The Tenth Planet

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‘What did you say, my boy? It’s all over? That’s what you said, but it isn’t at all. It’s far from being all over!’ The Doctor

8th – 29th October 1966

The Memory Cheats

The legendary story. There is no underestimating the importance of The Tenth Planet. The fourth episode is probably the most wished for rediscovery. It introduces the Cybermen and it enables the show to last forever through the most exciting change in its lead character that keeps us all enthralled to this day.

I can remember watching it with you when the video was released. It was the first and only time I have seen it so it will almost be like a first play as I can remember very little other than snow and Cybermen. I remember we had to put the tin it came in in front of the video counter so we didn’t know how much of the story had passed or was to come. Over nine months have passed since we started this journey and I am very excited to have reached this point.

The Time Space Visualiser

What is now usual to us seems odd at the start of this story as we do not start with the travelers but are taken straight away to the base that does not realise yet that it is under siege for a bit of scene setting. By the end of the first episode it is very clear we are watching a different show to the one that began three years earlier. It has all the Troughton ‘Base Under Siege’ episode 1 features and also a bit of the Pertwee vibe. The production Values of Ambassadors of Death and even shows like Star Cops over 20 years later are not too different to what we have here. The end titles are also very modern looking and have the new futuristic BBC logo.

I thought ITN stood for Independent, not International Television News! A very international crew and look, there is a black astronaut. I normally find the racial stereotyping in these old stories quite embarrassing but in this story things are quite forward thinking. It is a shame their characters are rather two dimensional.

I do feel slightly cheated that they start killing Hartnell off so early in episode three. Perhaps it’s because I know that I have probably seen his last line in a complete episode. Not quite sure why Barclay thinks he will be too big for the shaft. It is huge. Ben can almost stand in it.

Having now, for the first time, watched every Hartnell story in order and after seeing Adventures in Space and Time it is also quite poignant watching Hartnell’s performance. For as excited as I am about the approach of one of my favourite Doctors, this journey has helped me completely reevaluate the Hartnell years. What a journey it has been, watching the show evolve and get to this story which is really a blue print for the show that was to come.

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Notable Firsts

The first regeneration. It regenerated the show and gave it a new lease of life. Years before showers, alien abductions and going upstairs for a few years to play some tapes, Doctor Who created the most original and exciting way of changing a lead actor. And yes, it was a regeneration. Just because we hadn’t heard the word. We didn’t know what planet the Doctor came from yet either, but he still is a Time Lord from Gallifrey.

We’ve had Zarbi, Chumbleys, Sensorites,  Menoptra, Onto the Cybermen. For me, these are the Cybermen Royale. Ok, by today’s standards they may look ropey and the lip synch may be out on occasion, but they are so spooky. Massive chest panels, real hands, the sock faces, what a concept.  And the voices. I accept that I have probably been seduced by the big finish Cybermen, but aren’t the voices in this story just great? It is a real shame they are only in evidence in one surviving episode. They do not really appear much in episodes 1 and 3.

Cliché Counter

Ben is locked up! How on earth is he going to escape? There is no sonic screwdriver for the futuristic 80s locks that he is not used to. Thankfully there is a vent!

General Cutler is the prototype for a shouty boss of the base under siege. He even smokes cigars.

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The 500 Year Diary

12th December 1986 am

Getting used to these characters who treat us suspiciously on our arrival and won’t believe a word we say! This time it’s a rather angry General Cutler who locks us in a room to interrogate us later. Don’t blame him I suppose. Three people arrive in the middle of Antarctica without any explanation!

Anyway, this Zeus IV space capsule is being drawn off course. I know what it is and I write it down as no-one will listen to me! It’s Earth’s former twin planet returning to its orbit – draining power from the Earth. I fear an invasion. Not sure I have the energy this time to fight this crisis. Typically this Cutler suspects that we’ve got something to do with it…..

12th December 1986 pm

I was right! We have been invaded, by Cybermen from the planet of Mondas. Emotions. Love. Pride. Hate. Fear. No emotions at all. They want us to be like them.

Their planet is zapping energy from Earth and I think it’s having an effect on me. I can’t seem to muster the energy. Happily, I have Ben & Polly who have the energy to fight.

And now the invasion force arrives

12th December 1986 eve

It’s all too much for me. I remember fainting, but that’s it. What’s going on? What’s happening? Is this what I think it is…?

12th December night

Rally myself. That Cutler really has it in for me. Blaming me for the death of his son. Before he kills me, the Cybermen kill him first. Saved by the Cybermen, although for how long? Unless this body of mine is wearing a bit thin…

Mondas is burning up which prompts their other plan – to destroy the Earth! I manage to warn the Snowcap Base of this before taken hostage with Polly in the Cybership. Again it’s all a bit vague from this point on, but I understand that Mondas eventually is destroyed along with the Cybermen. Well done Ben!

It’s all over according to Ben. It isn’t at all. It’s far from being all over. Need to keep warm. The TARDIS. The TARDIS! The controls… their alive… the ship… buttons… dials… Ben and Polly …. Open the doors. It’s all too much. I collapse. A change is coming. Burning. Bright lights. The end.

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The Five Word Lords

You will become like us.

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