Revenge of the Cybermen

One of the main reasons for making REVENGE OF THE CYBERMEN was to utilise the same set as had been used in ARC IN SPACE. It had cost a bomb and the set design budget was at an all time low.

 The other reason was that Cybermen had been of the screen for a long time and the costumes were in stock! The only problem with that was when we got the Cybermen costumes out to look at them they were dated to say the least - based on boiler suits with various kitchen utensils - cake tins and pastry dishes sprayed silver adorned the cloth. There was a pretty universal decision that they needed a makeover and in the end they were totally remade. I was back on the kick of hating weapons that looked like guns and it seemed to me that Cybermen fire power should be integrated in their body? in some way.  I had liked the naturalness of the Sea Devils weapons but the practical difficulty of having to stop and re-load after every round led us to having 4 tubes mounted in the heads. It also enabled us to make the Cybermen taller although I am no longer certain that height increase means much on television or indeed film unless you do looking up or looking down eye lines all the time and in TV studios that's difficult.

Wookey Hole was a good location.  I had been there as a tourist and was a bit tired of tunnels and plastic rocks.  Because of some low roofs it presented a few difficulties for tall Cybermen but on the whole it worked well and was beautifully lit by Elma Cossey - a brilliant cameraman who made lighting an art form but easily and without fuss. 

The only down side of Wookey Hole was the curse. 

When the publishers Classic TV Press asked me to write these memoirs I was very flattered but somewhat unsure.

The title sums up the question I have been asking myself for years.

 The book is available from

here

More about it

here

I was down there late at night after the public had left, doing my 'homework' for the filming - around 21.00 someone joined us in one of the caves - kept some distance away and asked for the way out - I had an odd feeling about him. Later, when, we left I asked the manager and his assistant who lived in the house beside the entrance if the 'visitor' had got out OK. They looked at me oddly and said 'The place was locked up after you went in and the alarms were on - it was impossible for anyone to get in and out' (I had rung a bell to be let out) They they then went on to tell me that 6 years before a young cave diver had died in the caves when they became flooded and he ran out of oxygen - ever since then......

A few strange things happened during the filming - one of the electricians jokingly put a coat round the big stalagmite that is the 'witch' of the cave - the next day he fell off a ledge and broke his leg. I put a couple of little water boats (craft ex sea devils) into the lake in front of the 'witch'.  Liz Sladen had to drive one a short distance across the lake and be chased by ?? someone - Big problems making it start! - then it ran - Liz got on  - it went out of control - she fell off and the river started to drag her down under a ledge. Terry - the stunt man dived in and rescued her in the nick of time - part of what he was paid for - he then became very ill and was incapacitated for several days....  All very odd.

It was an awkward story to direct and the Doctors role had been written very much for Jon rather than Tom.  All the ways of getting out of trouble were scripted for the 'action man' rather than the Marx brother.  Tom, totally correctly, would not use the old, violent means, of resolving the situation - I really only met him when filming started and had not anticipated the changes he wanted to bring in his interpretation of the character.  This was absolutely his right and the character that Tom created was entirely his own and I do not think the imagination and effort that went into Tom doing this has been fully appreciated. 

There were awkward moments in the plot and I am not certain the Cybermen really stood the test of time. It was delightful working with both Liz and Tom and the rehearsal room developed into a fascinating work place.  Sometimes I couldn't resist imposing the comment on the production - I always wondered about the Doctor - female assistant relationship - how it should developed and altered Liz's line when the rocket ship headed towards them to 'We're still heading for the biggest bang in history.' It made me smile.  Not too many people noticed.

 

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