New Series Episode 106:
Nightmare In Silver


When she isn't travelling in the TARDIS, Clara is a nanny to Angie and Artie. And when her two charges figure out that Clara has become a time traveller, the Doctor agrees to take them on a trip to the future to visit Hedgewick's World of Wonders. Unfortunately, when the TARDIS lands, they discover that the legendary theme park has been all but abandoned. Lurking in the shadows are the universe's last Cybermen, who see the Doctor as the final hope for the survival of the Cyber race. Soon, the Time Lord finds himself duelling with the Cyber Planner for control of his very mind.


Fantasy author Neil Gaiman's first Doctor Who script, The Doctor's Wife, had been very well-received when it was broadcast in 2011. Later that year, executive producer Steven Moffat offered Gaiman the opportunity to contribute to the program's thirty-third season. A novelist, screenwriter and comic book writer, Gaiman was perpetually in demand, and thought it was unlikely that he could commit to such a project -- especially since The Doctor's Wife had proven to be a time-consuming endeavour. However, he was persuaded when Moffat suggested that this would be an opportunity to revamp the Cybermen.

Cyborgs who originated on Earth's lost twin planet, Mondas, the Cybermen had debuted in 1966's The Tenth Planet. Their appearance and technology had evolved regularly throughout the Sixties, before a consistent look was adopted during the Eighties. When the Cybermen were brought back in 2006's Rise Of The Cybermen / The Age Of Steel, they were reimagined as upgraded humans from a parallel universe. Much like the Eighties, however, the next five years saw only minor changes to the Cyberman costume, most recently seen in 2011's Closing Time.

Neil Gaiman wanted to make the Cybermen more stealthy and spooky

A longtime Doctor Who fan, Gaiman fondly remembered the Cybermen from their four Sixties adventures opposite the Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton. He felt that it made sense for them to be regularly updated, thinking in terms of how quickly modern technology, like smartphones, was evolving. He also wanted to make the Cybermen more stealthy and spooky, whereas the modern versions had been portrayed as noisy and slow-moving. Gaiman felt that the parallel-universe Cybermen would likely have merged with their counterparts from Mondas, giving him the freedom to conceive a new form of Cyberman which drew upon the best of all of their previous appearances.

Gaiman also wanted to adapt two related ideas which had been introduced during the Sixties. Although never named on screen, the Cyberman Planner had debuted in 1968's The Wheel In Space, and was an immobile entity which directed the Cybermen's activities. Now it gave rise to the Cyber-Planner, who could serve as a more personal adversary for the Doctor than the faceless, emotionless Cybermen themselves. The Cybermats, first seen in The Tomb Of The Cybermen and most recently in Closing Time, were used by the Cybermen for infiltration. Gaiman knew that the Cybermats had been inspired by silverfish, and this led him to take the concept to its next logical stage, in the form of the Cybermites.

A starting point was the Turk, allegedly a chess-playing automaton constructed in 1770 and in fact an elaborate hoax

Another starting point for Gaiman was the story of the Turk, allegedly a man-shaped, chess-playing automaton constructed by Wolfgang von Kempelen in 1770 and eventually destroyed by fire in 1854. The Turk was in fact an elaborate hoax: the cabinet at which the lifelike figure sat was carefully designed to hide an operator, even though the space could be opened to reveal that it seemingtly contained only the Turk's mechanisms. (Coincidentally, in October 2011, Big Finish Productions released an audio play entitled The Silver Turk by Marc Platt, writer of 1989's Ghost Light, which also married the Cybermen and the legend of the Turk.) Together with the intended background of the Doctor's new companion -- at this point, a Victorian governess named Beryl -- this prompted Gaiman to set his story around a futuristic amusement park which housed an alien freak show.

Gaiman was working on his Doctor Who adventure -- which went by the working titles “The Last Of The Cybermen”, “Silver Ghosts” and “A Nightmare In Silver” -- in early 2012. However the loss of his laptop, as well as the distraction of other commitments, stalled the writer's progress. When he returned to the script, the production team had decided to replace Beryl with modern-day Clara; as such, Gaiman rewrote the alien freaks as Alice's punishment platoon (which was initially conceived as being exclusively female).

