have announced details about their forthcoming Lost Stories
release, Return of the Cybermen
, due to be released in January 2021
The unmade story was written by Gerry Davis
for the Fourth Doctor's first season, but after heavy rewriting by script editor Robert Holmes it eventually transformed into the broadcast story Revenge of the Cybermen
. Now realised in its original form, the story will star Tom Baker
reprise his role as the Fourth Doctor, with his faithful companions Sarah and Harry.
With both actors sadly no longer with us, the characters needed to be recast. The role of Sarah will be played by Elisabeth Sladen
's own daughter Sadie Miller
, who observed:
When Big Finish asked me to play Sarah Jane for this story, I was very nervous. I didn’t want to create a performance from someone else’s.
So I tried to approach it as I would with any other role. I’ve tried to find my own piece of Sarah - the part of my mum that’s in me. But I have had a quick look on YouTube for Sarah Jane Smith screams, because I wasn’t quite sure how she would want me to do those. Other than that I just tried to keep it as separate in my mind as possible from the original.
The fans of Doctor Who have always been so kind and generous to me and to my family. It was always a part of my life growing up, I was never not aware of it. People have always been very kind in letting us come along for the ride really, through conventions and now things like Big Finish and, after mum passed away, the outpouring of love for her has been lovely.
Senior Producer, David Richardson
How do you recast Sarah Jane Smith? Would you even want to? Those were the questions that bothered us - we love the character. We loved Lis Sladen. We worried it might be too soon and too difficult to go there. But then we realised that part of Lis lives on in Sadie, and Sadie has beautifully brought that to the role of Sarah - we all approached this carefully, and respectfully, and with love and I couldn’t be happier with Sadie’s performance. She’s done her mum proud.
The third of the trio, Harry, is played by Christopher Naylor
; David continued:
Tom has actually worked many times before with Christopher Naylor, who’s played guest roles throughout different series of the Fourth Doctor Adventures. Chris is a very versatile actor, so we can cast him in so many things. But, we realised, he’s also the perfect Harry. Again, it’s very hard to follow Ian Marter, but Chris has managed to do that and Tom was full of praise for what both Sadie and Chris have done. I wonder where they could pop up next?”
Speaking on how the production came about David said:
I’d known of Return of the Cybermen for many years, but it was only relatively recently that I was able to source Gerry Davis’s script thanks to some great detective work by archivist Richard Bignell! John Dorney’s adaptation stays true to the original script and the era, though there have been some very minor changes to bring it in line with the kind of amends we believe Robert Holmes would have asked for. Little things that make it sit comfortably in season 12.
It’s rather different in tone to Revenge of the Cybermen - darker, scarier and more reminiscent of claustrophobic 1960s Cybermen tales like The Moonbase
and The Invasion
Director Nicholas Briggs
It was interesting working with Tom on this, because he noticed the difference in style immediately. This is Doctor Who as Gerry Davis imagined it in 1974, and it’s very much like he wrote Doctor Who in the mid-1960s. So the script didn’t quite have the same levels of emotional sophistication and wit that was present either in what Robert Holmes eventually crafted into Revenge of the Cybermen, or certainly the more recent Fourth Doctor Adventures we’ve made on audio. Doctor Who: Return of the Cybermen
I imagined what it would have been like, back in the day, if Tom had been presented with this script to rehearse and record. If you look at the script book of the first Tom Baker season, you can see masses of line changes that were added by the cast or director during rehearsals and shooting in all those stories. Some of them are the best, most memorable moments, so I reasoned that it would be a faithful process to take on board Tom’s suggestions for this production of Return of the Cybermen.
We had loads of fun, as usual, with Tom finding it particularly amusing when I was directing him with a Cyberman voice effect. At one point, he asked, 'Is he talking to me?' which made us all laugh out loud!
is now available for pre-order as a collector’s edition 2-disc box set or download from the Big Finish website
. Big Finish listeners can also save money by pre-ordering a bundle of forthcoming adventures from The Lost Stories
range, including both Return of the Cybermen
and The Doomsday Contract