User:Revenge of the Cybermen/Revenge of the Cybermen

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079 – Revenge of the Cybermen
Doctor Who serial
Directed by Michael E. Briant
Written by Gerry Davis
Robert Holmes (uncredited)
Script editor Robert Holmes
Produced by Philip Hinchcliffe
Executive producer(s) None
Production code 4D
Series Season 12
Length 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Originally broadcast April 19–May 10, 1975
← Preceded by Followed by →
Genesis of the Daleks Terror of the Zygons
List of Doctor Who serials

Revenge of the Cybermen is a serial in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four weekly parts from April 19 to May 10, 1975.


Returning from Skaro by means of the Time Ring, the Doctor, Harry and Sarah find themselves back on Space Station Nerva but millennia earlier, where a lethal infection is spreading through the crew.


Part One[edit]

Following on from Genesis of the Daleks, the Fourth Doctor, Harry and Sarah use the Time Ring, spinning their way through time and space back to Space Station Nerva. They land back in the control room they left when they last beamed down to Earth, but Sarah notices the TARDIS is not there. The Doctor tells Sarah that the time ship is drifting back in time towards them and they just need to wait for her to catch up. A door slides open, revealing a dead body, and many more beyond, littering the outer ring of the station.

In a communications room, crewman Warner warns off an approaching spaceship away from Nerva Beacon, which is under quarantine due to a plague. Professor Kellman, a planetary surveyor, asks Commander Stevenson how long they can run a 50-man station with three men, but the other young officer, Lester, thinks they can continue to manage. Nerva is on a 30-year assignment to warn ships away from Voga, the new asteroid it is orbiting, until its presence is updated on all the starcharts of inbound ships.

The time travellers find a sealed door leading to Section Q. The Doctor surmises that this is the same station they left, but thousands of years in the past, before the solar flares that devastated Earth. As the Doctor tries to get through the door, the trio fail to see a silver, snake-like creature — a cybermat — crawling around the bodies behind them.

Somewhere else, an alien tries to contact Nerva, and barely gets through to Warner before he is shot by two more of his own kind. The only place the signal could have come from is Voga, but Kellman tells Warner that he set up the transmat station there and spent six months cataloguing its rocks. Voga had drifted into the solar system 50 years before and had been captured by Jupiter's gravity. An asteroid of that size drifting between star systems could not support life and he warns against going down to Voga and spreading the plague. Warner logs the call anyway. The Doctor manages to open the sealed door, which activates an alarm, warning the Commander, Lester and Warner of the intruders.

On Voga, Vorus, leader of the Guardians of the mines, orders his men to bury the dead Vogan that was shot earlier. Magrik, his aide, tells him that the dead Vogan was frightened of Vorus's plan. Vorus tells him that they can trust their agent on Nerva. Gold buys humans, and they have more gold on Voga than in the rest of the galaxy. He also points out that the reason the agent had not contacted them is probably because the Cybermen are monitoring transmissions.

In the communications room, the cybermat attacks Warner, biting him before it is thrown off. Warner collapses, glowing veins appearing on his face while Kellman enters and pulls the magnetic log tape from the console. Meanwhile, the Doctor, Harry and Sarah have reached the forward control room, mere seconds before Lester and Stevenson enter levelling their weapons at them. The door behind them slides open to reveal the communications room, and Kellman brings Stevenson to Warner's fallen form.

When Stevenson sees that his crewman has the plague, he prepares to shoot Warner to stop the infection's spread, but the Doctor stops him. The Doctor lies, saying that they are a medical team sent from Earth, and convinces Stevenson to let Harry examine Warner. They take Warner to the crew quarters as Kellman returns to his own room and spies on the Doctor and Stevenson in the communications room using an assembled camera. Stevenson tells the Doctor about the asteroid, formerly named Neo Phobos, but renamed Voga by Kellman. The Doctor recognises the name: Voga, the Planet of Gold, and realises that Cybermen are involved. Stevenson says the Cybermen died out centuries before, but the Doctor points out they merely vanished after attacking Voga at the end of the last Cyber-War. Hearing all this, Kellman contacts a Cybership nearby, its crew commanded by a Cyber Leader with a black helmet. The ship moves towards Nerva.