On September 2nd, Gaiman accepted the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) for The Doctor's Wife at Chicon 7 in Chicago, Illinois. During his speech, he revealed that he was working on a second Doctor Who screenplay when he admitted that “only a fool or a madman would try to do it again... so I'm on the third draft.” In fact, Gaiman would only complete his first draft (now under the title “The Last Cyberman”) about a week later. At this stage, the showdown with the Cyber army was set on an island attraction accessible only by boat; like the castle which replaced it, this bore the moniker “Natty Longshoe”, which was an homage to the title character of the 1945 children's novel Pippi Långstrump (that is, Pippi Longstocking) by Astrid Lindgren. Nehemiah Webley, meanwhile, was named after folk and alternative musician Jason Webley, who had collaborated with Gaiman's wife, Amanda Palmer.

The episode was to end with a scene featuring Cybermen from throughout their televised history

For a couple of drafts, after the defeat of the Cybermen, Angie saw an older version of herself -- wearing a wedding dress -- who had apparently been brought to the imperial ship by a future Doctor. The episode was to end with an ominous scene in the Cyberiad featuring Cybermen from throughout their televised history, including the “Oldest Cyberman” (resembling those seen in The Tenth Planet) who would hint at a broader plot to snare the Doctor. This element would eventually be dropped, while Gaiman also struggled to find a way to better involve the Doctor in the action. He finally came up with the idea of engaging the Doctor and the Cyber-Planner in a duel set inside the Time Lord's mind, affording Matt Smith the opportunity to give a very different onscreen performance.

“The Last Cyberman” was to be made as the tenth block of the Season Thirty-Three production calendar. At the episode's helm was Stephen Woolfenden, an assistant director on the last four Harry Potter movies who had also directed episodes of The Mysti Show, Echo Beach and Trinity. Headlining Woolfenden's guest cast was Warwick Davis as Porridge. The diminutive actor -- who was born with a bone condition called spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita -- had enjoyed a long career in science-fantasy, playing Wicket W Warrick in Return Of The Jedi, Willow Ufgood in Willow, Reepicheep in The Chronicles Of Narnia, the title character in the Leprechaun series of horror films, and Professor Filius Flitwick in the Harry Potter movies.

The first scenes recorded for “The Last Cyberman” were those at Natty Longshoe's Comical Castle, actually Castell Coch in Cardiff. This work spanned November 7th to 9th. Just prior to this, a last-minute change was made to Gaiman's script when the original name for the theme park -- “Lampwick's World” -- was found to be the same as that of a store which sold light fixtures. As a result, it was rechristened Hedgewick's World. The Castell Coch shoot saw the debut of the upgraded Cyberman costume. The new design had largely followed Gaiman's suggestion that their appearance should be more sleek, echoing the versions introduced for 1967's The Moonbase. Filming on November 10th started on the TARDIS console room set at BBC Roath Lock, before the imperial ship stateroom was staged at Cardiff City Hall. Then it was back to Roath Lock on the 12th for sequences on the Spacey Zoomer ride. On the 13th, scenes in the barracks were taped at Newbridge Memorial Hall in Newbridge.

Recording of the battle in the service area had to be postponed due to severe weather

The only material in the Comical Castle not completed at Castell Coch involved the headquarters and the gatehouse; this was the focus on November 14th and 15th at Caerphilly Castle in Caerphilly. The next day, effects shots -- mainly set in the Doctor's mindscape -- were completed at MOD St Athan. Cast and crew then returned to Roath Lock for sequences in various Hedgewick venues (including the moonscape, the waxworks and the chess room) on the 19th and 20th, and in the Cyber Bunker on the 21st. Woolfenden had also planned to record the battle in the service area on the 21st, with Mir Steel in Newport the intended venue; however, this had to be postponed due to severe weather. As such, it was relocated to a different Newport site, Uskmouth Power Station, on the 26th. In between, pick-up shots were captured at Roath Lock on November 23rd, and this work continued on the 29th, 30th and December 1st.

As broadcast neared, Gaiman was having second thoughts about the title of his episode. In early March 2013, he indicated during an interview that one candidate was “The Saviour Of The Cybermen”. In the end, however, it was decided to go back to an amended version of one of the working titles, and the story became Nightmare In Silver.

  • Doctor Who News.
  • Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #37, Autumn 2014, “Nightmare In Silver” by Andrew Pixley, Panini UK Ltd.

