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4/28/2006 02:31:00 am - Reported by Shaun Lyon


April 28, 2006 • Posted By Shaun Lyon
This week's Programme Information for 13-19 May from the BBC Press Office (note: PDF file) includes two two-page features promoting the upcoming two-part Cyberman story, The Rise of the Cybermen / The Age of Steel.

The first focuses on actor Roger Lloyd Pack in his role as John Lumic, "a man on an unrelenting mission to take over the world". "I play a kind of evil genius who is creating an army of Cybermen in order to make himself immortal," explains Lloyd Pack. "He's trying to get governments and people to go along with his plans, and Doctor Who tries to stop him. It was a curious affair, because about a week after I agreed to do the part I broke my ankle. I couldn't walk without a stick, and was in plaster for a while, but it didn't interfere with the part because the role was in a wheelchair! I think God must have been saying 'I'm going to give you a nice job, but I'm going to break your ankle as well!' I was taking research a little bit further than I usually do!" It says that Lloyd Pack was on tour with a theatre production in Sheffield, and so missed most of the last series, but as for the original series, "Of course I watched it! I was a kid when it came out -- I saw the very first Doctor Who. William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, were my Doctors… I sort of lapsed a bit, but I saw all of the different Doctor Whos at some point." He thinks the new Cybermen are more formidable than ever. "I did see the Cybermen the first time around, but these new ones are quite impressive," Lloyd Pack confirms. "They are quite scary -- a little light comes out when they speak. That aspect of Doctor Who is obviously a lot more effective now than it was before." As for working with the director, Graeme Harper, "I've worked with him before doing a series with Dennis Waterman some years back. He's a very nice man, very good to work with. It was extremely cold on set, as we filmed in the warehouse in Newport, and quite technical, because some of the scenes were set in a space ship. I enjoyed the whole experience actually."

Writer Tom MacRae is interviewed for the second article, for whom bringing back the Cybermen was "probably the most exciting things that has ever happened to me". Asked how he got the job of writing for the new series, Tom puts it down to "...a bit of good luck, a bit of good placement, and, hopefully, a bit of being good at writing. I've known [lead writer] Russell [T Davies] for a long time, and I happened to have a certain profile with [Controller BBC Drama Commissioning] Jane Tranter and [Head Of Drama Serials] Laura Mackie when she was still at the BBC, and they were all happy for me to do it." He admits that it was actually helpful to have some boundaries to work within when coming up with the idea for the story. "When you're dealing with something like the Cybermen, the rules are in place for the sort of thing that you expect to happen so that immediately suggests stories. It's very different from coming up with your own monster and setting. As soon as it's a Cyberman story it's going to be about a certain set of things, so that was very clear from the start. Russell had heard one of Mark Platt's Big Finish Doctor Who audio stories, called Spare Parts, and he was inspired by that to do a new origins story for the Cybermen. [Our story] was never based on Spare Parts, because we very quickly went off in a different direction. Spare Parts was about a dying world where people had to become Cybermen or they'd die, whereas the story that we did became about people choosing to become this thing, and it actually becoming this seductive idea, rather than a scary, last-chance, life-or-death thing. And you've also got the family story of Rose which grounds it on a simple level. "He says doesn't remember the original series very clearly. "I remember a long time ago, before Russell was ever doing this, we had a conversation about how you would bring Doctor Who back, and he said the [central] idea to the story is that something's happening, and the Doctor appears in the middle of it. Now and again you break that rule, and the Doctor does become the story, but as a general principle, there's stuff going on and the Doctor appears. I'd never really analysed it before so I don't approach it as a show that I watched when I was a kid... I see it as being something very different." As for what parts of the episode he took part in beyond the writing, "I'm not entirely sure what scenes I saw as there were just lots of Cybermen marching up and down the street! I think I probably saw about four or five scenes-worth of stuff. Blue Peter were filming when I went down for one of the street shoots in Cardiff, and the presenter was dressed as a Cyberman doing a behind-the-scenes piece. They interviewed me and I got a Blue Peter badge, which I was very happy about!"

"Rise of the Cyberman" is also confirmed as airing at 7pm on Saturday 13 May, according to the BBC programme info sheet (note: PDF file), which has the feature blurb for the episode, reproduced below. (Thanks to Steve Tribe)
Doctor Who: Rise of the Cybermen
The Tardis is trapped on a parallel Earth and Rose discovers that her father is still alive, as the award-winning Doctor Who continues. But sinister forces are at work, and British society is being prepared for the Ultimate Upgrade. Meanwhile, an old enemy of the Doctor's is about to be reborn. David Tennant plays the Doctor, Billie Piper plays Rose, Noel Clarke plays Mickey, Camille Coduri plays Jackie Tyler, Shaun Dingwall plays Pete Tyler, Roger Lloyd Pack plays John Lumic and Andrew Hayden-Smith plays Jake Simmonds.

*The conclusion of this two-parter, The Age Of Steel, can be seen next Saturday.