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Trivia / Doctor Who S12 E5 "Revenge of the Cybermen"

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  • Acting for Two: Michael Wisher, credited as the Vogan engineer Magrik, also provides the voices of Colville, the crewmember on the Earth ship, and the Vogan technician who tries to warn Nerva.
  • Creator Backlash:
    • Gerry Davis was unhappy with Robert Holmes' rewrites on what turned out to be his final contribution to Doctor Who. He also disliked the title.
    • Philip Hinchcliffe hated the production, feeling it belonged to the old way of doing things. He didn't like the Vogans, the masks, or the way the actors played Vogans with "Shakespearean projected shouting". He was particularly unhappy with the incidental music score by Carey Blyton, which had been commissioned by director Michael E. Briant (who had previously worked with Blyton on "Death to the Daleks"). Hinchcliffe made substantial edits and changes to the score for the final transmitted version, along with getting BBC Radiophonic Workshop staffer Peter Howell to provide a few replacement music cues uncredited. After this, Dudley Simpson would be the only composer employed on the show all the way through to the end of Season 17, with the notable exception of the two serials directed by Douglas Camfield, who refused to work with Simpson.
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  • Executive Meddling: One of the reasons why this ended up becoming the first Doctor Who story to get a home video release. A fan poll had been conducted in 1983 to select the first story to be released on video, but no-one remembered to take out the stories that the BBC no longer held copies of, resulting in "The Tomb of the Cybermen" being the runaway winner of the poll. It was decided to at least release a story featuring the Cybermen, effectively narrowing it down to this story or "Earthshock", the only two Cybermen stories the BBC held all episodes of at the time — and despite "Earthshock" being the more recent and more popular of the two, the BBC mandated that the first video release had to be a Tom Baker story, as he was the most popular of the Doctors up until that point.
  • Fatal Method Acting: Averted. Elisabeth Sladen almost drowned in Wookey Hole.
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  • Prop Recycling: The secret radio transmitter disguised as a clothes brush, used by Kellman, is the very same prop that appears in Live and Let Die. The prop was handed over by none other than 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 2/6 for the item.note 
    I'd popped into the Beeb 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!
  • Recycled Set: The set from "The Ark in Space" is reused and redecorated. Justified, as it's the same space station, just many years in the past; this was a deliberate money-saving measure.
  • Science Marches On: The Doctor refers to Jupiter having 13 moons (including the asteroid Voga, which was captured by Jupiter's orbit fifty years before the story's setting). Many more moons have since been discovered. In fact, Leda was discovered in September 1974, whereas the story was broadcast in early 1975, meaning Science Marched On between recording and transmission!
    • One of the novels attempts to Hand Wave this by saying that in the future the extra ones were destroyed as part of an effort to feng shui the Solar System in order to attract foreign investment.
  • Troubled Production: The serial suffered from a long string of bad luck attributed by the director to witchcraft. When scouting the ancient cave system of Wookey Hole — a place associated by the locals with bad luck and supposedly the grave of an ancient witch — for its suitability for location shoots, the director's wife found some Iron Age arrowheads and decided to take them home, unwittingly calling an ancient curse on the production team. First, the team encountered a strange individual in potholing gear who had apparently wandered into set, of whom the staff had no knowledge, which the director began to believe was the ghost of an Irish potholer who had died in the cave three years earlier. The boats used in the cave scenes repeatedly broke down; one production team member had to be replaced due to an attack of claustrophobia, and another was taken seriously ill. On a day when staff disobeyed instructions not to touch the "Witch" formation (said to be the petrified body of the witch), Elisabeth Sladen nearly died — her boat went haywire and she had to dive overboard to keep herself from smashing into the cavern wall, where a stuntman had to pull her out to save her from drowning, and who later fell ill. An electrician broke his leg when a ladder collapsed under him, and the pyrotechnician found nothing would light or work correctly. The director took the arrowheads from his wife and reburied them, after which production ran smoothly.
    • A more mundane explanation for all this mess is available: there was less oxygen so far underground, and the production team stayed significantly longer than usual, depleting it more than the average visitors, which would inevitably create an accident-prone atmosphere. The trouble with the boats has been attributed to the company that provided them not being fully briefed on the circumstances in which they would be used.
  • What Could Have Been: Gerry Davis' original script was sufficiently different from what made it onto the screen that in 2021, Big Finish adapted his drafts as a retrospective Early Draft Tie-In audio story titled "Return of the Cybermen", with Elisabeth Sladen's daughter Sadie Miller taking on her mother's role and Christopher Naylor as Harry.
    • In the original script, most of the action took place on board the Nerva beacon. The Nerva crew at this stage include a scientist named Anitra Berglund, and Warner was female. The Cybermen have been smuggled onto Nerva by Kellman before the story begins, with the aim of destroying a gold-rich asteroid in the station's vicinity. Kellman has betrayed a group of miners (led by a man named Evans, and also including Jones and Williams) who have been marooned on the asteroid for a quarter of a century; they eventually kill him by dynamiting a tunnel. The Doctor manages to reprogram the Cybermats to destroy the Cybermen using gold dust he has retrieved from the asteroid.
    • Prior to this, the space station would be operating as a casino.
    • In Davis' earlier drafts, the Cybermen appear much earlier, which explains the presence of the Cybermats on the Beacon. In the broadcast version, the Cybermen do not arrive until the end of Part Two, so how the Cybermats got onto the Beacon is never explained.
    • In the absence of a concrete idea of how Baker would be portraying the new Doctor, Davis originally elected to essentially write the character as a timid, reserved figure in the vein of the Second Doctor, including the use of such signature elements as his 500-year diary.
    • Originally, Cybermen costumes from "The Invasion" were to have been used, but only two had survived, and in poor condition. This necessitated entirely new outfits (granted while still wearing near-identical helmets), which included ''Moonbase"-style chest panels constructed from the innards of old television sets and trousers which, for the first time, were not tucked into the Cyber-boots.
  • Working Title: Return of the Cybermen.
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