Rise of the Cybermen

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172a – "Rise of the Cybermen"
Doctor Who episode
Rise of the Cybermen.jpg
The Cybermen are back, and advancing on the Doctor.
Directed by Graeme Harper
Written by Tom MacRae
Script editor Helen Raynor
Produced by Phil Collinson
Executive producer(s) Russell T Davies
Julie Gardner
Incidental music composer Murray Gold
Production code 2.5
Series Series 2
Length 1st of 2-part story, 45 minutes
Originally broadcast 13 May 2006
← Preceded by Followed by →
"The Girl in the Fireplace" "The Age of Steel"
List of Doctor Who serials

"Rise of the Cybermen" is the fifth episode of the second series of the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who. The episode introduces a non-extraterrestrial reinvention of the Cybermen, as well as a parallel universe which would serve as a recurring plot element in the series. It is the first part of a two-part story, the concluding part being "The Age of Steel". The TARDIS becomes stranded in an alternative universe where Rose Tyler's father is alive and corporations are closely involved with the British government; one such corporation is Cybus Industries, which is being countered by an underground resistance. The Doctor, Rose and Mickey Smith discover a plot by Cybus co-founder John Lumic to convert the population of London into monotonous cybernetic creatures resembling enemies the Doctor has faced before.

The episode was first broadcast on 13 May 2006. It was directed by Graeme Harper, who became the first and so far only man in the show's history to have directed episodes in both the original and revived runs of the series: he previously directed the acclaimed serial The Caves of Androzani in 1984,[1] and Revelation of the Daleks in 1985.


Aboard the TARDIS, the Doctor and Rose reminisce about their travels in front of Mickey, who feels left out. Suddenly the TARDIS is jolted and comes to a sudden stop. The Doctor tells them they have fallen out of the time vortex and that the TARDIS's power cell is dead. The Doctor fears they are trapped in the Void, but Mickey opens the TARDIS doors to see that they are in London. Heading outside to look, they quickly realise that they are in London on a parallel Earth. The Doctor finds a small power cell in the TARDIS that still works, and he energises it with some of his own lifeforce. The cell needs time to recharge, so they decide to explore the alternate world. Rose is shocked to see a billboard with her father's picture on it, and the Doctor warns her not to seek him out because he is not her real father. Mickey decides to head off on his own and try to find his grandmother, who died in his universe. The Doctor and Rose discover that most of the population of London wear EarPod devices that feed information directly into the wearer's brain.

Meanwhile, the head of Cybus Industries, John Lumic, tries and fails to gain approval from the President of Great Britain for his plan to upgrade humanity by placing their brains into metal exoskeletons. Lumic calls Pete Tyler and tells him that he will be attending a party that Pete is having that evening for his wife, Jackie. Unknown to everyone else, Lumic has already been secretly conducting his experiments anyway, using homeless people and turning them into cyborgs. Cybus is being investigated by a group called the Preachers, who have been receiving information secretly from Pete Tyler about Lumic's technology. Jake Simmonds, one of the Preachers, witnesses a group of homeless people being taken to be converted and goes to collect help. Jake finds Mickey at his grandmother's house, and confuses him with his parallel counterpart Ricky. Jake takes Mickey to the Preacher's base where Ricky and Mickey meet. After some initial distrust, Mickey decides to join them as they plan to raid Pete's party that night.

Rose and the Doctor also decide to investigate the party and don servant garb to disguise themselves. The Doctor and Rose learn that Pete and Jackie are childless and about to divorce. When Rose attempts to discuss it with Jackie she is rebuked for overstepping her bounds. Suddenly the party is interrupted by the Cybermen, who smash into the house and surround the guests. Lumic calls the President, who is in attendance, telling him that he is moving forward with his plans and that all of humanity will be upgraded. Lumic tells everyone that upgrading is compulsory and that anyone who refuses will be deleted. The President refuses to be upgraded and is killed by a Cyberman. The partygoers panic, try to flee and the Cybermen begin killing them. The Doctor, Rose, and Pete escape the house and encounter Mickey and the Preachers outside. They try firing upon the advancing Cybermen with automatic rifles, but their bullets do no damage and soon they are surrounded. The Doctor tells everyone to surrender and tells the Cybermen that they are volunteering for the upgrade. The Cybermen tell them that they are incompatible and will be deleted. The episode ends with the Cybermen advancing on them.


In keeping with the theme of the second series, Torchwood is referenced twice in this episode, one in the news report that Rose watches on her mobile phone which mentions the Torchwood Institute, and during the party, when Pete Tyler asks a party-goer "how's it going at Torchwood?". In "Doomsday," Pete Tyler tells the Doctor the secret operations of Torchwood of the parallel Earth were discovered and became part of public knowledge.

Annoyed at the Doctor's choice to sneak into Jackie's birthday party as servants, one of Rose's suggestions of people they could have been are "Sir Doctor" and "Dame Rose," a reference to the honours they received from Queen Victoria in the episode "Tooth and Claw."

Mickey's doppelganger in the alternate universe is named "Ricky", a reference to the misnomer by which the Ninth Doctor would often humorously refer to Mickey in early episodes of series 1.

