The Tomb of the Cybermen

Original release of the complete story:
Region 1

Region 2
VHS Video
(See bottom of page for Special Edition options)
(Doctor Who Story No. 37, starring Patrick Troughton)
  • written by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis
  • directed by Morris Barry
  • produced by Peter Bryant
  • featuring library music tracks
  • 4 episodes @ 25 minutes each
Story: Victoria joins the Doctor and Jamie in the TARDIS. They travel to the planet Telos, where an archeological expedition from Earth has just discovered a long lost city believed to be the final resting place of the deadly and dehumanizing Cybermen. But the Doctor suspects some members of the party have a hidden agenda, and he becomes determined to find out what it is....

The great introductory classic of the Patrick Troughton era.

Original DVD Extras include:

  • Audio commentary by actors Frazer Hines (Jamie) and Deborah Watling (Victoria Waterfield). [also included in Special Edition]
  • "Tombwatch" 1992 BAFTA conventional panel (28 min.) discussing the story's production, with Hines, Watling, Shirley Cooklin (Kaftan),
    Michael Kilgarriff (Cyber Controller), George Roubicek (Captain Hopper), Clive Merrison (Jim Callum), story editor Victor Pemberton,
    producer Peter Bryant, and director Morris Barry. * [not included in Special Edition]
  • Behind-the-Scenes at BBC Visual Effects (3 min.), with department head Jack Kine.
  • Unused Title Sequence and 8mm Cine Footage (3 min.)
  • introduction by director Morris Barry (from the VHS release, 3 min.)
  • 2001 Restoration featurette (5 min.) [not included in Special Edition]
  • Pop-up Production Note Subtitles
  • Photo Gallery (still menu)
  • Easter Eggs
  • "The Final End" fx sequence from "The Evil of the Daleks" episode 7, with story soundtrack (1 min.)
  • "Who's Who" text biographies (may only be included on the Region 1 NTSC original release)

Special Edition DVD Extras:

  • Additional restoration on the episodes, including the VidFire process
  • Additional audio commentary by Hines, Watling, Cooklin, Pemberton, Reg Whitehead (Cyberman), and Bernard Holley (Peter Haydon).
  • "The Lost Giants" making-of featurette (27 min.), with Hines, Watling, Cooklin, Pemberton, Kilgarriff, Holley, and
    visual effects designer Peter Day.
  • "Curse of the Cybermen's Tomb" featurette (15 min.) on the story's influences
  • Cybermen documentary - extended edition (32 min.)
  • "Tomb and the Magic of VidFire" featurette (7 min.)
  • Sky Ray promotional TV spot

In-Depth Analysis Review

by Martin Izsak

WARNING: This review contains "SPOILERS", and is intended for those who have
already seen the program. To avoid the spoilers, read the Buyers' Guide version instead.

This neat little story shouts "classic" from its opening shot all the way through to its closing visual statement, thanks to the masterful direction of an exceptional script. "The Tomb of the Cybermen" kicks off the infamous "Monster Season", although technically speaking, the supreme reign of monsters on Doctor Who might be said to begin with "The Moonbase" (story no. 33) and continue through to "The Seeds of Death" (story no. 48) with little interruption. Season Five, however, marks a set of monster stories of consistently high quality.

It's the beginning of a new season and a classic story, and the very first scene takes time to introduce the TARDIS, the Doctor, and his two friends, adding a bit of new information and humour, and whetting the audience's appetite for exploration, discovery, and adventure. All this fits perfectly into the series storyline, with Victoria coming on board, and mention of her father and Maxtible linking this story with the previous one. Every season opener should be as easily understandable to the masses.

Unfortunately, we don't get to see much of the police box beyond the opening shot of it sitting on Skaro - no materialization on Telos, no time travellers going in or coming out, all of which would have been the icing on the proverbial cake. However the interior scene is very satisfying, and the sound effects and explanatory dialogue are sufficient enough to expertly hold the story together.

Exploration is the name of the game all through the opening two episodes, what with the tomb holding secret after secret in its variety of hidden chambers, and half of the guest characters harbouring secret motives which we can anticipate early but not fully discover until later on. As the Doctor arrives with considerable fore-knowledge of the principles by which the Tomb was padlocked, his interest is more in the human characters, who prove to be as interesting as the Cybermen themselves.

Music plays a large role in this adventure - even when it isn't taking center-stage, there's almost always something playing very low-key in the background, adding to the atmospheres of wonder or tension or surprise or power. VERY well done! There are some incredibly well done sets as well - not so much the rather solitary wall of the tomb which appears only big enough to hold a handful of Cybermen, but the wall panel in the main control room, and the large video-screen in the weapons testing room are all extremely interesting while still appearing to have practical, if sometimes alien, uses. The hatch itself also proves very effective as a story device that lends itself well to the cameras and characters telling their story around it.

