50 for 50 — The Greatest Stories in Doctor Who History — #35

Legend is funny thing. For a long time, this story was the stuff of legends. Only a few fans could say that they saw it on it’s only broadcast. If we wished hard enough, it was the story that might come back. Then it did….but could The Tomb of the Cybermen ever live up to such legend?

Still up there with the greatest Troughton stories, it just goes to show how fickle we fans are. Yes it’s got lots to criticize…dummy Cybercontroller there at the top. No doubt if all of The Evil of the Daleks or The Web of Fear were found tomorrow, then there’d be plenty to find to pick at in them too. We’re talking about 1960’s sci-fi on a BBC budget….

But for sheer atmosphere, topped with icy cold terror, Tomb has it in abundance. Cleverly directed by Morris Barry, it uses it’s setting to it’s advantage, since being shot in a bright studio was the norm, this works so well, with the claustrophobic tombs. It is quite a large set though for the time, or maybe it just seems that way…either way it works. And using superlative model work, gives it a depth that some other stories from that time lack. The model of the tombs refreezing really does look like it’s real.

The main cast is in top form, Troughton and Hines bouncing off each other (the hand holding scene always makes me smile), and Deborah Watling settles in very quickly considering it’s her first full adventure. Victoria’s unease at being so far away from home and her late father, and her talk with the Doctor, with him being so old, the talk turns to family, and it’s a very poignant moment….One of the reasons why Doctor Who is so remembered.

Full of excellent supporting stars, the cast is top notch too. Though it’s fairly easy to spot the bad’uns straight away. Klieg and Kaftan jump out from the off, obviously setting up the rest of the party, from which most will not return. For their third story in under a year, the Cybermen are at their most effective here, with the afore-mentioned Controller giving them a recognizable leader at last, all brains on show….the clamping shut mouth effect too, is particularly worth mentioning, as they drone and buzz ‘You will be like ussss’….this was the stuff of 60’s nightmares. And a good few years after too, I shouldn’t wonder… — Andy

Alan’s #35 — The Robots of Death
David’s #35 — Vincent and the Doctor
Steve’s #35 — Time Crash