The Wheel in Space”, another “base under siege” story. Here, they were given a ‘teardrop’ design on their helmets which would later be used in various later versions.

Their final appearance in the Troughton era outside of stock footage is in “The Invasion” where they memorably crawl down the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and battle UNIT. The ‘drool’ teardrop from their mouths has been removed, their chest unit streamlined, but most memorably the “ear muffs” design were added to their heads.

Outside of a brief cameo in “Carnival of Monsters” they sit out the Pertwee/Third Doctor era.

The Cybermen next return in Tom Baker’s “Revenge of the Cybermen”, where it is discovered that they are vulnerable to gold. This Cybermen design adds the “Cyberleader” who has black ‘ear muffs’ and ‘handlebars’. These Cybermen also have ridged tubing around their bodies. The Cybermen’s voices are noticeably less mechanical, with them saying “Excellent!” as well.

The Cybermen would largely then vanish from WHO for eight years, until they came back in a big way in Peter Davison’s/Fifth Doctor “Earthshock”, where they attempt to destroy Earth. Here, there chest units were given a more armored appearance, and the heads given a more imposing look perhaps inspired by “Star Wars”. Their voices were slightly similar to “Revenge’s”, but with the added baritone of actor David Banks, playing a new Cyberleader who now just had black ‘handlebars’.

These Cybermen would later appear in “The Five Doctors”-brought to the “Death Zone” along with Daleks and other enemies of the Doctor- and Colin Baker’s “Attack of the Cybermen”, a sequel of sorts to “Tomb of the Cybermen”. In “Attack” the Cybercontroller once again returned (played by the same actor) but with his design changed to reflect the updated look.

Their final appearance in the classic series was 1988’s Silver Nemesis, where they faced the Seventh Doctor. This 25th anniversary special gave them a more chrome finish, and some modifications to the chest unit and ‘suit’ underneath, as well as large ‘cricket glove’ hands. Otherwise, they were similar to the other 80’s Cybermen. Here, the Cybermen were trying to align the pieces of a powerful statue, in fact a Gallifreyan weapon. They actually succeed, but the manipulative Seventh Doctor has an “Ace” up his sleeve.


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