It should come as no shock to us Whovians that Peter Capaldi is a massive and longtime ‘Doctor Who’ fan. So much so that the current Time Lord is known for his membership of fan clubs, love of obscure classic series trivia and habit of writing letters to Radio Times about the series, all decades before he was cast.
So when one of Capaldi’s all time favorite villains from the 1960s, the original cyborg Cybermen known as the Mondasian Cybermen, was brought back for the two-part finale of the latest series, you would expect Capaldi to be over the Gallifreyan moon.
Well, you’d be wrong. On the contrary, the actor had a super nerdy complaint about design differences in the new Mondasian Cybermen compared to their 1960s counterparts.
In a recent podcast, Rachel Talalay, who directed the two-part series finale, explained:
“Steven and Peter both feel strongly about how they remember these things. So they were both involved and had thoughts. Peter called me after the first Mondasian incident and said, ‘Why is it they have gloves on their hands, when one of the great things about them was that they had bare hands?’”
Looking closely at photos of the two Cybermen designs, you can see he is right. The original Mondasian Cybermen do sport very human-like hands when compared to the surgical gloves of the new versions.
But Talalay went on to explain that the change did not come without good reason. It all boiled down to the fact that they had to turn companion Bill (Pearl Mackie) into a Cyberman for a large portion of the two-part episode. Talalay said:
“I explained that the Pearl Mondasian, we would have an issue with skin color. And therefore that given in the [original series] black-and-white version you couldn’t really tell if they had skintone gloves, it seemed like we could get a scarier feel and something more artificial by putting the gloves on them. But it was partially an issue because of skintone.”
Talalay, who revealed in the interview that she has an interest in reviving parts of the classic series, although it required some re-watching due to her lack of familiarity with the classic version of the series.
“I didn’t live in the UK! I was aware of it and we were there in the UK a couple of times. When I was 14, 15 and 16 we lived in the UK and I had a Tom Baker period. But I wasn’t weaned on it. So a lot of the passion of it has been to go back and actually learn the things [Capaldi and series showrunner Steven Moffat] grew up with. Because I had Star Trek growing up in America.”
Clearly, Talalay did her homework, as the two-part series finale was a huge hit among fans. Kudos to Capaldi for being the eagle-eyed fan boy we have all grown to love!