Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

Heavy metal

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coverage of series 2, 2006

  1. All aboard the TARDIS (15 April)
  2. Bad wolf? | Royal prey (22 April)
  3. Friends reunited (29 April)
  4. Tick tock! | Letters (6 May)
  5. Heavy metal (13 May)
  6. The Mick of Time | Letters (20 May)
  7. Do not adjust... | Letters (27 May)
  8. Ood ... you are awful (3 June)
  9. Talk of the devil | Letters (10 June)
  10. Careful what you wish for ... (17 June)
  11. Unearthly child (24 June)
  12. Time to move on | Letters (1 July)
  13. On the set with ... David Tennant (8 July) |
    Letters (July 22)
  14. The Claus of doom (23 December) | Letters (14 January)

coverage of other series
S1 | S2 | S3 | S4 | Specials | S5 | S6 | S7 | S8 | S9 | S10


"We're in a parallel universe and we wanted to create episodes that felt like: what if the Nazis had won the war?" says production designer Edward Thomas. "It's zeppelins, it's Art Deco — clean lines, very industrial."

Last year, playgrounds — and offices — resounded once more to the cry of "exterminate" as the Daleks returned. Now the Doctor and Rose face another old adversary: if the Cybermen! The flesh-and-metal fiends have had a makeover, but what else is new? Find out over the next five pages. Photos by Matt Holyoak


The daddy of them all. Note the different head casing, eyes that light up and sprockets on the chest



"You might notice that they've got oil ducts in the eyes," says production designer Edward Thomas. "It's supposed to be an oil duct, but it gives the image of a tear. They are sad creatures. There are human beings inside that have been taken out of their bodies and encased in these metal cases. They'll never escape."


"The head is fibreglass," explains Neill Gorton (special makeup and prosthetic effects), "but Russell [T Davies, executive producer] was adamant they had to look like steel. We tried different paint finishes and it just didn't work. We ended up doing it as 'cold cast metal': you take a powdered metal, add it to a resin and brush that into your moulds, then put fibreglass behind that. When you polish it, it's a fabulous finish and looks and feels like metal. But it's very time consuming, polishing it by hand through different grades of sandpaper, wet and dry paper, metal polish ..."


These enable life-support tubes to be connected to the chest


Edward Thomas: "Because the actors have to do a lot of stunts, fall over, get killed, you've got to really make sure that [the costume] is user friendly. We had lots of concerns when we were designing them ..."


Neill Gorton: "You couldn't build a Cyberman without handlebars on the head! We wanted a completely new Cyberman, but it still has that nod to the past."

Edward Thomas: "We've replicated the head handlebars on the bodies. Things like that can get caught on cameras and each other, so while you're trying to design the most spectacular-looking monster, you also have to bear in mind the practicalities."


Roger Lloyd Pack (above) plays John Lumic, the man behind the Cyberman production company, Cybus Industries. "I play a kind of evil genius who's creating an army of Cybermen to make himself immortal," says Lloyd Pack, who broke his ankle a week after agreeing to the role. It was fortunate, then, that the character of Lumic uses a wheelchair!


Edward Thomas: "The whole design concept of the episode was that it was going to be Art Deco, so we kept the very Art Deco lines. And it's mass-produced, it's a metal monster, so it all has to feel as if it clips together."


Neill Gorton: "There's a suit underneath with rubber sections that you can see through the joints. It's made of Lycra and has a harness stitched into it of webbing with clips. They put that on first.

"Then all the panels, the legs and arms go on in one piece, and the body panels are clipped around. Those clips are hidden; you poke a little device through a hole to reach the clip, so you can unclip them really fast, which is especially handy if a Cyberman is desperate for the toilet!

"Then the head goes on, and they have silicone hands and neck. It's a lot of pieces — there are 13 making up the body."

Actor Paul Kasey (above) says, "It wasn't until the first day of the shoot that I put it all on. It took about half an hour, the first time. By the end of the shoot I'd got it down to about ten minutes. You feel like a powerhouse, like this machine that's so destructive. It's just great to bring them alive, to get inside one."


