Second Doctor Patrick Troughton faces the return of the emotionless Cybermen in this exclusive recording of a 'lost' television adventure, with linking narration by Frazer Hines.
THE PROGRAMME: Following the well-received introduction of the Cybermen in William Hartnell's swansong The Tenth Planet, story editor Gerry Davis and series 'scientific advisor' Kit Pedler decided on a rematch between humans and Cybermen. Capitalising on many of the earlier story's strengths, they once again pitted an isolated outpost of humanity against an alien menace - a staple story of many Patrick Troughton stories to come. The Moonbase (working title The Return of the Cybermen) made clever use of just a few lavishly-designed sets. The centrepiece attraction, the large ceiling-suspended Gravitron, was nearly the cause of a serious accident when it crashed to the studio floor just prior to recording; fortunately no-one was hurt. The first three episodes were recorded at London's Riverside studios in February 1967, with episode four being relocated to Lime Grove. A technical problem on this episode meant that 'talkback' from the production gallery was faintly audible on the soundtrack, something which director Morris Barry later attempted to remove in post-production. Live action and model sequences on the Moon surface had been filmed in January at Ealing Studios, with flying harnesses utilised in scenes featuring both the TARDIS crew and the Cybermen 'flying' in zero gravity. The character of Jamie, who had joined the programme just two stories ago in The Highlanders, was a late addition to the scripts. As well as him being unconscious for much of the first two episodes, many of his lines were therefore 'borrowed' from Ben and various Moonbase crew members. Costume designer Sandra Reid improved on her original Cyberman design for their second outing, exchanging the cloth face masks for impassive helmets and their polythene-look bodysuits for sturdier metallic outfits. The Cyber voices also changed, Peter Hawkins' electronically modified monotone replacing the curiously sing-song notes of the originals. The story tapped into the contemporary audiences' interest in the Apollo Moon missions which NASA were conducting in 1967, and it attained some of the highest viewing figures of the Troughton era. The Cybermen were back, and a golden age of 'monster stories' had begun.