Neil Gaiman has revealed the brief he was given by Steven Moffat when the Doctor Who showrunner approached him to write a new Cybermen episode – "Will you make the Cybermen scary again?"
And Gaiman says he drew inspiration for his upcoming series-seven adventure from the earliest incarnation of the Doctor's old enemies, as well as their more recent counterparts.
"Steven Wrote to me and said: ‘Will you make the Cybermen scary again?’" Gaiman told François Léger in an interview with French entertainment website Reviewer.fr. "I thought back to when I was six or seven years old. Moonbase, Tomb of the Cybermen... I saw these when they were first broadcast.
"Cybermen where scarier than the Daleks because they were quiet," he added. "Daleks went around going ‘Exterminate!’ and shaking things up. Cybermen where just... You look up and there’s a Cyberman.
"I thought: ‘Let me see what I can do when I take the 1960’s Cybermen and everything that happened since. So that’s what I’m trying to do. I don’t know if it will work."
Gaiman declined to share any plot details for his episode but did confirm it would be a stand-alone story, and the penultimate instalment in the series, which continues next year following the Christmas special.
"It’s self contained. It has a beginning, it has a middle, it has an end," said Gaiman. "It’s episode... I don’t know if it’s 12 or 13, technically. Anyway, my episode is the one before last."
Meanwhile, the writer did not deny rumours that his script is currently going by the name The Last Cyberman (which would beg numerous questions about its content) but pointed out that titles change, as was the case with his previous Doctor Who story.
"I don’t know if that will be the title," said Gaiman. "The title of The Doctor’s Wife was Bigger on the Inside until two weeks before the broacast, so it could be anything."
Gaiman's series-six episode was well-received by critics and fans alike and won plaudits including a Ray Bradbury Award for science-fiction writing.