Tomb of the Cybermen



Doctor Who Radio Times Cover

Tomb of the Cybermen Radio TimesTomb is one of  those stories that doesn’t immediately strike you as being in need of editing. The story would work as a stage adaptation as the action is almost continuous and pretty much takes place in just two sets – the control room and the tomb itself. This means that, as far as Fan Editing is concerned, it’s simply a case of tightening up the action as opposed to losing whole scenes of padding. When this story was returned to the archive it underwent something of a re-appraisal, but the passage of time from then has, I think, only enhanced its reputation as a classic story.  And it marks the first appearance of the Cybermats so there’s very little, if anything to dislike about the story, which means the Fan Edit’s only job it to try and make it into a really good compilation!

Episode One
We lose the introductory Tardis scene, which is really just a coda to the previous story Evil of the Daleks and would be better at the end of that story instead of the start of this one.

First episodes have a lot to do in terms of setting up the story so they usually have quite a bit of material left in the final edit, unlike some of their later counterparts, which are more likely to be padded out. There’s 14 minutes of material from the first episode here. I cut down the opening, removed the scene where Victoria gets trapped in the Revitaliser and cut back the projection room scenes to the one leading into the cliff-hanger.

tomb cybermen dwmEpisode Two
A very simple episode to edit, just a case of cutting down on the number of scenes. I tightened up the Cybermen waking up from their tomb and intercut it with the Cybermat coming to life in Victoria’s bag, to suggest that was why it was coming to life too.

I also included an additional music cue for the sequence where the Cyberman chases the Doctor up the hatchway ladder. It’s probably the most dramatic part of the whole show and I always felt it should have had music. And now it has! Again, about 14 minutes’ worth of material from this episode was used in the final edit.

tomb of the cybermen covers

Episode Three

Compilations of 60s episodes can be tricky things to edit. Because they were recorded a week at a time, the cliff-hangers could either be played in from film or re-enacted the following week. Here it`s the latter and means that the CyberController looks slightly different at the start of part three than he does at the end of part two, making the join really obvious when you cut from one to the other [like Tom’s hair in Pyramids of Mars] so the only solution was to use the part three version, which is a shame as I think part two’s shots are better.

TOMB CD 2The attack of the Cybermats [see what I did there?] was almost impossible to tighten up due to the music cue running over it but I managed a couple of tweaks that I do think help improve the sequence. The final cliff-hanger comes in at 40 minutes, meaning episode three has slightly less material than it’s predecessors at 12 minutes’ worth.

Episode Four
It’s impossible to join the two versions of the final cliff-hanger as Episode Four’s re-enactment is completely different. The only solution was to drop a Cybermen scene from later in the episode to plug the gap between the two. The only downside of this is that you don’t actually see Callum getting shot but there was no other solution. There`s about 16 minutes` worth of material here, the most from any of the episodes.


Toberman by Adrian Salmon, DWM 303


5 thoughts on “Tomb of the Cybermen

  1. I’ve been wanting to see this story for awhile now. Matt Smith says this is his favorite story, and that Pat Troughton is his favorite Doctor. He has good taste. I wonder if he’d ever happen upon this edit…

  2. I finished watching it today. Holds very special memories for me as it’s my first DW VHS tape, and my first Cyberman story. The edit was great, I loved the touches of music during the hatch chase and when the cybermats were deployed. I like the sudden death endings of these edits a lot, it seems to be a habit with the ones I frequent upon. Ending on Toberman’s electrified corpse gives the edit a more consequential feel to the story.

  3. It was 50 years ago when this story first aired. I’d never seen it before, not completely, so this was a good excuse to see it. It’s quite a tight story, very much a base under siege archetype. Although I could see how the casting of the villains could be criticised as racial stereotypes, in the context of 1967 – with Pakistan and India fresh out of another war, and China having just detonated an atomic bomb – I can see that there might have been anxiety about the spread of weapons of mass destruction. In that light I choose to view this story as a sci-fi analogy, with the Cybermen as weapons that nations might want to control but which ultimately lead you places you might not want to go. The fact the scientist figure – the Doctor – opens the door, out of curiosity, could be seen as a swipe at those who invented the Bomb in the first place.

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