The Mondasian Cybermen are different from the other Cybermen we have seen on Doctor Who since the series was reintroduced in 2005.
The more recent Cybermen were invented by an Earth scientist, but the original Cybermen came from Earth’s parallel twin Planet Mondas, which was ultimately destroyed.
The only time viewers would have seen the original Mondasian Cybermen was in William Hartnell’s final adventure, which aired back in 1966.
After that the original Mondasian Cybermen, at least those who survived, migrated to Telos IV and began to assimilate other beings in much the same way as the Borg did in Star Trek.
Yes, that’s right folks. Star Trek’s Borg could very well have been inspired by the Cybermen.
Just watch classic Doctor Who story The Tomb Of The Cybermen and then look at Star Trek: The Next Generation — The Best Of Both Worlds and you’ll see some similarities in set design for the hive collective.
The creation of the Cybermen
The Cybermen were the creation of Doctor Who scriptwriter and unofficial scientific adviser Dr. Kit Pelder and his writing partner Gerry Davis.
Pedler was brought on to Doctor Who by Innes Lloyd in order to provide the show with a little more hard scientific knowledge for inclusion in the ongoing stories.
During his time on the series Pedler would write three Doctor Who stories including The Tenth Planet, which introduced the Cybermen, The Moonbase and The Tomb Of The Cybermen.
The latter episode established them to having moved into the Telos star system and was the most revealing episode about their modus operandi, including further reveals about their collective reasoning.
Inspired by modern day science
The Cybermen could well have been inspired by medical advances of the day.
The late 60s saw a boom in heart medicine.
The first implantable pacemaker had been invented back in 1958, but by 1966 they were fast becoming commonplace and as such there was understandable anxiety from various patients undergoing pace maker operations.
It was not the standard procedure that it is today.
The very origins of the Cybermen involved the people of Mondas gradually adding new parts to themselves in order to improve their physical and mental performance.
It got to a point where human traits such as fear and empathy were stripped away in favour of cold pragmatic efficiency.
A great story featuring original Cybermen
There’s a really good story featuring the Mondasian Cybermen available from Bigfinish.com called Spare Parts.
It sees the Fifth Doctor visiting Mondas a little prior to the planet’s destruction and meeting a family that slowly succumbs to becoming fully assimilated Cybermen.
This is just one of many stories out there to feature the original Cyberman, but it is one that I consider to be among the best for anyone looking to learn a little more background on the original Cybermen.
It also inspired the 2006 reboot of the Cybermen for the modern era, but sadly the TV incarnation was nowhere near as good as Spare Parts.
The original Cybermen looked very different from what they’d eventually evolved into.
In The Tenth Planet, the Cybermen wore cloth masks as opposed to the metallic ones that we’d see in later stories.
They also spoke with an eery musical quality to their voices, which was something that got dropped fairly quickly in favor of the more robotic monotone voices that they have today.
12th Doctor actor Peter Capaldi requested that Steven Moffat bring the original Mondasian Cybermen back, and we think it is a great idea given that their origin story was never really fully fleshed out in The 10th Planet.
That alone will make tonight’s episode and next week’s concluding chapter of interest.
It’s a welcome return for the original Cybermen, as the 2006 rebooted versions never really cut the mustard.
Doctor Who airs Saturdays at 9/8c on BBC America and at 7.15pm on BBC One in the UK.