Doctor Who

Revenge of ‘Return of the Cybermen’ as Big Finish audio revives ‘lost’ Doctor Who script

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Tom Baker will star in a revived “lost” Doctor Who story, “Return of the Cybermen,” a full-cast audio drama coming soon from Big Finish Productions.

Intended for the Fourth Doctor’s first season (the show’s 12th, a milestone the new series just achieved) in 1975, the script was reworked and rewritten by the production team and became a very different story — “Revenge of the Cybermen.”

Now the original script is back.

Big Finish’s “Lost Stories” range is a series of adventures originally written for the television series but never produced – until now. Previous releases include stories featuring many familiar enemies of the Doctor, including “The First Sontarans,” “Mission to Magnus,” “Thin Ice” and “The Daleks – The Destroyers.”

An unmade script from the pen of Cybermen creator Gerry Davis, “Return of the Cybermen” is being realized in its original form for the very first time. Initially submitted in 1974 for Tom Baker’s first season, it was substantially rewritten by the series’ then script editor, Robert Holmes, before airing as “Revenge of the Cybermen.”

“I’d known of ‘Return of the Cybermen’ for many years, but it was only relatively recently that I was able to source Gerry Davis’s script thanks to some great detective work by archivist Richard Bignell,” said producer David Richardson. “John Dorney’s adaptation stays true to the original script and the era, though there have been some very minor changes to bring it in line with the kind of amends we believe Robert Holmes would have asked for. Little things that make it sit comfortably in Season 12.  

“It’s rather different in tone to ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ – darker, scarier and more reminiscent of claustrophobic 1960s Cybermen tales like ‘The Moonbase’ and ‘The Invasion’.” 

“It was interesting working with Tom (Baker) on this, because he noticed the difference in style immediately,” said director Nicholas Briggs. “This is Doctor Who as Gerry Davis imagined it in 1974, and it’s very much like he wrote Doctor Who in the mid-1960s. So the script didn’t quite have the same levels of emotional sophistication and wit that was present either in what Robert Holmes eventually crafted into ‘Revenge of the Cybermen,’ or certainly the more recent ‘Fourth Doctor Adventures’ we’ve made on audio.  

“I imagined what it would have been like, back in the day, if Tom had been presented with this script to rehearse and record. If you look at the script book of the first Tom Baker season, you can see masses of line changes that were added by the cast or director during rehearsals and shooting in all those stories. Some of them are the best, most memorable moments, so I reasoned that it would be a faithful process to take on board Tom’s suggestions for this production of ‘Return of the Cybermen’.

“We had loads of fun, as usual, with Tom finding it particularly amusing when I was directing him with a Cyberman voice effect. At one point, he asked, ‘Is he talking to me?’ which made us all laugh out loud!” 

Big Finish’s “Return of the Cybermen” is now available for pre-order as a collector’s edition 2-disc box set or download.

Further information about this release will be in the forthcoming issue of Doctor Who Magazine, due for publication on April 2, 2020.


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Jayson Peters
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