The Tomb of the Cybermen ★★★★★

The long-lost classic in which the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria encounter the Cybermen frozen on Telos

65

Season 5 – Story 37
“Some things are better left undone, and I have a feeling that this is one of them” – the Doctor

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Storyline
On the deserted planet of Telos, the travellers find an archaeological team from Earth looking for the lost tomb of the Cybermen. Although the Doctor helps the party enter the tomb, he insists the Cybermen be left in hibernation. However, expedition financier Klieg and his business partner Kaftan, both members of the Brotherhood of Logicians, intend to use the revived cyborgs to conquer the Earth. It turns out that the tomb is a trap to help the Cybermen repopulate and, when they have been awoken, the Controller and his minions launch Cybermat creatures to subdue the visitors…

First transmissions
Episode 1 – Saturday 2 September 1967
Episode 2 – Saturday 9 September 1967
Episode 3 – Saturday 16 September 1967
Episode 4 – Saturday 23 September 1967

Production
Location filming: June 1967 at Gerrards Cross quarry, Buckinghamshire
Filming: June 1967 at Ealing Studios
Studio recording: July 1967 at Lime Grove D

Cast
Doctor Who – Patrick Troughton
Jamie McCrimmon – Frazer Hines
Victoria Waterfield – Deborah Watling
Professor Parry – Aubrey Richards
Eric Klieg – George Pastell
Kaftan – Shirley Cooklin
Toberman – Roy Stewart
Captain Hopper – George Roubicek
Jim Callum – Clive Merrison
John Viner – Cyril Shaps
Peter Haydon – Bernard Holley
Ted Rogers – Alan Johns
Crewman – Ray Grover
Cyberman Controller – Michael Kilgarriff
Cybermen – Hans de Vries, Tony Harwood, John Hogan, Richard Kerley,
Ronald Lee, Charles Pemberton, Kenneth Seeger, Reg Whitehead
Cybermen voices – Peter Hawkins

Crew
Writers – Kit Pedler, Gerry Davis
Incidental music – various library tracks
Special sounds – Brian Hodgson
Designer – Martin Johnson
Story editor – Victor Pemberton
Producer – Peter Bryant
Director – Morris Barry

RT Review by Mark Braxton
Some story titles from the annals are uttered with hushed reverence and The Tomb of the Cybermen, heralding a golden age for the show, is no exception. But is this Season Five opener fully deserving of classic status…?

It’s a fabulous start, certainly, with continuity from the preceding story to remind us of Victoria’s introduction, switching to Professor Parry’s motley crew on Telos, who resemble escapees from Benidorm. The ITV sitcom, that is. They’re a fascinating bunch.

Chief among them is logic-driven madman Eric Klieg, leant an exotic edge by Cypriot character actor George Pastell, though I think original choice Vladek Sheybal (Kronsteen in From Russia with Love) would have been even more suavely memorable. Then there’s Queen Beehive herself, Kaftan (how very 60s), played by producer Peter Bryant’s wife Shirley Cooklin. And the hilariously pessimistic Viner (the part guaranteed Cyril Shaps further work on the show).

The new-style Cybermen are well realised, though I was never a particular fan, finding them limited and clumsy. However, the concept of an entire crypt full of the blighters is a terrific one (almost as petrifying as the barrow in The Daemons, 1971). The Telos terrors have been bolstered by a Controller, with his veined cranium denoting extra intelligence, and also by the scuttling Cybermats. The idea of the latter is definitely scarier than the actuality: their ping-pong eyes and felt teeth are very Blue Peter, while the story doesn’t make clear what threat they actually pose.

Many say the “electrolarynx” Cyber-voice was an improvement on the singsong whine adopted by actors in The Tenth Planet. I’m not so sure. The earlier method, with its haphazard emphases, was somehow weirder and more alien-sounding, while the new Cybermen add rogue vowels on the end of sentences (“You will remain still-a”; “We must survive-a”). They sound like a Mark E Smith tribute act. What’s worse, being under stress seems to turn them into rabid Punch and Judy men.

When I watched Tomb with my young son recently, he kept asking me what the Cybermen were saying. World domination would be some way off while diction was such a problem. That said, in 1967 the Cybermen were becoming clear favourites – it was their third appearance in a year. RT honoured the fact with a striking cover and, inside, a Doctor’s diary entry about being on Telos!

Patrick Troughton was building up a head of steam as Doctor Two now, and his relationship with Jamie was well cemented. There’s plenty of humour between them: the scene where the Doctor realises he’s holding Jamie’s hand and tosses it aside in annoyance is redolent of Oliver Hardy himself. There’s a softer side, too. Much has already been written in books and on fansites, not surprisingly, about the moment the Doctor counsels Victoria on the grieving process. It’s tenderly acted and unfussily written, but credit should also go to director Morris Barry for his expressive use of close-up. It was rarely more appropriate than here.

One dark truth is inescapable, however. Everything that happens, and that includes multiple deaths, is a direct result of our hero. Methinks the Doctor protests too much as he repeatedly warns the expedition of the lurking dangers, while helping them past the electrified entrance and then enabling Klieg to access the main chamber. Another uncomfortable moment sees the Doctor appealing to the unfortunately named, partly processed Toberman. “They tried to make you their slave,” he insists, before using the poor man himself on a life-or-death mission. It’s a case of curiosity killing someone else’s cat.

On the other hand, the Doctor knows the moment “Cybermen” are mentioned that non-interference is not an option. It’s why we follow his adventures.

The Tomb of the Cybermen does deserve its reputation. Look at the ambition and scale of the thing: the brilliantly designed sets, including that dizzyingly tall hybernation chamber; the seamless integration of location filming and studio work; and the slow escalation of terror.

It’s undoubtedly a classic. But, even better was still to come…

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Radio Times archive material

To introduce Doctor Who’s fourth season there was a classic Cyberman cover and an entry from the Doctor’s diary.

Tomb trail
Tomb cover
Tomb feature
Tomb Cybermen billings
Tomb Letter 23-29 Sept 67
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[Available on BBC DVD and BBC Audio CD]