Warner is dead. When the Doctor examines the body he finds two puncture wounds, indicating that Warner was injected with poison and confirming the Doctor's suspicion that there is no plague. The Doctor says that if he had seen Warner earlier he might have been able to use Nerva's transmat to filter out the poison from his system. The Doctor has another suspicion; investigating Kellman's quarters, he finds the communications device as well as some gold. The Doctor hides when Kellman returns, but Kellman realises that someone has been inside the room. He sabotages the room, electrifying the floor and sending gas pouring up from it. Keeping off the floor, the Doctor reaches the door to open it with his sonic screwdriver. Meanwhile, Sarah, who was watching a sort of futuristic T.V, is attacked by the cybermat.

Part Two[edit]

The Doctor escapes Kellman's room and hears Sarah screaming. He throws the cybermat to the floor and kills it with some gold dust from Kellman's room, but Sarah has already been bitten. The Doctor carries her to the transmat chamber, handing her to Harry, and prepares to beam them down to Voga and back. However, Kellman has taken the transmat's pentalium drive. The Doctor reconfigures the transmat to bypass the sabotaged system while Stevenson and Lester go and confront Kellman. On Voga, Vorus observes a giant rocket, the Sky Striker. He tells Magrik that his agent has informed them that the Cybermen are heading for the beacon. Vorus wants the Sky Striker fitted with its bomb head in four hours.

The Doctor jury rigs the transmat, and Harry and Sarah beam down to Voga. With the poison filtered out, Sarah instantly recovers. As Harry notices that the cavern floor is littered with gold, Vogans arrive and capture them. Harry and Sarah are brought before Vorus, who wants to know who is still alive on Nerva. However, the answers will have to wait. Harry and Sarah are taken away while Vorus answers a call from Tyrum chief Councillor of Voga, who arranges for them to meet.

Lester and Stevenson capture Kellman. The Doctor explains that the Cybermen fear Voga because gold, as a non-corrodible substance, plates their breathing apparatus and suffocates them. The Doctor cannot get Harry and Sarah back without the pentalium drive, but Kellman feigns ignorance, trying to buy time until the Cybermen arrive. The Doctor uses a control box he found in Kellman's room to activate a cybermat, threatening Kellman with it until he reveals that the drive is around his neck.

Harry and Sarah are chained up in a cave, where Harry notes that the chains are solid gold, which is soft metal that perhaps they can file through. Meanwhile, Tyrum tells Vorus that he knows that aliens have come to Voga. He also knows that Vorus wants Voga to emerge as a trading power again and not hide from the Cybermen, who apparently disappeared centuries ago. Because of this, Tyrum no longer trusts Vorus or the Guardians, and will send his Militia to take over the mines. Vorus is furious, but Tyrum says his troops have orders to crush any resistance.

Fighting breaks out in the mines between the Guardians and the Militia. Vorus tells Magrik to keep Tyrum from finding out about the Sky Striker, and to kill the two humans immediately. Harry and Sarah have managed to free themselves, however, and get away before the execution team arrives. They are pursued by more Guardians, who fire at them. Harry and Sarah are cornered and about to be shot when Militia troops appear in the galleries, forcing the Guardians to stand down.

The Doctor has repaired the transmat, but is unable to lock on to Harry and Sarah as they have left the receptor circle. At that point, Lester detects an incoming ship, but it does not respond to their signals. As the Cybership docks, the Doctor recognises it for what it is, but is unable to lock the hatch. The Cybermen come through, impervious to gunfire, and shoot all three men down.

Part Three[edit]

The Cyber Leader tells Kellman that the three men are not dead, merely neutralised, as they are necessary to their plan.

Harry and Sarah meet Tyrum down on Voga and start to explain about their plan to find the TARDIS.

