The Twelfth Doctor is set square off against one of his oldest foes this season, and we promise that’s no exaggeration! An announcement from the BBC earlier today announced that this season of ‘Doctor Who’ will once again see the titular Time Lord facing the Cybermen, but this time it will be an iteration of the Cybermen that hasn’t been seen since they first appeared half a century ago.
Described in the BBC’s announcement as the “Mondasian Cybermen” (see below for more on the distinction), this design is more widely known in ‘Who’ fandom as the “‘Tenth Planet’ Cybermen”, after the classic serial that introduced the creatures and the only occasion to date in which they sported their original look. A distinctive design that included human hands and (slightly) more expressive faces that we now expect, not to mention the unique, almost sing-song cadence with which they speak, this writer has always found the original Cybermen rather more unnerving than succeeding incarnations.
According to the announcement, the Cybermen will be returning for episodes eleven and twelve of the tenth season. As those episodes make up the two-part finale, their return promises to be nothing short of an event! Indeed, given that we now know that this will be Peter Capaldi’s final season as the Doctor, these Cybermen reappearing for the finale takes on an added significance, as they first appeared in a story that ended with the Doctor’s first ever regeneration.
The announcement also included a photo of the classic Cybermen menacing the Doctor, which is included here:
For those who might be unfamiliar with the rather complicated history of the Cybermen, the versions that bedeviled Doctors from William Hartnell to Sylvester McCoy all traced their origins to a planet called Mondas, which was essentially a twin world of Earth’s that had been ejected from the Solar System. When the menacing cyborgs were re-introduced following the show’s 2005 relaunch, they instead originated on Earth’s counterpart in a parallel universe, where they were the creation of Cybus Industries. While these Cybus Cybermen remained the default Cybermen throughout Russell T. Davies’ tenure as showrunner, Steven Moffat’s time at the helm saw the show quietly revert to the Mondasian version, distinguishable only by minor cosmetic differences until an all new design was introduced in 2013’s ‘Nightmare in Silver’.
The tenth season of ‘Doctor Who’ is expected to premiere on April 15, 2017. In addition to returning star Peter Capaldi, the new season will feature Matt Lucas, Pearl Mackie, and Michelle Gomez. The season will culminate in this year’s Christmas special, as both Capaldi and Moffat bid their farewells.