Neill Gorton: "We wanted to bring the Cybermen into the 21st century, make them look more real and give them a uniformity that they didn't have previously. You always had one guy 6ft 2, one guy 5ft 6, one with a beer belly, one stood in the foreground overacting and two in the background, slouching. They are an army. They should be the same."


The 2006 model went through many variations, with designers poring over the different incarnations from the original series. "We all put our designs into be approved by Russell," says prosthetics supervisor Rob Mayor, "then he picked bits he liked out of certain designs. But the final design came from the art department."


Tom MacRae - at 26, the youngest of the Doctor Who writers - has two Blue Peter badges. The first he won in 1988 in a competition to design an acre of theme park. ("I had a robotic abominable snowman and I drew a diagram to show where the batteries went to make his eyes flash," he recalls.)

The second he got from a Cyberman, or rather, Blue Peter presenter Gethin Jones, who makes a guest "appearance" as a Cyberman in MacRae's two-parter: Rise of the Cybermen and The Age of Steel.

It's the latest resurrection for the show, which last year brought back the Daleks, amid a nationwide scramble to hide behind sofas. The Cybermen last turned up in Doctor Who in the story Silver Nemesis in 1988, when Sylvester McCoy played the Doctor, while their first appearance was 40 years ago in the William Hartnell adventure The Tenth Planet.

Today's silver cyborgs have been redesigned: Art Deco-styled, more homogenous, but no less sinister. But how will they be introduced to a new generation?

"The Cybermen are us; they're humans converted," says MacRae. "They are technologically better, and in the process they lost their compassion. They were one of the first sci-fi villains to do that 'How scary is it to lose your emotions?' thing. The problem now is that it's become a hackneyed idea. So you're trying to keep what's brilliant about them without everyone saying, 'We've seen that before."'

How? "We've gone to the root of what's scary, which is that they come and they take you and they don't kill you, but they turn you into one of them. That's the story."

The writer promises plenty of special effects and something "very action film-y", but won't say where the action is set. "Even answering that is giving too much away," he says. "But it was filmed in Cardiff:" Which is where he met Gethin Jones, and got his shield-shaped badge, watching his episodes take shape.

"The Cybermen look as amazing when you see them in the flesh, so to speak, as they do on screen. The o difference is that when they move they make a plasticky noise, which screen they've dubbed into a more metallic 'Shonk! Shonk!' sound.

"Then they take their helmets off and it's ten guys standing around. Put the helmets back on and they're Cybermen again. It's amazing."

Tom MacRae grew up with Sylvester McCoy as his Doctor (the Seventh), loved the show and always wanted to write for it - and now he having arrived via Sky One's Mile High, No Angels, Mayo and a children's book, The Opposite, which, courtesy of his surname, sits next to Madonna's.

So, did coming face to face with a Cyberman scare him? "I don't think you can be scared by something you' written," he says. "Mind you, having said that, I did have a nightmare abo them just after I started [writing the episodes], where they were coming at me and I was going, 'You can't! I created you!'" EMI


The book Doctor Who: Aliens and Enemies is available for £5.99 (add £2.95 p&p per copy). To order, send a cheque, made payable to BBC Shop, to: BBC Shop, PO Box 308, Sittingbourne, Kent, MW9 8LW


The bulky 1966 model (far left) as it appeared in The Tenth Planet; the Cyber Controller (left) in 1985's Attack of the Cybermen; and this year's model (below) on the rampage

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  • APA 6th ed.: Griffiths, Nick (2006-05-13). Heavy metal. Radio Times p. 11.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Griffiths, Nick. "Heavy metal." Radio Times [add city] 2006-05-13, 11. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Griffiths, Nick. "Heavy metal." Radio Times, edition, sec., 2006-05-13
  • Turabian: Griffiths, Nick. "Heavy metal." Radio Times, 2006-05-13, section, 11 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Heavy metal | url= | work=Radio Times | pages=11 | date=2006-05-13 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=27 November 2021 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Heavy metal | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=27 November 2021}}</ref>