Kellman explains that he set the transmat receptors mere yards from a shaft that leads into the core of Voga. As the environment is hostile to Cybermen, the three men will carry explosives down to Voga and destroy the asteroid. Kellman insists on going down to Voga first to check that the transmat is functioning properly and the Cyber Leader beams him down. There, he runs into some Militia. Not realising the distinction between them and the Guardians, he demands to see Vorus and is taken away while trying to warn them that they are all in danger. Meanwhile, when Harry and Sarah mention Cybermats, Tyrum decides to take them to the gold mines to confront Vorus.

The Doctor wonders what Kellman's reward is, if it is not Voga's gold. He taunts the Cyber Leader, saying that the Cybermen were finished once humans discovered their weakness to gold and ended the Cyber-Wars. Cyber Leader tells the Doctor that is the reason why Voga must be destroyed before the Cybermen begin their campaign again. The Cyber Leader says that Kellman was promised the rule of the solar system after the Cybermen had conquered it.

With Cyberbombs strapped to their backs, the Doctor, Lester and Stevenson are briefed. They are to plant the bombs in the core of the planet, after which they have 14 minutes to return and escape via transmat. If they try to remove their harnesses before they reach the target zone, a secondary explosion will kill them. Their progress will be followed by radar, so if they go off course the Cybermen can use manual controls to explode the bombs. The three beam down, accompanied by two Cybermen, one of them holding a timer. Militia arrive and start to fire on the Cybermen. The Doctor, Lester and Stephenson run away as the two Cybermen kill two out of three Vogans, the other running away. The two Cybermen climb under a rock and enter a chamber with a staircase going up the side. About ten Vogans who were stationed on the stairs open fire on the Cybermen but their weapons are useless and they are all killed by the Cybermens lasers.

None of the three men believe that the Cyber Leader will keep his word about letting them escape, but they have to keep moving towards the target zone as they are being monitored. On Nerva, the Cyber Leader declares that Kellman is of no further use to them.

Tyrum questions Kellman, who tells him that he and Vorus were working to lure the Cybermen to the beacon, which Vorus has targeted with a rocket. At that moment, a Militia man arrives to tell Tyrum about the arrival of the Cybermen, and how their weapons are useless. Kellman urges them to use the rocket. Tyrum orders his men to use every weapon they can while he speaks to Vorus. Harry tells Sarah to get back to Nerva and warn the Doctor while he tries to stop the rocket from being fired.

When Tyrum tells Vorus about the Cybermen on Voga, he shows Tyrum the Sky Striker, which he has been working on for two years. However, with the Cybermen already on Voga, they have no time to get it ready. Vorus claims his plans were to just free his people from the fear of the Cybermen and bring them back into the light. Tyrum scoffs, seeing as Vorus has allied himself with Kellman, a double agent and murderer, motivated only by the promise of gold. Harry suggests finding another way into the core to stop the bombs.

The Cybermen continue their slaughter of the Vogans as the bomb timer ticks down even further. Sarah uses a motor boat and transmats back to Nerva, where she overhears the Cybermen monitoring the three men's progress. However, the deeper the three men go, the heavier the concentration of gold interferes with the radar. The men continue onward, however to the centre of the asteroid.

Harry and Kellman, meanwhile, are crawling down a cross shaft towards the same location. With the exit blocked, Harry pushes against the rocks, causing a rock slide. Kellman pushes Harry out of the way, but is crushed to death by a boulder, while on the other side, rocks rain down on the Doctor. Harry exits the shaft and finds the Doctor unconscious. Not realising the danger, Harry tries to unbuckle the Doctor's harness.

Part Four[edit]

Fortunately, Harry is stopped by Lester. The Doctor awakens and conceives a plan. Stevenson will continue on and create a radar trail, while the rest use the cross shaft to surprise and attack the Cybermen with gold. The Doctor and Harry jump the two Cybermen, trying to push gold dust into their chest plates. However, the Cybermen are too strong, and Harry and the Doctor are forced to retreat. Lester leaps onto the Cybermen and undoes his harness, the explosion killing both himself and the Cybermen in a burst of flames.