When the TARDIS crash lands at the beginning of the episode, six gas masks fall from the ceiling. This is the first visual reference of the TARDIS requiring six pilots in a Doctor Who television story. This is confirmed by The Doctor himself in "Journey's End". The name of the Cybus Industries front company on the lorries transporting the homeless to be upgraded, International Electromatics, is a reference to the Cybermen's front company in the 1968 serial The Invasion. St Paul's Cathedral, which appears matted into the background in one of the scenes shot in Cardiff, also appeared in The Invasion, which featured the Cybermen marching down some steps with the cathedral in the background.

The tuxedo the Doctor wears to the party makes an appearance in several later episodes. In "The Lazarus Experiment" he wears it to the unveiling of Dr. Lazarus' machine. He comments to Martha Jones that every time he wears it something bad happens. In "Voyage of the Damned" he wears it to the party on board the starliner Titanic before the ship is attacked and nearly crashes into Earth.

The Doctor mentions the Void in this episode. In the series finale "Army of Ghosts"/"Doomsday" the Doctor tells Torchwood how the Daleks shattered the barrier between universes with a Void ship, allowing the Cybus Cybermen from this episode to cross over their universe.


Doctor Who Magazine #368 confirmed that this story was inspired by the Big Finish Productions audio play Spare Parts. Russell T Davies had previously described (along with The Holy Terror) as "some of the finest drama ever written for any genre, in any medium, anywhere." Spare Parts author, Marc Platt, received a fee and was credited in the end titles ("With thanks to Marc Platt"), and there is a nod in the dialogue with Mickey labelling himself a "spare part." However, writer Tom MacRae noted that his television story was not a simple rewrite of Spare Parts: "My story isn't the same — it's got a different setting, different themes, and different characters, 'cause once we started talking, the whole thing developed in a very different direction. But as Russell says, we wouldn't have started this whole line of thinking if he hadn't heard Spare Parts in the first place."

Early drafts of this story featured "Body Shops", where wealthy people would purchase new cybernetic limbs. Davies vetoed this element because he found it unbelievable. He also instructed Tom MacRae to tone down the differences between the parallel universe versions of characters and their "real" universe counterparts. "I think it was one of those great lessons about the freedom of SF, as well as its greatest dangers, because when you're creating a parallel world, you suddenly get excited by saying everyone can wear eye patches," said Davies, referring to the alternative Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart in Inferno.[2] According to Graeme Harper on the episode commentary, the pre-credits sequence was written by Russell T Davies as he was not satisfied with the original opening. In the commentary, it is noted that Jackie's "40th" birthday is a reference to the 40th anniversary of the broadcast of "The Tenth Planet," the first appearance of the Cybermen.

Location shooting took place at the Coal Exchange and Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff Bay.[3] The external shots of the chimneys and many of the internal shots were taken at Uskmouth Power Station in Newport. Mickey sports a large tattoo on his right biceps; according to actor Noel Clarke's commentary, the tattoo was make-up applied for the episode.

The redesigned Cybermen

The Art Deco look of the 2006 Cybermen design follows that from the web cast Real Time. According to the episode commentary, director Graeme Harper wanted an Art Deco feel to the parallel universe Earth. Art Deco costumes had previously been used for the K1 Robot in Robot (1974) and for much of the cast (including robots) in The Robots of Death (1977). The Art Deco design, as well as the robotic movements of the Cybermen, are reminiscent of Fritz Lang's Metropolis.

Unlike the two-part stories from the 2005 series, this episode featured no "Next time" trailer for the next episode — only a title card reading "To be continued...", the first time the phrase has ever been used to end an episode in the programme's history. The production team had stated previously that one episode in this series was so long that there was no time for a preview. Many viewers, and writer Steven Moffat,[4] had criticised the use of a preview for "World War Three" at the end of the 2005 episode "Aliens of London" as it spoiled the dramatic cliffhanger ending. Beginning with "The Impossible Planet", trailers for the second part of stories were run during the middle eight, after the main credits, to allow viewers time to switch off.

Official BBC websites include http://www.cybusindustries.net, http://www.cybusfitness.co.uk/ and http://www.internationalelectromatics.co.uk/. Other similarly named websites are run by fans. The BBC also registered the following domain names: cybusindustries.com,[5] cybusindustries.co.uk,[6] cybusfinance.com,[7] cybusfinance.co.uk,[8] cybusproperty.com[9] and cybusproperty.co.uk.[10] Another website created by BBC is http://www.henriksonline.co.uk/index.htm for the department store Rose had worked at in the episode "Rose". Its book store includes the images of both John Lumic's book "Man of Steel" and Jackie Tyler's biography "The Strong Survive".

Cast notes[edit]

Colin Spaull played the role of Lilt in Revelation of the Daleks, which was also directed by Graeme Harper. Spaull is the sixth actor to appear in both the original series and the revival. He also appeared in the audio play Grand Theft Cosmos as Henrik. Don Warrington, who plays the President, previously provided the voice for Time Lord founder Rassilon in the Doctor Who audio plays Seasons of Fear, Neverland, and Zagreus produced by Big Finish Productions. Helen Griffin later appeared in the audio play Cobwebs. Paul Antony-Barber later played Ludovic Comfort in the audio play The Magic Mousetrap.

