Attack Of The Cybermen
Working Title: The Cold War.
Starring: Colin Baker (The Sixth Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri Brown).
The TARDIS is commandeered by the mercenary Lytton and a group of Cybermen, who are using another captured time machine to travel back to 1985. There, the Cybermen intend to use Halley's Comet to destroy the Earth, preventing the destruction of their home planet Mondas in 1986, and thus changing the course of history forever. Taken prisoner on Telos, the Doctor and Peri escape and ally themselves with the Cryons, a race which has been all but exterminated by the Cybermen. But in order to stop the Cyber plot, the time travellers may have to rely on none other than Lytton, whose motivations remain a mystery to all.
With Earthshock having proved a major success in Season Nineteen, producer John Nathan-Turner and script editor Eric Saward decided that a Cyberman story would be a good way to start off Doctor Who's twenty-second season. Saward was keen to write the serial himself, but Nathan-Turner was less comfortable with this, particularly since the guidelines of the Writers' Guild generally forebade script editor from commissioning themselves. Nonetheless, in late 1983 Saward collaborated with the series' unofficial fan adviser, Ian Levine, to drum up story ideas which would tie in with many of the Cybermen's Sixties serials. Armed with these discussions, which drew primarily from The Tomb Of The Cybermen and the debut Cyberman adventure, The Tenth Planet, Saward then expanded upon them -- adding such elements as the Cryons -- to craft a storyline titled The Cold War.
However, Saward could not be credited for the serial himself, and part of the agreement in principle under which Levine assisted the production team was that he would receive no onscreen acknowledgment of his contributions. As a result, Saward turned to writer Paula Woolsey, an ex-girlfriend with whom he was still on good terms. Although some sources suggest that Woolsey had already submitted a storyline and Saward merely helped her modify it to include the Cybermen and the Cryons, it seems likely that this was just a smokescreen to mollify Nathan-Turner. It appears that Woolsey in fact simply agreed to pretend to be the driving force behind The Cold War for the purposes of meetings with the producer, when in fact it was Saward who would write the entirety of the scripts. Regardless of the true facts of the situation, it was eventually decided that Serial 6T -- retitled Attack Of The Cybermen -- would go out under the pseudonym "Paula Moore".
After initial burst of interest in the new Doctor, Doctor Who's ratings throughout Peter Davison's time on the programme -- during which the frequency of broadcast was increased to twice a week -- had been fairly tepid. For Season Twenty-Two, BBC brass decided to return Doctor Who to its traditional Saturday evening slot, but with thirteen fifty-minute installments instead of the usual twenty-six episodes of twenty-five minutes' duration. A successful experiment broadcasting Resurrection Of The Daleks this way in February to accommodate the Winter Olympics merely substantiated the plan. However, Nathan-Turner pointed out that -- once the extra beginning and end titles and reprise were excised -- two regular Doctor Who episodes really only amounted to about forty-five minutes. He therefore requested extra funds to help make up the difference, but instead was told that the broadcasts would be shortened to forty-five minutes. Attack Of The Cybermen was therefore the first Doctor Who serial (other than the twentieth anniversary telefilm The Five Doctors) to be specifically written for a format other than standard twenty-five minute installments, and Saward discovered that the process of writing for the new duration was a much larger adjustment (especially in terms of pacing) than merely tacking together two twenty-five minute episodes.
Perhaps because of this, Attack Of The Cybermen underwent substantial changes, especially to its second part. Originally, Halley's Comet played a much larger role, with the Cryons planning to lure the Cybermen to their deaths there. The Cyber Director from The Invasion was intended to appear, concealed in a London garage; this idea was dropped and the relevant scenes transferred to IM Foreman's scrapyard, where the TARDIS had first been seen back in 100,000 BC. Griffiths was also supposed to die toward the end of the first episode, but Saward decided he liked the character's interactions with Lytton (whom Saward had created for Resurrection Of The Daleks) and so had him survive into part two, granting him some lines originally meant for Peri. More changes came about when the serial was granted extra location filming. Saward therefore added the material on the surface of Telos, and devised the subplot involving Stratton and Bates. The subplot about the TARDIS's chameleon circuit was included as an element upon which Nathan-Turner could draw for publicity, as he dropped hints that the time machine might abandon its familiar police box shape.
The director assigned to Attack Of The Cybermen was Matthew Robinson, who had handled the similarly action-oriented Resurrection Of The Daleks; these would be his only two Doctor Who serials. It was Robinson who decided that the Cryons would all be female. For a while, it appeared that Nathan-Turner and Robinson had managed a casting coup when model Koo Stark -- very much in the public eye at the time because of news reports linking her romantically with Prince Andrew -- was hired to play the Cryon Rost. Eventually, though, Stark dropped out of Attack because of a dispute over her fee, to be replaced by Sarah Berger. Robinson brought back Maurice Colbourne to play Lytton, and even rehired Michael Jeffries and Mike Braben in the roles of Lytton's faux-policeman escorts. The part of the Cyber Controller was offered to David Banks, but he declined it in favour of playing the Cyber Leader again, as he had done in Earthshock and The Five Doctors. The Cyber Controller was ultimately portrayed by Michael Kilgarriff, who had originated the role in The Tomb Of The Cybermen.
Location filming for Attack began on May 29th. A variety of London-based sites were used, while Wapseys Wood in Buckinghamshire was the quarry selected to masquerade as the exterior of Telos. The production then moved back to the studio, first for a two-day session beginning on Thursday, June 21st and concluding with a three-day block from July 6th. Episode one of Attack Of The Cybermen was broadcast on January 5th, 1985, getting Doctor Who's twenty-second season underway.
Paula Woolsey did submit two further story ideas to the production office following the completion of Attack, but these were abandoned in the wake of Doctor Who's 1985/1986 hiatus. This was Robinson's second and final serial, although he was scheduled to direct The Nightmare Fair for the original Season Twenty-Three. Thereafter, he worked on programmes such as EastEnders and Bergerac as well as the children's series Byker Grove, which he created and executive produced