With the loss of contact, the Cyber Leader orders immediate detonation. Sarah tries to stop them but is thrown to the floor. However, when the button is pressed, no explosion follows. The Doctor has managed to disarm the countdown device, which allows him to release his harness safely. With Sarah tied up, the Cyber Leader now plans to send Nerva, loaded with more Cyberbombs, to crash into Voga to destroy it.

Magrik tells Vorus that the Sky Striker is now ready, but before he can launch it, the Doctor asks them to give him 15 minutes to transmat to Nerva and deal with the Cybermen himself, armed with a bag of gold dust. If he does not contact them by that time, then they can launch the rocket.

The Doctor reaches Nerva and frees Sarah while the Cybermen are loading the bombs. He takes the cybermat and its control box, filling the cybermat with gold dust. The Doctor sends the cybermat to attack a Cyberman, injecting him with the dust and killing him. As Nerva begins to move towards Voga, Vorus sees this and attempts to fire the rocket. Tyrum shoots Vorus, but as the Guardian dies, he triggers the launch.

The Doctor and Sarah's attack on the remaining Cybermen fails; The Doctor is forced by the Cyberleader to tie himself and Sarah up and they are left to perish in the crash. However, the Sky Striker is approaching just as fast. The Doctor manages to untie them both with a trick learned from Harry Houdini, and contacts Voga, instructing them to steer the rocket towards the Cybership that is just leaving. The Sky Striker veers away from Nerva and destroys the Cybership instead. However, the beacon is still on a collision course. The Doctor manages to unlock the gyro controls, skimming Nerva just above Voga's surface until they reach the other side of the asteroid and open space.

The TARDIS materialises in the control room just as Harry arrives via transmat. The Doctor tells his companions to hurry up; he's received a message from Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart through the space-time telegraph the Doctor left him, which means it is a grave emergency. Although Harry asks if they should say good-bye to the Commander, Sarah tells him not to argue. The three rush into the TARDIS and it dematerialises.

Cast notes[edit]


  • This serial forms part of a continuous series of adventures for the TARDIS crew, beginning from the end of Robot and continuing through to Terror of the Zygons, although the Virgin Missing Adventures novel A Device of Death takes place in a possible gap between Genesis of the Daleks and Revenge of the Cybermen, and the Past Doctor Adventures novel Wolfsbane is set in another such gap between Revenge and Zygons.
  • The story is in effect a sequel to non-existent adventure featuring the Cyber War which precedes the action in this adventure. All of the Doctor's dialogue about how the Cybermen fought and lost a war against humanity because Earth invented the "Glitter gun" was made up especially for this serial, and is not depicted elsewhere. Contrary to reports on the internet, the name of this deadly weapon was not in honour of the 1970s glam rock star Gary Glitter, but was chosen after Gerry Davis spotted a glitterball in a disco.
  • This is the first appearance of a 'Cyber Leader', distinguished from the others by the black trimmings on his helmet.
  • This is also the first reference to gold as a vulnerability of Cybermen, and use of it to kill the cyber-enhanced creatures. This vulnerability remained a plot point in some subsequent adventures (Earthshock and Silver Nemesis).
  • Rewrites by Robert Holmes made the Cybermen more emotional than writer Gerry Davis was happy with. This is the first story where the Cyberleader utters emotional language such as "Excellent", and at one point tells the Doctor, "Ooh, you are mistaken". Davis was therefore also unhappy with the story's title.
  • The extensive rewriting led to a number of continuity problems in the story. In Davis's earlier drafts, the Cybermen appear much earlier, which explains the presence of the Cybermats on the Beacon. In the broadcast version, they do not arrive until the end of Part Two, so how the Cybermats got onto the Beacon is never explained.
  • Another first appearance is the symbol which would eventually be known as the Seal of Rassilon. In this story, however, it is a symbol of the Vogans. Designer Roger Murray-Leach reused the Vogan symbol for the Time Lords in The Deadly Assassin and it has remained associated with the latter ever since (most recently in 2007's The Sound of Drums).
  • In the serial, Jupiter has twelve moons - as was known to be the case at the time of production. Since then sixty-three moons of Jupiter have been identified. The Eighth Doctor Adventures novel To the Slaughter (2005) by Stephen Cole explains this by saying that the additional moons were destroyed between the present and the time of Revenge to improve the solar system's feng shui and attract business investment. In his endnote to the book, Cole admits that the idea for the story came about specifically to explain away the "error" in Revenge.
  • The Beacon space station uses what appears to be an 1970s style magnetic tape recorder for recording voice communication. However, the tape burbles when not moving over the magnetic heads, suggesting that this is advanced technology that merely resembles that of the 1970s.
  • This story was the Cybermen's first appearance since the Second Doctor story The Invasion (1968), seven years previous. This is the only Fourth Doctor story to feature the Cybermen and they would not appear for seven more years until Earthshock in 1982.
  • This is the last on-screen appearance of the Cybermats, though they would later appear in the Eleventh Doctor computer adventure game.
  • The story is in some respects a partial remake of the earlier base-under-siege Cyberman serial The Moonbase, and includes similar dialogue.[citation needed]