Graeme Harper is the first director to have directed stories in the original and new series of Doctor Who, having previously directed The Caves of Androzani and Revelation of the Daleks. As seen in Doctor Who Confidential episode "Cybermen", the actors playing the Cybermen went through extensive choreographing to perfect their movements.

Roger Lloyd-Pack and David Tennant previously worked together in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, playing father and son, Barty Crouch Sr. and Barty Crouch Jr. respectively.

According to The Sun, Roger Lloyd-Pack broke his leg just days before filming began on the episode, requiring the scripts being rewritten to place his character, John Lumic, in a wheelchair.[11] Writer Tom MacRae told Doctor Who Magazine in issue #369 that no rewrites were necessary: the script had always had Lumic in a wheelchair as this became part of his motivation for creating the Cybermen given that he was in a wheelchair and dying and wanted to prolong his life. Roger Lloyd-Pack told The Daily Mirror that he based the character of Lumic on Donald Rumsfeld: "I thought, 'Who is a power-hungry mad person who believes he is completely right and has a lot of control?' Donald Rumsfeld came to mind. He's as bad a man as I see around now."[12]

Broadcast and reception[edit]

Although scheduled to be broadcast in the UK from 7:00 to 7:45 p.m., the episode was broadcast from 7:23 p.m.[13] due to the overrunning of the FA Cup Final. The corresponding episode of Doctor Who Confidential was subsequently delayed until "Rise of the Cybermen" had aired. Overnight viewing figures for this episode averaged 8.6 million (39.7% share), peaking at 9.65 million. The audience Appreciation Index was 86.[14] Its final viewing figure was 9.22 million, making it the sixth most watched programme of the week.[13]

This episode was released together with "The Age of Steel" and "The Idiot's Lantern" as a "vanilla" DVD with no special features, and later as part of the complete Series 2 boxed set.

Digital Spy's Dek Hogan reacted positively to "Rise of the Cybermen", describing the new Cybermen as "stunning, not only looking fantastic but being genuinely scary at the same time". He particularly praised how the storyline "ties in with our obsession with upgrading everything" and that Noel Clarke was given more to do.[15] Ahsan Haque of IGN gave the episode a rating of 8.5 out of 10, feeling that it "delivers both in scope and with some great dialogue". Haque was especially positive to the return of the Cybermen and the focus on Mickey and Rose.[16] Nick Setchfield of SFX gave the two-parter a positive review, highlighting Harper's direction which he felt added imagination and menace to the Cybermen and the parallel universe. However, he felt that Lloyd-Pack's performance was too over-the-top for the current "subtler" incarnation of Doctor Who, which made him come across as "jarringly two-dimensional".[17]


  1. ^ Cameron, Kirsty (16 September 2009). "Doctor Who Top 10: fans vote for all-time best episode". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-24. 
  2. ^ Nazzaro, Joe (2006-05-10). "Who's Cybermen Lighten Up". Sci Fi Wire. Retrieved 2006-05-11. 
  3. ^ "Walesarts, Coal Exchange and Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff Bay". BBC. Retrieved 2010-05-30. 
  4. ^ Steven Moffat, "The Empty Child", Doctor Who Series 1, DVD audio commentary
  5. ^ "Cybusindustries.com Whois Lookup - Who.is - Who.is". who.is. 
  6. ^ "Cybusindustries.co.uk Whois Lookup - Who.is - Who.is". who.is. 
  7. ^ "Cybusfinance.com Whois Lookup - Who.is - Who.is". who.is. 
  8. ^ "Cybusfinance.co.uk Whois Lookup - Who.is - Who.is". who.is. 
  9. ^ "Cybusproperty.com Whois Lookup - Who.is - Who.is". who.is. 
  10. ^ "Cybusproperty.co.uk Whois Lookup - Who.is - Who.is". who.is. 
  11. ^ "The Sun Online: Trigger's Dr Who part revised after leg break". London. Retrieved 2007-04-07. [dead link]
  12. ^ Robertson, Cameron (4 May 2006). "All the President's Cybermen". The Daily Mirror. Archived from the original on 13 June 2006. Retrieved 2006-05-05. 
  13. ^ a b "A Brief History of Time (Travel): "Rise of the Cybermen"/"The Age of Steel"". Retrieved 2007-04-06. 
  14. ^ Doctor Who Magazine: Series Two Companion (14 - Special Edition), 9 November 2006  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ Hogan, Dek (14 May 2012). "Laugh? I nearly paid my license fee". Digital Spy. Retrieved 31 December 2012. 
  16. ^ Haque, Ahsan (30 October 2006). "Doctor Who: "Rise of the Cybermen" Review". IGN. Retrieved 31 December 2012. 
  17. ^ Setchfield, Nick (22 May 2006). "Doctor Who 2.5 and 2.6 Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel". SFX. Archived from the original on 27 August 2006. Retrieved 31 December 2012. 

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