Who am I? The alien wanderer… the clown with a ruthless streak… the melancholy Time Lord trying to avoid returning home? Throw in a bag of jelly babies, a robot dog, some very attractive companions…

It has recently come to our attention that Toberman, the servant of Kaftan, had kept a diary during his time on Telos. In fact he bought it for that very trip. It is our understanding that his master never took him anywhere and he suddenly became very excited about the thought of traveling to a new world.

The year is sometime after 2570; Toberman is not that specific in his writing. Women have apparently reverted back to a time when they are too delicate to do a “man’s” work and people can have other people as their “servants”.

The future does seem all-progress doesn’t it?

Now it is our pleasure to bring to you the final thoughts of the last servant in the galaxy.

Passage 1

“We made it here. Toberman is finally getting to see the universe. Toberman can taste freedom, but Toberman is not happy. Toberman’s pants are too tight, and people are yelling at Toberman to get off of the mountain that Toberman has just overcome.”

He goes on for a bit about how upset he is and after a while the writings become a series of nonsensical grunts and growls and “Hulk Smash” and so on.

Moving along…

Passage 4

“We are in the building, and it is wondrous, Toberman want to go see it all, but they make him stay with women. They think Toberman no better then a woman. Toberman is a slave… no: “servant.”

We get the understanding that Toberman has women issues as he devoted the next 12 passages to the matter, but once again we are not able to decipher all the writing, however, this snippet was found to be legible:

Passage 17

“I have the strength to crush all of their heads, but still they speak to Toberman as if he is a little girls. Toberman sad, and pants are starting to chafe.”

It is unclear just how upset that Toberman is in his present situation of being a slave.. er, “servant”, or if he is more upset about something else.

Curiously enough, passages 18 through 23 describe in full detail how the logic systems of the Cybermen base work, but as this is so inconsistent with the rest of Toberman’s writing, we will chalk this up to someone else picking up the wrong book.

Passage 24

“Mistress Kaftan pinch Toberman’s bottom today. Toberman sick of being boy toy. Toberman want to be free man.”

Passage 25

“Klieg pinch Toberman’s bottom today, Toberman wish he could bash Klieg’s skull in.”

Passages 26, 29, 34 through 39, and 42 all focus on this same sort of frustration.

But soon things take a drastic change.

Passage 47

“Toberman has been married. Nice men have given Toberman a big silver ring for his arm. Toberman will have to change his name to Cyberman. Change name? Again Toberman is thought of as a Woman! Toberman no change name! Toberman Smash!”

He continues in passages 48 and 49 about how the Cybermen were able to calm him down, although he thinks that removing part of his brain may have done this. But nonetheless he does not abandon his diary.

Passage 50

“Cyberman have sent Cyberm- TOBERman to kill humans. Toberman sees chance to smash Klieg’s head in now.”

Passage 51

“Toberman feel much better now. Klieg will touch Cyberm- TOBERman no more.”

Passage 52

“Mistress dead, Cyberman killed mistress… what will Toberman do? Toberman WILL DESTROY!”

Unfortunately this is where the diary ends, we understand that he could not write in the diary anymore after his death.

Thankfully his thoughts were persevered by a sole surviving Cybermat who picked his pocket and brought his diary all the way back to Earth for us to read and contemplate.

As you read this, the diary is being serialized and an autobiography is being written. Movies are being made about the man and the torment he had to endure, but nothing will ever have the impact the Diaries of Toberman truly hold. How could one man have worn pants that tight?

Doctor: [To the Cyberleader] ‘You’re nothing but a pathetic bunch of tin soldiers skulking about the galaxy in an ancient spaceship.’ Cyberleader: ‘Cybermen can survive more efficiently than animal organisms. That is why we will rule the galaxy.’

Revenge of the Cybermen

And that is what it boils down to. The Cybermen are second only to the Daleks in their desire for domination, but whereas Skaro’s most insane desire to utterly destroy anything different to themselves, the Cybermen will subjugate and convert their conquests, thus bolstering their own ranks. This is the true horror of the Cybermen. Convinced that flesh will fail, that their way is best, they surrendered emotion and eventually individuality in the name of survival.

So, for the uninitiated, what is a Cyberman? Their history is one of sadness; the inhabitants of the planet Mondas – Earth’s lost twin – the original Cybermen were like us until they found that replacement surgery was necessary to prolong the life of their dying race. Their respiratory system was replaced by the prominent chest place, and their strength increased ten-fold. With their planet lost, wandering through the galaxy, the Cybermen conquered many worlds but Mondas was eventually destroyed following an attack on Earth (The Tenth Planet). Few of the remaining Cybermen are true Mondasians, but their aim is still the same – survival. Eventually, some settled on Telos and built their own tombs in order to draw those humans that would see them reanimated into their lair… and convert them.

This, of course, isn’t an entirely new concept; every story in existence has the concept of survival wove into it one way or another. In a Universe where anyone can be met at anytime by the Doctor, it is no surprise that many of the races he meets are threatened with extinction. Take the Kaled/Dals, the Ice Warriors, and the Zygons as prime examples from the original series – then add what has happened to the Autons world following the Time War and the effect of the war on the Gelth’s world. And just look at what the Master was prepared to do to stay alive!