Serial details by episode
Episode Broadcast date Run time Viewers
(in millions)
"Part One" 19 April 1975 (1975-04-19) 24:19 9.5
"Part Two" 26 April 1975 (1975-04-26) 24:24 8.3
"Part Three" 3 May 1975 (1975-05-03) 24:32 8.9
"Part Four" 10 May 1975 (1975-05-10) 23:21 9.4

Gerry Davis wrote the initial script Return of the Cybermen. Robert Holmes' rewrite added the Vogan elements to give Revenge.[4]

  • Producer Philip Hinchcliffe was new to the programme so this serial was commissioned by his predecessor Barry Letts. Letts and Holmes felt that with a new Doctor coming in and at that stage little idea of how he would be played, it would be best to play safe by using familiar big-name monsters such as the Daleks and Cybermen in the first season.
  • The script was modified as production developed to incorporate Tom Baker's style, and also had to be rewritten to modify how writer Gerry Davis had envisaged the new Doctor - as a more timid, reserved figure much in the manner of Patrick Troughton, which happened to be rather unlike Baker's portrayal.
  • The story was shot on the same set as The Ark in Space – representing a substantial cost saving – with location filming in Wookey Hole Caves. It was also shot in the production block immediately after Ark, which explains why the production code is out of broadcast sequence.
  • The location filming at Wookey Hole was plagued by a series of problems which the crew blamed on a curse.[5] The curse apparently was brought about when the production staff found a small rock formation that the locals called "The Witch"- despite warnings, they proceeded to put a witch hat and cloak on it. The assistant floor manager suffered a severe attack of claustrophobia, another crew member fell ill, and an electrician suffered a broken leg when a ladder collapsed.
  • During the scene when Sarah Jane rides one of the water skimmers, the boat went wild and she was forced to jump off, treading water despite heavy boots until her rescue by Terry Walsh, the programme's longtime stuntman. Both required precautionary vaccinations at a local hospital but were otherwise unhurt.
  • Some of the crew encountered a mysterious spelunker that the staff at the cave knew nothing about and who was subsequently rumoured to be a ghost.[citation needed]
  • The secret radio transmitter disguised as a clothes brush, used by Kellman, is the very same prop that appears in the 1973 James Bond film Live and Let Die. The prop was handed over by Bond actor Roger Moore himself when he visited the BBC in 1973. He later told the Radio Times that the props master, not recognising Moore, had paid him two shillings and sixpence for the item: "I'd popped into the Beeb [BBC] for a cup of tea and spotted a notice about an upcoming "Doctor Who", so I thought the darlings would be so cash-strapped they'd need anything they could get their hands on. It wasn't MGM, after all. But I didn't expect to walk out with two and six!"[6]
  • Carey Blyton composed the incidental music for this serial, his final work for the series. Producer Philip Hinchcliffe asked the BBC Radiophonic Workshop to enhance the score, which was done by Peter Howell by adding some synthesiser cues to Blyton's score. Howell would go on to arrange the 1980 Doctor Who theme music and provide incidental music for the series from The Leisure Hive (1980) to The Two Doctors (1985).
  • The masks for the principal actors playing the Vogans were specially moulded to their faces, but for the non-speaking artists the BBC had to cut costs. According to actor David Collings on the DVD commentary, who played Vorus, the masks for the extras were made using a facial mould of the Dad's Army star Arnold Ridley.
  • Originally, Cyber-costumes from the 1968 serial The Invasion were to have been used, but only two had survived, and in poor condition. This necessitated entirely new outfits, which included chest panels constructed from the innards of old television sets and trousers which, for the first time, were not tucked into the Cyber-boots.
  • Director Michael E. Briant opted to put the characters on the Nerva Beacon into contemporary clothing and have them use modern machine guns rather than attempt to depict the future through fashion.
  • Elisabeth Sladen's experience of being menaced by a rather limp Cybermat led her to decide to leave Doctor Who, though she changed her mind once production moved on to better-realised stories.
  • The script is peppered with innuendoes, most notoriously Sarah's line at the climax that "We're heading for the biggest bang in history!" Moments later, the Cyberleader orders "full thrust" and companion Harry Sullivan, talking about the Doctor, urges Sarah to "give him a whistle". On the DVD commentary it is noted that the cast and crew were aware of this at the time.
  • This story was mentioned many years later in the BBC comedy series The League of Gentlemen, in a sketch performed by fan Mark Gatiss called "Stumphole Cavern". This involved a false story that Tom Baker sprained his ankle during this story, whic fans have since confused with Baker actually breaking his collar bone earlier that season in The Sontaran Experiment.