Audio CD -
Music from the Tomb of the Cybermen

Find out more here.

The cybermats work better in this story than in any other, with lots of carefully-done close up and effects shots, and good reactions from the rest of the cast. They have a story-beat confronting the Doctor and his friends all on their own, as well as important roles in several other scenes.

Putting an established actor in the role of the lead Cyberman also helps elevate all of the cyber performances. They have more character here than in any other pre-1980's story, and Michael Kilgariff is, of course, the definitive Cyber Controller. George Pastel puts in a very convincing job as Eric Klieg, a man whose quest for power believably seems to have developed as an over-compensation for his carefully guarded feelings of inadequacy and incompetence. His companion Kaftan, expertly played by Shirley Cooklin, seems to have realized that this is his button, which she pushes often to keep him and his mathematical skills wrapped around her finger, but not even her cool calculation seems to have bargained for the depths of sadistic insanity he is capable of descending to.

The story is not without a few technical hitches, which do not detract from the story very much. Curiously, they all seem to involve Toberman in battle scenes, from the cyber-sparks not lining up with him when he gets knocked unconscious, to the wires connected to his back showing before he gets lifted into the air, to the unbelievable whiplash that reveals just how empty the Cyberleader's costume is when Toberman hurls it onto the end of the console. Roy Stewart is better with straight acting, providing a good lasting sense of believable menace in only a small number of earlier shots.

George Roubicek as Captain Hopper has a large number of well-played scenes, but unfortunately a few of his shorter odd remarks come across a little cheesy.

What would a cyber-story be without a few cups of coffee? Victoria has one on behalf of cyber-stories everywhere, but unfortunately it doesn't sit well with her.

"Well, ya scream real good, Vic!"

Victoria is seen trying to verbally combat female stereotypes throughout this story, particularly against Captain Hopper and his crew, however actions (not to mention screams) speak louder than words, and once more Victoria resorts to "damsel-in-distress" mode fairly consistently. She does manage a major act of bravery, tackling a Cyberman with nothing more than a coffee thermos, but again this predictably leads her into another damsel-in-distress situation. She still comes off with a few more strong moments, bluffing the human villains early in episode four, and gaining enough of an intimate rapport with the Doctor to actually get him to talk about his family. Apart from "The Curse of Fenric" (story no. 158) and "The Rescue" (story no. 11), this is the only other story to mention his family without Susan actually being present, as far as I can remember. This story is actually one of Victoria's better ones.

"Congratulations, Doctor. And now let's see what you can do against this...."

There are several story-beats successively wrapping up the plot and resolving the conflicts surrounding the characters, most of which keep the Doctor and Jamie well occupied in problem-solving mode. Jamie is happy enough just to apply his brawn to action in whatever capacity the Doctor recommends, but the motivation behind the Doctor's manipulation of the other characters is not so purely heroic: his partly morbid curiosity seems to be a little too expensive in terms of human lives to be justifiable. The line is hard to draw, as his earliest plan for dealing with the power-drained Cyber Controller is a poorly-executed mistake, and he could be covering up a few other miscalculations after the fact to make it look as if he planned it all. Re-electrifying the main door at the end doesn't seem to be a very humane or smart move either. It will easily kill good and/or innocent explorers, and it won't stop any plundering band of Rutans or other power-crazed, electricity-friendly creatures. This end does not quite justify the means, at least in terms of motivation nit-picking.

In terms of dramatic and cinematic quality, the ending is quite good and satisfying. The Doctor and friends can claim to have saved what's left of the expedition and the rest of civilization from the Cybermen once more, but we are left with the haunting feeling that the Cybermen are not finished yet..... In my view, only one other Pat Troughton story surpasses the level of fascination and excellence found in the "Tomb of the Cybermen." Stay tuned to the continuing reviews on this web site to find out which it is.....

International Titles:

Deutsch: "Das Grab der Cybermen"

Magyar: "A kiborgok sírja"

Français: (Le Tombeau des Cybermen)

Русский: "Гробница киберлюдей"

This complete story has become available on DVD and VHS video.
Original release:
DVD NTSC Region 1
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
DVD PAL Region 2
for the U.K.
VHS Video
NTSC A for North America
NTSC B for North America
PAL for the U.K.

New Special Edition "Revisitations Volume 3" re-release:
DVD NTSC Region 1
Special Edition
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
NEW for March 13, 2012
DVD PAL Region 2
"Revisitations 3" Box Set
for the U.K.
NEW for Feb. 13, 2012

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Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next story: "The Abominable Snowmen"

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