Original Transmission
Date 11th May 2013
Time 7.00pm
Duration 44'31"
Viewers (more) 6.6m (19th)
· BBC1/HD 6.6m
· iPlayer 1.9m
Appreciation 84%

The Doctor
Matt Smith
Jenna-Louise Coleman
Eve De Leon Allen
Kassius Carey Johnson
Jason Watkins
Warwick Davis
Tamzin Outhwaite
Eloise Joseph
Will Merrick
Calvin Dean
Zahra Ahmadi
Aidan Cook
Voice of the Cybermen
Nicholas Briggs

Written by
Neil Gaiman
Directed by
Stephen Woolfenden
Produced by
Denise Paul

Series Producer
Marcus Wilson
Stunt Coordinators
Crispin Layfield
Gordon Seed
Stunt Performer
Ryan Stuart
Ailsa Berk
First Assistant Director
Fay Selby
Second Assistant Director
Heddi-Joy Taylor-Welch
Third Assistant Director
Danielle Richards
Assistant Directors
Gareth Jones
Louisa Cavell
Location Manager
Iwan Roberts
Unit Manager
Monty Till
Location Assistant
Iestyn Hampson-Jones
Production Manager
Phillipa Cole
Production Coordinator
Claire Hildred
Asst Production Coordinator
Gabriella Ricci
Production Secretary
Sandra Cosfeld
Production Assistants
Rachel Vipond
Samantha Price
Assistant Accountant
Rhys Evans
Assistant Script Editor
John Phillips
Script Supervisor
Steve Walker
Camera Operator
Joe Russell
Focus Pullers
James Scott
Chris Reynolds
Gary Norman
Camera Assistants
Meg de Koning
Sam Smithard
Cai Thompson
Assistant Grip
Owen Charnley
Sound Maintenance Engineers
Ross Adams
Chris Goding
Mark Hutchings
Best Boy
Stephen Slocombe
Bob Milton
Nick Powell
Gafin Riley
Gareth Sheldon
Supervising Art Director
Paul Spriggs
Art Directors
Lucienne Suren
Daniel Martin
Set Decorator
Adrian Anscombe
Production Buyers
Adrian Greenwood
Holly Thurman
Assistant Art Director
Richard Hardy
Art Department Coordinator
Donna Shakesheff
Prop Master
Paul Smith
Prop Hands
Austin J Curtis
Jamie Farrell
Jamie Southcott
Standby Props
Helen Atherton
Rob Brandon
Dressing Props
Jayne Davies
Mike Elkins
Paul Barnett
Graphic Designer
Chris Lees
Graphic Artist
Christina Tom
Petty Cash Buyer
Florence Tasker
Standby Carpenter
Will Pope
Standby Rigger
Bryan Griffiths
Practical Electrician
Christian Davies
Props Makers
Penny Howarth
Alan Hardy
Props Driver
Gareth Fox
Construction Manager
Terry Horle
Construction Chargehand
Dean Tucker
Scenic Artist
John Pinkerton
Assistant Costume Designer
Fraser Purfit
Costume Supervisor
Carly Griffith
Costume Assistants
Katarina Cappellazzi
Gemma Evans
Make-Up Artists
Vivienne Simpson
Sara Angharad
Allison Sing
Casting Associate
Alice Purser
Assistant Editors
Becky Trotman
Katrina Aust
VFX Editor
Joel Skinner
Dubbing Mixer
Tim Ricketts
ADR Editor
Matthew Cox
Dialogue Editor
Darran Clement
Sound Effects Editor
Paul Jefferies
Foley Editor
Jamie Talbutt
Peter Anderson Studio
Additional Visual Effects
BBC Wales Visual Effects
Online Editor
Geraint Pari Huws
Gareth Spensley
The Cybermen created by
Kit Pedler &
Gerry Davis
With Thanks to
The BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Conducted and Orchestrated by
Ben Foster
Mixed by
Jake Jackson
Recorded by
Gerry O'Riordan
Original Theme Music
Ron Grainer
Casting Director
Andy Pryor CDG
Production Executive
Julie Scott
Post Production Supervisor
Nerys Davies
Production Accountant
Jeff Dunn
Sound Recordist
Deian Llŷr Humphreys
Costume Designer
Howard Burden
Make-Up Designer
Barbara Southcott
Murray Gold
Visual Effects
Stargate Studios
Special Effects
Real SFX
Millennium FX
Iain Erskine
Production Designer
Michael Pickwoad
Director Of Photography
Tim Palmer BSC
Line Producer
Des Hughes
Executive Producers
Steven Moffat
Caroline Skinner

Working Titles
The Last Of The Cybermen
Silver Ghosts
A Nightmare In Silver
The Last Cyberman

Updated 21st June 2015