In print[edit]

Doctor Who and the Revenge of the Cybermen
Author Terrance Dicks
Cover artist Chris Achilleos
Series Doctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
Publisher Target Books
Publication date
20 May 1976
ISBN 0-426-10997-X
Preceded by Doctor Who and the Ice Warriors
Followed by Doctor Who and the Genesis of the Daleks

A novelisation of this serial, written by Terrance Dicks, was published by Target Books in May 1976. The lines on the plague victims are black as in the Moonbase and the Cybermen discharge green gunge when dying, they also carry blasters instead of projectile headsets. The character of Magrik has lost his whooping cough and survives at the end. A Polish translation was published in 1994.

Broadcast, VHS, Beta and other release[edit]

  • This story was the first serial to be released on VHS in October 1983. It was released in an edited omnibus format, with the opening and closing titles of each episode removed. This omnibus was also released on Betamax and Laserdisc. It was one of the very few Doctor Who releases on Video 2000.[7] It was later released in an unedited, episodic format in May 1999. The Video 2000 and Betamax releases are very rare.
  • The story was the first VHS release despite being part of a linked season of stories, as fans had demanded that the then-missing story The Tomb of the Cybermen be released first in protest at the BBC policy of junking old episodes. When the BBC archivists discovered that Tomb was absent, they substituted another four-part story instead, having deemed Earthshock (1982) too recent.
  • There are two VHS versions released in the early 1980s. The first much rarer version comes with a video cover with images of Cybermen taken from Earthshock and starscape titles from post Leisure Hive stories.
  • The DVD of this story was released on 9 August 2010 as part of a box set with the Seventh Doctor serial Silver Nemesis, which is not linked to Revenge of the Cybermen in plot terms, other than featuring Cybermen.


  1. ^ Shaun Lyon; et al. (2007-03-31). "Revenge of the Cybermen". Outpost Gallifrey. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  2. ^ "Revenge of the Cybermen". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  3. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (2007-08-07). "Revenge of the Cybermen". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  4. ^ Howe-Stammers-Walker The Handbook:Fourth Doctor p64
  5. ^ Michael Briant, "The Tin Men and the Witch" documentary, Revenge of the Cybermen DVD release.
  6. ^ Radio Times, "Roger Who?" feature, 14th April 1978.
  7. ^

External links[edit]


Target novelisation[edit]