Survival is a word that also commands our daily existence. We work – or otherwise acquire money – in order to survive. We buy food that we might survive, and pay rent or mortgage so that we and our families have shelter – in order to survive. Doctors and scientists spend their lives working so that we might survive.

This was something that co-creator of the Cybermen Dr. Kit Pedler recognised. In 1966 when he was employed by the Doctor Who production team to give the series a stronger scientific grounding, the Cybermen were born. A real-life doctor, Pedler was fearful of the ghastly possibilities that the proposed replacement-part surgery likely to be available in the future would create for mankind. Survival was one thing – but what if we lost our humanity?

As the Cybermen were eventually able to develop into a force capable of challenging mankind’s place in the galaxy, their image as silver-clad cadavers was replaced with an image of an unstoppable force. Thanks to writer Eric Saward, the already overused Nazi metaphor applied with varying degrees of obviousness to all of the Doctor’s adventures with the Daleks were shoehorned in to Cyberman mythology in the 1980s, no doubt to assist with their desire for conquest. But surely survival is enough?

Pedler and Davis’ original vision of the Cybermen back in the 1960s was perfect. Done-to-death Nazi parallels were meaningless in the 1980s, and even more so now as imperialism rears it’s ugly, destructive head once more. But a human-like race, fearful of it’s impending doom, fighting nature for survival and using whatever means be they mechanical or whatever – that is genius. And the parallels with real life are far more interesting. Governments have risen and fallen for the last 4000 years – aggressive fascist policy isn’t going stop mankind whether it be fictional or real. But a dying race would stop us, and make us face up to these very real decisions.

A mechanical heart or one grown in a lab?

Once upon a time, there was a very old man who lived with his granddaughter. One day, he fell out with his family and colleagues and was made an outcast by his society. With no reason to stay, he left his home planet with his granddaughter in a disused, antique TARDIS.

The TARDIS was a space-time machine, the amazing technology developed by the Doctor’s people. Escaping his world and his time in a vehicle that they could barely control, the Doctor and Susan travelled through the Fourth Dimension before happening upon Earth, where they would learn of its history and make new friends.

The genesis of Doctor Who in the early 1960s was one which has been revised over and over – both the onscreen development of the character and the behind-the-scenes production. Above are the basic facts. Various people over the years have been awarded – and claimed – credit for the shows initial success, such as Verity Lambert, Sydney Newman and Waris Hussein, as well as Terry Nation, John Lucarotti and Anthony Coburn. One man, however, can claim and be awarded the biggest accolades for ensuring the show’s initial success. Who? Doctor Who – William Hartnell.

The actor’s previous credits – running back to 1932 – involved the typecasting of cockney hard cases and servicemen. Popular and rarely out of work in the British movie industry during the 40s, 50s, and 60s, Hartnell’s career-defining moment came when producer Verity Lambert saw the actor in the Richard Harris picture “This Sporting Life” (1963). While not a dead-cert for the role (there were apparently other contenders), William Hartnell nevertheless took the part of Doctor Who, and defined the character for all time.

We first met the mysterious traveller on a miserable November evening in 1963. It was a Saturday night – a day that would become synonymous with the show. We meet the Doctor as his granddaughter Susan is followed from school by her teachers, Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright. They encounter him in his bizarre police box, which appears to be larger on the inside than on the outside! For viewers in 1963, this introduction (An Unearthly Child) was bizarre and chilling – who was this mysterious Doctor, and how did his granddaughter know so much history and maths?

It wasn’t until the following month of course that the show became the stuff of legends, as the Doctor and his three companions stumbled upon the Daleks on their home planet of Skaro. It is often reiterated that Verity Lambert was under strict instructions not to employ anything that could be described as a Bug Eyed Monster or BEM, yet here they were in what was ostensibly a children’s television drama with an educational bent. Perhaps the early episodes strayed too far from the original aim of the show – but viewers tuned in week in and week out to watch the irascible, grumpy old Doctor defeat despots across time and space!

Moments of pure brilliance are found in the middle of Hartnell’s run as the Doctor. Experimental stories (Inside the Spaceship, The Web Planet) were taken in his stride, as were the introduction of numerous companions – eight permanent and a few short term – and weekly one-take recordings, as well as the recurring appearance of the Daleks that might have overshadowed the actor and his co-stars.

So much however exists in Hartnell’s portrayal of the Doctor that subsequent actors have all been able to draw on various aspects, such as costume (almost all of them), idiosyncrasies (“Hmmm?” – most often employed by the Fourth and Fifth incarnations) and developing whole personas from off the cuff phrases such as

“I am a citizen of the Universe, and a gentleman to boot.”

William Hartnell, The Daleks’ Master Plan

How much of this is apparent in Pertwee’s interpretation of the role? We should steer away from thinking that Barry Letts, Terrance Dicks and Jon Pertwee in any way directly built the Third Doctor around this remark – the shape of the Doctor’s character was already in place by 1970. It is safe to say that as the series progressed and the production team and star decided how the character was to be played each week, that the character and his morals sunk into the British consciousness.

But what of his morals? The First Doctor is recognised above all of the others (until the war-weary Ninth) to be a little ambiguous in that department. Most of this is due to his actions early in the series – in the first serial in fact. An Unearthly Child is followed by three episodes of a story commonly known as 100,000 BC (although there are other titles in use). In this, the TARDIS crew are transported to the Palaeolithic era and at one point the Doctor begins the act of “putting down” an injured caveman. This type of action would have been unthinkable for the Doctor just 3 years later, but here at the beginning of the show he is a man cast out alone, with trust for no one.

William Hartnell’s talents as an actor were unquestionable, and his portrayal of televisions most popular anti-hero ensured that he would be remembered for generations to come. Perfectly at home in space adventures (The Daleks’ Master Plan), comedy (The Gunfighters), historical drama (Marco Polo, The Crusade) and Earth-based takeover stories (The Dalek Invasion of Earth, The War Machines), Hartnell not only forged an unforgettable character who was endeared to millions of children, but also took those same children on fantastic journeys through time and space.

While David Bradley’s interpretation of Hartnell’s Doctor has drawn some criticism from some quarters (more caricature than homage?), we can at least be reassured that the original (you might say) continues to be available to enjoy on DVD and streaming services.

Daleks. When you think about it they really are ridiculous. For instance, they can’t pick things up, they need slaves to do that. They talk about their superior technology yet one has to wonder how they built it. Do they get a bunch of humans, tell them what to do, then kill them so know one knows how to work it but the Daleks?

Okay so in later years they have been able to walk, or float, upstairs whereas before they would have only been able to conquer the first floor of the White House or Buckingham Palace. The Fourth Doctor put it best in “Destiny of the Daleks” when he said, “If you’re supposed to be the superior race of the universe, why don’t you try climbing after us.”

Daleks are really very child like as well. Easily frightened of the dark, they start to scream and freak out when you cover their eyestalk with a towel or a jacket. They also have a fear of being alone, as the last Dalek on Earth in “Remembrance of the Daleks” is proof of. Realizing that it was the last Dalek it had such a massive panic attack that it self destructed, or self disintegrated.

Perhaps they would have been better suited as intergalactic janitors. The only race with built in plungers and yet they have no bathrooms.

But then we love them don’t we? I for one wouldn’t miss an episode with the word Dalek in the title. Funny, we love the most evil race in the entire universe and they can’t even give us a hug in thanks.

Let’s look at the other side of things now.

If you were in the street and saw what appeared to be a one man tank coming at you yelling “exterminate!” in today’s world you would most likely run for the high heavens screaming for your Mommy.

They don’t care about compassion or sympathy so you couldn’t plead for your life. That is unless you could offer up some juicy secret information that will screw over your fellow man to save your own butt.

Not to mention that voice. For prolonged periods of time to one not used to listening to them, they could sound very annoying. On the other hand if you were in a prison being interrogated by one of them that voice would be bone chilling.

Also their weapons are very scary. They can paralyze your legs temporarily or permanently. They could scramble your insides with a laser beam. This shocked the heck out of me the first time I heard them say that’s what happens when they kill someone. Sounds awful. But then so are they. They have bombs, laser cutters, different setting for their laser arms ranging from “stun” to “blow things up”, and they even have Special Weapons Daleks for all those formal black tie battles.

Interestingly enough Doctor Who might not have survived so long had it not been for the Daleks. A creation that almost didn’t make it to our TV sets because someone thought they were a bad idea. But then fate stepped in and a legend was born. Had they not been aired as they had, Doctor Who may have been no different then any other nameless one season TV show.

As ridiculous as the Daleks could be, when you look at them and break them down, they are still important to the success of Doctor Who. So much so that for three modern era producers have brought back the Daleks in their first run of episodes.

Interesting that.

Back in 2005, fans were excited by the leaked shot of the new Dalek, but other than the big head lamps what was really “new”? The picture of the Dalek looked as though it was snapped by someone standing on the set than by a lucky fan. It might even have been intentionally leaked so that we wouldn’t get suspicious about the “new” look?

A new look that basically improved the classic Dalek, making it more formidable, a little sleeker, a bit more metallic perhaps; but otherwise still how we know them.

We have come to expect certain things from the Daleks over the years. One thing for sure would be their voice. I can tell all reading this that at least one episode of the new series will have the voice exactly as we remember it. This is due to the fact that actor/writer Nicholas Briggs is voicing them, something he has done for Big Finish Productions since they began creating new adventures for the Doctor and crew back in 1999.

Since 2005, Doctor Who’s designers have regularly deviated from the traditional Dalek design while ensuring the old design remains front and centre. Human/Dalek hybrids, New Paradigm Daleks, and even the ramshackle DIY effort that faced the Thirteenth Doctor… there’s always a real Dalek nearby.

The Doctor, the TARDIS, and of course the Daleks. So really, what’s changed?

Welcome to the first of our special PropKast podcasts, in which James McLean and Brian A Terranova discuss props in TV and movies. To kick off, the focus is mainly on Doctor Who props, specifically those that have been reused across serials or found in other shows.

Shownotes

(Featured image credit: Brian A Terranova)